The Duchess of Cambridge dropped in on a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party when she made her first solo visit to a children’s hospice during her and Prince William’s three week royal tour of New Zealand and Australia. The hospice was Rainbow Place in Hamilton, New Zealand, the children’s arm of Hospice Waikato Cobham Drive Headquarters, providing support services for children with life limiting illnesses and support to children whose parents are terminally ill or who are bereaved.
During her visit, the Duchess spent quality time with individual children, giving them the opportunity to talk about their own illness or about their own grief as a result of losing a parent. She observed children experiencing art therapy to help them cope with their loss or coping with anticipatory grief for a parent with a life threatening diagnosis. She spoke to Bailey Rupe, a six-year-old whose mother has breast cancer, who told the U.K. Mirror newspaper that she was “excited to meet a real princess and it made me feel like a princess for the day too.”
The Duchess is using the tour to champion a cause which is close to her heart – that of the children’s hospice and palliative care movement. The inclusion of Rainbow Children’s Hospice on the royal itinerary is part of her personal passion for palliative care for children.
The duchess gave her first public speech at a hospice in 2012 when she opened The Treehouse, a children’s palliative care centre in Ipswich in the UK. She also visited the first palliative care programme for children at Hospis Malaysia; and last year gave her first and only televised address in a video message in support of Children’s Hospice Week.
During the visit the Duchess also graciously accepted gifts of flowers and baby clothing offered to her by children from the centre.