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Kate Middleton at The Treehouse hospice in Ipswich, England, March 19. (Michael Dunlea, Express Newspapers/AP Images)


Much attention was paid to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee speech to Parliament on Tuesday, but another royal also delivered a milestone address this week. The Duchess of Cambridge gave her first official public speech.

“I’d like to say thank you, for not only accepting me as your patron,” Kate told the staff and patients at The Treehouse hospice in Ipswich, Suffolk, “but also for inviting me here today. You have all made me feel so welcome and I feel honored to be here to see this wonderful center.”

The reviews for her first solo speech were so-so. Female First said Kate appeared “visibly nervous.”

Of course, you can’t compare it to the Queen’s performance – Kate’s grandmother-in-law has more than six decades of experience at this sort of thing. And, remember, observers said that Elizabeth, too, was nervous when she was Kate’s age.

Forbes pointed out that the Duchess was obviously under a great deal of pressure.

“Where the rest of us have an audience of maybe a score or a hundred for our first speeches, Kate had the entire world,” wrote Nick Morgan, a Forbes contributor and speech coach.

Morgan’s verdict: “She was adorable.  She was OK.  She was…the Duchess of Cambridge.  The speech was halting, because she read her brief comments, and had to keep looking down to get the next sentence. That was a bit awkward. She was obviously nervous. But she made up for that with her charm.”

Morgan suggested that Kate take a cue from President Obama and start using a teleprompter. There’s no shame in it, he said.

In other royal-related news about the Duchess of Cambridge:

• Still, there’s no denying that the Duchess’s presence packs a wallop. Just a few days earlier, on St. Patrick’s Day, during her first solo military visit, she actually caused men to faint. That’s plural, by the way, three men – and they weren’t just any men – these were soldiers, three Irish Guards.

All right, we’ll come clean, even though it takes away from the story a bit: Irish Guards Captain Ed Roffe-Silvester explained to the Express that soldiers not infrequently pass out when they’re forced to stand in their full ceremonial garb, which includes seven pound bearskin hats.

“The bearskin is fairly heavy,” the captain said. “If there’s a bit of a breeze like today then you have to put it on pretty firmly and that can restrict blood flow to the head.”

• In her speech to the Treehouse hospice, Kate said she was sorry that William wasn’t there with her.

“I’m missing him terribly,” she said on a visit to Leicester earlier this month, when she joined the Queen and Prince Philip in kicking off Diamond Jubilee trips within the UK.

But on Wednesday, the newlyweds were reunited as Prince William returned home from a seven-week tour of duty in the Falkland Islands.

After an “emotional reunion” at the Brize Norton RAF base in Oxfordshire, said the Mirror, “the couple are now enjoying a romantic break.”

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By Paul Hechinger