Royal visit: Kate's Diana moment crowns her new Queen of Hearts

By Amy Maas

Bailey Taylor, 6, sits in her purple and pink princess dress, talking to a real-life princess. Photo / Pool
Bailey Taylor, 6, sits in her purple and pink princess dress, talking to a real-life princess. Photo / Pool

She is more beautiful in the flesh.

That's breast cancer patient Jacqui Frazer's verdict on the Duchess of Cambridge. She said the same of Diana, whom she met 31 years ago.

Myself, I never met Diana — she died on my 13th birthday — but it's true of Kate. And in many more ways than the obvious.

The candyfloss-fuelled sugar high that set the Mad Hatter's tea party at Rainbow Place abuzz before her arrival turns into a dead hush as she steps out of the silver BMW.

Children and their parents are silent. In awe.

Terena Walkley, a local at the hospice, had lost her mother like William. She is also a mother, like Kate. "I think she's following in Diana's footsteps," Walkley says.

I watch, and wonder when she Kate have that moment: the one where she proves what people are already whispering — that she is walking the path that Diana paved so many years before.

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Diana devoted much of her time while she was alive to people suffering from Aids.

Kate does the same with children's hospices. The cause might be different, but the actions are very much the same.

That moment — her Di moment — comes about 10 minutes into the visit.

Six-year-old Bailey Taylor sits in her purple and pink princess dress, made to meet a real-life princess.

Instead of making small talk while the camera shutters snap, Kate asks whether she is allowed to sit down at the tiny table.

And it is then that Kate comes into her own as the new Queen of Hearts. She certainly steals that little girl's.

She touches the rainbow embroidered on Bailey's dress and tells her she loves it. She asks about her family.

Bailey's story is like many of the others shared with Kate this difficult day, but it's one she's unlikely to forget.

The little girl and her brother Te Wariki Rupe, 10, have been counselled at the hospice since their mother Jennifer Doolabh, 27, was diagnosed with aggressive cancer.

She was given six months to live but when she found out she was pregnant, she stopped chemotherapy. Little Matthias was born on December 23.

At the table, Kate is curious about Bailey's toys. "What does this puppet do?" Bailey replies: "It's me."

"And who is this?"

"My mum."

"Do you have conversations with each other?"

Bailey nods.

"Is your mummy here? Where's mummy? Do you think I will see her a bit later?" Kate asks. And she pauses. "Do you find talking about your feelings quite hard? I bet you're a very brave girl, aren't you?"

This isn't a moment for the media. We're ushered away.

A little later, Kate does meet Bailey's mum. The child introduces the Duchess to her family. She asks after Jennifer's health, speaks about the treatment and sympathises with their suffering as a family.

Kate wants to chat longer but security starts getting tetchy.

It's evening, and I visit Bailey and Te Wariki at home. I speak to Bailey again. The purple and pink dress is gone — but, she says, she stills feels like a princess.

- Herald on Sunday

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