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Kate stunned by ‘very special’ gift from Holocaust survivor after a ‘big cuddle’

Kate Middleton discusses the importance of Remembrance

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Stephen Frank gave the Duchess a letter written by an American serviceman to his mother, saying “I thought you might like to read it.” The Duchess described the card as “very special”, saying: “that’s so thoughtful of you”. Kate Middleton was at the Imperial War Museum in London to officially open their two new galleries devoted to the Second World War and the Holocaust.

She met with Mr Frank and another holocaust survivor, Yvonne Bernstein.

The two Holocaust survivors have met the Duchess before when she photographed them as part of the “Generations: Portrait of Holocaust Survivors”, to mark 75 years since the end of the genocide.

When she arrived, the future Queen appeared excited to be reunited with Mr Frank, saying: “Hello! I want to give you a big cuddle!”

Speaking about her experience photographing the pair, she said: “you were very patient, so thank you.

“I loved the items you chose and the colours. Thank you for your time. You were good sitters.

“Seeing this really brings back such special memories. We need to tell your stories. That is what is so powerful about this project, the generational nature of it and the handover of stories.”

She also thanked the pair for trusting her to take their photographs.

Looking at their portraits on the wall, the 39-year-old royal asked: “Is it strange seeing your photograph up there? It so nice to see you again. I think about the sitting so often, it was such a wonderful opportunity. Thank you so much.”

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The Duchess chatted to Mrs Bernstein about families, with Mrs Bernstein asking the mother of three whether, as a working royal, if she got much chance to see her children.

“All the time,” replied Kate, “they’re my priority.”

The Imperial War Museum’s new galleries in London display more than 1,500 items from 80 countries that bring to life the impact of the Second World War on millions of people.

Meanwhile, the Holocaust Galleries tell the individual stories of some of the six million murdered Jewish people through more than 2,000 photographs, books, artworks, letters and personal belongings.

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The Duchess’s own grandmother, Valerie Glassborow, and her twin sister Mary both worked at Bletchley Park during the war.

Speaking about the exhibitions, the mother-of-three said: “It just brings it to life. A lot of people still don’t want to share their stories. It’s amazing. can’t wait to bring my kids.”

The Duchess also admired another portrait, taken by another photographer of John Hadju MBE.

Mr Hadju, who was born in Hungary in 1937 but now lives in Muswell Hill with his wife and children, was photographed with a teddy tucked into his top pocket.

The 82-year-old explained that the childhood toy had escaped with him first the onslaught of the Nazis – when he was put with his mother in the horrific Budapest ghetto – and then Soviet occupation, before coming with him to England in 1956 after fleeing the Hungarian revolution through minefields.

In response to the moving story, the future queen said: “And teddy was with you all the time,” Kate marvelled. “Wow, goodness me, what a story.

“I hope parents explain these stories to their children to ensure it never happens again.

“What I love is the personal stories, told in context, like your teddy.”

Speaking afterwards, Mr Hadju said: “I am living history and very happy to be here. She was a lovely lady and very interested, I think, to hear my story for the first time. I had only had a chance to grab two things when we left – and one was teddy.

“I think it really opened her eyes”, he added.

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