Princess Charlotte enjoyed a memorable day out at the Commonwealth Games that left her raising her arms in the air as she watched her favourite sport of gymnastics.
Charlotte made a rare solo public appearance with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who took their daughter to sporting venues across the host city of Birmingham and to an official event highlighting a programme supporting the next generation of athletes.
The young royal was pictured pulling a range of expressions – and even sticking her tongue out – as she enjoyed swimming heats, a hockey match and, at the end of her day, artistic gymnastics.
Charlotte, seven, was described as “charming” by Tim Lawler, chief executive of SportsAid, who hosted the royal visit to Birmingham University, where the royals learnt about the Team England Futures initiative.
She appeared curious about her surroundings and the people around her at the university site, and a little apprehensive at times, but received a reassuring arm around her shoulder or word in her ear from William, and held Kate’s hand at other moments.
The young princess revealed gymnastics was the sport she liked most and joined a nutritional workshop helping her parents place pictures of foods such as nuts, bread and grapes into the right groups, whether protein, carbohydrates, antioxidants or healthy fats.
At one point Charlotte was asked to update a Team England medal board and added a bronze, won in the men’s team table tennis event, and a silver from the lawn bowls men’s pairs.
Mr Lawler, whose organisation SportsAid is a partner body of Team England Futures, said: “I did notice the duke and the duchess, as we were trying to do, include Charlotte in the conversations – we were very mindful of that and it was really very evident the duke and duchess were doing that to, I suppose, include her and reassure her.
“She was charming, very willing to put the medals on the medal board, and she asked the right question, which was ‘where exactly should I put this?’ It was by date and she checked.
“She really, really loved seeing the swimming, but she’s interested in the gymnastics, and while they’re trying lots of different sports at home, I understand, when I asked her about sport she answered very easily and said ‘it’s gymnastics that I like’.”
When the Cambridges arrived they met senior sporting executives and Kate turned to her daughter and said: “You liked the swimming, didn’t you?” and Charlotte nodded.
The princess, with her hair in pigtails and wearing a sleeveless summer dress and sandals, stood with her hands behind her back looking around, and a few moments later William put an arm around her shoulders.
The Team England Futures programme is a partnership between SportsAid – which Kate supports as patron – Sport England and Commonwealth Games England, which aids the development of promising athletes and aspiring support staff, giving them the opportunity to attend the Games to see behind the scenes.
Before the Games the aspiring sporting stars benefited from online learning covering a wide range of topics and mentoring from senior athletes.
Charlotte sat between her parents as they chatted to two power weightlifters, Tom Smith and Lottie McGuinness, who were joined by veteran competitors.
Speaking about the Games, Ms McGuinness said: “The atmosphere is incredible, everybody is socialising with everybody else.”
Nutritionist Jenny Tschiesche set the Cambridges and their daughter a food challenge, and said afterwards: “They did really well, and so did Charlotte, she picked up the picture of the chicken and put it in the protein section and she did the same with the beans.”
The couple also watched when twin beach volleyball players Joaquin and Javier Bello pedalled exercise bikes powering blenders filled with fruit – a gadget that combined the competitive nature of athletes and their interest in nutrition.
Charlotte and her parents were advised to cover their ears as the brothers pedalled the bikes to produce smoothies and Kate did briefly but her daughter kept her ears protected throughout.