Royal visit: Duchess takes special solo outing

When Lee Thomson met the Duchess of Cambridge today at Rainbow Place, she wanted to know if royalty also need to eat all the vegetables

Catherine talks with Bailey Rupe in the play room.
Catherine talks with Bailey Rupe in the play room.

When Lee Thomson met the Duchess of Cambridge today at Rainbow Place, she wanted to know if royalty also need to eat all the vegetables.

But the only vegetables visible today are candy carrots in flower pots to be eaten at an extravagantly laid out Mad Hatter-themed tea party at the Hamilton children's hospice.

This was Catherine's first solo outing on the royal tiki tour and it's a cause close to her heart.

She arrived about 11.40am in a green Erdem coat with a green and white Suzannah dress underneath.

The visit here today was not all about smiles and waves — she was here to learn.

When she arrived, Catherine was taken into a private room for a short briefing with hospice manager Craig Tamblin.

She then met privately with Sam Ogilvy, 12, who has been coming I the hospice for counselling.

Ogilvy was caught in a deadly rip with his father at Fitzroy Beach in the Taranaki. His father died.

Sam said he showed Catherine how sand tray therapy helps him cope with the loss.

"She asked me how it works and how I felt," he said.

He described her as kind.

Catherine then met with six-year-old Bailey Rupe.

"This is a very pretty tea party," said Catherine, who also complimented the child on her colourful dress.

She asked after the child's family.

"Do you find talking about your feelings quite hard? I bet you're a very brave girl aren't you," said Catherine.

The duchess then met with a group of five children in an art therapy room which "looks far too tidy ... It needs to have paint everywhere and on me".

She then spoke with a group of teenagers apologising for not dressing up.

"I'm sorry I didn't come in my outfit," she said.

"I'm sure you all go through difficult things but it's lovely to have a place like this."

The highlight of the short visit was the resplendent Mad Hatter's party where Little Lee Thompson finally got the chance to ask her question.

The answer?

"Yes I do. I have to eat all my vegetables and so does George," she said.

Catherine was also gifted a grey onesie for George with his name embroidered by Hamish Taylor, 17, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Catherine will join William, who is on his own solo outing at the Pacific Aerospace, later in the day before setting off for a public drive in Cambridge and the opening of the new National Cycling Centre of Excellence and Velodrome.

About: Hamilton-based Rainbow Hospice is the children's branch of Hospice Waikato and Catherine has strong ties with children's hospices in the United Kingdom. She used the outing as a fact-finding mission on palliative care, which she will take back home.

She met with the 48 children and their families being looked after by Rainbow Place, which deals with children who have life-limiting health conditions and those who have experienced the sudden loss of a loved one.

Pictures: The royals in Waikato

- Herald on Sunday

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