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Princess Kate Waves Farewell on Final Public Engagement

Friday, March 27, 2015

On what was Kate's last official engagement before maternity leave, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were out today in London supporting charities that focus on youth development. The couple began the morning by visiting the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford, South London. 



Mr. Secuirty was on the job again, as was PA reporter Alex Diaz, producing his Vine videos. Here Kate signs the visitor's book at the Stephen Lawrence Centre after viewing a number of the initiatives the centre supports.



The couple had a a relatively busy schedule, leaving their first stop to visit two projects funded by charity XLP that works to empower young people to make positive life decisions:

@EmmaWrightITV
Their day included more than one performance. The royals were greeted at the first stop by the choir from St.-Martin-in-the-Fields high school, and here at XLP's performance arts project.

@KensingtonRoyal

Thanks to the bright "cerise" hue of her coat, it was immediately apparent that Kate chose to recycle her double-breasted pink Mulberry from New York City. Although this coat caused some controversy when it first debuted, I think on sartorial merits alone, we were all of one mind: success. I was very excited to see it again, and it was nice to get a little pop of color, too. Kate accessorized with her light pink morganite drops from Kiki McDonough, and black Mulberry Bayswater and Power pumps. The obvious difference between this wear, and the first was her hair style. Today's tumbling locks were lovely. She has a lot of body and bounce, which I like, but I think if we could have only seen this coat with one hairstyle, I would choose the pony she sported the first go-round.



Kate was wearing a black dress under her coat, but it is impossible to ID with so little visible. You can see it here, in another Vine from Alex Diaz, as she is presented with flowers outside the Stephen Lawrence Centre:




Royal photographer James Whatling snapped this cute sign inviting Prince George to craft time. Everyone knows Georgeie loves to paint and play in the sand! Buuuut, what do you bet he'd take the crafts away from the other kids if he came? :) I can't wait for William's stories of home-life a year from now...


All around, a great look on Kate, and so nice to see William with her on this final engagement. As always, they were as cute as could be, and even Rebecca Deacon, who must be pretty used to them by now, looked charmed. :)



In other news...Yesterday, William,  Kate and Harry all attended a memorial service for Richard Meade at Bath Abbey.  Kate recycled her ensemble from the Afghanistan Service, but appeared to debut a new hat that no one has been able to ID as of yet. With thanks to Kristina Schuler, who shared the photo, and @LiveloveLaughvr who found it and passed it along!



Richard Meade was an exceptionally successful equestrian competitor and Olympic Gold Medalist, but he was also the father of Harry Meade, who is a good friend of the young royals. In fact, it was Harry and Rosie Meade's wedding at which Kate and William were photographed shortly before they announced their engagement. 


We also have a possible mystery to solve. On the same day she appeared at Bath Abbey, the below photo was shared, (found by @livelaughlovevr). It is supposedly Kate walking with George in the park. There is disagreement on whether the woman and child are in fact the Duchess and Prince George, but I personally believe they are. When the photo was taken is not as clear to me, although the young man who posted it says it was just yesterday morning.


I think the addendums (addenda?) are longer than the post, but I promise this is the last one. Following on our discussion of Prince Charles and the controversy about whether he has enough time with George...in a recently released video message from HRH, a conspicuously placed photo shows Charles holding his grandson. It is a sweet photo, and a not very subtle PR move, as well. I like it; it is tastefully done.


Well, while no rule states that Kate cannot come out unexpectedly, this was technically her last public appearance until the Lindo Wing steps. Wave goodbye, it could be a good month before we see HRH the Duchess of Cambridge!




Shoes for George: Kate Shops at Zara

Monday, March 23, 2015

A number of reports over the weekend suggest that Kate has been giving her credit card a bit of a workout. Stories are all well and good, but we do love a bit of photographic evidence around FBTB, if nothing else, for our viewing pleasure. We were gratified yesterday when these snaps of the Duchess were shared on Twitter by @LiveLoveLaughvr. They show Kate shopping at Zara on Saturday!


It isn't clear if Kate was buying, or had bought, anything for herself, but it does appear that the Princess is holding little leather bluchers. The two toned shoes for tots are super precious, although they look like they are for children smaller than George. I wonder if Zara stock, which can differ, had a similar style for toddlers?  Since I suspect that Kate is pulling together a certain little prince's Easter Sunday wardrobe, maybe she feels the soft soles will be fine for the light wear they will receive in two weeks. 

Zara "Leather Blucher" $39.00
Earlier in the weekend it was reported that Kate was out shopping for Easter eggs for her boys, and a third report has her at Trotters where she picked up a more casual pair of sneakers from Start Rite:






Kate was wearing her Zara "Straight cut" coat in a very light, dusty pink...almost ecru. 



Kate favors this flattering piece for off-duty moments, and you might remember that she was first spotted wearing it shopping at John Lewis in January of this year:


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Did you follow the first part of Richard III's reburial yesterday? It was quite the event. A hearse carried the medieval king in a funeral procession that wound its way to Bosworth Field and Bow Bridge before arriving at Leicester Cathedral, where Richard will remain until the funeral service on Thursday.  Crowds were out in droves to watch the cortege, many carrying white roses in tribute to the House of York. 

Visit Leicester Facebook

The entire story about the discovery of Richard's body and the identification process is fascinating. I went to an event last year where the team described the process and it was amazing. If you are interested in Richard III and have not read it, I strongly encourage you to buy Paul Murray Kendall's biography: Richard the Third



It is carefully researched and meticulously detailed. (I think at one point, how many barrels of wine the then Duke of York purchased is remarked on.) Although daunting in length, it really fleshes out the period and presents a rich background into which you can then place Richard, which, I believe, enables the reader/amateur historian to better judge the man and his actions.

Durham Advertiser

Today, Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales will celebrate a solemn requiem Mass for Richard III in the Holy Cross Church, and he will be wearing a priceless vestment:
According to tradition, it was originally worn by the Benedictine monks of Westminster Abbey during the reign of King Richard.
So much fun history this year! 2015 is the lucky number!
Have a lovely Monday!

Glamazon Incoming: Pippa's Plunging Hugo Boss + Update on Kate & William

Saturday, March 21, 2015

It is my absolute favorite day of the week. Raise your glass--ok, too early for that--raise your coffee mug to Saturday, and cast your eye over Miss Pippa Middleton's evening ensemble for the inaugural ParaSnowBall in London. 



This jaw-dropper is the Deplisa Maxi Pleat dress from Hugo Boss. It is 100% polyester and features the prominent neckline and a glamorous, pleated skirt. I think it is absolutely gorgeous. Retail: £750. 


Hugo Boss


I love plunging necklines. They are my ultimate fashion weakness. My mother would say this neckline is too much, and--ouf--she would be right. That doesn't mean I wouldn't stand in front of the mirror for ten minuets debating, but... I think the problem with this neckline is that it is curved. Kate has pulled off similar vertiginous plunges, but I think linear edges are more flattering.



A narrower plunge gives the same feminine and seductive vibe, without over exposure. It is subtle, but, I think it makes a difference. Furthermore, since it is just us girls...the juxtaposition between curve and line is also more flattering. Still, this was not meant to be a "why Kate is better than Pippa" because, she was a total babe at the ParaSnowBall. 

Presenting... via BBC Nesday


Pips carried Carolina Herrera's "Goldie" clutch:



She did take a cue from older sister Kate, by tapping Monica Vinader for her sparkly accessories. Pippa wore the Siren Wire Cocktail earrings, three multi-faceted aquamarines in 18-ct gold and retailing at £290:

Monica Vinader

And she matched her earrings to Vinader's "Capri" cuff,  an 18-ct gold plated vermeil on sterling silver and set with another multi-faceted aquamarine. The bracelet retails for £280. I think the lady won the title Perfect Pippa! (Special thanks to LiveLoveLaughvr who did a lot of legwork on several of these Ids)

Monica Vinader


Speaking of Kate, what has she been up to?  It has been widely reported that the Duchess made a field trip with her little prince on Friday, taking George to the Science Museum. People reported:
With only personal protection officers in attendance, Kate and George, 20 months, spent part of the morning at the museum, a short drive from their London home at Kensington Palace. They mainly visited the Pattern Pod, a "multi-sensory" gallery that is targeted at the youngest children. It captures the patterns "around us and encourages children to recognise and copy patterns – or create entirely new ones of their own," according to the museum.
The Queen sent her "first" tweet from the Science Museum on the 25th of October in 2014. I don't think this historic event would have resonated with George much, but I bet he loved the creative play! 

Science Museum Facebook
Since we are moving through the "Christmas card update", what has William been up to? Working. Thursday morning, The Gloucester Citizen reported that William flew into the Gloucester airport, where Ellen Roome, a woman in a nearby business, snapped a few shots. The report noted Ms. Roome's comments:
Our office overlooks the runway and we saw a royal flight was coming in. We knew it was a royal flight because the helicopter landed here last year for race week with Camilla Parker Bowles and Princess Anne in.
That kids, is the problem with having a distinctive ride. You get noticed. A stand-out helicopter is the equivalent of the plebs' vanity plates, I guess. :) 

Ellen Roome
When William flew out, an aide followed the royal with a baby gift-bag decorated with giraffes, elephants, and lions and a Monopoly game sticking out.  The next question is, of course, what was William doing off in Gloucester? It isn't exactly Norfolk, which is where his job will be. I have made a little map to give the non-locals some perspective. William is the little Google pin:


Bond Air Services, the "largest operator of air ambulance and police air aviation units" in the United Kingdom is in Gloucester, so it seems that William is hard at work finishing up that civil license. 

Lastly, as we approach Kate's final events, and the upcoming birth of the second Cambridge child, a lot of thoughts are turning toward the question second only to gender: name.  What will William and Kate name their new addition? Bookies in Lodnon held a cheeky corgi race to determine the name. People reported:
Ten Corgis in the "Barkingham Palace" Gold Cup vied for first place, with five females and five males in contention. All the dogs wore appropriately royal names on their backs.
Let me know which Corgi you favored, or if your name didn't make the pack. I have wanted an Alexandra since we were waiting anxiously for George's arrival, so I am hoping that Corgi Alexandra's win is a good omen for my preference.  



P.S. Anyone who votes for Boris, well, you can just pack your things and not come back. I kid... but, seriously, no Boris.

Happy Saturday! May the best Corgi win!


Kate Wears ASOS for Visit to Home-Start

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Today, Kate was at Brookhill Children's Centre in London for charity Home-Start. The Duchess debuted a new dress, and wore a coat with an intriguing background. More on that in a minute.


The Princess arrived, accompanied by Rebecca Deacon, of course, and Mr. Security, who held her door as she popped out of her chauffeur driven Range Rover. There have not been a great deal of pictures from this event, perhaps we are short press who are in the United States with Charles & Camilla right now. PA reporter Alex Diaz, though, was amazing with his Vine videos, several of which I have shared in this post. 





Kate was privately briefed on the charity and the work they do. Among other things, Home-Start helps families who might be struggling to cope with children suffering from mental health or disabilities, both issues about which Kate feels keenly.

via @alexjldiaz

The visit began with a "coffee-meeting" where she met families assisted by Home-Start.




She took her coat off once inside, so let's break briefly to discuss the clothes. Kate's new dress is by ASOS maternity, and retailed for £35; sold out within half an hour! On Kate, it appeared to be much longer than it looks pictured on the ASOS model, which perplexed me, but was certainly more flattering. 

ASOS Maternity Dress


Overtime Kate wears polka dots, I smile. She loves polka dots and has been drawn to them for years.


The label of the coat Kate wore has long been a mystery, although she has worn it multiple times in private. It is distinctive thanks to the ruffled edges and carefully tailored structure. Today, however, there was a very exciting development in the fashion department, thanks to Rebecca English of the Daily Mail. Rebecca was able to ID the coat, confirming that it was made by Kate's private dressmaker. Below, Kate is pictured leaving a dinner with William and friends at LouLou's, wearing the then mystery ruffle (or fringe) coat:


Carly at Kate Middleton Style believes that this coat, and the Arosa pink coat, also a mystery item, were made by Sarah Burton and given to the Duchess as personal gifts.



She notes design elements that are very much in keeping with the McQueen creative director, and I think it is a very reasonable argument. These coats are quality pieces and it would not surprise me in the least if Miss Carly turns out to be right. 

@RE_DailyMail

Kate seemed to have a lovely time visiting with families and getting to know how Home-Start operates and the programs that they provide. Here she was learning more about a program called Big Hopes Big Futures--getting children ready to be successful in school:

Home-Start UK Facebook

As always, she spent plenty of time giving attention to the little ones, all of whom looked precious as could be.

Home-Start Uk Twitter


The fashion verdict is certainly a win. Kate is perfect in these wrap dresses and I love v-necklines. The playful pattern was spot-on for the occasion, while at the same time, the structured coat kept the ensemble chic and streamlined. Her hair was also fantastic today, with plenty of bounce in those curls. This is the kind of maternity style I always envisioned Kate wearing; Empire waists and flattering jerseys. She started with a similar piece, the MaxMara in 2013, but as we have discussed, she has experimented with a range of options. Still, great to see last week's winning streak just continues to extend.



When Kate christened the Princess Cruise ship, it was announced as her last public engagement before George's birth. They did not announce that this was her last engagement. It remains to be seen if Kate has one more event still up her sleeve, or if they will confirm later that this was the swan song.  Kate told parents today she is due mid to late April, nothing we didn't know there, so it is possible she could squeeze another event in. There have been whispers of one more, but rumors are just that...rumors.  [More than one royal reporter has confirmed that Kate does have more engagements!] Kate has announced more events, see her calendar here I'll keep you in the loop! 

Duchess Kate in Brown Catherine Walker for St. Patrick's Day

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, (although today I should refer to them by their Carrickfergus title) were at Mons Barracks this morning for the annual St. Patrick's Day parade with the Irish Guards. William was made Colonel of the Regiment in 2011, shortly before his wedding, and so this event  has been a staple of the royal calendar.



Here, the baskets of shamrocks are ready for the parade earlier in the morning:

via Simon Perry
The royal couple arrived a little on the early side and spent about half an hour in the officers' mess, before appearing on the parade ground, and it was then we discovered that there was to be no green coat this March 17th. Instead, the Duchess opted for a bespoke piece in brown, by royal favorite Catherine Walker, and recycled her Betty Boop hat by Sylvia Fletcher for Lock & Co.



As the wife of the colonel, Kate presents the little sprigs of shamrocks to the officers, but first to William (see 1:07 in video below), who always pops it right up into his hat:



Then the program really gets going as soldier after soldier presents himself for his shamrocks:





Even the dog receives shamrocks, although this year Kate did fasten them on quite tightly enough:





If you have been following Kate for more than a year, you know today's drill. After the parade, the two met with servicemen's family members and toasted the regiment. William raised a glass of Guinness this year (Did you know that Guinness sells 13 million pints of Guinness on St. Patrick's Day and that their sales in March are double any other month of the year? I read that in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago...) while Kate stuck to a tall glass of water.



Today, Kate's Betty Boop hat ties the Cappuccino beret from Whiteley at four recycles, and together, those two trail Kate's favorite hat, the "Fairy Tale" from Lock & Co. which she has worn at least five times.  It is interesting to see this hat return to its debut location. Kate first wore the Betty Boop on St. Patrick's Day 2012, when she presented the shamrocks alone since William was deployed in the Falklands at the time. 

Kate's Favorite Royal Recycles: Betty Boop, Cappuccino Whiteley, Fairy Tale /Splash

Kate stuck to another tradition, the golden, shamrock brooch. The piece is by Cartier and actually does not belong to her, or to the Royal family. It belongs to the Irish Guards, who lend it to the lady of their choice. Of course, every March 17th, that lady is HRH the Duchess of Cambridge. Interestingly, after you wander from Kate's primary jewelry designers (Kiki, Annoushka, Mappin & Webb) she has worn more Cartier than any other brand. 



To the coat...  I was in a real snit that she didn't wear green, but determined to put my prejudices aside, let's just look at this coat...as if today were not a day for tea and scones; shamrock cookies; chunky, hand-knit Irish sweaters; and bagpipe music. Let's just look over that, and at the coat. If you are able to clamber to the other side of that mountain, this is actually a really fantastic choice. The first thing that struck me was the gracious collar, I love, love, love the structure there. The second aspect that jumps out is how much more flattering this dress/coat is than the Wickstead she had modified in 2013.



Not originally made as a maternity piece, the green Emilia Wickstead was perfection when Kate debuted it, but expanded to accommodate George, it did very little for the lovely Duchess. Today's Catherine Walker, with its artful inverted pleats in the front, was excellent.


So, it is a win. I wish she had worn green, but, I am very happy that she has so improved her maternity style. Today's coat works beautifully with her figure, and the entire piece has a light and airy quality. She looks slender and lovely. The brown goes well with green and gold of both her shamrocks--she inverted the successful color palette from 2012--and blends well with the surrounding uniforms. 




Happy Mother's Day to The Duchess of Cambridge: Claudia Bradby Acorn Pendant

Sunday, March 15, 2015

It is Mother's Day in the UK, which hopefully means that a certain little Prince, with the help of another very particular Duke, fashioned a breakfast tray complete with a posy, and trundled up the stairs to pamper his mummy with breakfast in bed. Well, hopefully, William carried the tray and George brought along the flowers. In her book Celebrate, Pippa reminisced about the mornings when she and her siblings (James and Kate) would surprise their parents with breakfast in bed: "I have funny memories of creeping up the stairs with my brother and sister, carrying a breakfast tray for our parents as a surprise treat; desperately trying not to spill the tea and orange juice or knock over the vase of flowers, stifling our giggles so that they couldn't hear us coming."



George looks like he is old enough to enjoy a little conspiratorial whispering with his Papa. Perhaps, the tray had a special sparkle in the form of a little box, the kind all women know contains big treats. While I do not know if Kate's tray had any new jewelry this morning, we are going to chat about a great Mother's Day gift with a delightful royal connection. Today's Mother's Day focus is Claudia Bradby Jewelry.



I think everyone who loves Kate is familiar with Claudia Bradby. In 2006, Kate was trying to balance being a royal girlfriend and attempting to build some form of a career. She went to work for clothing retailer Jigsaw as an accessories buyer. Her job also included buying for Jigsaw Junior, and when Claudia, apparently, wrote to Kate, the princess-to-be offered to collaborate on a project for teens. Her design was simple, but delicate, just the right flavor for the age demographic. It is interesting that even back then, Kate was focused on providing for the needs of young people. It has been rumored that Kate tried to launch her own children's label after graduation, but I cannot confirm that. If true, it could be another reason Kate's focus was on junior fashion, and would suggest she still harbored aspirations of beginning her own business in children's wear---particularly if her hopes of being a royal duchess were dashed. The piece, now named The Kate Rose Quartz Necklace was re-released and can still be purchased:

Claudia Bradby


As it turned out, Kate's hopes were almost smashed, since the royal couple split five months after Kate began work for Jigsaw, but after a summer apart, William returned to Kate and not long after, she turned in her notice to her boss. The working situation was not practical, and Kate knew she no longer could plan for a normal future. The couple were committed and her path did not include  an average career. So, the budding fashion & jewelry house Chez Middleton never came to fruition, but Kate's stamp of royal approval on Claudia Bradby's company remains. 

Claudia Bradby



Above is the Camellia Rose Quartz and Amazonite Necklace ($305.15/£207) which Kate was very fond of, pictured on the left at the airport with her family heading to Barbados in 2007 and on the right at Cheltenham, also 2007. While both these pieces feature various quartz and silver combinations, Claudia Bradby's real specialty material is pearl. In her About interview, she reveals the origins of her inspiration, and her affinity for pearls:
Having been given a wedding anniversary gift that didn't really suit me, I realised I wasn't a very traditional jewellery person and I didn't want just one item of jewellery to wear every day, or indeed for dressing up/going out in. As I was living in Hong Kong at the time an image of pearls on knotted leather fired my imagination and I set about designing some more relaxed designs, using real materials. I fell in love with pearls as a material.
Her website features beautiful, cultured pearls in a variety of colors and styles. I really love the varied shapes of cultured pearls, and honestly prefer them to their smoother cousins. This brings me to today's star. Claudia Bradby sent me the "Mother and Child Acorn Necklace" featuring a large, white cultured pearl acorn, and a smaller pendant representing the child. The necklace comes with a choice of pink (girl) or silver (boy) baby acorns. 

Claudia Bradby


As lovely as the Kate Rose Quartz necklace is, I prefer the more sophisticated style of this charming pendant necklace. The acorns are, of course, inspired by the Middleton acorn, of which you should be very familiar. The Middleton coat of arms features three small acorns representing the three Middleton children. Oak leaves and acorns are family motifs for the Middletons, alluding to the oak trees around their family home in Berkshire, as well as symbolizing family strength and loyalty, virtues the Middletons have in spades. Kate's earrings on her wedding day were oak leaves with drop acorns, all fashioned of diamonds.  



When I received the necklace, I was struck by how delicate it seemed, and worried I might break it. I wore it to the office, and riding up in the elevator surrounded by mirrors, I realized the chain was glittering in the light. Sometimes the chains on necklaces can be a bit of a letdown, but this necklace could not be lovelier. I have been so pleased with the quality and, of course, the symbolism. This blog, as you have noticed, shares the Middleton acorn, in a tribute to their wonderful family, and this necklace finds a warm welcome in my jewelry box. The fun element is that you can add, for £10, acorns in the gender color of your preference. This is a lovely, lovely Mother's Day, birthday, or just-because gift. Frankly, this would be the perfect gift for Master George to slip onto the tray. Hopefully, the second acorn pendant is pink!! 



A lovely complement to the necklace is the Heritage Silver Charm bracelet, created in tribute to the royal wedding. It includes three charms: a crown, an acorn matching the necklace, and the quartz cluster Kate designed...gorgeous:


Interestingly, when William and Kate got engaged, William specifically requested Tom Bradby, Claudia's husband, be the one to interview the new royal couple. The Guardian noted at the time:

Prince William's press secretary, Miguel Head, in a press note to media organisations, said: "The couple asked to record this interview specifically with Mr Bradby, whom they have both known for some time."
William trusted Tom and wanted Kate's first interview to be as relaxed as possible. Tom and William's friendship actually may have kicked off the News of the World phone hacking scandal, cementing the trust and friendship between the newsman and the royal. It began in 2005...
Bradby at that point had borrowed some home videotapes from Prince Harry and edited them together into a humorous piece of business about Harry's "gap year" post-high school. Harry loved it and so did William. Bradby of course offered to make a similar tape for the future king. "So I said, 'Listen, just give me a ring next time you're in London and we'll meet up and I'll get your tapes..."

Eventually, Bradby and William exchanged phone messages about an editing deck that was to be picked up at a certain date and time. Soon after this phone conversation, an item about their arrangement appeared in the News of the World, a British newspaper.

Prince William, always leery of the media, wanted to know if Bradby had told anyone. He said he hadn't, neither had William and only a couple of others knew of the arrangement. Bradby said he told William, "When I was royal correspondent, [phone hacking] was kind of an open secret and I remember having chats with tabloid hacks about how phone hacking is, you know, kind of rife."
Ultimately, Tom urged William to contact the police and the rest is history...and jail time.  So, that is the skinny. Browse Claudia's full, and stunning, collection here, and pick up a piece of royal history!





In any event, even if Kate doesn't get anything sparkly, she is due for something any mom with a second child on the way would relish: a housekeeper. William and Kate have placed an advertisement in UK magazine The Lady:
The Prince of Wales and the Queen Mother are both believed to have recruited servants via the classified adverts section of The Lady...Now it seems that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have resorted to placing an advert for a new housekeeper at their country home, Anmer Hall, in the pages of the illustrious magazine.
Below are their exact requests:

The Lady
A final comment. Reader Jenifer tipped me off to a special treat at Fortnum & Mason. The company released a special tea blend to commemorate Prince George's christening, and it is still available. 



First created to mark the christening of HRH Prince George of Cambridge, this very special tea is perfect for happy occasions.The celebratory notes of muscatel from peak second flush Darjeeling are lifted with bergamot tones to create an elegant and fragrant twist on classic Earl Grey. 
This seems the perfect flavor for a Mother's Day tea as we toast HRH the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate had had an active day; the family were spotted at a play centre making sand castles:



As she prepares to give birth to her second child, I am sure this is a "holiday" that is filled with particular joy and contentment. Kate's first Mother's Day with her new Anmer Hall home complete, her bubbly George toddling in the garden, and William always near her side, the most prominent Princess of the United Kingdom has come a long way from the Jigsaw days of uncertainty and heartbreak. With the blessing of new life, the fairy-tale just gets better and better...