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With Prince William away on a six-week military mission, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, does some heavy digging at a ceremonial tree planting for the opening of the East Anglia Children's Hospice at the Treehouse center in Ipswich, outside London, on March 19. "What you have all achieved is extraordinary," the new royal said during her first public speech as a duchess.
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In a fittingly festive Emilia Wickstead frock, Kate pays a special St. Patrick's Day visit to the Irish Guards, passing out shamrocks to officers of the guard's 1st Battalion – a tradition started by her husband's great-grandmother, the Queen Mother.
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Later that day, Kate continues to embrace her royal independence, syncing up with father-in-law Prince Charles for some arts and crafts at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London.
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A SWEET DEAL
Inside the Fortnum amp Mason food store, Camilla and Kate take in many of the posh products, even tasting some chocolates. "Gosh, it is very sweet," the younger duchess said while biting into a crystallized rose petal. "I will definitely try that."
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A perpetual crowd pleaser, Kate is greeted by giddy schoolchildren waving British union flags during a Feb. 21 visit to the Art Room facility at Rose Hill Primary School, located in an economically disadvantaged section of Oxford. "She is an independent, highly-intelligent young woman who wants to make a difference," says Art Room's founder-director Juli Beattie.
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With her prince away on Valentine's Day (he did send a card and flowers!), Kate has a drink at the Brink, an alcohol-free bar supported by one of her chosen charities Action on Addiction. During her visit, an 8-year-old admirer, Jaqson Johnston-Lynch, gives her some roses and a message, "I am sorry Prince William cannot be here."
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Later that day, Kate visits the Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, where she realizes there's no shortage of love when a young girl excitedly embraces her outside the hospital.
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