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Irish Guards visit

17th March 2013

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a St. Patrick's Day parade with 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a St. Patrick's Day parade with 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a St Patrick's Day parade with 1st Battalion Irish Guards in ALdershot today. 

The Duchess showed patriotic spirit wearing the same green Emilia Wickstead dress coat and shamrock brooch she wore to the event at Mons Barracks in Aldershot, Hampshire last year.

The wet weather held off as the couple watched around 200 soldiers from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards parade through the puddle-strewn square, bringing a splash of colour to the occasion in their full ceremonial uniform of scarlet tunics and bearskins.

Before the parade she repeated her role of presenting traditional sprigs of shamrock to the officers and guardsmen, including one to her husband.

The Duke, attending as Colonel of the Regiment, wore the ceremonial dress of the Irish Guards and after just being made a Personal Aide-de-Camp to The Queen, wore the insignia on his shoulder for the first time.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a St. Patrick's Day parade with 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a St. Patrick's Day parade with 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards

View Album (8 images)

Afterwards, the royal couple chatted to soldiers in the Guardsmen's cookhouse.

Guardsman Lee Wheeler, 29, said: "I was talking to her about the baby, of course. I asked her 'do you know if it's a girl or boy', and she said 'not yet'. She said 'I'd like to have a boy and William would like a girl'. That's always the way.

"I asked her if she had any names yet and she said no. I said I suppose you've got to stick to traditional names."

Guardsman Jason Perry, 33, also spoke to The Duchess about her pregnancy.

"I wished her congratulations and said I hoped everything is fine. She said 'yes it is'. I asked her if she was excited to be having her first child. She said 'very'."

The soldier said it was "absolutely brilliant" to meet the couple and they both asked him about his 13-and-a-half year career in the Army, which has seen him serve two tours of Iraq and one of Northern Ireland.

The Royal couple were loudly cheered by the soldiers as they entered the room which gave them welcome shelter from the heavy rain. 

Before going inside The Duke and Duchess had joined soldiers in the torrential rain for formal photographs.

The Duchess, who had her hair up and wore an elegant black hat with a felt flower, had her own sprig of shamrock in her lapel and finished off her outfit with black tights and heels.

The last sprig was given to the regiment's new mascot, seven-month-old Irish wolfhound Domhnall who was carrying out his first public engagement. He was wearing a smart scarlet cape that matched the tunics of the soldiers, and The Duchess smiled as she bent down to attach the foliage to his silver collar.

Domhnall was led over to The Duchess by handler Drummer David Steed who said afterwards: "She hooked the shamrock onto the collar and then she patted him on the head and wished him a happy St Patrick's Day. Thankfully he played the game."

The presentation of sprigs of shamrock by a senior female member of the Royal Family is a century-old tradition started in 1901 by Queen Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII and continued during her lifetime by The Queen Mother.

The Duchess was given a posy of flowers by five-year-old Maisie Purcell, daughter of Company Sergeant Major Andy Purcell. As she bent down to talk to Maisie and her friend Chloe Rigby, three, The Duchess said:  "Very nice to meet you."

After being handed the bunch of white and yellow flowers, she said: "Very spring-like."

Afterwards, a bashful Maisie said: "She said they look pretty."

Company Sgt Maj Purcell said the Irish Guards' St Patrick's Day celebrations are a "long tradition".

He said: "It's been a great honour. Last year we obviously had The Duchess herself but we've both of them here this year so obviously a greater honour."

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