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Meghan Meets Kate + Moving From Anmer + Wetherby Kensington

Sunday, January 15, 2017

It's always fun to "meet the family" but there might be some nerves, too, when the family includes the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the meeting place is Kensington Palace! This weekend, Emily Andrews is reporting that Harry introduced his girlfriend Meghan Markle to William and Kate, as well as Princess Charlotte! The Cambridges came to London and met Meghan at their cozy, Kensington Palace apartments.  

According to Emily's article in the Sun
“It went really well and Meghan was very excited about meeting her.”
Harry and Meghan had just returned to London from their first romantic holiday to see the Northern Lights in Norway.
Meghan, 35, had already met Prince William two months ago at Kensington Palacewhile Kate was still at their Norfolk home Anmer Hall.
But after celebrating her 35th birthday there on Monday, she travelled down to London on Tuesday for the meeting.
Meghan Markle sounds like the perfect guest, bringing along a little hostess/birthday gift for Kate. Emily Andrews reported that the stunning actress gifted Kate a beautifully bound "dream journal" in which Kate can jot down thoughts and keep notes. 

I am very surprised to hear that the Cambridges left George in Norfolk. I wonder if they just travelled to London for the day and were home by bedtime. Of course, if it was just the day after Kate's birthday, then Grandma and Papa Middleton would have been at the house to give him special care and attention. George has had extended stays with his maternal grandparents in the past and is obviously very close to them both. 

Speaking of George and school...the Sunday papers brought more interesting news. According to Camilla Tominey in the Express, the Cambridges might be switching up George's schooling. Rather than sending the little prince to the iconic Wetherby in Notting Hill, they may be planning to take advantage of a new shoot of the prestigious school. Wetherby has expanded to several locations over the years and their newest school will be opening in time for the September school session "just around the corner from Kensington Palace. "

As you can see from this handy map, "just around the corner" can be said in many ways, but the key is, it's close. What's even better, if Kate drives George to school via Queen's Gate they can roll right past some of Mummy's favorite event locations, including the Natural History Museum and Royal Albert Hall. 
“The new school off Gloucester Road is preferable because it is much more intimate and less likely to attract photographers. Plus, it is just around the corner from Kensington Palace.”
The Cambridges will be high-profile enough to attract some attention, but it certainly is a more convenient location for George. It is even possible that since the school is under construction now, it will get some added security boosts to make sure the little heir to the throne is safer in an increasingly volatile 2017. 

If George is going to go to Wetherby Kensington, you might well be wondering how the Cambridges will balance their country life with city commitments. That brings us to the final headline of the day, and it is from Roya Nikkhah in the Sunday Times. According to this final story, Roya reports that William has made the decision to be a full-time royal. 

Interestingly, Nikkhah also says that the Cambridges considered trying to find a way to stay at Anmer, despite the fact that William will need to be in London as he takes up full-time royal duties and George will need to be in London to attend one of the Wetherby schools. Ultimately, it sounds as if they have dismissed this because it would necessitate too much time apart. As much as I wish they could remain at Anmer, where their life is more peaceful, I am very glad they won't be spending large periods of time apart. Doubtless, they determined that wasn't a good plan for their marriage or for their children and I heartily agree. 

Finally, Kate has an event on the 24th of January, when we usually expect her to be slipping away to Mustique with her family. I wonder if they will give the islands another miss this year and hit the slopes instead. George really is getting to the age where I am sure Kate and William would like him in ski school. Apparently, Harry is prepping a Verbier getaway with Meghan Markle. Perhaps the Cambridges will make it a family affair? 

Kate Returns in Royal Blue Eponine London

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Duchess of Cambridge inaugurated a new year of royal watching today with back to back engagements in London. She made her solo arrival at the Anna Freud Centre's Early Years Parenting Unit this morning in striking royal blue that was quickly identified as a piece from Eponine London. 

Kate has been patron of the Anna Freud Centre for almost a year now. She was at the EYPU today to learn about the work done for families with children under 5, a class William and Kate certainly fall into themselves. According to Kensington Palace, the goal of the centre is to "keep families together and help parents become more responsive to their children's needs."

Kensington Palace Twitter Feed

As usual, Kate met with both clients and staff members to get a sense of the program from both perspectives. This visit is of particular interest to me, because as many of you know, in a 2014 post, I hypothesized that Kate had a bit of a blue time following George's birth in 2013. While these women come from various backgrounds and find themselves in varying circumstances, the rigors of early parenting clearly can impact everyone.  

Kensington Palace Twitter Feed
As always, Kate's ease with children and parents was on display.  We will talk about the fashion in a bit, but note the box pleats are in the back, too. 

This video of Kate leaving the centre really shows off the dress. It holds its structure beautifully in motion.

Kate teamed up with William for their visit to Child Bereavement UK in Stratford. It was the one-year anniversary for the center which provides support for grieving children. William is appropriately patron of the charity and spoke today with youngsters about his experience losing his mother as a teenager. He noted that he was quite "angry" at the loss, which is certainly something the public has been able to note over the years, although I am not sure he has ever expressly said this before.

The dynamic is (obviously) a little different between solo and joint engagements, and it was fun to start the year with both. At the Anna Freud Centre Kate was on her own and had center stage. At Child Bereavement we got to see the duo work the event together, which always provides a special touch of Cambridge charm.

Kensington Palace Twitter feed

As patron, William took the initiative with the cake, and Kate gave a supporting pat:

Let's talk fashion! Kate tapped Eponine London for the second time. The label debuted in Kate's Closet in 2016 when the princess wore suit separates that featured those bold tabs along her hips. 

That suit was a huge success at the time and made the "Best of" 2016 list with ease. Last year I quoted the Telegraph's description of Eponine and how Kate came to wear the label and will quote that post again now:
The mother-of-four [Jet Shenkman, Eponine's creator & designer] - whose design studio is in her Kensington home - said it remains a mystery how Kate discovered her. But within hours of pictures of the Duchess emerging wearing Eponine, her small firm was inundated with emails and sales enquiries. “I have never experienced anything like this!” she added. Skenkman's small label has been featured in Country & Townhouse Magazine but relies heavily on word of mouth recommendations. “I don't advertise,” Shenkman says. “It's through prior recommendation - and we quietly worked away and it's sort of worked and that's how I've enjoyed it. It's been a gradual process which I think is the best way to feel your way into it, and then something like this happens and suddenly everything goes mad.”

I noted that Ms. Shenkman's unassuming and discreet style was well-suited to Kate's and today I am not surprised to see that Kate has drawn from the Eponine collection again. I think this brand could become a new staple in Kate's closet and might fill the void left by Orla Kiely. Kate has drifted from Orla K over the years. I really liked the whimsical, boutique vibe of the Irish designer back in 2011/2012 and the "Birdie" jacquard dress remains a favorite of mine.

We haven't seen her in the company's pieces since she recycled Orla's daisy dress in 2015. There are a number of reasons why Orla Kiely might have only gotten a short stint with Kate. I browsed the Orla K website some weeks ago, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why Kate hasn't worn anything recently, but that could change with the next collection. The designs Kate wore were very young looking, which is part of the reason I loved that Birdie dress so much, but Kate has favored a more mature look of late. Eponine London effortlessly blends the whimsy and  similar structure of Orla K with a lightly more professional vibe. She could have a longer run. 

Eponine London

Today's dress features an unusual notched collar, which I love, and beautiful box pleats that give extra movement when Kate is in motion. I don't know that I am in love with the tailoring that slopes the darting in the bodice up along the shoulders. It's unusual, but it looks uncomfortable, too, as if while wearing it you'd constantly feel like something was falling down.  Perhaps it is a feature that will grow on me. 

Kate's accessories were experiencing a little Old Home Week. She wore Rupert Sanderson pumps and carried her Muse clutch by Stuart Weitzman. A one-time favorite, we haven't seen the Muse in a really long while. Today it gave the Bayswater a break and stepped into the role it plays so well.  The darker blues in suede paired nicely with the brighter dress and gave us a break from the black/blue combo Kate often chooses. When the wind whipped up her hair, we could easily see Kate was sporting her sapphire and diamond drops, too. 

Kate has continued her new favorite coiffure into the new year. The duchess started wearing her hair twisted back like this during her tour of India and Bhutan and, although it divided fans, I was in favor. It is youthful, but with the run-of-the-mill clips, pretty casual. She could have twisted it together at the back, as she did for the Patron's Lunch along the Mall (below), for a more polished presentation while maintaining the softer style in the front.

Verdict.  Today was a big win. This jewel/royal blue is always such a smash hit on Kate. Despite the tailoring that has me on the fence, this piece was packed full of fun details that make it unique and memorable. The fabric was substantial enough to assume coat-dress status, but retained enough movement that Kate didn't look stiff or stifled inside. The only thing that could have improved this dress is a lower waist. Kate consistently wears dresses that are a bit short-waisted and when she starts customizing her ensembles to fix that little problem, she will have turned a new corner in her fashion. All around though, big hit. I hope we see Kate branch into some of Eponine's 60s styles, too. It's very en vogue and would add back a little bit of the youthful vibe so many of you have been hoping to see.   Hint, hint, Kate. ;)

Sandringham Birthday Weekend for Kate's Friends & Fam

Sunday, January 8, 2017

As I strongly suspected, after spending Christmas and the New Year in Bucklebury, William and Kate returned to Anmer Hall with the Middletons to spend time with the Queen and to celebrate the Duchess of Cambridge's birthday tomorrow at her own home in Norfolk. As they did last year, too, they have invited friends to stay, and a number of their closest chums accompanied them to St. Mary Magdalene this morning.

God bless William. This isn't his best look, but those are the breaks of the game when you are teasing back and forth with folks on a Sunday morning with snappers about. It happens to the best of us. ;) Spirits did appear to be high between locals and the royal party. This is Kate's first public appearance since the new year, and of course the entire royal-watching world is breathing a sigh of relief to see Her Majesty the Queen out and about. She has not been seen in public for a month after catching a very nasty cold just before Christmas.

When Kate gathers her friends and family together, I am always interested to see how the ladies pull their ensembles together. Last year, you probably remember that Carole was wearing Kate's Betty Boop hat, which the duchess absolutely loves. This year, I scanned Carole and Pippa to see if either had raided the Anmer Hall closet, but both ladies put together their own ensembles.  But, tell me if you think that Sophie Carter (one of Charlotte's godparents, pictured here in red) is wearing Kate's ASOS fur stole from Christmas? Fur seemed to be the theme this morning and perhaps Kate leant Sophie her stole to add a punch of pizzaz?

Carole knocked it out of the park in this ensemble. I love that she continued her penchant for pillbox. Smaller is chicer at Sandringham on a Sunday such as this, and so she couldn't go with the wide-brims she favors at fancier events, but these pillboxes are more flattering than a percher on her. She was pure elegance this morning. Also, notice the woman in the dark hat just behind Michael? That's Rose Cholomnodeley with her husband David. The couple live at Houghton Hall and you will remember the sparkling party they threw last year. Here she is with Kate at A Taste of Norfolk, and the ladies are trailed by their respective spouses:

Pippa and fiancé James Matthews followed Carole, James M, and Papa Middleton. Happily for us, and possibly by design, the Middletons walked on the side closest to the cameras, so we got great shots.

Unfortunately, the view of Kate the Great was obstructed by William both when they walked in and when they left.

Here is James Middleton with Papa Middleton. Michael Middleton is so dapper. I love this guy. George really resembles his maternal grandfather, in my opinion, and that can only be for the good as the years tick by.

A royal watcher has suggested that Pippa is recycling a Stella McCartney dress she wore in 2012. Looks pretty close to me.

Despite the dearth of good pictures of Kate, we can see the princess recycled her SportMax coat which she wore for Christmas last year and recycled in Scotland in 2016. She paired the coat with a grey fur hat and added a pop of color with the Sammi scarf from L.K. Bennett. In this picture from Mark Stewart, it looks like Kate is wearing either her sapphire and diamond drops, or her emerald and diamond drops.

I am disappointed that there were not better pictures of Kate, but some photos are better than no photos. It was really fun to see the Middletons again, too, and of course to get a sense of the house party that has gathered at Anmer Hall for a weekend of birthday celebrations.

The verdict is a win. Green and grey is an unusual color combo, but it is a winning one in my book. I particularly like these fur hats on Kate. She has worn them a few times and she always comes off as a modern Anna Karenina to me...just without the family drama, of course. ;) I can't wait for the 11th, when we will see Kate undertake her first official public engagement of 2017. 

The Cambridges' Thank-You/Christmas Card

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Cambridges didn't release a Christmas photo this year (photo-call at St. Mark's excepted, of course) but their office at Kensington Palace is nothing if not impeccably polite. Those among us who were organized enough to send the little family the season's greetings received a response card, which by all accounts, is hitting a mailbox near you right around now. Several fans have been good enough to share their royal mail on Twitter for those of us who dropped the ball. Here is a snap from Tina.

The couple didn't have a new photo taken for the card, but chose from the available images snapped at the children's party in Canada. I like this one a lot because George and Charlotte have such innocent and genuine expressions of interest. The choice of the photo also underscores the moment the Cambridges clearly saw as their public highlight of 2016.

In other news, the Duke and Duchess reportedly traveled to Sandringham last week to visit the Queen. Although HM has yet to appear in public since she caught a nasty cold before Christmas, all accounts report the monarch is recovering well.