IT WAS as if the schedule for the royal tour had been planned especially to quash growing speculation of the impending pitter patter of tiny feet.
For the Duchess of Cambridge yesterday set out to scotch rumours that she is expecting a sibling for Prince George when she indulged in a range of activities that tend to be off the agenda for pregnant women.
Speculation grew on Saturday that the duchess and Prince William were expecting a brother or sister for their eight-month-old son when William made an unguarded remark to a member of the public who presented him with a handmade shawl for the baby.
After Cynthia Read handed over a lace shawl she had made for George on behalf of the New Zealand government, William told her: “You might have to make another one soon.”
Mrs Read, who emigrated from Newcastle eight years ago with her Scottish husband Ken, a geologist, added: “The way William said it was like he was dropping a hint, letting me in on a secret.”
But yesterday, the duchess took part in a white-knuckle jet-boat ride, which would have been prohibited if she was pregnant.
She also indulged in a glass of wine at a tour of a New Zealand vineyard, where she told wine-makers she was “really enjoying being able to drink again after having baby George”.
However, John Darby, owner of Amisfield vineyard in Queenstown, revealed that the duchess had actually consumed only a tiny amount of the beverage.
“The duchess did take a little sip – but I don’t think she’s a big drinker,” he said.
“We nearly moved on without the duke or duchess having a glass of our wine, but the duke was keen to try it. He said ‘Hang on, let’s enjoy a glass of wine – we can’t pass up the opportunity’.”
Current guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says the safest option for women is not to drink at all during pregnancy, but adds that small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy – totalling less than one to two units once or twice a week – have not been shown to be harmful.
The royal couple had flown to Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island, nestled between mountains and beside a picturesque lake and the place where the bungee jump was invented.
The jet-boat, which is designed to be able to speed along in water just a few inches deep, nips between trees and close to obstacles before veering away at the last minute. After the ride, which lasted more than 30 minutes, William and Kate applauded their driver, Wayne Paton.
Mr Paton said: “They loved it. The prince wanted me to go closer – he said ‘You can go closer than that’.
“There were some screams, but not from them.”
The jet-boat’s captain was reported as saying that when he delivered a safety briefing, he asked the passengers, including the royal couple, if they had back problems, neck problems or were pregnant, and “no-one put their hand up”.
William and Kate may have delayed any thoughts of conceiving a second baby until after the busy tour to Australian and New Zealand, because of the duchess’s history of a severe form of morning sickness, which left her hospitalised while pregnant with George.
New Zealand’s South Island is known as a “little bit of Scotland” to locals because of the high population of Scottish descendents.
Prince William compared the New Zealand weather to Scotland’s when the couple landed in Dunedin to grey skies and the sound of the pipes.
Tribal elder Edward Ellison, 63, from the Ngai Tahu tribe, the main tribe on the South Island, said: “He said that it was a bit like being in Edinburgh with the conditions, the weather and the bagpipes.”