Prince George, Charlotte and Louis join Chelsea Flower Show fun after helping Duchess of Cambridge build her wonderland garden

Hannah Furness

She has often spoken about the importance of children getting out of doors and back to nature. And when Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis made a visit to see their mother at work, it was no exception.

The Duchess of Cambridge has welcomed her three children into the woodland wonderland she has designed for Chelsea Flower Show, as the family made a special private visit ahead of its grand unveiling.

With bare feet - all the better for paddling in streams and climbing on stepping stones - the three children looked right at home as they wielded sticks, stones and a healthy dose of mud to play with the Duke and Duchess.

It is the first time Prince George, five, Princess Charlotte, four, and one-year-old Prince Louis have been photographed visiting one of their parents’ official projects, after they were allowed to see what the Duchess has been working on in secret for the past months.

They were also able to admire their own handiwork, pointing out the leaves, pine cones, sticks and moss they collected during their own playtime in the countryside of their Norfolk home especially for the Chelsea garden.

Prince William and Prince George are in charge of making the campfire Credit: Matt Porteous

Elements of the garden have been inspired by their favourite outdoor play, including a rustic garden den made from hazel sticks collected by the children, with the Duchess hoping to emphasise the importance of all families getting “back to nature”.

Speaking ahead of the Chelsea Flower Show, the Duchess said: “I really feel that nature and being interactive outdoors has huge benefits on our physical and mental wellbeing, particularly for young children.

Prince Louis, clutching a stick, takes his first steps on camera Credit: Matt Porteous

“I really hope that this woodland that we have created really inspires families, kids and communities to get outside, enjoy nature and the outdoors, and spend quality time together.”

The Duchess has been liaising with designers Andree Davies and Adam White over plans for the garden for months, with the team spending four days planting on site at Chelsea this week.

The family visit was a chance for her children to test out the rope swing, stream and climbing rocks, with Prince Louis carefully inspecting a stone with the help of the Duchess, and Prince William ready to start the campfire.

Princess Charlotte tries out the swing Credit: Matt Porteous

One image shows one-year-old Louis clutching a long stick and toddling towards the photographer: his first steps captured on camera.

The images are a very rare glimpse into the lives of the Cambridge children, who are usually photographed only on family occasions such as birthdays, weddings and Trooping the Colour.

The photographs were taken by Matt Porteous, who has previously shot Prince George’s birthday photographs.

Prince Louis seems taken with a stone he found in the garden Credit: Matt Porteous

Their visit was intended in part to underline the Duchess’s message about the benefits of outdoor play in early years’ development, intended to be the focus of her work for years to come.

Visiting children will take part in activities including pooh sticks and making small boats out of reeds to float along a stream.

The garden is designed to be robust enough to withstand a steady stream of small visitors trampling on the pathways, which plants that will bounce back.

Prince William helps his baby son Prince Louis on the rope swing Credit: Matt Porteous

Beetroot, carrots, strawberries and wild rhubarb are planted up to show children the link between nature and their dinner plate, while the stream is surrounded by woodland ferns, hart’s tongue, forget-me-nots, astrantia, ranunculus, snowy woodrush grass, large periwinkle, geranium and viola.

Walkways are made from reclaimed timber from Southend pier, while a staghorn treehouse - weighing nine tonnes and transported to the garden under special escort - will afford children a view of the flower show after they climb up the ladder its platform.

The Duchess of Cambridge tries the swing during a working visit to the garden earlier this week Credit: Kensington Palace

Adam White, one of the garden’s codesigners, said: “Our hope is that people visiting will find their inner child and think ‘I remember building a den’ or ‘I loved pooh sticks’. They will remember the magic of being outdoors.

“As a generation, children spend a lot of time indoors and in front of screens. We all know intuitively that being outdoors is good for us, and this is a gentle reminder.”

On Monday, the Queen will become one of the first people to see the finished garden as she makes her annual visit to the flower show with other members of the Royal Family.

This year’s Chelsea Flower Show opens to the public from May 21 to 25.

The Duchess will also appear in conversation with gardener Monty Don on Monday at 7.30pm, BBC One.

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