Kate charms lucky guardsmen at St Patrick's Day parade

hellomagazine.com

The Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, is expected to give birth to her second baby next month, but that didn't stop the dedicated royal from carrying on with her official duties. In what was one of her final engagements before she goes off on maternity leave, Kate travelled to Aldershot, Hampshire with her husband Prince William.

CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL GALLERY

><img alt=VIEW GALLERY

The Duchess of Cambridge opted for a chic brown coat, compared to her previous visits where she wore green

The Duke and Duchess were paying a visit to the Mons Barracks – home to 1st Battalion Irish Guards – to view the annual St Patrick's Day parade.

William was attending in his capacity as royal colonel of the regiment, while Kate was accompanying her husband for the same engagement they have fulfilled for the past three consecutive years.

><img alt=VIEW GALLERY

The Duchess of Cambridge showed off her baby bump

Kate, who is eight months pregnant, shunned the tradition of wearing green by opting for a brown Catherine Walker coat. Prince George's mum looked as stylish as ever, showing off her burgeoning baby bump.

She accessorised with a hat by Lock & Co and kept her brunette locks tied up into a chic bun. Kate paid tribute to the Irish feast day with a gold shamrock brooch pinned to her chest that used to belong to Queen Alexandra.

As they made their arrival, William, 32, and Kate, 33, were taken to the officers' mess for a private visit. They then stepped out for the parade, and were greeted by some 200 guardsmen while the national anthem was played.

><img alt=VIEW GALLERY

Kate met hundreds of guardsmen including young cadets

In keeping with tradition, Kate handed out shamrocks to the army men – a custom that was started in 1901 by Queen Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII.

As William and Kate passed down the line, the military men looked delighted to be greeted by the royal couple. The pair made a special effort to stop and talk to each officer, while the marching band performed in the background.

The Duchess looked particularly charmed by Domhnall, the Irish Guards' official mascot she has encountered on previous visits. Kate also handed the Irish wolfhound – who has the rank of Guardsman and can apparently be promoted for good conduct – a sprig of shamrock.

><img alt=VIEW GALLERY

Kate's role was to hand out shamrocks to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards

Following the march, the Duke and Duchess joined officers and sergeants for photographs. The couple – who hold the Irish title of Baron and Lady Carrickfergus – are also expected to enjoy a private luncheon with the officers.

The parade this year was noticeably smaller as the battalion has troops deployed around the world. Special packages of fresh shamrocks had been flown to those abroad, including Oman and the Falkland Islands.

><img alt=VIEW GALLERY

Prince William and Kate will welcome their second baby in April

There will be more to come for Prince George's mum. On Wednesday Kate will visit the Brookhill Children's Centre in London to learn about the work of the Home-Start charity, and how it helps parents of under-fives struggling with issues such as bereavement, illness and disability.

HELLO! has also exclusively learnt that the determined Duchess is keen to pack in more engagements later this month before the birth of her second child, and plans to attend more events.

More on: