William and Kate’s First Official Engagement? Launching a Lifeboat

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Prince William watches Kate Middleton pour champagne over the 'Hereford Endeavour' lifeboat

Phil Noble/Reuters

One day, when they show their children the photos from today, Prince William and Kate Middleton are going to think: should we have done something cooler?

Thursday February 24, 2011, is going to go down in history as the day that the world’s most famous engaged couple undertook their first official royal engagement duty in public. They did the deed of naming a lifeboat on Anglesey, North Wales, where the couple have a home. This was no mere coincidence, because they specifically requested this location. And they duly named the “Hereford Endeavour” lifeboat in a small ceremony at the Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station. As is traditional, Kate cracked open a bottle of bubbly over the lifeboat while her beloved looked on, telling the crowd, “I do the talking, she does the fun bit”.

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of Kate Middleton)

Keen royal watchers among you may point back to a Teenage Cancer Trust event in December, thinking that was their first official duty. But a palace spokesman confirmed that Thursday’s event was the couple’s first engagement where Middleton had been invited as a guest of honor.

For the record, and these things matter of course, Kate wore a cream tailored coat, with brown collar and had her hair in a pony tail, fastened with a black feathered fascinator. William went with a dark suit and winter coat, thus proving that even male royals think less about their appearance than the fairer sex.

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of Prince William)

But if you’re into metaphors, may we point you in the direction of CNN (and thus, a partner to NewsFeed; the William to our Kate, if you will) and their royal expert, Mark Saunders. “We effectively have two launches today,” he said. “The launch of the lifeboat by William and Catherine and, at the same time, the launch of William and Catherine into this celebrity saturated world they are going to be living in.” Nicely put, sir.

“In 20 years of royal reporting I’ve never witnessed quite such excitement for such a single job,” Saunders continued, and his excitement was clearly shared by the several hundred people who gathered hours in advance, with some coming from many miles away. The British and Welsh anthems were both sung (you certainly want to keep the peace at these events and, for extra brownie points, Kate’s Welsh was apparently impeccable) and both the Menai Bridge Brass Band and the Holyhead Male Voice Choir were in fine voice.

(More on TIME.com: See a TIME video about Kate Middleton’s wedding dress.)

Before the ceremony began, Lifeboat’s Operations Manager, Aubrey Diggle said, presumably unable to contain his glee, “It’s an honor to have Prince William and Miss Middleton at our naming ceremony.” Seriously Mr. Diggle, if ever there was a day where the world’s focus was on lifeboats, it was today. And now the couple are out and about, there’s no stopping them. Friday sees them taking in their alma mater, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. It’s quickly becoming clear that it’s William and Kate’s world and we just live in it.

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