Among the crowds were toddler from Abbeywood Nursery, which is opposite the theatre, who bundled up to see the royal couple and offered them an inadvertent glimpse of their lives to come as new parents.”How do you control them?” Harry wondered, before crouching down to pretend to be an aeroplane and tell a little boy: “You know you can run anywhere you want?” As they arrived in the new foyer of the theatre, the Duke and Duchess were greeted by dignitaries who sympathised over their journey in the cold weather.The Duchess spoke to Lord Mayor Cllr Cleo Lake, who told her of an upcoming black women’s theatre festival to be held in June, featuring the work of established and new playwrights and performers.”That’s very exciting, wow,” the Duchess exclaimed. Drama clubs should be given the same emphasis as sport in schools, the Duchess of Sussex has said, as she argues the creative arts are equally likely to give young people a “community”.The Duchess, a former actress who has recently become patron of the National Theatre, said access to theatre provides the perfect creative outlet for youngsters, as well as a place for them of “self-discovery”. Visiting Bristol Old Vic to celebrate its major refurbishment, the Duchess gave young actors and actresses a pep talk on the stage, reassuring them that sport was not for everyone.”It’s good that you have this,” she told them. “And what a beautiful space as well, it’s really special.”Referring to a short tour she had just been on with her husband Prince Harry, she added: “We were just talking about it. “There’s so much of the emphasis in after school clubs on sport. Channelling the energy you have into the creative arts and theatre and all of that is equally as important. “Sport isn’t for everyone, just as theatre isn’t for everyone. “You can know that there’s a place [here] where you can find community, and sort of explore self discovery and other things you might be thinking about.” So you’re planted?” asked the Duchess, watching him demonstrate.”Do they call that stage presence?” Prince Harry added, smiling at his wife.Meeting a small group of teenagers, the Duke and Duchess quizzed them about how drama helped them.Told that it was a good creative outlet from concentrating at school, the Duke empathised: “It’s quite hard sitting in a classroom being told what you should be interested in, whereas this is more than a hobby isn’t it? It runs in your blood.””It’s good to have the balance of both,” the Duchess added, perhaps mindful of their positions as role models. “When you have school, you really appreciate coming here, right?. It’s really good that you guys have this and have each other to explore your creativity.” “Nice to meet you,” the Duchess told her. “Is Ballerina your real name?””Are you a ballerina?” asked Harry, before being told that no, it was just the name she had chosen recently.As she tried to understand what Ocean was trying to tell her as she reached out to touch her, the Duchess guessed: “My hair is curly? Oh, my hands are cold! Ohh, thank you for warming them up.””I love the hair,” said the Duke, poking her playfully on the nose. Asked about her daughter afterwards, Ms Cordwell joked: “Her nursery was closed and I didn’t have much choice really, so I’m making a statement for working women.” Sally Cordwell, the executive director of the theatre, carried the unexpected star of the show: her three-year-old daughter Ocean, who captured the hearts of the couple after being introduced as “Ballerina”. The Duke told youngsters of drama: “It’s more than a hobby isn’t it? It runs in your blood.” The Duke and Duchess spent more than an hour at the theatre, arriving in cold and snowy conditions but determined to undertake a walkabout so meet eager wellwishers. “If you didn’t come here after school, what would you be doing?” asked Meghan. “It’s so great you have this.”Back in the foyer, the royal couple clapped and cheered on the ensemble from the Bristol Old Vic Young Company, who sang a song from their new play Hercules, which explores what it means to be a man.Before they left, the Duke and Duchess unveiled a plaque to commemorate the newly refurbished theatre, nodding along to a speech in which Tom Morris emphasised the importance of arts in the community.When they began planning to remake the front of the theatre, he said it was feared “people felt that theatre felt like some sort of exclusive art form that wasn’t for the whole city” leading them to vow to “knock down the barriers”. “It’s our aim as a theatre to be a place of welcome, entertainment and discovery for every community in this city and the region.”Having just had the huge privilege of showing the Duke and Duchess around the theatre, I’m really inspired by the genuine passion that they have for theatre. This is really important for us. “Not only that passion for the power that theatre has to tell huge stories, but the responsibility that every theatre has to its city and its region to open genuine creative opportunity to every child in the city. The Duchess wore heeled boots on the cobbled streets of BristolCredit:Max Mumby Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive in BristolCredit:Andrew Parsons/i-Images Duchess of Sussex greets well-wishers as she arrives in the snowCredit:Matt Dunham/AP “To create a meaningful talent pipeline that reaches into every community that can nourish not only the theatre industry but the whole creative sector, because we know that theatres are endlessly producing people who do creative things for the rest of their lives.”Built in 1766 as a place where the people of Bristol could come together, Bristol Old Vic is the oldest continuously working theatre in the English speaking world. The Duke and Duchess toured the recently renovated facility, which was reopened in September following a two-year, multi-million-pound project to make the front of house feel more welcoming. The Duke and Duchess were then taken on a tour of the theatre by Tom Morris, artistic director. Viewing an exhibition about the history of sound in the theatre, the Duke and Duchess watched a group of young people demonstrate how things have progressed.At the first station, which showed how sound was “spliced” or mixed together on reels of tape, the Duchess asked questions about whether it was easy to do, while the Duke wondered how it compared to modern apps.The second stop saw a young actor explain how posture helped them find confidence on stage. As they travelled through the theatre, Harry was allowed to try an 18th century wind machine, winding a handle to create a noise.In the main theatre, the royal couple spent a few minutes watching a theatre group rehearsing lines from King Lear, applauding them from the dress circle.Invited to speak to them on the stage, the Duchess told them “you were great, by the way” before asking about how they were involved in drama.