George and the Dragon
Young prince would love play area monster says Kate... ‘but he might be a bit scared of it’
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?
Duchess and the dragon: Kate enjoyed her visit.
Kate meeting the children.
A tentative look inside the dragon’s nest.