Kate Middleton and Prince William on April 11, 2011
04/11/2011 AT 08:00 AM EDT
They've visited Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland since their engagement. Now, it's England's turn to wish Kate Middleton
and Prince William
good luck, as the couple are making their last official public appearances Monday ahead of their April 29 wedding
Some 2,000 well-wishers braved the pouring rain on the streets of Darwen in Lancashire, about 250 miles northwest of London, for a glimpse of Middleton, 29, who waved and smiled while sheltered under an umbrella.
Meanwhile, inside the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, William, 28, was launching the Skillforce Prince's Award, which will recognize young people who have made a contribution to their communities.
Kate, in a navy-blue skirt suit and three inch heels, had her usually flowing hair slightly swept up as she arrived at the academy – where many students delayed their Easter holiday break for the occasion.
Among those waiting in the crowd was Holly Cooper, 4, who was dressed as a princess. "She wants to be a real princess," her mother, Kimberly Turnbull, says.
"She will rule the kingdom grand," added Ellen Davis, 10, excitedly. Ellen, who came with mum Shona and little sister Alecia, 6, added: "It's nice that they're coming somewhere out in the country."
Across the road, royals fan Kathleen Plant, 68, said of Kate: "She's going to be another Diana – she's very much like her. Not in looks, but personality."
Added Maureen Entwistle, 74: "She'll be a lovely bride and a lovely princess."
William and Kate were set to visit Witton Country Park, a few miles away, later in the day. There, Kate was set to mark the beginning of an athletics event, and William was to meet some young athletes as part of his patronage of an initiative to protect playing fields across the U.K.