The Duchess of Cambridge visited the Rainbow Place Children’s Hospice in Hamilton, New Zealand, during the weekend.
Tea for two was the perfect introduction for The Duchess of Cambridge and a girl coming to terms with her mother’s terminal cancer. Sat at a tiny table, The Duchess and six-year-old Bailey Rupe enjoyed the very British ritual as the royal guest visited the Rainbow Place children’s hospice.
The Duchess, who is patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice, shared the private moment with the girl whose mother has breast cancer.
In the therapy room where the six-year-old has sessions with her counsellor Bailey showed The Duchess how she uses hand puppets to explain her feelings about her mother’s terminal illness.
Jennifer Doolabh, 27, was given six weeks to live when she was pregnant with Bailey’s brother Matthias, now aged three months.
The Duchess, who wore a green Erdem coat over a green and white Suzannah dress, sat down at a child’s tea party table with Bailey and asked: "Are you having tea? Can I sit with you? How is mummy doing?
“Do you find it difficult sometimes? Yes, I’m sure you do, but you’re a very brave little girl.”
Bailey said afterwards: “I was excited to meet a real princess and it made me feel like a princess for the day too.”
The Duchess was shown around the building which supports children with life-limiting illnesses and youngsters who have experienced a bereavement or are coping with parents who are terminally ill.
While the site has some residential facilities for overnight stays, it is mainly used as a day centre where families can come for counselling.
The Duchess had a briefing with the hospice’s chief executive Craig Tamblyn and also a private chat with Sam Ogilvy, 12, whose father drowned two years ago.
The youngster used a visual aid to tell The Duchess how he lost his father.
Sam said: “I told her about my journey by using the sand tray. She was really nice. She quite liked the sand tray idea of telling the story.”
The Duchess also visited the hospice’s art therapy room where she met five children who were decorating boxes to explain how they were coping with their parents’ illnesses.
She said: “It looks far too tidy to be an art therapy room. There’s normally paint everywhere and I normally end up getting some on myself.”
Sisters Nicole Keene, 11, and Ashleigh Keene, nine, who are coming to terms with the news that their mother Deborah has terminal throat cancer, chatted to The Duchess.
Nicole said: “It’s good here because it helps us open up and talk about it. The Duchess was very pretty so it was very exciting to meet her.”
Ms Keene, 40, was in tears as she spoke about the support she has received from the hospice: “I was given six months to live last September and these guys at Rainbow Place are awesome. They help the kids a lot.”
Her Royal Highness then went to an Alice in Wonderland themed Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, held in a teepee-style marquee in the hospice’s garden, featuring a candy floss machine, carnival games and a Narnia wardrobe that opened into a snowy back room.
Hamish Taylor, a 17-year-old with muscular dystrophy, gave The Duchess a gift of a grey onesie for Prince George with his name embroidered on it.
“She said, ‘Thank you very much, I can’t wait to show it to him’,” he said.
Jacqui Frazer, 47, who is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, met The Duchess and told her she was once in a play with The Earl of Wessex during his time at Wanganui collegiate.
She said: “I told her that when Charles and Diana were over in 1983 I went to tea with them so it’s a nice bit of symmetry to meet her too.”
Ms Frazer’s daughter, Clementine Frazer-Wilkins, said: “I made a wish that The Duchess would talk to me and it came true.”
As The Duchess was leaving, she was handed a posy of cream flowers from Kaiya Miller, six, who has cystic fibrosis. Kaiya said: “I thought The Duchess would have smiley eyes, and she did.”