Duchess of Cambridge gives first speech abroad

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Media captionThe Duchess of Cambridge: "It is so exciting to learn about the country's very first paediatric palliative care programme"

The Duchess of Cambridge has given her first official speech abroad, while visiting a hospice in Malaysia.

She described the support provided for terminally ill children, by the centre in Kuala Lumpur, as "life-changing".

The duchess and her husband travelled to Malaysia from Singapore, where they had begun their nine-day tour of South East Asia to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

She said the couple were "hugely excited" to be in Malaysia.

They were given a guided tour of the hospice, meeting staff and patients.

The duchess sat with 15-year-old leukaemia sufferer Zakwan Anuar, who had postponed a blood transfusion in order to meet the royal.

Asking him about his treatment, she said: "You must be very, very brave. Are you in pain? You're a brave boy. Thank you so much for coming to see me."

Zakwan told the duchess that she was "very pretty", to which she replied: ""Thank you. You're very handsome."

Afterwards, the boy's mother, Norizan Sulong, said: "Zakwan is normally very sleepy and in pain, crying, almost giving up hope, but today - my God - it was as if the leukaemia had gone."

She added: "God bless her. I cannot repay that kindness."

'Special place'

In her speech, the duchess said she had learned the importance of the care provided by such centres through her role as patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices.

"Providing children and their families with a place of support, care and enhancement at a time of great need is simply life changing," she said.

Image caption The duchess offered birthday wishes to Zakwan Anuar, who had turned 15 two days earlier

"With effective palliative care lives can be transformed. Treatment, support, care and advice can provide a lifeline to families at a time of great need.

"This is a very special place and so much has already been achieved".

Institutions dedicated to providing palliative treatment for those with terminal illnesses are rare in Malaysia and across the Far East.

Doctor Ednin Hamzah, the chief executive of Hospis Malaysia, said the presence of the duchess and the duke at the hospice would send a message across the region about the importance of such facilities.

'Warmth and connection'

He said: "I think the duchess could become the champion for the hospice movement worldwide if she wants to take on that mantle.

"She is very natural with the patients, you can see a warmth and connection there".

The royal couple arrived in the country on a scheduled Malaysian Airlines flight, before meeting Prime Minister Najib Razak at his official residence.

Their last engagement in Singapore was to visit a memorial for Commonwealth casualties from World War II, where they laid a wreath on behalf of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

The couple are scheduled to visit a Malaysian tropical jungle, on Borneo island, before heading to the Solomon Islands on Saturday. They will finish their tour in Tuvalu.

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