George and the Dragon

Young prince would love play area mon­ster says Kate... ‘but he might be a bit scared of it’

Staines Informer - - NEWS - Tom Smurth­waite

THE Duchess of Cam­bridge de­clared a de­sire to ‘take off her shoes and run around’ as she of­fi­cially opened the Magic Gar­den at Hamp­ton Court Palace.

Ar­riv­ing at the East Mole­sey land­mark on Wed­nes­day morn­ing last week, the duchess was given a tour of the play area by Ru­pert Gavin, chair­man of His­toric Royal Palaces (HRP), and HRP chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Day.

Magic Gar­den de­signer and RHS award-win­ning land­scape gar­dener Robert My­ers joined the party to ex­plain the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the project.

Sit­u­ated on the site of Henry VIII’s for­mer Tilt­yard, the gar­den is in­flu­enced by the myths and leg­ends of life 500 years ago. It was while talk­ing to Tilt­yard gardening team mem­ber Barbara Smith about daf­fodils that the duchess let slip a per­sonal am­bi­tion.

Barbara said: “I asked her if she had any time to have some fun (dur­ing the Magic Gar­den visit).

“She told me she was des­per­ate to take her shoes off and run around.”

Fur­ther rev­e­la­tions fol­lowed as the duchess spoke to a pupil from St John the Bap­tist School in Hamp­ton Wick.

The duchess told nineyear-old Darcey that a ham­ster called Marvin is the lat­est ad­di­tion to the Royal house­hold.

Darcey said: “She she has a ham­ster, said and Char­lotte re­ally likes it be­cause the whiskers al­ways tickle her face.”

The play area has bat­tle­ments, tow­ers, a se­cret grotto, hide holes and a 25ft long sleep­ing and breath­ing dragon.

Ad­dress­ing St John the Bap­tist pupils, the duchess said she thought two-yearold Prince George would love the dragon.

Year four pupil Olivia, eight, said: “She also said he might be a bit scared of it.”

While Pres­ley, nine, said Kate, who climbed up some steps to the en­trance of the dragon’s nest, was ‘posh’, ‘pretty’ and had ‘great man­ners’.

The Magic Gar­den has been six years in the mak­ing, and is the lat­est ad­di­tion to the 500-year-old palace.

More than 17,000 bulbs, 3,000 shrubs and hun­dreds of trees have been planted in the gar­den to cre­ate the new mag­i­cal land­scape.

De­signer Mr My­ers said the duchess was en­thu­si­as­tic about the project.

“In con­trast to the palace, which is very hands-off, don’t touch, the gar­den is some­where chil­dren and adults can let off steam.”

Mr Gavin said on the way around the gar­den, one child had tugged on his jacket and asked “Who is that?”.

He told the young­ster it was the Duchess of Cam­bridge, adding: “Then the child said to her ‘Are you the princess?’.

“And she said ‘Just call me Kate’.”

The Duchess at­tended a re­cep­tion to un­veil a plaque, signed the Hamp­ton Court Palace guest book and was handed a posy by six-yearold Eleanor, the daugh­ter of HRP cu­ra­tor Tracy Bor­man.

Play­ful girkl who loves her food: A lucky break for Duca?

Photos by Richard Lea-Hair, and Stu­art C. Wil­son and Getty Images

Duchess and the dragon: Kate en­joyed her visit.

Kate meet­ing the chil­dren.

A ten­ta­tive look in­side the dragon’s nest.

Prince George.

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