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Britain’s Kate charms Dutch on first solo foreign trip

Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge is greeted by children in the Dutch city of The Hague on October 11, 2016 © ANP/AFP / Bart Maat

The Hague, Netherlands, Oct 11 – The Duchess of Cambridge made her first solo official trip abroad Tuesday with a day-long visit to The Netherlands, seen as part of a British charm offensive after the Brexit vote.

Kate, the wife of Britain’s Prince William, first met with Dutch King Willem-Alexander for lunch at the royal residence in Wassenaar, an exclusive leafy suburb just outside The Hague.

“Welcome, welcome, very nice to see you,” the king said, as he greeted his guest for the first visit by a British royal to the Dutch kingdom in three years.

Kate looked chic in a long-sleeved light blue two-piece with a peplum jacket. Her hair was tied back in a neat chignon bun, showing off pearl earrings in an apparent subtle nod to the famous Dutch 17th century painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer.

The Duchess of Cambridge made her first solo official trip abroad on October 11, 2016 with a day-long visit to The Netherlands © AFP / Emmanuel Dunand

The masterpiece hangs in the historic Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague’s city centre, where Kate later viewed 22 paintings by Dutch masters on loan from the British Royal Collection as part of a current exhibition.

Crowds lined the streets as Kate arrived outside the museum just steps from the Dutch parliament, parts of which date back to the 13th century.

She was greeted by the museum’s director Emilie Gordenker, and stopped to chat briefly with some excited children waving Dutch and British flags, who were lined up in front of three traditional red British telephone boxes erected for the exhibition.

The popular British royal then met with a local institute to discuss mental health and addiction issues at the ornate British ambassador’s residence.

Later, the 34-year-old Kate travelled to the southwestern port city of Rotterdam to visit a community initiative that provides a public workspace for local residents and children.

Kate was in the country only a day after British Prime Minister Teresa May met late Monday in The Hague for talks with her Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte.

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Rutte said it was “a good time for an exchange of views” adding that after the Brexit vote “we are in uncharted waters.”

The Duchess’s visit also comes after the Dutch king warned last month at the opening of parliament about uncertainty in Europe following the June vote and that it could trigger Dutch job losses.

Britain is the third most important trading partner for Dutch exports after Germany and Belgium, with the Dutch central statistics office (CBS) saying declining trade could cost the lowlands country 10 billion euros ($11.1 billion) in losses by 2030.

“The Duchess of Cambridge will become Britain’s secret weapon in attempts to beef up relationships with EU countries during Brexit,” the Daily Mail said on Monday.

“Kate will make a solo visit to The Netherlands as Britain contemplates the process of negotiating trade deals with every EU member state,” it said.

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