The Duchess of Cambridge has revealed her children are having a sunflower-growing competition, with Prince Louis taking the lead – resulting in a grumpy Prince George.
Kate gave the insight into how her family have been keeping occupied during lockdown while she was helping to create a new garden for a children’s hospice.
The keen gardener joined families from East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (Each) to plant a garden at The Nook, one of Each’s purpose-built hospices near Norwich, on Thursday.
Using plants bought during a visit last week to Fakenham Garden Centre near her Norfolk home of Anmer Hall, Kate worked alongside a volunteer gardener, staff and two families to help create a new horticultural design for a large patio area.
Marking the end of Children’s Hospice Week, Kate taught Star Pope-Saunders, 11, her brothers Hudson, eight, and six-year-old Sonny how to loosen the plants from their pots to replant them.
As she planted sunflowers with the children, she revealed that Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis are having a sunflower-growing competition, with the youngest sibling currently in the lead.
Kate, dressed in a summery floral dress, said: “The children are really enjoying growing their sunflowers, Louis’s is winning so George is a little grumpy about that!”
The duchess gave each child sunflower seeds and encouraged them to plant their own so they could watch it grow.
The sunflower has been adopted as the emblem of hospice care, a symbol of joy with the seeds representing patients and the surrounding petals as love, care and compassion.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was the Pope-Saunders family’s first time at The Nook with Sonny, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour shortly after his birthday in February.
His mother Kelly Pope-Saunders, from Norwich, said after the royal visit: “She said they are having a sunflower-growing competition and Louis is winning, much to George’s annoyance.
“It was so nice to see her – and in such a lovely dress too – getting stuck in.”
Kate earlier told the family: “I’m always so blown away by families like yours, particularly having to go through all of this in lockdown.
“You show such resilience and bravery. You’re such an inspiration to us all.
“More people in the country should meet families like you, there’s a huge amount of change for you all to take on and you have coped fantastically.”
Kate also met Liam and Lisa Page, whose three-month-old son Connor was born with severe brain damage on March 5.
The duchess said: “Going through lockdown at the same time, when you can’t see your loved ones, you can’t share with people – there aren’t other families necessarily here that you can share your experience with.”
Kate and the families worked with sensory plants such as lavender, bay and rosemary, and the garden also contains strawberry plants, herbs, geraniums and hydrangeas in a calming lilac colour scheme.
Tracy Rennie, Each’s acting chief executive, said Kate wanted to create a patio garden and was given a brief to include plants with smells and bright colours.
Ms Rennie added: “She was absolutely prepared to get her hands dirty – she didn’t need the gardening gloves we offered her – and even plunged her hands into the earth with that massive engagement ring on!”
The duchess also re-potted a large sunflower that she donated to Each in memory of nine-year-old Fraser Delf, who died in January this year at the Milton hospice in Cambridge.
Kate and the Duchess of Cornwall recently spoke to Fraser’s family on a video call.
In a message about Children’s Hospice Week, Kate said: “This Children’s Hospice Week, I’d like to thank the amazing staff for all the work that you do in children’s hospices around the UK.
“The care and the nurture that you provide children and families in the most unimaginable circumstances is just awe inspiring.
“I’d also like to pay tribute to all those families out there who are caring for and looking after a child with a life-limiting illness.
“You do the most extraordinary job and I know it’s particularly hard at the moment so my thoughts go out to you all.”
Meanwhile, Kate revealed she has been missing members of her own family.
Chatting to people during her visit to Fakenham Garden Centre, the duchess said: “I’ve yet to see my family as they’re about three hours away in Berkshire, so I haven’t seen them and I miss them.”