She works on a mural with children and reveals Prince George loves to paint

By Simon Perry
Updated February 12, 2015 02:00 PM
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Mark Cuthbert/UK Press/Getty

Princess Kate sported an impressive third-trimester bump Thursday as she added her artistic touch to a harborside mural, tried a contraption used to train sailors – and revealed Prince George loves painting.

Kate, 33, in a belted white Max Mara coat over an Alice Temperley dress, was on the quay in Portsmouth to make a few additions to a painting that marks the local heritage as a new yachting center takes shape.

“She said she’s been painting with baby George yesterday and that she should have brought him as he really likes this,” lead artist James Waterfield tells PEOPLE.

Visiting the headquarters of Ben Ainslee Racing, Kate tucked her baby bump out of the way as tried a device used to train young sailors.

She also joked that Aston Villa soccer fan Prince William would be mad when he saw a tiny Portsmouth soccer kit she was handed as a gift for George.

“She said William would be very annoyed because he s a massive Villa fan,” Lucy Burroughs, 16, a student at the city’s Mayfield School, tells reporters.

Another Mayfield pupil, 5-year-old Alexandra Firth, was overcome with shyness when the moment came for her to give a bouquet of homemade paper flowers to the princess. After briefly hiding her face behind it, the little girl finally handed it over, telling Kate her favorite subject at school is drawing.

During the mural painting, Kate worked off a photo portraying sailing champion Sir Ben Ainslie and his crew on a yacht in the Solent off Portsmouth; the famed crew were perched precariously hanging over the yacht’s side.

“She was painting their bottoms,” joked Waterfield, a teacher at Park Community School. “And Sir Ben said to ‘make sure it’s accurate.’ ”

She Was Absolutely Lovely

“She was absolutely lovely with the children,” Waterfield adds. “They were quite nervous about meeting her but she was really easy and friendly. She had this effect of being instantly friendly.”

Kate joined more than 70 schoolchildren at the headquarters of Ben Ainslee Racing, which trains aspiring young sailors. Some children had come just to see Kate enjoy their artwork. One, Molly Hider, 16, tells PEOPLE, “She was asking where we had sailed around here.”

Paul Gonella, who coordinated the mural work, adds of Kate: “She did a good job. To be put on the spot in front of so many people is hard but she did well.”

For Kate, looking tanned and healthy from her sunshine break in Mustique, it was something of a reunion. Last year, she was on hand to help Ben Ainslie Racing launch its America’s Cup campaign at Greenwich, London.

Soon after, she became royal patron of the 1851 Trust, a charity linked to the bid. It is dedicated to inspiring, and supporting, young adults to get into sailing.

Ainslee, 38, is a giant in the sailing world, having won medals in five consecutive Olympic games.

Earlier this week, Kate quietly visited a school for kids with mental health problems.

Thursday’s trip was one that was canceled last fall when Kate was felled by severe pregnancy sickness. But today she glowed with health. “She was looking good. She was great, taking her time with the young people,” Gonella says.

As she checked out the building site, she was given some fun gifts for her family: High-visibility jackets decorated with the slogans “The Boss” (for her), “The Future Boss” for George, and “The Boss’s Best Friend” (for Lupo, the family cocker spaniel).