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Smashing Kate Middleton christens Royal Princess cruise ship

Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, is officially godmother to ... a cruise ship.

The pregnant wife of Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, christened Princess Cruises' Royal Princess ship in Southampton, England, on Thursday with the ceremonial smashing of a Champagne bottle.

Middleton, whose name was changed over to Catherine when she married Prince William in April 2011, wore a $260 Hobbs Dalmation print black coat that accentuated her pregnant belly and a black Sylvia Fletcher at Lock & Co. fascinator for the occasion.

PHOTOS: Kate Middleton through the years

The naming ceremony, which took place during a blustery day at the harbor, was one of her last official pre-baby appearances before the royal takes maternity leave. She is expecting her first child next month.

The duchess comes in a long line of Brits who have christened ships. Princess Diana, Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, actress Audrey Hepburn and Martha Stewart have all done the ceremonial champagne bottle smashing, according to the Times' travel blog.

"We can think of no more fitting godmother for our magnificent new ship. Her Royal Highness is an inspiring ambassador for Britain, and she is admired around the world for her style, her grace and for her compassion for others. We thank the duchess for graciously agreeing to name our new vessel," said Alan Buckelew, chief executive of Princess Cruises, an American-owned company that comes from a British heritage.

PHOTOS: Celebs and dignitaries who christened ships

Naming ceremonies usually asks for a blessing of good fortune and safety of the ship. A minister was on hand for a prayer and the duchess blessed the ship with a shorter salutation accompanied by two children from her charities.

"I name this ship Royal Princess. May God bless her and all who sail in her!" the duchess said before cutting a ribbon that sent the Champagne bottle sailing against the side of the ship.

It was a $1,600 bottle of Moet et Chandon Champagne, People reported. The Duchess later took a tour of the ship.

PHOTOS: The royals' 'Harry Potter' studio visit

The Royal Princess (the ship, not the person) is the cruise line's largest yet and will hold 3,600 passengers, including 1,346 crew members, onboard. It will feature many of the amenities of gargantuan cruise ships these days including an atrium, multiple dining rooms, pools and cabanas. The ship also features a TV studio, top-deck fountain, glass-bottom walkway and "the largest pastry shop at sea," Buckelew said.

Its maiden voyage will begin in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday and make its way through the Grand Mediterranean for the summer. The ship will then make its way to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and sail the Eastern Caribbean in the fall.

The Band of Her Majesties Royal Marines Portsmouth, pop star Natasha Bedingfield and Brit singer Kerry Ellis performed at the event.

ALSO:

PHOTOS: Kate Upton: Cover girl to glamour girl

Actors Jennie Garth, Peter Facinelli finalize divorce, play nice

Halle Berry, Olivier Martinez confirm they're expecting a baby boy

Follow @NardineSaad

nardine.saad@latimes.com

Follow Ministry of Gossip @LATcelebs.

PHOTOS AND MORE: PHOTOS: Celebrity portraits by The Times PHOTOS: Royal visit to New Zealand and Australia PHOTOS: 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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