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Princess Kate Makes Surprise Visit to Women’s Prison Hours After Stunning on the Red Carpet

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James Whatling/Splash News Online
James Whatling/Splash News Online
James Whatling/Splash News Online

Just hours after going glam on the red carpet in London, Princess Kate switched gears for a visit to a prison and a center to help women who have suffered abuse and trauma on Friday.

As part of her ongoing work to highlight the effects of addiction and mental health difficulties, the royal mom visited the Nelson Trust Women’s Centre in Gloucester, around 100 miles west of London.

Luca Teuchmann/WireImage
Luca Teuchmann/WireImage
Luca Teuchmann/WireImage

Before arriving at the Women’s Centre, she made a private visit to HMP Eastwood Park, a women’s prison in Gloucestershire, to learn more about what support is available to women prisoners and their families living with complex social issues.

During her visit, Kate — who wore a pale blue Mulberry coat and a printed skirt by Dolce & Gabbana — met with staff and a small number of prisoners to hear their personal stories.

She then traveled to the Nelson’s Trust Women’s Centre, which supports women who have experienced domestic abuse.

The award-winning center has been lauded for the practical and emotional support it offers, with a focus on nine “pathways of need,” including finances; physical, emotional and mental health; drugs and alcohol; trauma and abuse; sexual exploitation and sex-working.

The Women’s Centre supports over 500 women annually, across Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

During her visit, Kate met members of staff who work on behalf of the Nelson Trust Women’s Community Services.

She was also introduced to women who have accessed support at the Women’s Centre, and listened to their own personal experiences.

“We know that she has a special interest in this area and she understands the needs of those using our services,” chief executive of the trust, John Trolan, tells PEOPLE.

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“We see her as an inspirational individual who can motivate our staff as they continue to work in this very difficult operating environment.”

Trolan says they see their role as “preventing women going into prison and if they have been there, prevent them going again. We seek to support them so they can turn their lives around.

“Everybody agrees that these women should not be in prison — they are low level offenders.”

He adds of Kate, “Her insights are impressive and her interest is sincere and it’s very obvious from the other work of she does and the interest she shows on the area.”

As she left, Kate kneeled down to receive a basket of flowers from Tilly, 4.

“Which one is your favorite?” Kate asked. And when Tilly pointed out an orange carnation in the bouquet, the royal mom said, “I think George would like that, too.”

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David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage

On Thursday night, Kate made a rare red carpet appearance in London for the movie premiere of A Street Cat Named Bob. The new film, about a young homeless musician and his unlikely friendship with a cat, is based on the internationally acclaimed book of the same name and costars Downton Abbey‘s Joanne Froggatt.