Hampton Court Palace received a special guest yesterday, as Kate, Duchess of Cambridge opened its new children’s play area, The Magic Garden.
The Magic Garden draws inspiration from the myths and legends of the Tudor Court, giving families a new way to explore Hampton Court’s long and diverse past, and Catherine was there to officially open it.
Historic Royal Palaces, the charity which runs five Royal Palaces in London including Kensington Palace – home to the Cambridges, has placed the play area where Henry VIII’s tiltyard used to stand.
— Rebecca English (@RE_DailyMail) May 4, 2016
It was speaking to some youngsters using the play area that Kate revealed the newest addition to the Cambridge household: a hamster, named Marvin. She said Princess Charlotte, who turned one last week, liked how his whiskers tickled her face.
The Duchess also said she thought her son, George, would be ‘a bit scared’ of a 25ft plastic dragon at the playground. Kate spoke to Elodie and Olivia, both eight, from St John the Baptist Church of England Junior School, who were sitting on top of the plastic and clay dragon at Hampton Court Palace’s Magic Garden.
She took a look around the playground, even peeking into the Dragon’s Nest and the dragon’s mouth before meeting the team responsible for the design of the area.
— HistoricRoyalPalaces (@HRP_palaces) May 4, 2016
Speaking to staff, the mother-of-two said she was ‘desperate to take her shoes off and run around’, and didn’t mind ‘getting sand on her coat’.
As she toured the garden, a small girl queried HRP’s chairman as to who Kate was: “Who’s that?” she asked.
The Duchess of Cambridge, he replied. Then the child said, “Ooh, are you the princess?”
She said: “Just call me Kate.”
Mr Gavin said the Duchess was “bowled over” by the garden. He said: “She could immediately see just how wonderful it was and has said she really is looking forward to bringing her own children.”
Kate unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion; there was also a fantasy-inspired cake for the day.
After her visit to Henry VIII’s most famous palace, Catherine headed to Spencer House in the capital for an engagement at the Anna Freud Centre, an organisation of which she is patron, which focuses on mental health in children.
The Duchess of Cambridge, 34, was at the house for a lunch to thank donors to the charity, who has raised £3.25 million of the £10 million needed to build a new children’s mental health centre.
She met families who have benefited from the centre, as well as key supporters, and watched a short film about the ambitions of the organisation, including the new centre.
The centre’s chief executive, Peter Fonagy, said: “She has done a tremendous amount to raise awareness of child mental health as an issue.”
Spencer House is owned by The Earl of Spencer, Prince William’s uncle, but is leased to Lord Rothschild.