[LONDON] Prince William's wife Kate on Tuesday made her first public appearance since her pregnancy was announced as she welcomed Singapore's President Tony Tan on his state visit to Britain.
Kate, who has been suffering from severe morning sickness, has not carried out any public duties since the palace revealed her second pregnancy on September 8. She was last seen at a ceremony on August 5.
But the Duchess of Cambridge, 32, seemed in good spirits as she and William, second in line to the throne, formally welcomed Tan and his wife Mary to Britain at the Royal Garden Hotel in London.
President Tan's wife told Kate she was glad she could make the engagement and the duchess replied: "So am I. I've been looking forward to getting out of the house, that's for sure." President Tan commented on the view of William and Kate's Kensington Palace home and the duke joked: "You can probably see into our bedroom window which is a bit worrying - I wouldn't look too closely." The duchess wore a grey coat and matching hat but there was little sign of her baby bump.
Kate is around 12 weeks pregnant. She is due to give birth in April, Kensington Palace said Monday, adding that she continues to suffer severe morning sickness but her condition was steadily improving.
William and Kate then travelled with the president and his wife to the Horse Guards Parade ground, where Tan was greeted by Queen Elizabeth II at the ceremonial welcome.
He reviewed a line of British soldiers in their scarlet tunics and black bearskin hats.
British and Singaporean flags lined The Mall, the processional route to Buckingham Palace, where Tan had a private lunch with the queen.
FIRST VISIT BY SINGAPORE LEADER
The 88-year-old monarch and her husband Prince Philip paid state visits to Singapore in 1972, 1989 and 2006 but this is the first visit to Britain by a Singaporean president.
President Tan lated visited Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, before touring the church and viewing the life-size marble memorial to Stamford Raffles, the statesman who founded the British colony of Singapore in 1819.
The president, 74, then visited parliament and delivered a speech in the royal robing room.
Queen Elizabeth then welcomed President Tan at a lavish state banquet of 170 guests at Buckingham Palace, making a speech noting the close relationship between the two Commonwealth countries.
"Looking back at half a century of co-operation and ahead to new chapters in our story, it is clear that our countries remain firm friends," the queen said, dressed in a cream gown and a tiara.
"I have no doubt that by maintaining long-standing commitments to openness, fairness and enterprise, this friendship will not only be sustained but will flourish and thrive."
Singapore gained independence from Britain in 1963 and immediately became part of Malaysia, which it then left in 1965.
President Tan invited the queen to visit the country on its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2015, saying "the people of Singapore have genuine affection for Your Majesty." "The friendship between our two countries has not only endured, but flourished," the president said.
William and Kate visited Singapore in 2012 as part of Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee celebrations marking her 60 years on the throne and as head of the Commonwealth.
President Tan is due for talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday before wrapping up his visit on Friday. AFP