Bubbles and balloons delight wee ones at Government House

Friday, September 30th, 2016

The Vancouver Sun

The world’s most famous royal children enjoyed a lively party in Victoria on Thursday, complete with a petting zoo, bubble machines and balloon animals shared by local entertainers and military families.

Prince George, 3, and Princess Charlotte, 1, joined 24 local children for the party on the garden grounds of Government House. It was an opportunity for their parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to have a playful family moment during a hectic Canadian tour, and relax among other parents for an hour.

Kathryn Ward, 2, made a beeline for the bubbles when she arrived, as her mother Jeannie and father Master Cpl. Chris Ward sat with the duchess on a carpet to share a snack.

“She actually went right up to Charlotte,” Jeannie said. “Charlotte asked to see her balloon animal, and went and put it right behind her back.”

Prince William sprang into action. “Would you like a balloon, Charlotte?” he asked, before picking her up.

The event drew considerable attention in the United Kingdom, where it was described as the first public appearance in which Princess Charlotte walked and talked. She uttered the words “pop” while playing with the balloons.

Charlotte delightedly petted a black and white rabbit while her mother Duchess Catherine held her. She toddled among the baby horses at the petting zoo before stroking Moose, a golden retriever and poodle cross that is a St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog. Then she sat on Moose and bounced up and down.

Prince George rode a miniature pony and squirted bubbles at his father.

Balloon artist Paul Kilshaw, 53, from Victoria, made George and Charlotte balloon animals. He started to make a pink balloon for Charlotte before George came over to say: “I want one too.”

The future king appeared to momentarily flummox Kilshaw by asking for one of his balloon animals to be a volcano.

“The balloon animal guy did his best to make that for him,” Jeannie said. “It was really cute and they were playing with that for awhile on the carpet.”

George proudly told Kilshaw he knew all about volcanoes. George pointed to the orange flames and identified them as lava.

Jeannie admitted she was unsure what to expect before meeting the royals, but said she found the duchess was “so friendly and down to earth.”

“It was a dream moment to be able to act just like a normal person with somebody who is so larger than life,” she said.

The families were selected from the Military Family Resource Centre, and the animals provided by a local 4-H club.

Navy Lieut. William Andrew Matheson called it a “once-in-a-

lifetime experience” to take his wife Kristy, four-year-old daughter Isabelle and 19-month-old daughter Lily to the party.

“It was definitely a little nerveracking at the beginning but his and her royal highnesses were very skilled at making you feel very relaxed,” he said. “It was initially surreal at the beginning, but after 10 minutes we’re all parents and we’re all at the park playing. So I think everybody understood we have one eye on them, and one eye on your kids at all times.”

Matheson, who is second in command of the submarine HMCS Victoria, said they spoke to the duke and duchess about how they balance all their royal duties with their parental responsibilities.

The royal couple spent the rest of Thursday enjoying private time with their children. They continue their royal tour Friday in Haida Gwaii, before returning to the United Kingdom on Saturday.

© 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.

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