The Duchess of Cambridge made an previously-unannounced trip to Northern Ireland to promote her “5 Big Questions on the Under Fives" survey
Kate Middleton is making some furry (and slippery) new friends.
During her surprise trip to Northern Ireland on Wednesday, the Duchess of Cambridge kept her royal composure when she met a corn snake on the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards, despite admitting she wasn’t keen on meeting the reptile, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
In a video, Princess Kate looked excited to hold the snake, as she wore a big smile and bonded with a mother and her daughter who sat beside her.
“This is amazing. Want to touch it?” she asked the little girl next to her. “Wow.”
Then, another young girl can be seen approaching the royal and petting the snake calmly in front of her, which impressed Kate. “Look at you! Do you want to hold her, too?”
“This is the first time I ever held a snake like this, how cool is that?” she added.
The farm is set on 40 acres of countryside and is home to a variety of animals, including alpacas and lambs, some of which the royal mom of three also had the opportunity to meet. Kate fed a lamb, pet an adorable brown alpaca, met a guinea pig and pet a tortoise alongside groups of children and families that visited the farm that day.
At the farm, Kate, 38, also had the chance to speak with local parents and grandparents about their experiences of raising young children as part of her new mission in support of early childhood development. The royal wanted to use the visit to spread the news of her key research on childhood development and care. Laid out as a simple survey, it is called “5 Big Questions on the Under Fives,” and was launched earlier this month.
“It’s our 30th anniversary. We’re all very excited. It was quite a job keeping her visit secret. We had only 10 days notice,” owner Stewart Donaldson told the Belfast Telegraph.
Parent Claire Savage who was with her daughter, Alexa, added, “I think the parents are more excited than the kids. I’ve always wanted to meet Kate and say hello. I don’t think the kids know what’s going on.”
The Ark Open Farm opened in 1990 and after initially specializing in rare breeds of farm animals, the farm has now developed a number of play areas and activities for children. Open farms such as this “are important in providing places in the community for family members of all generations to spend quality time together, while allowing children to benefit from spending time outdoors,” her office says. Encouraging kids to play outside and enjoy the outdoors is a key area of interest for Kate and goes in tandem with her work with nurturing wellbeing for children.
The questions in Kate’s survey include topics such as nature vs. nurture, health and happiness. The results will help guide what is done to help vulnerable children and families for generations to come. The 5 Big Questions survey is being conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Kate and William’s Royal Foundation and will run for a month, from 21st January 21 to February 21.
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The visit to the farm is the latest leg in her mission to get to the four corners of the U.K. Her initiative began in Birmingham and has taken her to Cardiff, London and Woking, Surrey.
Her trip to Northern Ireland comes at a busy time for Kate, 38, and husband William, 37. They have just announced that they will visit Ireland for three days in March and are likely to be factoring in a tour to Australia’s fire-ravaged areas too.