By Rebecca English, Royal Correspondent

Composed: Attending a private charity dinner last night, Kate looked glamorous in a pale aqua Amanda Wakeley dress, while her hair was pulled up in a natural half up, half down style

Shimmering in silver, the Duchess of Cambridge conducted her first solo engagement as a royal yesterday – and displayed a hitherto unknown childhood secret.

Underneath Kate’s stylish half-up, half-down hairstyle a prominent three-inch scar could be seen on the side of her left temple.

A spokesman for the Duchess at St James’s Palace confirmed last night that it was the result of surgery as a young child. ‘The scar related to a childhood operation,’ they said.

The palace declined to discuss what kind of operation because it was, they said, a private matter.

Senior royal sources also confirmed that it had been ‘a very serious operation’ but declined to comment further.

John Scurr, consultant surgeon at the Lister Hospital in London, said it was unlikely to have been the result of a tumour.

‘I really doubt it was any serious medical condition and I would say it is as a result of an arteriovenous malformation – a birthmark – being removed, ‘ he said.

‘It is remarkable, given the measurement, that no-one has noticed before.’

Kate's scar, the result of a childhood operation, was clearly visible on her temple, while right, William has what he calls his Harry Potter scar on his forehead, the result of being hit with a golf club when he was 13

Kate's scar was clearly visible on the side of her head in a photo taken earlier this year

Kate is not alone in having a prominent childhood scar on her head. Her husband, William, bears a large zig-zag mark on his forehead as a result of being hit with a golf club when he was 13. He calls it his ‘Harry Potter scar’.

The duchess was conducting her first solo engagement as a member of the Royal Family, standing in for her father-in-law, Prince Charles.

The prince had been due to host a glitzy black-tie private dinner at Clarence House, his London residence, in aid of In Kind Direct, a charity he set up in 1996.

Unfortunately Charles was suddenly required to fly to Riyadh to present condolences to the Saudi Royal Family following the death of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

So he called his new daughter-in-law and asked if she would step in.

Apparently Kate was ‘delighted’ to have been asked and spent the previous day mugging up on the charity, which redistributes surplus goods from manufacturers and retailers to UK charities working at home and abroad.

She even apparently ‘tapped’ up her mother, Carole Middleton, to see if she had any spare stock at Party Pieces, the family firm which sells children’s party goods over the internet.

A St James's Palace spokesman said: ‘The Duchess of Cambridge was delighted to be able to step in for her father-in-law, The Prince of Wales.’

Kate looked slender in her beaded gown - which, unusually for the Duchess, who tends to cover up with either sleeves or small bolero, showed off her shoulders - as she chatted with the 30 guests at Clarence House

Kate, 29, looked stunning – if a little slender – in an unusually sexy vintage silver evening gown with a delicately beaded halter neck that extended round her bust. The dress was designed by one of her favourite couturiers, Amanda Wakeley, and was from her Winter 2006 collection.

At last night’s event Kate chatted knowledgeably about the charity’s work at a 45-minute champagne reception in the Garden Room before leading the 30 guests through to the dining room for dinner.

An apologetic message from the prince was then read out in which he referred to ‘darling daughter-in-law’.

A palace aide revealed: ‘The Duchess had a little bit of time beforehand to prepare for the engagement - it all went very well.

Kate looked comfortable in her role as she greeted guests at the reception, held in aid of charity In Kind Direct

‘She was so pleased that her first solo engagement was for the Prince of Wales, who has shown her so much support over the years.

‘The soiree was designed to thank existing supporters and introduce new ones to In Kind Direct as well as asking them to continue to support the charity’s work.

Robin Boles, the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘This event was a unique opportunity for In Kind Direct to thank generous supporters who have helped us over the years to deliver so much benefit for UK charities and the millions of people they serve.

‘We were delighted that the Duchess was able to step in at such short notice after our founder was unexpectedly called away.

‘The Duchess hosted a very special evening with absolute professionalism and charm.

‘You would never know it was her first solo engagement. It was as if she had been trained by the Prince of Wales.

‘She was completely natural, professional and charmed everyone. She spoke to every single guest and was genuinely interested, and interested in continuing to help.

‘She said she had already called her mum to tell her about us in case Party Pieces had surplus products.

The Duchess of Cambridge - head and shoulders above the guests at the event - was totally at ease as she chatted to the patrons of the charity

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