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Sunday, November 20, 2011

'She doesn't look like a princess.What primary school children thought of Duchess Kate when she paid them a surprise visit in jeans

By Katie Nicholl

Dressed down: Kate, centre, smiles for parents in jeans and a jumper in a picture taken by a parent on their mobile phone

When the Duchess of Cambridge made a secret visit last week to an art therapy charity she admires, she chose to dress down for the occasion.

An informal jumper and jeans outfit, Kate decided, was appropriate for a private meeting, as she set out to learn more about an organisation that had written asking for her support.

Unfortunately for poor Kate – normally revered as a fashion icon – her venue was an inner London primary school, where young pupils had been mustered for 45 minutes in the car park to witness the occasion.

And when casual Kate finally emerged from her fact-finding mission, her young fans were distinctly dubious about her Royal credentials, complaining: ‘She doesn’t look like a Princess. Where’s her dress?’

Kate, 29, has been visiting a number of charities and organisations in recent weeks as she prepares for her new role as a working Royal.

She made the private visit to the Robert Blair primary school in Islington on Wednesday afternoon to find out more about The Art Room, a charity that works with challenging children and has a branch at the school.

‘Kate was dressed down in jeans and a jumper,’ a 21-year-old local woman who was collecting her three-year-old brother from the school told The Mail on Sunday.

‘The children had been told by the headmaster Mr Miller and the deputy headmaster Mr Murphy that a real-life Princess was coming to the school.

‘They were so excited and were all told to wait in the car park to see her. When I got there, some of the children were so tired they were sitting on the ground.

‘When she came out of The Art Room after the visit, Mr Miller walked her to her car.

She posed for a picture and waved at the children before she was driven off.

‘Some of the little ones were very confused. They were saying things like, “She doesn’t look like a Princess. Where’s her dress?” They didn’t believe it was the Princess they had seen on the television.’

Parents were only informed of the VIP visitor when they received a text from the school, which read: ‘If your child comes home and says they saw Kate Middleton today, it’s true! We had a surprise visit from the DOC to The Art Room.’

One mother, who asked not to be named, said: ‘We all got a text message from the school. All the children waited for her outside in the car park and they got to wave at her. We were told there were nine students in The Art Room who got to meet her. The children said she was very pretty. Some of the older children said she looked skinnier than she did in the photos.’

Mr Murphy, deputy head at Robert Blair – named after a formidable Scot who was London County Council’s chief education officer a century ago – said: ‘It was very exciting for us, but I can’t really talk about it.’

History of Art graduate Kate is said to be keen to work with The Art Room, which is based in Oxford but has its London branch at the Robert Blair primary school.

The charity pledges to ‘increase self-esteem, self-confidence and independence through art’ and works with children aged from five to 16 who are disruptive or withdrawn or have learning difficulties.

Not the same girl: Some pupils didn't believe Kate was a princess and others said she looked skinnier in person

A spokesman confirmed Kate had been to visit them, saying: ‘The Duchess of Cambridge paid a private visit to The Art Room in order to find out more about what we do and gain a wider experience of the work within this sector.’

The charity wants funding so that it can provide five-days-a-week support for youngsters at its three Oxford centres and one in London.

A spokesman for the Duchess said she has not decided which patronages she will take on but confirmed that The Art Room is one she is interested in working with.

The spokesman added: ‘It was one of a number of meetings, part of the Duchess getting to know the charitable sector. The Art Room wrote to her and caught her eye. She went to find out more about their work.’



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