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The Duchess of Cambridge visits Ark Open Farm in Co Down - February 12, 2020 [photos] Close

The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast. February 12, 2020

The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast. February 12, 2020

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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The Duchess of Cambridge shields her eyes from the sun as she meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge shields her eyes from the sun as she meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

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The Duchess of Cambridge meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to members of the public as she arrives at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to members of the public as she arrives at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to members of the public as she arrives at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to members of the public as she arrives at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge arrivies at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge arrivies at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge talks to a young boy at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she also met with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge talks to a young boy at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she also met with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

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The Duchess of Cambridge (right) at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, meets parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge (right) at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, meets parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

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The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge (left) at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she met with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge (left) at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she met with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

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RETRANSMISSION AMENDING SPELLING OF NEWTOWNARDS
The Duchess of Cambridge greets members of staff during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

RETRANSMISSION AMENDING SPELLING OF NEWTOWNARDS The Duchess of Cambridge greets members of staff during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

The Duchess of Cambridge helps children feed a lamb some milk during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge helps children feed a lamb some milk during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

RETRANSMISSION AMENDING SPELLING OF NEWTOWNARDS
The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

RETRANSMISSION AMENDING SPELLING OF NEWTOWNARDS The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

The Duchess of Cambridge helps children feed a lamb during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge helps children feed a lamb during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtonards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtonards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge helps feed a Lamb with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge helps feed a Lamb with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Getty Images

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge has an encounter with an Alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge has an encounter with an Alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives at The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives at The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives at The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood.   (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives at The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast. February 12, 2020

The Duchess of Cambridge charmed both visitors and animals alike during a guided tour of an open farm in Co Down in what was her first solo visit to Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

Kate - known as Lady Carrickfergus when in Northern Ireland - was on a day visit to one of our most popular family attractions, Ark Open Farm in Newtownards, which attracts 74,000 visitors each year.

Despite the chilly weather conditions, it was a warm welcome for the royal, who was dressed perfectly for the farm visit in a Barbour jacket and Penelope Chilvers knee boots.

During her flying visit, the mother of three met with local representatives of the Early Years organisation and families who have benefited from the work of the charity.

It aims to support expectant parents, mums and dads, and carers of children up to five years old.

While chatting with parents, the 38-year-old also found time to interact with the farm animals, helping little Newtownards girl Jane Thompson (4) bottle-feed a lamb.

Her mother Nicola (40) told the Belfast Telegraph that her daughter was delighted to meet "the princess".

"It was really nice. She's just very natural with the kids," she explained.

"We're here today because Jane goes to Glenbrooke Nursery which was one of the nurseries invited to come along here."

The Duchess also met with the Ark's more exotic residents, an alpaca and a corn snake called Sophie.

The Duchess of Cambridge was in Northern Ireland for a visit of Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.

Kate expressed amazement as she held the pale yellow reptile, confessing it was the first time she had picked one up, offering a child next to her the opportunity to also touch the snake.

"She's got the most amazing skin. This is the first time I've ever held a snake like that. How cool is that?" she explained.

It appears the royal may have had somewhat of a fear of the species, as Ark owner Stewart Donaldson joked that he had been informed beforehand that Kate wasn't particularly keen on meeting Sophie.

He told this newspaper that he was delighted to welcome the royal visitor to the farm in what is a very special year for the attraction, which he runs with his wife Lorraine, daughter Lyndy, and son-in-law Stuart.

"It's our 30th anniversary. We're all very excited. It was quite a job keeping her visit secret. We had only 10 days' notice," he explained.

A plaque to mark the farm's milestone was unveiled by the Duchess, who was presented with flowers from Lorraine.

She said in a speech that it was a "pleasure" to welcome the Royal Highness to Ark farm.

"Thank you so much visiting here today," she added.

The Duchess of Cambridge visits Ark Open Farm in Co Down - February 12, 2020 [photos] Close

The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast. February 12, 2020

The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast. February 12, 2020

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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The Duchess of Cambridge shields her eyes from the sun as she meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge shields her eyes from the sun as she meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge meets members of the public at the Ark Open Farm, in Newtownards, near Belfast, during a visit to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to members of the public as she arrives at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to members of the public as she arrives at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to members of the public as she arrives at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to members of the public as she arrives at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge arrivies at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge arrivies at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge talks to a young boy at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she also met with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge talks to a young boy at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she also met with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge (right) at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, meets parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge (right) at the Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, meets parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge (left) at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she met with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge (left) at The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she met with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA

RETRANSMISSION AMENDING SPELLING OF NEWTOWNARDS
The Duchess of Cambridge greets members of staff during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

RETRANSMISSION AMENDING SPELLING OF NEWTOWNARDS The Duchess of Cambridge greets members of staff during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge strokes an alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

The Duchess of Cambridge helps children feed a lamb some milk during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge helps children feed a lamb some milk during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

RETRANSMISSION AMENDING SPELLING OF NEWTOWNARDS
The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

RETRANSMISSION AMENDING SPELLING OF NEWTOWNARDS The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

The Duchess of Cambridge helps children feed a lamb during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge helps children feed a lamb during a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtownards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtonards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a visit to The Ark Open Farm, at Newtonards, near Belfast, where she is meeting with parents and grandparents to discuss their experiences of raising young children for her Early Childhood survey. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 12, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Kate. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge helps feed a Lamb with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge helps feed a Lamb with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - 
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards.
During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present.  The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th February 2020 - HRH The Duchess of Cambridge pictured at The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. During her visit to the farm, HRH will met with local representatives of Early Years and families who have benefitted from the work of the charity. Young children from two local nurseries were also present. The Duchess received a guided tour of the facility, meeting with the owners and staff of the family-run farm and viewed various animals during her walkabout. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets with children from two local nurseries during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge has an encounter with an Alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge has an encounter with an Alpaca during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives at The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives at The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives at The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood.   (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives at The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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Looking on with pride was Newtownards woman Jacqueline Gibson, whose family business had provided the plaque.

The 59-year-old had come along to meet Kate with her husband Brian, daughter Susan Russell and twin grandchildren, Harry and Annabelle, aged four.

"It's a very big day for us. We only found out a few days that this was happening," revealed the grandmother.

Mr Gibson added that his grandchildren had been granted special permission from their school in Donaghadee to be there for the day instead of being in the classroom.

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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, meets children from two local nurseries and (left and below right) animals including a lamb, snake and an alpaca, during a visit to The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, meets children from two local nurseries and (left and below right) animals including a lamb, snake and an alpaca, during a visit to The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards

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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, meets children from two local nurseries and (left and below right) animals including a lamb, snake and an alpaca, during a visit to The Ark Open Farm in Newtownards

"The school was trying to work out who the special VIP was," he laughed. His grandson, Harry also presented Kate with a floral bouquet a moment which his mum, Susan, said filled her with pride.

"Kate also spoke to Annabelle, telling her she loved her pretty dress," she added.

During the tour, Kate also spent time speaking to parents, carers and grandparents of children about some of the challenges they face.

She listened sympathetically as she moved around tables in the cafe as she was told about issues before moving into a private conversation. Other parents, who had waited patiently outside from around 10am for a glimpse of the special VIP, spoke of their excitement of being part of the occasion.

Gareth Alexander, who came along with his four-year-old son James, said it was great Kate had made the trip to Co Down.

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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives at The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives at The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards

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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives at The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards

"It's fantastic she's here to mark the farm's 30th anniversary," he said.

Fellow Bangor parent Claire Savage, who was with her daughter Alexa (4), agreed.

"I think the parents are more excited than the kids," she said.

"I've always wanted to meet Kate and say hello. I don't think the kids know what's going on."

Meanwhile, Kate's passion for early child development impressed student Nadine Calar, originally from Belfast but now living in Newtownards, who met the Duchess with her son, Ayaz (3).

"She asked me why I was studying early years and I told her that the first four years of a child's life are the most important," said the 25-year-old.

"So I said that I would like to learn more and she replied that she too would like to know more." Nadine added: "Kate was just so down to earth. She was so genuine as well. Kate was very good with the children."

After her tour, the Duchess made the journey to Scotland where she visited a cafe run by a homeless charity in Aberdeen.

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and children from two local nurseries have an encounter with a snake during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and children from two local nurseries have an encounter with a snake during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 12: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and children from two local nurseries have an encounter with a snake during a visit to The Ark Open Farm on February 12, 2020 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This visit is part of her Early Years Foundation Survey. Five Big Questions, aiming to spark a UK-wide conversation on early childhood. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The Duchess's Co Down visit marks the fourth occasion she has visited Northern Ireland.

Last February, Kate and husband William spent three days here, conducting engagements in Ballymena, Belfast and Fermanagh.

The royal couple also crossed the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland in 2016, five years after they came to Belfast in the run-up to their wedding.

On Tuesday it was announced Kate and William will be making their first official royal visit to the Republic next month.

Details of the trip have not yet been released, but it has been reported they could visit Dublin and Cork between March 3 and 5.

Belfast Telegraph