Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Stunning Kate wows guests at gala

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the Ark gala dinner
The Duke of Cambridge addresses the 10th annual Ark Gala Dinner (Arthur Edwards/Sun/PA)
The Duchess of Cambridge arrives at the 10th annual Ark gala dinner at Kensington Palace

The Duke of Cambridge has announced ambitious plans to help disadvantaged children in the UK and Africa as he and his wife attended their first official public engagement as a married couple.

William proclaimed his intention to "raise aspirations, broaden horizons and encourage young people to achieve" in a joint venture with a leading charity.

The Duke included his wife Kate in his hopes during a speech at a gala charity black-tie dinner on Thursday night to mark the 10th anniversary of Absolute Return for Kids (Ark), an organisation co-founded by billionaire financier Arpad Busson.

The Duchess, who is fast becoming a style icon, looked stunning in a shimmering dusky pink cap sleeve gown by designer Jenny Packham.

A host of stars were invited to the £10,000-a-head event. Colin Firth, famed for his Oscar-winning performance in the King's Speech, sat at William and Kate's table along with Liz Hurley, Jemima Khan and Mariella Frostrup.

Elizabeth Murdoch, the daughter of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, also had a place as did Anish Kapoor, the British-based, Indian-born sculptor who won the Turner Prize in 1991 and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, a distant relative of the Duke, and his wife Princess Marie. Other guests included the celebrated artist Tracey Emin.

The joint venture is between the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry and Mr Busson's charity, Absolute Return for Kids (Ark).

In the atmospheric circular banqueting room William joked with the guests, who numbered up to 1,000, about how he would try to explain the sight of diving performers in their tight trunks, who entertained the arriving guests, to his grandmother the Queen.

Returning to his theme of the partnership, he said: "This new joint initiative is based on our shared vision and commitment to transform the lives of thousands of young people. I know that I am very fortunate. I had a good education, a secure home and a loving and supportive family. So many young people, however, do not have these advantages and, as a result, can lack the confidence and knowledge to realise their full potential."

During the night funds were raised by bidding on charity lots which included a stay on the Maltese Falcon - the world's largest sailing yacht - or a luxury Kenyan safari. Bidding for the items reached six figures and organisers were hopeful they could beat last year's total of £14 million.

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