Kate Middleton marked another first in her new life as a young married royal today, delivering her first speech on foreign soil.
Middleton, 30, addressed staff and patients at the Hospis Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur in a two-minute speech focused on the importance of specialized medical care for seriously ill children.
“It has been wonderful meeting the patients, the families and all the staff here,” she said, reading slowly from a prepared text and looking up occasionally to smile.
The Duchess of Cambridge, as she is formally known, visited the hospice as part of a tour of the Far East and South Pacific with her husband, Prince William, to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
Cheering crowds have met the couple at each spot so far on their tour and Thursday’s event was no different, with a barrier collapsing from the weight of fans reaching out to see them. Young children from a nearby school greeted Kate and William, who joined her for the visit, outside the hospice with Malaysian flags and a welcome banner. Once inside, the couple met with young patients and drew with them on clay bricks, according to reports.
Middleton’s choice of the hospice for her first overseas speech was a demonstration that hospice care is an issue near and dear to her heart.
When in January Middleton announced that she would be donating her time and support to an array of charitable organizations, becoming a Royal Patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices was at the top of the list. Palace officials said at the time that Middleton chose the charity, which aids children with life-threatening diseases, because she was moved by the issue that motivates the charity, a leader in palliative care.
Middleton’s commitment to charitable work has drawn comparisons to her mother-in-law, the late Princess Diana, whom she never had the chance to meet but whom has remained a presence in her life as a royal, and on this tour. The first stop for Middleton and Prince William after touching down in Singapore Tuesday was to the famed Botanic Gardens to view orchids, including one named after Diana, whose death in an August 1997 car crash came just weeks before she was scheduled to visit the gardens to see the orchid.
“People love to make comparisons [of Kate] with Diana,” Roya Nikkhah from UK’s The Telegraph told ABC News at the time. “She [Kate] is young. She is attractive. She is very glamorous. I think that gives people an excitement and a glamour to the royal family we haven’t had in a long time.”
Middleton and William are also scheduled to visit a tropical jungle region on Borneo Island while in Malaysia. They will travel to the Solomon Islands on Saturday before concluding their trip with some downtime, staying at a luxurious private estate in the island nation of Tuvalu.