Duchess Catherine made her first official public speech today (19.03.12).

The royal gave an address at The Treehouse hospice in Ipswich, Suffolk, where she paid tribute to the work of children's hospices throughout the UK and said she wished her husband Prince William - who is currently stationed in the Falklands with the Royal Air Force - could have attended with her.

The visibly nervous duchess - who wore a blue Reiss dress thought to belong to her mother Carole Middleton - said: "I'd like to say thank you, for not only accepting me as your patron but also for inviting me here today. You have all made me feel so welcome and I feel honoured to be here to see this wonderful centre.

"I'm only sorry that William can't be here today, he would love it here. A view of his that I share is that through teamwork, much can be achieved."

Duchess Catherine - who was known as Kate Middleton before her wedding - met children and their families who use the hospice's facilities and in her speech paid tribute to the "inspirational" work carried out by the East Anglia Children's Hospices charity (EACH), of which The Treehouse is a part.

She said: "Today I have seen that the Treehouse is all about family and fun, for many this is a home from home, a lifeline, enabling families to live as normally as possible during a very precious period of time. What you do is inspirational, it is a shining example of the support and the care that is delivered not just here but in the children's hospice movement up and down the country. The feelings you inspire - feelings of love and hope, offer a chance to families to live a life they never thought could be possible."