Duchess of Cambridge makes solo visit to Northern Ireland

Focus of visit on ‘healthy foundations’ for the young to ‘ positively affect lifelong outcomes’

Kate Middleton holds a snake at the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Reuters

Kate Middleton holds a snake at the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Reuters

 

Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton paid a visit to Northern Ireland on Wednesday as part of her British Royal Foundation project of supporting young children and their families.

The duchess visited the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards, Co Down on Wednesday afternoon where she met children, parents and grandparents.

She discussed with them how to help children become happy adults and the role of parents and society in ensuring children have the best possible start in life.

Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton reacts as she helps children bottle-feed a lamb during her visit to Ark Open Farm near Belfast on Wednesday. Photograph: Liam McBurney/ AFP
Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton reacts as she helps children bottle-feed a lamb during her visit to Ark Open Farm near Belfast on Wednesday. Photograph: Liam McBurney/ AFP
The Duchess helps a child feeding a lamb at the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Reuters
The Duchess helps a child feeding a lamb at the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Reuters
The Duchess of Cambridge looks at an alpaca as she visits the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Reuters
The Duchess of Cambridge looks at an alpaca as she visits the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Reuters

The duchess’s solo visit is part of a survey she is promoting to learn more on how experiences in the early years can impact upon later life.

According to her office the survey “is designed to bring together the thoughts of as many people as possible – recognising that everyone has a role in ensuring strong, healthy foundations for the youngest in our society that will positively affect their lifelong outcomes”.

In recent weeks as part of that project the duchess visited Birmingham, Cardiff, Woking and London where, as well as children and parents, she discussed the project with academics, experts, organisations and children’s care practitioners.

After being given a guided tour of the Ark Open Farm the duchess flew to Scotland to continue her early years work.

The duchess with her husband, Prince William the Duke of Cambridge is to visit the Republic early next month.

The Duchess of Cambridge during her visit to the Ark Open Farm. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Reuters
The Duchess of Cambridge during her visit to the Ark Open Farm. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Reuters

Meanwhile, Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister has accused DUP First Minister Arlene Foster and Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill of “ducking” his request that they support an invitation to Queen Elizabeth to visit Parliament Buildings, Stormont and address the Assembly to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland next year.

Said Mr Allister, “2021 is a date which should be celebrated and what better way to do that than have her majesty address the Assembly? In 2019 her majesty addressed the Scottish Parliament as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations and she has addressed the Welsh Assembly on a number of occasions.”

He asked why the First Minister and Deputy First Minister were “ducking” an invitation for her to address the Northern Ireland Assembly – “the only devolved legislature she has never addressed”.

The office of Ms Foster and Ms O’Neill in its reply to Mr Allister said that in the absence of any specific proposal by the Assembly for such an invitation that the question was “hypothetical” and it did “not consider it appropriate to respond in the terms requested”.