Jersey girl! Duchess of Cambridge slim and chic on low key visit to homeless shelter

By Rebecca English, Royal Correspondent

Charity work: The Duchess of Cambridge arriving at Centrepoint's homeless shelter in Camberwell, London

After her appearance as belle of the ball earlier this week, it was a more sober look for the Duchess of Cambridge on a visit to a homeless shelter today.

Three days after she dazzled in a £4,000 black velvet evening dress at a military awards, Kate sported a Ralph Lauren olive green jersey dress, clinched at her tiny waist with a thick black belt, and knee length black suede boots as she accompanied her husband, Prince William on a visit to Centrepoint’s Camberwell Foyer centre in Camberwell, south east London.

The prince also abandoned his habitual suit for blue cords and a jumper and shirt.

The Duchess of Cambridge’s wool and cashmere turtle-neck dress cost £350 from Ralph Lauren’s Blue Label collection.

It has already sold out online in several sizes and is now only available in large and extra-large.

Kate is wearing the ‘tumbell brown melange’ shade.

In organising the engagement shortly before they headed off for the traditional royal Christmas at Sandringham, the royal couple were following in the footsteps of Princess Diana.

As a young boy the prince and his younger brother, Harry, were regularly taken by their late mother on private visits to Centrepoint hostels across the capital to better understand the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.

William is now patron of the organisation which works with young homeless people and two years ago spent the night sleeping rough publicise the plight of the homeless at Christmas.

Aides say William has long been keen to introduce Kate to the charity’s work in action.

Campaigner: Prince William is now patron of the organisation which works with young homeless people and two years ago spent the night sleeping rough publicise the plight of the homeless at Christmas

‘It is one of the prince’s oldest patronages and is particularly dear to his heart.

He has been keen to show the Duchess the charity’s work in action. It will be the first time she has visited a project of this kind in this country and she has been looking forward to it immensely,’ said one.

William was already familiar with the Camberwell centre the couple toured yesterday, having made a private visit in 2003 when he was 21.

During their engagement the couple viewed a group session on Centrepoint’s ‘Workwise’ programme, which enables participants to prepare themselves in order to find a job.

William and Kate also took part in a cookery class making low fat festive mince pies and gingerbread.

Kate was given some pretty flowers during the visit. Centrepoint is one of her husband's oldest patronages and is particularly dear to his heart - he used to visit homeless shelters with his mother

William and Kate talk to Centrepoint's Chief Executive Sevi Obakin (right) as they leave the charity

When Kate discovered that it was Tasha Barbi's 18th birthday she made her a heart-shaped cookie covered in hundreds and thousands.

'It's your birthday cookie,' she said.

'I am never going to eat it,' Tasha said afterwards.

They concluded their visit watching a performance by the winner of ‘Centrepoint’s Got Talent’.

Just like his father, Prince Charles, William couldn't resist throwing a few shapes on his visit.

Giving a hint? At one point Kate seemed to laugh off the pregnancy rumours that surround her by holding her stomach

William kept Kate entertained and at ease during the visit, and talked of the children they are planning together

He was chatting with resident Vanessa Boateng,18, when he asked her whether the uniform he wore to his wedding looked 'dapper'.

'Nooooo, ' she replied, 'your swag looked on point' - which is street slang for pretty damn good.

William, 29, looked pleased as punch and started doing a hip hop style dance, brushing the shoulders of his jumper twice on each side.

While it is likely his brother, Harry, would have cringed at his attempts, Kate and Vanessa both looked delighted.

The prince was so chuffed at the reaction that he called Vanessa over to do it again at a reception later.

Just like his father, Prince Charles, William couldn't resist throwing a few shapes on his visit - much to Catherine's amusement

Prince Harry might have cringed at his brother's moves, but you cannot criticise him for not giving his all

He also let slip his and Kate's future plans when he discovered that his new friend was training to become a nursery nurse.

'He said he was going to make his children come and I could discipline them,' she revealed.

'He is fantastic, he is great, I love him... We are friends.'

Singer Olivia Sabat, 20, was selected to entertain them after a talent competition for the charity's residents and was due to sing Use Somebody, by the Kings Of Leon.

Miss Sabat, said she also hoped to ask the royal couple if they ever get a chance to be ‘normal’.

‘I just want to ask them, 'What do you do to feel normal? Do you guys have snuggly slippers and sit and eat biscuits?' she revealed in an interview before the couple arrived.

‘I'll ask how they feel about the world wanting to know everything about them and whether it gets daunting.’

Olivia became homeless at 17 when she left her mother's home in nearby Tulse Hill because they were ‘not really getting along’. She lived in three hostels before arriving at Centrepoint in September and said living alone was a ‘wake-up call’, recalling how she spent her benefits ‘recklessly’ then had to pay the bills.

The stress of being homeless saw her fail to complete two college courses.

With the help of Centrepoint, Olivia now works for a media production company and hopes to become a youth worker.

The couple were also being welcomed by Kiran James, 23, who lives at a Centrepoint hostel in Covent Garden and met William on a visit two years ago.

Kiran left for college at 16 but found himself homeless when he was unable to return to the family house, then split up with his girlfriend.

‘I found myself staying with friends and just moving from place to place,’ he said.

’I didn't see myself as homeless because I wasn't sleeping rough. It was only when someone told me that if you aren't living at home and you don't have a place then you are homeless.’

Kiran now has an apprenticeship in construction at a college in Camden, and was part of the building team that worked on the Channel 4 show Phil's Empty Homes Giveaway.

William and Kate took part in a healthy living cookery class making low fat festive mince pies and gingerbread

The couple looked at home in the kitchen and Kate even made a heart-shaped birthday cookie for a girl who was turning 18 today

Birthday girl Tasha Barbi shows off the cookie given to her by the Duchess

Centrepoint is a national charity providing housing and support to improve the lives of homeless young people aged 16-25. At any one time, it works with over 500 young people providing a range of services to help them tackle the issues that can lead to homelessness.

In addition to a wide range of accommodation services, Centrepoint also ensures young people have access to personal and mental health assistance and learning programmes, which enable them to develop the skills they need for a sustainable future.

Its housing services range from night shelters for emergencies to hostels for short stays and supported flats with facilities for learning on site. The charity also provides services specifically for young people who are leaving the care of the local authority, for ex-offenders and for young single parents.

The couple listened to moving testimonials from young people who had been supported by the charity

Chief executive Sey Obakin said of the royal visit:'It is a powerful motivator and Prince William is a keen and passionate patron.

'I have seen him talk to a young person and remember their story six months later.

'This has been a difficult 12 months for the charity and our young people in particular.

' There are one million young people unemployed in this country and ours are at the back of the queue as they have no qualifications, no experience and have chaotic lives.'

These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Leave a comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.