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Prince William, Kate Middleton at first fundraiser

By GREGORY KATZ,Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:11 a.m. HST, Dec 19, 2010

LONDON — Kate Middleton made her first public appearance Saturday night since announcing her engagement to Prince William, joining him at a cancer charity fundraising event in Norfolk.

It marked a transition for Middleton as she made the first of what are expected to be many public appearances for a variety of good causes.

Middleton, 28, is not officially part of the royal family until her marriage April 29, but this week she joined Queen Elizabeth II and the rest of the family's inner circle at a pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace, signaling her new status.

She wore an elegant black and white dress cut just above the knee to the charity event, risking high heels despite the slippery conditions as much of England was blanketed with snow. The outfit was topped with a fitted black jacket and a small black handbag.

Middleton and William received some applause as they walked past well-wishers into the Thursford Christmas Spectacular, where he was the guest of honor.

"She looked absolutely beautiful," said Sophie Pinsent, who portrayed an elf at the charity event and got a close-up look at the royal couple. "She was really lovely and they looked so happy together, so it was really nice. I thought it was so exciting."

It had been rumored for days that Middleton would attend, adding to the excitement surrounding the annual event, which was threatened by the icy road conditions and the frigid weather.

Money raised from the show will be used to help pay for construction of a special cancer unit at a hospital in Cambridge.

During intermission, William and Middleton planned to meet with a group of young cancer patients from the greater Norfolk region.

The choice of a cancer charity for Middleton's first event is seen as a possible indication of the type of charities she may focus on as she develops her royal role, which remains undefined. Little is known about her interests.

The couple are to be married at Westminster Abbey on April 29 after a lengthy courtship. They met when they were freshmen at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

William's brother, Prince Harry, was in Berlin on Saturday to receive a reward for his humanitarian work.


Martin Benedyk in Thursford, England, contributed to this report.

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