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Today, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge visited the Museum to wish Dippy, the famous Diplodocus skeleton, good luck on his upcoming travels around the UK.
The visit follows last week's announcement of the eight UK-wide venues that will host Dippy from early 2018 to late 2020.
The Duchess, who is Patron of the Museum, attended a tea party with 20 children from Oakington Manor Primary School in London.
The young guests were brought to the Museum by Place2Be, a charity committed to improving the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children in the UK, of which the Duchess is also Patron.
The Duchess joined the nine- to ten-year-olds as they enjoyed dinosaur-inspired craft activities and a mini fossil dig from the Museum's Dino Scene Investigation activity for schools. She then cut a celebration cake for Dippy.
As The Duchess cut the cake, Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, said:
'Since arriving in 1905, Dippy has been a must-see at the Museum and it is a pleasure to have The Duchess and our young special guests with us today to celebrate his time at the helm.
'This cake-cutting marks the start of his journey, which will take him around the UK from early 2018 to late 2020, inspiring five million natural history adventures.'
The tour, supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation, will be the first time the popular 26-metre-long Diplodocus skeleton cast has ever been on display outside the capital.
The eight tour partners will use the opportunity to showcase local natural history alongside the impressive dinosaur, and to draw attention to UK's own rich biodiversity, past and present, as well as the future facing our wildlife.
The Duchess has been Patron of the Museum since April 2013. This is a reflection of her interest in and commitment to the Museum's role in helping people to both reconnect with the natural world and answer the big questions about how we can protect our planet's future.
In the past few years she has met with Museum scientists to find out more about their work to understand and protect the diversity of life on Earth.
Dippy's tour aims to spark the imagination of a new generation of scientists and connect the nation with nature.
Before the delicate plaster-of-Paris cast can begin its journey, it needs to be prepared by Museum conservators.
Dippy's journey around the UK begins at Dorset County Museum in January 2018.