Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Kate outdoors: The Duchess of Cambridge mucks in on children's camping trip with woodland yomp in her £300 wellies

•The duchess was visiting an ‘Expanding Horizons’ primary school scheme
•Leather-lined green wellies were made by 80-year-old French bootmaker Le Chameau

By Rebecca English, Royal Correspondent

Camping out: Kate joined the youngsters under canvas

It was back to basics for the Duchess of Cambridge as she joined inner city schoolchildren on a camping trip this morning.

Unsurprisingly, however, Kate went into the woods in style - in a pair of £300 leather-lined wellies.

The duchess was visiting an ‘Expanding Horizons’ primary school scheme at the Widehorizons Margaret McMillan House in Wrotham, Kent.

People's princess: The Duchess of Cambridge was totally at ease as she chatted with children and charity workers

The scheme is co-ordinated by ARK Schools, which gives children from inner-city backgrounds the opportunity to venture into the countryside and develop their confidence and teamwork skills.

The charitable Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry is supporting ARK in its work and last year William and Kate attended a glitzy fundraising gala in London, their first engagement as a married couple.

On that occasion the Duchess wore a glittering rose Jenny Packham gown and sipped champagne as some of the wealthiest men and women in the capital partied well into the night.

Today, however, it was very much jeans and wellies as she stomped around in the woods with a group of 28 youngsters aged eight and nine.

Admittedly the wellingtons cost £300 but her skin-tight blue jeans were by High Street store Zara as was her khaki jumper. Her matching shirt was by Burberry and her waterproof waistcoat by outdoor clothing company Really Wild.

Many of the youngsters had never been to the countryside before

Lady in grey: Yesterday the Duchess had look her glamorous best during the Trooping of the Colour

Kate's leather-lined green wellies were made by 80-year-old French bootmaker Le Chameau, which specialises in upmarket country attire.

On its website, it boasts that the footwear has ‘full-grain leather’ lining for ‘warmth and comfort’ and is made using the ‘finest craftmanship’.

She also sported heavy make up and her hair had been curled, held back from her face by a black plastic clip.

The children Kate met came from the King Solomon Academy Primary School which is based in North Westminster, London. An area of high deprivation, more than 70 per cent of children under 15 in the area live in a jobless household.

For many of the children, aged between and eight and nine years old, it was the first time they had seen the countryside or been away from home.

Widehorizons run outdoor learning experiences and on their three-day residential course the children had learnt to sleep in tipi tents and take part in team-building activities including rope challenges, obstacle courses, campfire building and outdoor cooking.

Two of the youngsters showed the Duchess round their tipi.

Hats off to Catherine: After the elegance of yesterday, the Duchess was happy to don her £300 Le Chameau wellies as she joined in the children's camping trip

The youngsters asked Kate about how she was enjoying life in the Royal Family

Zahid Shanvere, eight, made Kate roar with laughter as he held open the tent flap for her and said: 'After you.'

'What a gentleman,' she said.

She was in fits of giggles again when the children told her that they had been a little scared on their first night out under the stars.

'What were you scared of? That a spider might creep in?' She asked.

'A mole,' said Zahid with enormous seriousness.

'Oh no have you never seen a mole before?' the Duchess asked.

As she left the tent she asked Zahid and his friend, Faith Kalala, nine, whether they had enjoyed breakfast outside. 'Thank you for showing me your bedroom,' she said.

Then it was out along a muddy path to the woods where the rest of the group were busy making shelters and camp fires.

The Duchess marvelled at their efforts 'Gosh, this is brilliant did you make it from things you found in the woods?' she asked.

The youngsters showed Kate around their tipi, and even told her they were nervous on their first night sleeping outside

Outdoor type: Kate sits around the campfire with the group of schoolchildren

She gamely crawled inside one of the shelters, sitting down in the dirt with the youngsters.

One could be heard telling her he had been 'dead scared to go to the toilet' the night before.

Kate and the children were then shown how to make dough sticks over the camp fire, with the Duchess even trying a small bit of the smokey bread, which had been wrapped around a stick and cooked, and declaring it 'very nice'.

Some of the children asked her about her job and she replied:'It's very busy and great fun but I am very well looked after.'

Another asked her how long she would sit on the throne to which Kate said tactfully: 'It's not actually my job yet!'

Kate tried some of the food the children had made on their campfire

After joining the youngsters for a private lunch she left by helicopter for Gloucestershire where Prince William was due to play in a charity polo match.

ARK spokesman Lesley Smith said the children had enjoyed themselves tremendously.

'Many of the children here live in flat with no gardens and little area to play. This has been such an experience for them.'

Tigerlily Smith, eight, said the Duchess had been lovely. 'We asked how it felt to be a princess and she said it was very nice and she got to visit lots of countries but hadn't seen as many as William. She said William was very sweet and kind and spoiled her.'

Alpha Kolajo, nine added: 'We told her about our camping and how we made our shelter and she was very impressed.'



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