An engaging but tentative Duchess of Cambridge has made her foray in public speaking, with voice specialists praising the positive royal debut.

Catherine, 30, overnight opened a hospice for sick children at Ipswich, just outside London, where she described as "inspirational" the work of the charity - East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) - for which she became patron last year.

Wearing a blue Reiss dress and a beaming smile, Catherine thrilled a crowd of hundreds who gathered to see her arrive at the hospice, but it was inside and from behind a lectern where she created the most anticipation.

In her refined and light tone, the Duchess spoke in portions, occasionally flicking her hair and referring to notes, but never faltering.


"What you do is inspirational, it is a shining example of the support and the care that is delivered, not just here, but in the children's hospice movement at large, up and down the country," she said in a speech she wrote herself.

"The feelings you inspire - feelings of love and of hope - offer a chance to families to live a life they never thought could be possible."

Catherine also expressed disappointment that her husband Prince William could not be with her for the hospice visit. He remains in the Falkland Islands on military deployment.

At a reception a short time after her speech, Catherine told a guest: "I find doing speeches nerve-wracking."

However, the young royal received a seal of approval from personal branding coach Malcolm Levene.

"I'm going to give her a very full seven (out of 10) because I think it's a nerve-wracking thing to do what she did, it's her first attempt, and I think given that, we all need to give her a bit of break," he told Sky News.

Voice coach Fergus McClelland said Catherine's "safe" start to public speaking has the scope for development.

"She needs to be trained to open up and feel safe as herself out there and know how to be herself out there," Mr McClelland said.

"I think she needs to learn to use her body when she speaks ... she was doing this classic thing of keeping her elbows by her side, her hands in, looking at her words, she just needs to relax, she needs to open up. Dancing lessons maybe, to get the flow, to get the (movement)."

Regardless of what the experts thought, senior EACH representatives gave Catherine a resounding applause for her address and her support of the charity.

Monday's appearance was one of a growing number made by the Duchess who on Saturday presented shamrocks to the Irish Guards at a St Patrick's Day parade, after joining Prince Charles and Camilla for an official visit to a south London art gallery last week.