Kate 'Glad To Be Out'

The Duchess of Cambridge has been seen in public for the first time in more than two months, at an engagement in Kensington.

Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton

She was heard saying she was relieved at "getting out of the house" as she helped welcome the President of Singapore to the UK.

Pregnant Kate, who has been fighting a rare form of severe morning sickness, looked relaxed and cheerful as she joined the Duke of Cambridge in welcoming Tony Tan Keng Yam at the start of his state visit.

The Duchess, whose second child is due in April, was forced to cancel a series of engagements in recent weeks as she battled with hyperemesis gravidarum but her condition improved enough for her to take part in the state occasion.

Kate was dressed in a stylish bespoke Alexander McQueen grey checked fitted frock coat and matching coloured hat by Jane Taylor, but there was little sign of a baby bump.

She was welcomed back to public duties by well-wishers who caught a glimpse of her in a carriage procession along with the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, William, Dr Tan and his wife Mary.

But the Duchess did not stay for a private lunch at Buckingham Palace, a possible indication that she is still not back to full health.

The Queen and Philip formally greeted the visiting foreign head of state during a ceremonial welcome on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall that featured the pomp and splendour of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, who were dressed in their distinctive scarlet tunics and black bearskin hats.

The Cambridges had the privilege of escorting the president and his wife from their London hotel by car to the parade ground - Henry VIII's former jousting yard.

When the two couples met in the president's suite, Mrs Tan said she was glad Kate could make the engagement and the Duchess replied: "So am I. I've been looking forward to getting out of the house, that's for sure."

The event was the first time Kate had been seen at an official public engagement since it was announced, six weeks ago, that she was expecting her second child - a sibling for Prince George.

The Duchess stood throughout the 20-minute ceremony on Horse Guards in the blustery conditions on the parade ground.

Carriage rides in state coaches are known to be somewhat bumpy, but Kate seemed to cope well, listening to William as he chatted away while they accompanied Grace Fu, Singapore's second minister for foreign affairs, in the procession's horse-drawn Scottish State Coach.

It is the first time that the Duke and Duchess have taken part in a state visit to this extent.

The state visit, the first by a Singaporean president, comes ahead of the south east Asian country's golden jubilee - the 50th anniversary of its independence in 2015.

Later the Queen and Duke hosted a private lunch for her guests at Buckingham Palace and were joined by William, the Earl of Wessex and senior members of the Queen's household.

The two heads of state exchanged gifts, the Queen giving the president, who had a career in banking before becoming a politician, two leading works on economics.

The first was an 1822 copy of the classic book Wealth of Nations by the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith and the second an 1804 edition of James Maitland's An Inquiry into the Nature of Public Wealth.

Mr Tan also received a pair of photographs of the Queen and Duke, and his wife was given a wooden box made by the luxury goods firm founded by the Queen's nephew David Linley.

Singapore's head of state gave the Queen a collection of hand-painted plates celebrating her state visits to his homeland in 1972, 1989 and 2006, and Philip was presented with a framed photo of a family of black-naped terns, birds found in the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

After lunch the Queen took her guests on a tour of an exhibition in the palace's picture gallery featuring items from the Royal Collection relating to Singapore.

They ranged from 19th century photographs to diary entries from royalty who visited the trading city, and objects commemorating the Queen's visit to the republic.

One item caught the Queen's eye - a copy of a portrait of Sir Stamford Raffles of the British East India Company who established a trading post on Singapore island.

His efforts in 1819 sowed fertile seeds that would grow into the powerful city state and economic powerhouse that is Singapore.

Its position between China and India made it perfect for trading with both nations and today, on the banks of the Singapore river, stand skyscrapers housing banks and financial institutions.

The Queen turned to the president and said: "He must have been a remarkable man."

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