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Kate calls on her charities in Scotland – before a game of tennis with Judy Murray

art room © Photo: Getty Images
Emily Nash
Emily Nash - London
Royal EditorLondon
February 24, 2016
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The Duchess of Cambridge has arrived in Edinburgh to carry out her first solo engagement in Scotland. Kate, who is known as the Countess of Strathearn north of the border, headed to St Catherine's Primary School to see the work carried out by children's mental health charity Place2Be, of which she is patron.

Wearing a green MaxMara coat, the 34-year-old mother of Prince George and Princess Charlotte was greeted by excited pupils on her return to the city, where sister Pippa was a student and where Kate was a regular visitor during her own university days at nearby St Andrews.

The Duchess was given a posey by Suranne Jeffrey, eight, and Rodney Oduro, ten, who had been busy practising their curtsy ahead of the royal's arrival.

kate middleton1 © Photo: Getty Images

Kate will play tennis with Judy Murray later on Wednesday

Once inside the school, Kate sat in on the morning assembly where the youngsters sang her a song of welcome. The Duchess joined in with the sign action, laughing and waving to the children from her seat.

Luke Alexander, 12, presented her with a Quaich cup – a special Scottish two-handled drinking bowl to signify friendship.

Head master Paul Hunter invited Kate to speak at the assembly. "Good morning everyone," said the Duchess. "Everyone should start the day like that! Hope you all have a great day and I look forward to meeting some of you later."

kate signing © Photo: Getty Images

The royal joined in the school assembly, where the youngsters sang her a song of welcome

Place2Be works in 28 schools in some of the most disadvantaged areas of Edinburgh and Glasgow, reaching 8,000 children. The UK's leading children's mental health charity provides in-school support and expert training to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, teachers and school staff.

Jonathan Wood, national manager for Place2Be in Scotland, praised the Duchess' efforts to promote mental health as an issue. "She's really helped put children's mental health on the map," said Jonathan.

"She wanted to come and see our work in a school, and we've worked with St Catherine's for some time. At St Catherine's there are two rooms here; one set up for play therapy to encourage the kids to talk and show through play. We also work with the parents and school staff so the work isn't undone at home."

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The Duchess arrives at St Catherine's Primary School

Kate then visited Wester Hailes Education Centre, where another of her charities, the Art Room, has its first studio in Scotland. The Duchess met a group of youngsters in the art studio and chatted to them while they worked on their Frida Kahlo project, a Mexican artist famous for her colourful self-portraits.

The charity works with children to increase their self-esteem, self-confidence and independence through art. It teaches life skills and encourages children and young people to both relate and engage with each other.

art room © Photo: Getty Images

Kate was championing a cause close to her heart – children's mental health

But the highlight of her day came in the afternoon when Kate was given the chance to show off her tennis skills. She joined coach Judy Murray at her Tennis On The Road roadshow at Craigmount High School.

Judy, 56, has just become a grandmother to baby Sophia Olivia, her tennis star son Andy's first child with wife Kim, so the two women no doubt swapped notes on life with a new baby.

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The sporty royal practised her tennis skills at Judy Murray's workshop

Kate joined pupils for a series of drills and skills that Judy used to practice with Andy and his brother Jamie, who is also a top player. And perhaps she picked up a few tips on how to help her own children learn the game on the family's new tennis court at their Anmer Hall home in Norfolk.

The scheme is designed to grow the game at a grassroots level in Scotland and since its launch in October 2014 it has trained more than 2,200 adults and given more than 35,000 children access to the sport.

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