While tattoos are not exactly de rigueur among the royals it seems that the Duchess of Cambridge is ready to embrace body art – at least the temporary kind.
Pregnant Kate, 36, had a henna tattoo painted on her wrist during a visit to a new community project during a day of engagements in Sunderland on Wednesday.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge kick-started their flying visit with a visit to The Fire Station which has recently been converted into a music and arts hub.
They were treated to colourful performances of music, dance and theatre from local children and young people, and finished by officially opening The Fire Station.
Chatting to a group from Young Asian Voices at the Fire Station Arts Centre, Kate asked if one of the girls would draw a henna design on her hand.
The Duchess of Cambridge had a henna tattoo painted on her wrist during a visit to a community centre in Sunderland
The small temporary swirl was the work of Shajida Begum, and Kate even took home a pack of bindis for Princess Charlotte
The duchess seemed delighted when Shajida Begum, 18, drew a black flower with a swirl.
Miss Begum said: ‘I said ‘Would you like a design?’ and she was like ‘Yes, if you don’t mind’.
‘She was saying that it was really pretty.
‘I was just telling her how it works. I was telling her when she can wash it off – I said ‘when it becomes flakey’.’
Kate also asked the girls for a pack of bindis, which she said she wanted for her daughter Charlotte.
The Duchess could be seen wearing a printed woven dress from maternity brand – Seraphine. The brand has been with Kate throughout her three pregnancies and this latest dress costing £159 is currently out of stock on the brand’s website.
The Duchess appeared to be delighted with her henna tattoo and could be seen posing for photos once it was complete
Kate, who is expecting her third child, appeared to be happy to chat about her new baby and could be seen gesturing at her growing bump
The couple were delighted to be treated to a dance performance during their visit to The Fire Station on Wednesday
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge appeared to be in high spirits during their tour of the arts and music club
What are henna tattoos and bindis?
Henna is a dye traditionally made up of ground up henna leaves and water, along with a few drops of essential oil or lemon juice.
It is painted on the skin in an intricate pattern and left on there for a day before it can picked off, staining your skin brown.
Natural henna is very safe, and is fine to use during pregnancy, depending on the essential oils it contains.
Black henna, however, comes with health risks as it contains a chemical called paraphenylenediamine (PPD).
Henna is traditionally used for special occasions in India, Pakistan, Africa and the Middle East.
A bindi is worn at the centre of the forehead by Hindu and Jain women.
The bindi, which is commonly used to represent a married woman, is considered to be a ‘third eye’ in the Hindu religion, and is believed to ward off bad luck.
Kate later slipped into a hard-hat and high-vis vest as she joined Prince William on the site of the new Northern Spire bridge over the River Wear which is due to open in spring 2018.
The Duchess, who is seven months pregnant, covered her bespoke Dolce & Gabbana coat with the heavy duty work wear in order to stay safe while surveying the area during her visit to Sunderland on Wednesday.
She even tied her famous brunette tresses back into a loose ponytail, in order to keep her hair out of harm’s way.
And while her due date may be looming Kate seemed happy to lend a hand, slipping out of the court shoes she was seen wearing earlier and into a pair of boots in order to help with the finishing touches.
After speaking to engineers who have worked on the project she was asked to screw in one of the final bolts into the bridge’s parapets.
Prince William joked: ‘Is this a key bit? What happens if it doesn’t tighten properly, how tight do you need it to be?
He added: ‘We’ll walk away and the bolt will drop out.’
The Duchess of Cambridge donned a hard-hat and a high-vis vest as she visited the site of a new bridge in Sunderland
She covered her bespoke Dolce & Gabbana coat with the heavy duty gear and even tied her locks back into a loose ponytail
William and Kate marvelled at the new bridge that the North-Eastern city hopes will help with regeneration in the area.
William and Kate ended their trip to the North East by visiting the striking Northern Spire, already a major landmark and standing twice as high as Nelson’s Column and taller than Big Ben’s clock tower.
The 1,550-tonne pylon bridge is the second part of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor – a five-phase plan to improve links between the A19 and Sunderland city centre and the Port of Sunderland.
The Northern Spire – named following a public vote – will help reduce congestion around the city, speed up car journeys and allow land along both sides of the River Wear to be regenerated and developed.
The Sunderland City Council project – due to be completed this spring – was built over three years and cost £117 million, with the Government contributing around two-thirds of the funds and the council the rest.
Despite her looming due date Kate seemed happy to lend a hand, seen adding the finishing touches to the new bridge
The royal couple certainly seemed to see the funny side when it came to their ensembles including a pair of safety goggles
The couple later met 16 schoolchildren, aged nine and ten, from four local primary schools.
Ella McKenna, ten, from Highfield Primary School gave the Duchess flowers.
Olivia Campbell, 11, from Castletown Primary School, Tommy Lancaster, ten, from Diamond Hall Junior Academy and Emily Ross, 11, from Northern Saints Primary School, gave her a teddy bear.
Ruby Carney, nine, also from Castletown, presented the couple with a polystyrene model of the Northern Spire bridge.
The Duchess told the children: ‘Thanks for the prezzies. The children will love that and they’ll love the flowers as well.
‘The bridge is very impressive, it’s huge, isn’t it? We were told it’s bigger than Big Ben. It’s quite a good way to connect both sides.
William too was on hand to help screw in the final nuts and bolts on the bridge after Kate got stuck in
Seemingly pleased with her handy work the Duchess of Cambrifdge offered construction workers a high five on the bridge
The bridge is due to open this Spring but the royal couple were given the honour of visiting it before it is open to the public
While visiting the bridge, Kate and William were almost unrecognisable in a hard hat and high-vis vest
Kate slipped into a pair of boots with a lower heel so as to visit the building site, having been spotted with a heeled pair of suede court shoes earlier today
‘It’s a good job it’s a sunny day today otherwise it’s pretty cold and wintry.’
The Duke said: ‘Does anyone support Sunderland? You can’t support Manchester United when you live in Sunderland.
‘I’m glad I’ve found someone who supports Sunderland Football Club.’
The pair were then driven in a convoy of five cars made by Nissan, a major manufacturer in the area, across the bridge to enjoy the views of the River Wear.
The bridge, which has taken three years to complete, is expected to bring 6,000 jobs to the area.
Cliff Young, bridge engineer for Sunderland City Council, hosted the couple on the bridge.
He said: ‘We’re very proud, I’m very happy, you don’t get to do that every day.
‘It the first new bridge over the Wear in 40 years, it’s a proud moment to be involved in it and have a royal visit.
In the second part of their visit the Duke and Duchess travelled to see a new bridge that Sunderland hopes will help with regeneration in the area
Kate could be seen chatting to local school children who assembled on the bridge to welcome their royal highnesses
‘The Duchess was asking my role and how long I was involved in the project. She was very interested indeed in the building and design of the bridge.
‘We’ll have to make that bolt for posterity. We have a silver rivet on Wearmouth done the Duke of York in the 1920s. It’s nice that another member of the Royal family is putting the finishing touch to our new bridge.
‘Wills takes an interest in engineering so I’m sure he enjoyed putting the bolt in. Whether he does any DIY around Kensington Palace I don’t know
Peter Smillie, 32, an engineer who has worked on the bridge, helped her with the wrench.
He said afterwards: ‘They wanted to do it together. Wills said “It’s like I’m doing a bit of DIY”.
‘They are people that are well-known all over the world so to be pictured with them is amazing.
‘They both got their hands dirty. It’s really nice, they’re just two ordinary people.
‘I was obviously nervous, it was nice to meet them.
‘For them to be actually been here doing part of my job, and to be part of it tightening our bolt – it makes them part of the achievement.’
Les Clarke, chief operating officer for Sunderland City Council, said: ‘I think the bridge is a real statement about the identity of Sunderland, its future and its prosperity.
‘It’s not just about improving transport, it’s about the future regeneration of the city. We are already seeing the green shoots of that with future planning applications coming in.’
Arriving in the city Kate looked as stylish as ever as she stepped out in a forest green Dolce & Gabbana coat.
The Duchess of Cambridge showcased her blossoming baby bump in a forest green Dolce & Gabbana coat during a visit to Sunderland on Wednesday
The Duchess of Cambridge appeared delighted when an adorable young fan presented her with a posy of flowers
The double-breasted designer piece was fitted and showcased the mother-to-be’s blossoming baby bump with just over two months until her due date in April.
Despite her looming due date the royal appeared to opt for style over comfort, wearing a classic pair of black suede court shoes and carried a matching clutch as she arrived in Sunderland.
Upon their arrival in the city Kate and her husband Prince William were greeted by a mass of well-wishers.
Armed with Union Jacks and bunches of flowers royal fans lined the streets outside the fire station in a hope to catch a glimpse of the the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Kate could be seen bending down to meet an adorable young fan who presented her with a posy of flowers upon her arrival.
The Duchess could be seen shaking her hand as a way of thanks – much to the delight of the little girl.
Kate, who is expecting her third child in April, paused to chat with two young boys who were dressed as policemen
She then moved on to speak to an elderly lady in a wheelchair, who too had come armed with a floral tribute. Caring Kate bent down so as to be face to face with the woman and could be seen holding her hand throughout the conversation.
Kate paused to chat with a couple of young boys who were dressed in Policeman costumes. She could be seen admiring their uniforms and asking them questions before heading into the fire station.
Prince William, meanwhile, cut a dapper figure in a navy blue blazer and a matching jumper in an effort to keep out the February chill.
He too received a floral tribute in the form of several bunches of flowers from some very patriotic looking fans in the crowd.
The couple is visiting Sunderland to showcase the city’s vibrant arts scene and engineering talent.
Despite her growing bump, Kate could be seen kneeling down in order to greet the little girl and thanked her for the flowers with a shake of the hand
Kate was greeted by hundreds of well-wishers as she and Prince William arrived in Sunderland for a visit
The fitted military style coat showcased the Duchess’ ever-growing baby bump, with her third child due to be born in just over two months
Armed with Union Jacks and bunches of flowers, dozens of royal fans had lined the streets in the hopes to catch a glimpse of the royal couple
One lucky fan was given the perfect viewpoint from which to capture a souvenir photo of Kate on their mobile
Caring Kate spent time speaking to an elderly lady in a wheelchair and could be seen holding her hand during the conversation
Kate later came across another pair of children who too were dressed in police outfits and presented the royal with a note
The Duchess’s famous brunette locks were blow dried to perfection for her engagement today, and she opted for a soft make-up palette
A particularly patriotic group of well-wishers could be seen presenting the Duke of Cambridge with several floral tributes
The couple is visiting Sunderland to showcase the city’s vibrant arts scene and engineering talent
Despite the fact that her due date is looming Kate did away with flat shoes, instead opting for a classic pair of suede courts
The couple appeared delighted with the turn out with many kind fans presenting them with gifts and cards