The Duchess of Cambridge
James Whatling/Splash News Online
03/19/2012 AT 10:00 AM EDT
03/19/2012 AT 08:15 AM EDT
With a big smile, the Duchess of Cambridge
made her first public speech as a member of the Royal Family on Monday, officially opening the East Anglia Children's Hospice
at the Treehouse center in Ipswich, outside London.
"I am only sorry that William can't be here today. He would love it here," she said about her husband, Prince William
, as guests politely laughed.
"A view of his – that I share – is that through teamwork, so much can be achieved. What you have all achieved is extraordinary."
Kate, who wrote the speech herself, also said that when she first visited the charity's hospice in Milton, Cambridgeshire, she had "pre-conceived idea as to what to expect. Far from being a clinical depressing place for sick children, it was a home. Most importantly, it was a family home, a happy place of stability, support and care. It was a place of fun."
The Duchess praised the work was "inspirational, it's a shining example of the support and care that is delivered," and added, "The feelings you inspire – feelings of love and of hope – offer a chance to families to live a life they never thought could be possible."
Wearing an electric blue Reiss belted dress and black heels, Kate was greeted before her speech by about 600 cheering well-wishers. After the speech, she did some planting, adding four spades of soil onto the ground around the base of a tree on the grounds – and, as the Duchess confessed to one guest, "I find doing speeches nerve wrecking."
Meanwhile, William is expected home soon from his six-seven week posting in the Falkland Islands.