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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gives first public address

By the CNN Wire Staff
March 19, 2012 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
  • "What you do is inspirational. It is a shining example," the duchess says
  • The duchess became a royal patron for East Anglia Children's Hospice in January
  • "I'm only sorry that William can't be here today," she says in her first public address

Ipswich, England (CNN) -- The Duchess of Cambridge gave her first official public address Monday, speaking against a backdrop of children's drawings on brightly colored walls.

"What you do is inspirational. It is a shining example," the former Catherine Middleton said at the opening of a new children's hospice center in Ipswich, England.

"I'm only sorry that William can't be here today. He would love it here," she told staff at the East Anglia's Children's Hospices "Treehouse" facility. "A view of his that I share is that, through teamwork, so much can be achieved. What you have all achieved here is extraordinary."

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After her brief remarks, the 30-year-old duchess met with staff and supporters of the facility, which also includes sensory and music rooms, in addition to bedrooms for children facing life-threatening illnesses.

The Duchess of Cambridge's official public appearances have often been in a supporting role to her husband, Prince William, who is currently on a tour of duty with the Royal Air Force in the Falkland Islands.

In January, she took the first step toward carving out her own public role when she announced the U.K. charities she would support as patron, including the children's hospices.

At the time, the duchess also announced that she would support the Art Room, which helps disadvantaged children express themselves, develop self-esteem and learn life skills through art, and Action on Addiction, which runs a network of addiction treatment centers across England.

CNN's Max Foster contributed to this report.

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