December 8, 2014 / 8:54 PM / 4 years ago

Harlem cheers 'Kate, Kate!' as British duchess visits child center

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cheering crowds jammed the sidewalks of Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood on Monday for a peek at Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge as she shook hands with black and Hispanic children outside a development center.

Chants of “Kate, Kate, Kate!” met the duchess on a frigid morning on her first trip to New York with her husband, Prince William, as she emerged from the Northside Center for Child Development.

The trip by the royal couple, expecting their second child in April, comes as New York faces nightly protests against police violence that could raise security concerns despite no major violence so far.

Accompanied by New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, the duchess wrapped gifts with children and joked that she hoped to wrap a square package because it would be easier.

“They thought she was the princess from ‘Frozen,’” said Northside administrator Rose Ann Harris as Kate shook hands and was given a bouquet of roses. “Frozen” is a hit animated film for children.

The duchess wore a black coat with white trim that hid her baby bump.

Outside the center, which provides mental health and educational services to developmentally delayed children in high-risk neighborhoods, Milagros Jimenez, 54, strained for a glimpse of the duchess.

“She reminds us of Princess Diana, humble, giving and looking out for the poor people,” said Jimenez. “It’s good for her to see how education for the low-income families helps, so that when they get older they get a good start.”

Lauren Nichols, 16, of Chardon, Ohio, skipped school to travel with her grandmother to New York for the royal visit.

“She understands important causes like an art room for children. It’s good to have an outlet for kids who have troubles in their life,” said Nichols, wearing a Union Jack-decorated cap and scarf.

Northside, which aims in part to fight racism, was founded by researchers whose pioneering studies were cited in the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared school segregation unconstitutional.

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, laughs while siting next to April, 4, (L), and Sammy, 4, in a pre-school class at the Northside Center for Childhood Development in New York, December 8, 2014. REUTER/Seth Wenig/Pool

Kate saw dolls used in historic research that found most black children chose white dolls over black ones, indicating that segregation led to a sense of inferiority and self-hatred.

Also on Monday, William went to Washington to meet with President Barack Obama and speak at the World Bank on the threat of illegal wildlife trafficking.

The couple planned to see a National Basketball Association game in Brooklyn on Monday night.

Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Cooney

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