Prince William attends St Patrick's Day solo without wife Kate

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On Thursday Prince William travelled to Hounslow to carry out a solo engagement – the presenting of St Patrick's Day shamrocks to the Irish Guards. For the past four years William has been accompanied by his wife Kate to the event, and the Duchess of Cambridge has traditionally fulfilled the duty.

This year however, William arrived alone. In his role as Colonel of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, the Duke presented sprigs to 450 officers and guardsmen, who marched onto the parade square at their new base Cavalry Barracks.

Resplendent in his military uniform, the future King was pictured smiling and chatting to members of the regiment as he passed down the line.

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Prince William prepares to present sprigs of shamrock to the Irish Guards

William looked particularly charmed by Domhnall, the Irish Guards' official mascot he has encountered on previous visits. He bent down to hand the Irish wolfhound – who has the rank of Guardsman and can apparently be promoted for good conduct – a sprig of shamrock.

Following the march, William joined officers and sergeants for photographs and then joined them for a private luncheon in the mess.

Members of the regiment may have been disappointed not to see Kate at this year's Parade. Prince George and Princess Charlotte's mum has played a starring role in the parade since becoming a member of the royal family.

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The Prince presented a sprig of shamrock to the Irish Guards' regimental mascot, an Irish wolfhound named Domhnall

Since 2012, Kate has presented the sprigs of shamrocks – a tradition that was started in 1901 by Queen Alexandra. Female royals normally take up the honour and in the past the Queen Mother and Princess Anne have done the job. Last year Kate was eight months pregnant with Charlotte when she attended the parade.

A Kensington Palace spokesperson said that Kate, 34, would attend the parade in future years, but it wouldn't become an annual occurrence.

"The Duchess has very much enjoyed the occasions when she has been able to attend, but the Duke is the Colonel of the Regiment and is looking forward to presenting the Irish Guards with their Shamrock," the spokesperson said.

"She won't do it every year but the Duchess looks forward to marking St Patrick's Day with the Irish Guards many times in the future."

Kate, who attended the Commonwealth service earlier this week, will return to royal duties on Friday. The Duchess, who is Royal Patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH), will officially open a new EACH charity shop in Holt, Norfolk.

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