On Wednesday morning, Kate Middleton made a surprise appearance at a maternity ward in Surrey, marking her first solo engagement since becoming the Princess of Wales last month. In an ochre belted Karen Millen gown, black suede heels, and a surgical mask, she toured the wards of the Royal Surrey County Hospital. During her visit she spoke to patients as well as staffers who work in the Jasmine Team, the hospital’s pioneering maternal mental-health program.
And, of course, she held a newborn at the hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit. According to Hello, Kate was speaking to new mother Szilvia Novak, whose daughter Bianca Moran was born six-weeks premature on Tuesday, when Novak asked if Kate wanted to hold Bianca. Kate asked, “Am I allowed to?” as staff helped Novak pass her daughter to the royal.
Kate also spoke to Amy Stubbs, the hospital’s director of midwifery, who told People that the princess opened up about how difficult it was to choose her own children’s names. “She just really talked about her own children including how they chose their names. A lot of the new mums and dads are thinking about how to choose names for their babies, and they spoke with her about how Kate and William made their choice,” Stubbs said. “She said they were their favorite names and that obviously the world was waiting for them to name their children — and that felt like quite a big pressure!”
The Press Association reports that the maternity unit in Surrey cares for about 3,000 newborns every year. In May 2022, it became one of only eight hospitals in the U.K. to receive UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Gold accreditation for their evidence-based approach to infant nutrition and promoting infant bonding.
The visit took place as a part of Kate’s work with the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, where a team of staffers are helping to direct projects related to the central importance of the first five years of life for children’s emotional and intellectual development. In May, Kate announced that she was taking on a role as patron of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance because her work with early childhood had educated her on how important a mother’s mental state is when it comes to caring for children.
Prince William has also returned to solo engagements now that he is the Prince of Wales. On Tuesday night he delivered a tribute to his late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the United for Wildlife global summit, and on Wednesday he visited the England national soccer team at St. George’s Park and had a conversation with their manager Gareth Southgate, about their preparations for this winter’s World Cup in Qatar.
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