Walking through the newly reopened children’s museum in Bethnal Green, east London, Kate – who is a patron of the V&A – met with schoolchildren from the local Globe Primary School to see their inventions and listen to their stories.
The Princess of Wales marvelled at an airborne car, met Frankenstein and tried out an imagined undersea vehicle on a visit to the new Young V&A museum.
A group of year three students proudly showed the Princess their creations in the build-it area of the Museum where they were encouraged to make anything they liked from blocks and tubes.
Kate, 41, advised one group on how to put together pieces to build their submarine and then tried it out herself, miming putting on a seatbelt and asking ‘Do I strap myself in?’
She said: ‘Does it sit on the bottom of the sea floor? Wow, that’s great.’
Different groups clamoured for her attention and the Princess took a great interest, asking: ‘What is your invention?’, ‘What is that bit for?’ and ‘What do you want to be when you’re older?’
Next Kate was taken to see a selection of expandable children’s clothing that grow with a child as they age, made by Petit Pli.
Laughing, she said: ‘That would have been very useful.’
The Princess paused to marvel at a tiny white Microlino car suspended from the ceiling in the atrium, before moving on to look at the best collection of historic dolls houses in the world.
Speaking with the Director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt, she said: ‘This is so inspiring, to have a place for children so young to get design inspiration.’
In the ‘Imagine’ area of the museum, Kate met with another group of schoolchildren who were excited to tell her the stories they had written based on objects in the museum.
Hands flew up when the Princess asked if anyone wanted to share theirs, with one young child telling a story about a butcher getting ‘whacked in the head’, another about the Tardis and one more about a father accidentally spitting out food.
Kate said: ‘He was laughing so much it went everywhere, oh no!’
She applauded at the end of each story and said to one child ‘the end, very good, I’d like to see that’, and then told the children her own stories about her three children.
She said: ‘They tell me stories all the time. George was brushing his teeth and suddenly his tooth fell out.’
When the time came to leave, two children ran up to give the Princess a hug, and she posed for a picture with the group.
Waving goodbye, she said: ‘I would like to come and do some more storytelling too, I’ll bring my kids next time. I’ve had a really fun time thank you, keep up the storytelling.’
After meeting the Princess, Lina, 7, said: ‘It was very nice meeting her, we were doing our stories, she was acting like a normal princess would.
‘She said she had a good job and it was good meeting kids like us – but someone asked if she had her own castle and she said no, which is sad.’
Zachary, 9, added: ‘She told us about her kids, she said George supports Aston Villa. I’ve never met royalty before.’
Mr Hunt, who toured Kate around the Museum said: ‘Not only as a parent she’s interested in this space and as an art historian, but also this centre’s focus on early years development, that’s another area of interest for her.
‘She was very good, listening to all the stories from the children, chapter after chapter, she was encouraging for their storytelling and wanted to know what objects they were drawing on for their stories.
‘They wanted to hug her a lot.
‘Because of the work on the early years and the leadership and conversations she is providing through the centre for early childhood and her message there is kind of “yes, cognitive development is really important in the early years, but so is socio-emotional resilience, so how do you build up self-control and those social skills in the early years?”’