Kate Middleton Makes Her First Solo Speech as a Royal

The Duchess of Cambridge's words were heard by about 600 cheering well-wishers

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Kate Middleton makes a speech during a visit to the Treehouse Children’s Hospice in Ipswich, England, on March 19, 2012

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, made her public speaking debut at the opening of the Treehouse Children’s Hospice in Ipswich, England, on Monday.

In a brief but clearly well-rehearsed speech at the opening of the $4.8 million state-of-the-art facility, royal patron Middleton said she was “hugely honored” to be involved with East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) and found their support and care for families of children with life-threatening conditions “inspirational.” She explained how her experience at the Treehouse was far removed from her preconceived notions of a clinical place for sick children.

The Duchess, who wrote her own speech, kept word of her husband Prince William to a minimum, simply noting that “I am only sorry that William can’t be here today. He would love it here,” which resulted in polite laughter from the guests in attendance, People magazine reports. Middleton then made a more serious, salient point: “A view of his — that I share — is that through teamwork, so much can be achieved. What you have all achieved is extraordinary.”

(PHOTOS: Kate Middleton’s Amazing Fashion Evolution)

The children’s charity has another royal connection. William’s late mother, Princess Diana, opened East Anglia’s first hospice in Milford in 1989. Middleton became a royal patron of the charity in January, as EACH is one of four organizations that she is a patron of (others include the National Portrait Gallery and Action on Addiction).

In recent weeks, the Duchess has made several appearances without her other half, who is deployed as a search-and-rescue pilot in the Falklands (he is expected home soon from his six-week posting). Middleton joined Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on the launch of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour and recently paid a visit to the Olympic Park in East London, where she showed off her athletic side.

(MORE: Kate Middleton Goes to Princess School)

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But despite an increase in public appearances, we still haven’t heard much from the Duchess herself. Monday’s speech marked the first time the future Queen consort has spoken publicly since the joint interview with William following her engagement in November 2010. But for a women who has an economic phenomenon named after herself (the Kate Middleton Effect) and an almost unhealthy public following of her fashion (Monday’s outfit was an electric blue Reiss belted dress and black heels), it’s not surprising that there’s such demand to hear more from Middleton.

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