Duchess Kate visited an English fishing town today, getting a taste of the fundamental maritime character of the nation she will one day preside over as queen consort.
Even better, she brought her glamour, media spotlight and cheer to the struggling fishing town of Grimsby, where the locals have been excitedly preparing for weeks for the visit of their future queen.
About five months pregnant, the former Kate Middleton, now Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, arrived by helicopter in Grimsby, in Lincolnshire on the northeast coast of England, just after midday local time, a bit delayed by heavy fog.
She was scheduled to tour the National Fishing Heritage museum, visit a fire-and-rescue service, and officially open a new school building at a local academy.
She was on her own; husband Prince William was on duty at his RAF base in Wales. She was dressed in a brown wrap coat by Hobbs with a cinched waist (still not much of a baby bump) with high heels.
She and Will have just returned from a wedding and ski holiday in Switzerland; Will and the rest of the wedding party hit the slopes, she went sledding and took long walks.
Still, she's clearly recovered from the acute morning sickness that felled her early in her pregnancy last year, arriving in a seaside region where the smell of fish is routine. Once the busiest fishing port in the world, Grimsby is still one of the largest fish-processing centers in the U.K.
In decline for decades and saddled with a high youth unemployment rate, Grimsby could be said to be grim, but legend (and Wikipedia) has it that the name of this Viking town founded in the 9th century comes from a Danish fisherman named Grim.
According to the Grimsby Telegraph, this is not the town's first visit from royalty: Back in 1216, King John dropped in, and so did Henry VIII in the 16th century, Queen Victoria in the 19th century, and Kate's grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, in the 20th century. Prince William's mother, the late Princess Diana, opened a hospital named for her in Grimsby in 1983.
In any case, Grimsby was anything but grim when Duchess Kate arrived. Ever since the palace announced the visit last month, Grimsby has been in a fever of preparations, according to the Grimsby Telegraph, which planned a special edition today, live online coverage and a 12-page souvenir pull-out section in Wednesday's paper. Today's front page was entirely filled with a huge picture of waving Kate and the headline 'Grimsby Welcomes You.'
Long before she arrived, flag-waving crowds gathered outside the museum, as a man dressed as St. George rode past on a motorcycle decorated as a dragon.
Former fisherman John Vincent, 68, who will lead her tour of the museum, said he can't believe his good fortune. "Never in my life did I think I would get to talk to the future queen - I wish my parents were alive to see it," he told the paper.
Elsewhere the locals have rolled out the red carpet, posted welcome signs, baked cookies and rehearsed a theatrical performance to entertain her.
"Kate fever is taking a grip on the town and excitement is mounting at the three places she will be visiting," the paper reported.