Kate Middleton has attended her last solo public engagement before she begins her maternity leave.
A great cheer went up around Southampton Docks and applause rang out as the heavily pregnant royal alighted from her chauffeur-driven car to name a new cruise ship. Smiling and gently cradling her bump, she made her way to the podium for the start of the ceremony.
The trend-setting Duchess, 31, had pulled out all the sartorial stops for her final official outing, and looked particularly elegant in a £169 monochrome leopard print coat from high street favourite Hobbs and a black fascinator.
Huge crowds had gathered to catch a glimpse of the mum-to-be, and some
stars had also braved the inclement weather to welcome expectant Kate to
the city, including Sir Bruce Forsyth, Des O'Connor and EastEnders actress Samantha Womack.
Prince William's wife followed in royal tradition as she officially christened the Princess Cruises' latest liner, Royal Princess. The Queen and Diana, Princess of Wales have both been named godmother to one of their vessels — the late Princess of Wales named the original Royal Princess in 1984.
Standing in front of the spectacular liner, Kate officially named the vessel with the words, "I christen this ship Royal Princess.
May God bless her and all those who sail in her." She then cut through a
blue ribbon, releasing a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne that
smashed on the ship's hull.
Thursday's ceremony included a performance by pop star Natasha Bedingfield, the Royal Marines Band and the pipers of the Irish Guard.
With her official duties out of the way, Kate was then given a tour of the Royal Princess by Captain Tony Draper. As she made her way around the vessel, members of the crew crowded balconies and stairways, eager to see the VIP visitor and take their own photographs.
It was a fitting final solo outing for Kate. The christening closely
echoed the very first royal engagement she undertook with Prince William
in February 2011, just two months before their lavish wedding.
The royal couple took part in a RNLI Lifeboat naming ceremony in Trearddur Bay, near William's Anglesey base.
Kate's very last official engagement is expected to be on Saturday when she joins her husband Prince William and the rest of the royal family for the Trooping of the Colour.