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It was the merest slip of the tongue, but the Duchess of Cambridge may just have given away the sex of her baby as she chatted to a member of the public on a visit to Grimsby on Tuesday.After being given a teddy bear as a gift, the Duchess said: “Thank you, I’ll take that for my d …” She stopped herself before going any further, but when a well-wisher asked if she was in the process of saying “daughter” she replied: “We’re not telling.”
The Duchess, who is due to give birth in July, also claimed not to know the sex of her baby, who will one day be monarch, but her comment will be seized upon by royal watchers the world over who are eager for any clues about whether she is expecting a boy or a girl. Precedent dictates that the sex of royal babies is never announced in advance.
The Duchess also said her baby had been kicking “very much” and joked to a fan that she might have to wait a long time before she is queen.
On only her third day of official engagements this year, the Duchess visited the National Fishing Heritage Centre in the Lincolnshire port, where she went on a walkabout among the 2,000-strong crowd who had waited up to six hours in freezing fog for her arrival.
Diana Burton, 41, handed the Duchess a white teddy bear, which the Duchess accepted with a smile.
Sandra Cook, 67, who was next to her in the crowd, said: “I distinctly heard her say ‘thank you, I’ll take that for my d …’ then she stopped herself. I said to her: ‘You were going to say daughter weren’t you?’ and she said ‘No, we don’t know’.
“I said ‘Oh I think you do’, to which she said: ‘We’re not telling’.”
Mrs Cook, who had been waiting three hours for the Duchess’s arrival, said: “It was worth every cold minute of the wait. She is just beautiful and so lovely and friendly.”
Bobbie Brown, a 42-year-old Sainsbury’s shop worker who was also in the crowd, said: “I asked her if the baby had been moving or kicking and she said ‘Yes it is, very much so.'”
The well-wishers were kept waiting for 70 minutes longer than expected because the Duchess had opted to fly to Grimsby by helicopter rather than taking the train, and thick fog prevented her leaving London on time.
St James’s Palace defended the decision to use the Royal Flight’s helicopter, at a cost of up to £4,000, rather than buying train tickets for £216 return, which would have enabled the Duchess to arrive in good time for her first engagement of the day.
A palace spokesman said: “A number of factors are always taken into account when considering royal travel arrangements, including what the member of the Royal family is doing before and after the engagements, and it was decided that the best way to travel was by the Royal Flight helicopter.”
As she arrived at the National Fishing Heritage Centre the Duchess was introduced to dignitaries including the Labour MP Austin Mitchell and his wife Linda McDougall, who had bumped into the Duchess in a London branch of Top Shop a week earlier.
Mrs McDougall said: “She was looking at jeans and tops in Top Shop. I reminded her that we’d met in there and she said ‘I bought a few things’. No one else in the shop realised it was her, she was wearing a sheepskin coat and boots, with no make-up, and I was amazed to bump into her there.”
The Duchess, whose pregnancy bump was covered by a favourite brown Hobbs coat and a Great Plains dress, later visited a fire station in Grimsby, where the invited guests included patients from a local hospice.
Claire Moss-Smith, 86, told her: “I’m waiting for you to be Queen.” The Duchess replied: “You might be waiting a long time!”
She was given a bouquet by 11-year-old Evie Oxley, whose father, a fireman, is being treated for cancer and whose mother has recently been given the all-clear from breast cancer.
She said: “The Duchess said I had been very brave, with my Dad being poorly. It’s tough at times but you just have to get over it sometimes and just be brave. If you’re not brave then the person that’s ill is not going to be brave either.”
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