Prince William out with Kate to dedicate lifeboat

Britain's Prince William applaudes, as Kate Middleton holds uo a champagne bottle after naming a new lifeboat at the Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station on the island of Anglesey, Wales, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Jon Super).

March 9, 2011 8:30:14 AM PST
It was only a lifeboat. But it gave hundreds of people a chance to cheer Thursday as Prince William and fiancee Kate Middleton made a rare public appearance to dedicate the new vessel.

The prince made a short statement asking that all those who used the boat be blessed, and then Middleton, with a big smile, poured champagne over the lifeboat.

The champagne bottle was not broken over the boat, as is traditional, because the boat was an inflatable and it would not have been easy to crack a bottle on its bow.

Middleton looked elegant and comfortable in her new role as a princess-to-be. She wore a three-quarter length fitted beige coat and had her long hair swept back, topped by a chic feathery hat.

Prince William named the Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station's new lifeboat the "Hereford Endeavour" at the ceremony 300 miles (485 kilometers) northwest of London.

The prince, a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot at a Royal Air Force base in Wales, then stood by his fiancee as both chatted with local dignitaries and members of the public.

Jean Critchley, 63, said the wait was worth it for the chance to see the couple.

"They are a lovely couple. He is a great lad and she is a beautiful girl," she said after watching the event with her husband and grandson.

The visit had been highly anticipated because the couple have kept such a low profile since announcing their engagement in November, making only one other prior appearance at a charity event. They plan to marry April 29 at Westminster Abbey with nearly 2,000 guests attending.

The couple will visit their alma mater, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, on Friday.