What do you say when you’re just a kid and the Duchess of Cambridge shows up at your Scout meeting?
“Oh my God, it’s Princess Kate!” cried out one boy in a young beaver scout colony when a casually-dressed Kate showed up Tuesday to help them earn special badges.
Ever composed, Kate replied in her trademark down-to-earth style. “My name’s Catherine,” she told the astonished Scouts. “Very nice to meet you.”
Back from her whirlwind trip to New York City, five-months-pregnant Kate, 32, wore a black hoodie and matching jeans as surprising a group of “beavers” (boy and girl scouts between 5 and 8 years old) by joining in to help them complete tasks needed to get a special disability awareness badge.
Kate’s casual dress and friendly, ‘Call me Catherine’ attitude reflects her and husband Prince William’s relaxed approach to royalty. The couple were quick to dismiss reports that basketball star LeBron James had gotten too cozy with Kate when he put his arm around the princess after an NBA game she and William attended at the Barclays Center when they were in New York City last week.
As Kate joined the 23rd Poplar, a recently opened beaver scout colony based in East London, she was learning how to say the “scouts’ promise” in sign language. She also helped the kids with some tasks she is unlikely to practice back at Kensington Palace: Cutting up a chocolate bar while wearing boxing gloves and icing a cake while blindfolded.
But those tasks carried a serious meaning: To show kids what life can be like while coping with disabilities. By completing the tasks, the scouts hoped to win recognition and a badge for their uniforms.
One of the Kids
In one activity, Kate sat with a group of children trying to put icing on cakes while blindfolded.
She used her scout scarf to cover her face and show the children what they needed to do. Then, with her blindfold off she helped guide the hands of Fynley Gooch, 7, as he sat with a scarf covering his face and tried to squeeze icing over a cake.
After finishing Fynley’s cake, Kate had a go at being blindfolded and he took his turn to guide her in decorating the cake.
She also joined a group of beavers trying to cut up and eat Mars bars using boxing gloves to simulate those with mobility or coordination problems. And at another table Kate tried eating a bit of chocolate bar using chopsticks.
“No pressure,” Kate muttered to herself, as the cameras were trained on her.
After the activities, Kate joined the 20 beavers sitting in a circle and then, when everyone stood up, went around the circle, presenting each with a disability awareness badge.”Well done,” she told each beaver. “Oh my gosh, look at all your badges,” she said to one. “How many? Have you been counting them?”
Then Kate joined all the beavers in using sign language to say the Scout’s Promise – “I promise to do my best, to be kind and helpful and to love my world”– before singing along to their farewell song. “Goodnight Beavers.”
After she had left, Carlos told reporters, “It was amazing. She’s really spontaneous. She’s naturally gifted with children. I think she had a great time.”
Kate was also there to show her support of The Scout Association s new landmark campaign, “Better Prepared.”
Volunteering with the scouts was one of the first royal duties Kate announced soon after marring Prince William. And when the couple lived on Anglesey in North Wales, she regularly helped out at a scouts group. The keen sailor (she beat husband William in a yachting race in New Zealand in April) used her experience “to help them with knotting,” a local scouting source told PEOPLE at the time.
And, on one summer’s day, Kate hosted a beachside barbecue for the youngsters.
Wayne Bulpitt, U.K. Chief Commissioner of The Scout Association, told reporters, “She has seen at first-hand how Scouting helps young people develop, during her time as a volunteer in North Wales.These are the attributes that young people need in order to get ahead in life.”
Carlos Lopez-Plandolit, the beaver scout colony leader, said, “It’s the most exciting thing that happened to me in five years,” he said. “Scout groups like the one that the Duchess is visiting this evening give young people access to some fantastic opportunities that they might not have access to otherwise.”