Princess of Wales cradles premature baby during visit to maternity unit

The Princess of Wales cradled a newborn baby at a maternity unit in Surrey on Wednesday as she revealed it took her and the Prince of Wales “ages” to choose their children’s names.

Kate Middleton toured the Royal Surrey Country Hospital in Guildford to learn about its work with pregnant women and new mothers.

The visit marked the royal’s first major solo engagement since she was given her new title by King Charles III, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II last month.

Photographs from the outing showed Kate dressed in a yellow midi dress by Karen Millen as she arrived at the hospital to meet staff and patients.

She had the opportunity to meet a mother named Sylvia Novak, and cradle Novak’s premature newborn daughter, Bianca.

Novak said she had asked the princess if she would like to hold Bianca, to which she replied: “Am I allowed to?”

Pictures showed the princess sitting in the hospital room, carefully holding the baby in both arms as she chatted to the mother. “She’s very sweet,” Kate said of the newborn.

Separately, the Princess of Wales also spent time with expectant mothers. One patient said Kate had asked her whether she had thought of any names for her child.

Kate chats with Sylvia Novak (PA)
Kate chats with Sylvia Novak (PA)

When the woman responded that she had, the princess said: “Everyone already has names for their babies! It took us ages to name ours.”

The Prince and Princess of Wales have three children; Prince George, nine, Princess Charlotte, seven, and Prince Louise, four.

Staff at the hospital said Kate listened intently and asked lots of questions. When one of the babies cried, she smiled at him and asked: “Are you OK?”

Kate holds newborn Bianca (PA)
Kate holds newborn Bianca (PA)

The hospital’s NHS maternity unit delivers and cares for around 3,000 babies each year.

Kate’s visit included a tour of the hospital’s special care baby unit, which provides specialist neonatal care for tiny and premature babies.

It is one of only a few units nationally which has the ability for mothers to remain close to their babies at all times through round-the-clock cot side sleeping facilities.