Royal joint engagement firsts as Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Anne team up
Watch: Princess Anne and Kate visit midwives college
The Duchess of Cambridge teamed up with Princess Anne for an official visit to the new headquarters of the Royal College for Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG) and Royal College of Midwives (RCM) on the pair's first joint royal engagement.
Kate Middleton, 40, who is patron of the RCOG, wore a cream-coloured, belted skirt suit, with floral detailing on the jacket from sustainable British label Self-Portrait for the visit on Wednesday.
Keeping her accessories simple she opted for pearl drop earrings, a matching pearl necklace, a beige clutch and suede heels.
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Meanwhile the Princess Royal, 71, who is patron of the RCM, wore a teal-hued coat dress with a patterned shawl and navy court shoes.
While the pair have appeared in public together at previous family engagements, this is the first time they have appeared together for an official outing in which just the two of them have attended.
During the engagement, the Princess Royal left midwives and the Duchess of Cambridge in stitches when she recalled fearing one of her babies had become "wedged" when she tripped over in a horse lorry while heavily pregnant.
The royal women were shown a demonstration of a new intrapartum foetal surveillance tool, which monitors the safety of babies during labour in order to alert medical staff to start a delivery if the baby’s head gets stuck in the mother’s pelvis.
“Wedged?” asked Princess Anne, which sparked some laughter.
The royal – who is mother to Peter Phillips, 44, and Zara Tindall, 40 – then told the group how she feared that would happen to her during one of her pregnancies, adding: “I thought, that’s a bit interesting... ended up the right way up though.”
Professor Tim Draycott, vice president of RCOG and professor of obstetrics – who was helping to demonstrate the tool, said later: “She said she had tripped over in a horse lorry while heavily pregnant and thought that had happened.”
The duchess and the princess also watched Dr Katie Cornthwaite, an obstetrics and gynaecology registrar, give a demonstration of new training for health workers faced with delivering, via caesarean, an infant whose head is wedged in the pelvis.
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At one point, the duchess and princess leaned forward to peer into the caesarean opening as Dr Cornthwaite described in detail how she removed the dummy baby.
Speaking about the royals' first joint outing together, Dr Cornthwaite said: “It was really lovely to see how engaged they both were. They were genuinely interested. It was lovely to share something that we are passionate about and see that they care about it.”
As the senior royal, Princess Anne, appeared to take the lead during the engagement, asking most of the questions and sharing her knowledge of the midwifery sector.
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During a discussion with the global health teams from RCOG and the RCM, the Princess Royal brought up the issue of how mothers are sometimes kept in the dark about their treatment by the medical profession.
She said, “Pregnant women, they should know just as much as everybody else does but they’re seen, as I’ve said before, ‘you’re seen as a patient you don’t need to be part of the answer’.”
The royal women also met groups of award-winning midwives recognised by the RCM for their outstanding achievement and commitment.
At one point, Princess Anne asked one woman how long she had been working as a midwife, and when told “20 years”, replied: “We need more like you.”
Before leaving, the royal duo unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of the building.
Of course this isn’t the first time the Duchess of Cambridge has made a first joint appearance with a more senior member of the royal family.
In March 2012, almost a year after her wedding to Prince William, the duchess appeared with the Queen during a royal visit to Leicester as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour.
While Prince Philip was also on the outing, it was viewed as a momentous occasion for the duchess to step out with the Queen without her husband William, who was deployed to the Falkland Islands for six weeks at the time.
When one well-wisher asked the Duchess how her husband was, she replied: "He's fine – I'm missing him terribly."
She sweetly added: "I'm being well looked after."
The duchess later joined just her grandmother-in-law for a special joint outing, the first since she married into the royal family in 2011, on a tour of King's College in London in March 2019.
For the occasion, the Queen wore a Stewart Parvin pink cashmere coat over a silk printed dress and a matching hat, while the duchess opted for a grey Catherine Walker coat dress and a black fascinator by Sylvia Fletcher.
The event marked the first time Kate has had a joint appearance with the Queen without any other members of the Royal Family in attendance.
Meanwhile Prince Harry's wife Meghan Markle had her first joint outing with the Queen a few weeks after her royal wedding, when they travelled by train to Widnes, Cheshire in June 2018.
For their first engagement together Markle wore a cream, Givenchy cape-dress which she accessorised with a black clutch and belt (both Givenchy) and co-ordinating £265 heels by American designer Sarah Flint.
Meghan and Kate made their first joint public engagement together, alongside their husbands at the Royal Foundation Forum back in February 2018.
William, Kate, Harry and Meghan appeared on stage together to announce that the Duchess of Sussex was set to become a fourth patron of the Royal Foundation.
The appearance would be the foursome's only official charity engagement together.
Additional reporting PA.