London: Kate Middleton has on Thursday officially christened a new 3,600-passenger cruise ship on her last solo public engagement before she is due to give birth next month.
The Duchess of Cambridge, wearing a black and white print coat and a black hat, attended a gala ceremony in Southampton and briefly toured the ship named `Royal Princess`.
It is a long-standing Royal tradition, with Diana, Princess of Wales naming the ship`s predecessor in 1984.
The 31-year-old duchess` final official engagement before giving birth is expected to be on Saturday when she attends the Trooping the Colour.
After officially naming the cruise ship, she told the guests: "May God bless her and all who sail in her", before she cut a ribbon and smashed a large bottle of champagne over the liner`s hull.
Other women to have named Princess Cruises` vessels in the past include Lady Thatcher, Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren, the BBC reported.
The duchess, wife of Prince William, accepted an invitation to name the 1,000-ft ship and become its "godmother" in line with the company`s tradition.
Italian firm Fincantieri built the ship for Princess Cruises, which is part of Miami-based Carnival Corporation - the biggest cruise company in the world.
The Royal Princess, which is set to depart Southampton for Barcelona on Sunday, will go on Mediterranean cruises this summer followed by eastern Caribbean cruises beginning in the autumn.
President and chief executive of Princess Cruises Alan Buckelew said: "We are delighted that the duchess will launch our new ship and can think of no better way to celebrate our company`s British heritage and our commitment to the country."