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Kate visits an art class at a school in Oxford. (Chris Radburn/AP Images)


The Duchess of Cambridge, as expected, has been stepping up her royal duties by making official visits on her own.

Earlier this week, the Duchess visited art classes in Oxford coordinated by the art therapy charity of which she is a patron. Press reports pointed out that, even though she was wearing a special smock with “Miss Catherine” written on it, she smudged paint on her sleeve. But, predictably, that didn’t stop the dress she was wearing from being sold out within minutes at retail and online outlets.

But the biggest piece of news to emerge from the visit was the revelation of a closely-guarded royal secret.

The manager of the Rose Hill Primary school’s art room, Lisa Hancock, told the Press Association that the children had selected a toy dog for the royal visit.

Hancock said the Duchess asked whether it had a name, suggesting that they could name it after the her new puppy.

“I’ll call it after my dog,” Kate said, according to Hancock, who could only remember that the name began with an L.

A St. James spokesman confirmed afterwards that Kate and Will’s cocker spaniel is named Lupo, the Italian word for wolf.

Once the secret was blown, someone, with tongue in snout, set up a Twitter account for the royals’ best friend, @HRH_Lupo. His bio reads: “Prince among royal pooches. Pet of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Snapping at [BBC royal correspondent] Nicholas Witchell‘s heels.”

And Lupo quickly tweeted Witchell’s BBC colleague, Peter Hunt: “Just you watch it, Hunty. You’re next on the list after I’m finished chewing Witchell’s ankles.”

In other royal-related news about Kate Middleton’s public outings:

• A week earlier, on a visit to a Liverpool children’s hospital, Kate had actually told a young cancer patient her new pet’s name, according to the Daily Mail.

Elliot Casey, who had just undergone an operation for a brain tumor, asked about Kate’s puppy.

The 12-year-old said, “She told me its name, but she told me not to tell anyone.”

Elliot kept the secret.

The Liverpool visit fell on Kate’s first Valentine’s Day as a married woman, during which she found herself away from her husband, who is serving on a six-week search and rescue mission in the Falklands.

Eight-year-old Jaqson Johnston-Lynch told the Duchess, “I am sorry Prince William cannot be here.” He gave her a dozen roses, a cupcake and a card that said, “Dear Kate, Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you, Jaqson.”

• Earlier in the day, in Liverpool, Kate visited The Brink, a non-alcoholic, or “dry” bar aimed at helping recovering alcoholics. The bar is a project of Action on Addiction, a group for which Kate is a royal patron. At the beginning of the month, Kate had made one of her “under the radar” visits to the charity’s headquarters, but the Valentines Day visit was very public, with the bar even naming a drink after their royal celebrity: “The Duchess.”

• Kate made her first major solo visit the previous week, when she went to the National Portrait Gallery, of which she is a royal patron.  At the same time, the museum announced that the Duchess herself would sit for a formal portrait.

At the Gallery, Kate saw the Lucian Freud show and met Sue Tilley, who served as a nude model for the artist.

“I’m not embarrassed about her seeing me naked — I’m a human being,” Tilley said. “I may not be the most gorgeous one under the sun, but that’s what I am.”

“It’s art, you know. Poor woman,” she add added, referring to Kate, “I’m sure she’s seen things before.”

By the way, if you want to make your own official visit to see the Lucian Freud show, it travels to Fort Worth, Texas for four months, beginning in July. (via The Los Angeles Times)

• Some fur was flying last week over Kate’s wardrobe. The Hollywood Reporter said that the Duchess had become “caught up at the centre of an angry row between pro and anti-fur campaigners.”

Apparently, the International Fur Trade Association proudly posted a picture of Kate wearing what the association claimed to a “classy fur-lined coat.”

Alarmed, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals then asked the Duchess’s representatives whether the coat was made of real fur and were reportedly told that it was fake.

So PETA shot back a letter to the fur trade association demanding that they take the photo down and issue a statement acknowledging that the fur isn’t real – an action which the association has since taken. (also via the Huffington Post)

• Kate won’t be making all her royal visits alone – she’s going to be joining the Queen herself on two upcoming appearances. The Duchess will accompany the Queen, and Camilla, to the opening of a new restaurant at the department store Fortnum and Mason this week. And then next week, she’ll travel with the Queen and Prince Philip to Diamond Jubilee events in the city of Leicester. (via the Associated Press)

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By Paul Hechinger