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Sussexes Announce Christmas Plans

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Today the Sussexes announced via a Buckingham Palace press release that they will be taking their break toward the end of this month (I think it actually began right after Remembrance Sunday) for "extended family time." They specifically highlighted that they "spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham" before saying they'd be spending the holiday with Doria.  The statement was careful to note that other members of the BRF have taken this path (aka William and Kate, who have spent Christmas in Bucklebury several times) and to underscore they had the full support of the Queen. 

I couldn't remember if the Cambridges ever press released their Christmas plans, so I put the question to Twitter and was reminded that they did issue brief statements.  Pretty short and concise. In 2012 they simply stated (3 days before Christmas!) they'd be with Kate's family, and they announced again in 2016. 

The Sussexes' statement seems to be performing two functions.  One to deliver the news and the other to head off at the pass any negative blow-back.  With the indirect reference to William and Kate's "precedence", the statement is pointing out that other members of the family have taken this path before, but even more telling is the comment that the Queen approves. 

Frankly, I don't have any problem at all with them spending Christmas elsewhere.  I don't think they even need to offer an explanation.  Yes, HM and the DoE are getting older.  They've been getting older for a long while.  You can't put your life on hold for years and years just because your grandparents are getting old. Also, Meghan is American and she lives in Britain. It is natural and fair that they set aside time--even major holidays--to give her mother and friends special time, too. 

Christmas with the royals would probably have been unbearable for these two this year anyway.  In declaring war with the media in the spectacular fashion that they did at the end of the Africa tour--literally hijacking a royal tour as their first salvo of the war--they set themselves at odds with William, Charles, and even the Queen.  People always leap to extremes, so I hasten to say that I don't think they are cat-fighting over at the Palace. And I am sure that the Queen, despite her displeasure, is handling it all diplomatically.  She loves Harry, and you can love someone even while feeling frustration toward them. Nevertheless, I suspect the atmosphere is strained. Far better to take some time with Doria rather than rub elbows in the confines of Sandringham House. 

William & Kate at Shout Thank-You Party

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Today the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a thank-you party for volunteers of the text crisis hotline Shout.  The event was held at the Troubadour White City Theatre in London.  Shout is a program, inspired by crisis hotlines in the United States, that the Royal Foundation researched and funded after the massive success of Heads Together.  Kate doesn't always get the credit she is due, so I will point out that Heads Together was Kate's brainchild, and this program truly is one the fruits of her labor.  [William fiddling with his clothes below 🤣]

The Duchess recycled one of her gorgeous Smythe blazers today, and paired it with cranberry trousers from Joseph and her Gianvito Rossi Piper block heels. She added the necessary sparkle with her Empress pendant earrings and matching pendant necklace from Mappin & Webb. [Sidenote: sometimes people complain William doesn't wait for Kate, but here in this video from Victoria Murphy Kate is charging ahead of William, which just made me chuckle]. 

To Kate's clothes...This is how you do a sharp trouser ensemble.  The trousers are not too voluminous and they aren't skin tight, either.  It is the like the Three Bears standard of measurement--neither too big nor too small. They are also cropped at just the right length, hitting her right around the ankle bone, so they look polished and professional.  The ensemble is a big win for me.  I love this Smythe blazer, which is so sharp and sophisticated, and I love the pop of color with her trousers.  It is quite a festive and holiday-like ensemble without going overboard.  She looked fabulous! 

Someone asked me yesterday if the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would attend this event.  There was no mention in KP's diary announcement that they would go, and obviously they did not show up this morning.  It isn't surprising to me that they were not there.  Although the couple featured in the launch back in April or May, I noted at the time that they were distinctly sidelined in the launch video.  William was the star of the show and there was something about the way the spotlight was directly on him that sent a message of its own.  He mentioned Harry and Meghan, but it did not feel like the launch of a joint, collaborative effort.  To me it felt very much like William, as future king, taking the reins.  At that time, I don't think the Palace had confirmed that the Royal Foundation would split, but royal reporters had scooped that story some time before, so it was an open secret.  We knew that although confirmation was lagging, the two couples were splintering.  Although the Sussexes were given a nominal roles in Shout's launch, you could tell from watching the opening video alone that their participation was not going to be equal.  It leaves Shout in a lightly weird place in terms of its patrons.  It was created and launched while the couples were still working together, and it seems like the Sussexes will continue as patrons, but in this secondary role?  Although the Sussexes were not present, William again tipped his hat to his brother and sister-in-law during his speech today, much as he did in the launch video.  It should be interesting to see how they handle this moving forward.


Kate & Meghan at Remembrance Sunday

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Today is Remembrance Sunday.  Every year there is an annual ceremony at the Whitehall Cenotaph.  attended by Britain's royals, senior politicians, veterans, and the public who all gather to pay tribute to the nation's war dead.  As mentioned in the past, the Queen has permanently passed her presiding role to Prince Charles, and she know watches the proceedings from the balcony of the Foreign Office, with members of her family.  The royals populate the balconies by seniority, so today the Queen stood with Camilla and Kate, the two most senior royal women--the two future queens--and Meghan stood with Sophie Wessex on another balcony with Timothy Laurence (Anne's husband).  Before the Queen relinquished her role, there was room on the first balcony for her, and she was pictured every year standing with Kate and Camilla, but this is now the line-up.   

Kate turned to McQueen for another show-stopping military coat.  She does military-themed ensembles to perfection, and this is another smash hit in my book.  I do think that for particularly formal events royals should really step up the style stakes.  They fill a ceremonial and historical function in addition to just being famous people.  Kate could not wear this coat on a lunch date with friends in London--it is special.  It has a presence and gravitas that gives her an imposing and regal air, and lends an historic spirit to the whole event.  The lightly vintage Philip Treacy topper was the perfect complement, and Kate chose the Bahrain pearl and diamond drops on loan from the Queen for a punchy finish. 

Where Kate scored, Meghan faltered.  Last night, Meghan was the more adventurous at the Festival of Remembrance (for which I applauded her), but today was quite boring in my book.  This is just a black wrap coat.  She could ditch the hat and head to John Lewis for a spot of shopping after the ceremony and no one would look askance at her.  I think Remembrance Sunday calls for more pizzaz. This is a different complaint than saying the ensemble is unflattering. It is a perfectly fine ensemble, and I actually really like the Stephen Jones hat (I love broad-brimmed hats!), but just that for the occasion it was too plain-Jane.

There is no consensus on the coat's ID yet.  Several people have pointed out that the clasp on the coat appears to be a design used by Stella McCartney, and indeed the label has claimed the coat as one of its designs.  But, sharp-eyed fashionistas have pointed out significant differences in the stitching of the belt.  I am not sure we have an accurate ID yet.   

To quickly address the most frequently asked question I have received--I don't think that Meghan is pregnant again quite yet.  People did report that Harry was dropping hints at a recent event that the couple were thinking about a second.  I don't think there is any mystery that these two will try for a second, and I just assume without dwelling on it, that they are almost certainly trying already.  Meghan is 38 years old; she won't delay in having a second.  But, I doubt she is pregnant yet.  She has been wearing bulky coats that tie in the front, and these styles make even the flattest of women look a little more rounded.  Since Meghan hasn't fully lost the baby weight, these recent styles just accentuate the extra weight. My bet is Meghan isn't killing herself to lose her baby weight because she is planning to roll into a second pregnancy as soon as possible.  Smart. That would definitely be my approach. 

The British Army 

Festival of Remembrance 2019

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The royal family was out in force tonight for the Festival of Remembrance at Royal Albert Hall.  This is an annual event that both celebrates and commemorates Britain's heroes.  The Queen always heads up the royal delegation, and this year included the usual suspects--Charles and Camilla, Sophie and Edward, Anne and her husband Timothy Laurence, the Cambridges and the Sussexes, and so forth.   

I am going to do this backward and talk about the Duchess's accessories before we get to the dress. The big 'wow' tonight was that Kate the Great showed up in another headband. This is a genuine headband, not a hatband, and I actually really like it! The light volume and wave of her hair give her style a decidedly 60s vibe, and this style on Kate looked very youthful, too. Win for me. The headband is from Zara, and I imagine it is sold out by now. Kate added sparkle with her mini pearl earrings on loan from the Queen and carried a clutch that appears to be a customized McQueen (sans skull).  Finally, she wore Jimmy Choo "Romy 100" heels.  

I was really on the fence about this dress's color, but I think I have finally been convinced it is a deep, deep navy. Still, it is a liner.  Velvet always photographs a deep black, so the contrast between the dress and the velvet band at the waist does not convince me the dress is blue.  However, when contrasted with the others around her, it does look blue, so right now I am in the camp that thinks it is blue.  I don't think we have a label confirmation yet.  I have seen a number of guesses, but my own guess is that the dress is bespoke Jenny Packham.  As soon as I saw the dress I thought it was a repeat, but couldn't quite place it, and then finally I did... It looks like Kate's JP from New Zealand, just a little shorter and with a velvet band rather than grosgrain. And of course, without the fern detailing on the shoulder.  So, my money is on JP.  I am sure we will find out...  

Meghan chose what is currently reported to be Erdem.  Kate loves Erdem and I know we have a mixed audience here.  Some of you love all Kate's Erdem, and others want her to burn everything form the label.  This dress on Meghan was so promising when I first saw it--I love that it is more interesting than Kate's dress, frankly, and I love the neckline--but at the end of the day it is simply not flattering on Meghan. If I were Meghan I would look for another stylist to help her.  Whoever is on the job right now just isn't up to the task. This dress was, again, far too bulky for her tiny frame and did not flatter her figure. Disappointing, but this is a miss. 

Meghan was wearing shoes I adore, though. These are her Aquazurra "Deneuve Bow" heels and she complemented her red poppy brooch with Jessica McCormack "Gypset Ruby Heart" hoop earrings. I don't know the ID on the bag. 

I have already seen much made of Harry and Meghan's placement, over on the right behind Boris Johnson et al, with other more minor royals, but this has been their assigned seating since they first attended the Festival of Remembrance in 2017!  It's reflective, not of the current crisis, but of their place in the family.  Given their popularity in the media, I think that gets lost in the shuffle, but at events like this, hierarchy is observed more formally and you can get a visual of where everyone stands in the BRF. 

My verdict on Kate's ensemble is that it is a win, but chiefly thanks to the hairstyle and headband. Although the dress is very flattering, it is a little boring for this event.  She needed that bolder hairstyle to jazz it up, which it did (therefore the win).  I don't love black stockings with a dress of this length, either.  They are very aging. Black stockings really should go with short skirts or stay in the drawer. But, simple flattering dress and a hairstyle with a kick make for a good combo. It is a win for me, although not a home run.