Royal opening of the Darwin Centre highlights

Witness some of the highlights of the royal celebrations at the grand opening of the Darwin Centre by Prince William in our slideshow.

Butterfly emerging from the huge white flower at the royal event

One of the butterfly dancers emerges from the huge white flower suspended in the Darwin Centre cocoon's entrance hall during the stunning visual display at the royal celebration event on 14 September 2009. HRH Prince William of Wales joined by Sir David Attenborough officially opened the building during the afternoon after the dancers entertained guests.

Royal speech at Darwin Centre opening

To the gathering of over 300 guests, Prince William and Sir David Attenborough heralded the Darwin Centre as key to answering the great questions of the natural world. After the speeches, red butterfly confetti scattered down from above.

Guests in the entrance hall of the cocoon

Guests in the Darwin Centre entrance hall look up in wonder as the red butterfly confetti is released from the top of the cocoon building to mark Prince William's opening speech.

Butterfly dancers flying high in the cocoon's hallway

Butterfly dancers flying high in the cocoon's grand hallway during the acrobatic display. The guests at the celebration look on in awe.

Caterpillar dancer at royal event of Darwin Centre opening

A caterpillar dancer entertains the guests at the celebrations before Prince William's opening speech. In a stunning acrobatic visual display, the caterpillar climbs up into a huge beautiful white flower suspended in the cocoon building's hallway, to emerge later as a butterfly.

Butterfly dancer spreads wings

As the two butterfly dancers take flight from the giant white flower, they spread their wings entwining around each other high up in the cocoon above the onlookers.

Prince William and a tarantula

One of the stars of the royal show was a large Mexican red-knee tarantula that was handed to Prince William during his royal visit by our Museum spider expert, Jan Beccaloni.

Prince William and Yvonne Linton, the Museum's mosquito expert

While the acrobatic display took place, Prince William helped out our Museum mosquito expert Dr Yvonne Linton in the Darwin Centre's molecular lab. The lab Prince William is working in can be viewed by the public during their Cocoon visit.

Prince William accompanied by Museum director, Mike Dixon on the Cocoon tour

On his Cocoon tour, HRH Prince William investigates a huge glass specimen case that extends down to the floor below. It is filled with 326 insect and plant specimens, showing just a taster of the variety that exists in nature.