Sunday, September 21, 2014

William: We Agreed the Heat Would Be Too Much For Her

This afternoon, Prince William wrapped up what was a very successful two-day trip to Malta. When Kate was forced to pull-out, everyone expected William to go in her stead, and indeed there is no other royal with the requisite star power to stand in for the duchess. 

As many probably remember, (personally or from the study of history) Diana far eclipsed Charles in popularity, which while not the cause of their marriage's disintegration, certainly did not help matters. Kate is clearly massively popular and seems to draw a very dedicated fan base, (hey, all y'all) at the same time, though, William remains such a popular royal. It is a mistake to apply the Wales dynamic to the Cambridges. They are a far more balanced couple and this trip is proof of that reality. Everyone was disappointed that Kate didn't come, but everyone was also so very excited to see her handsome prince.

Royal watchers were interested, although certainly not surprised, to see that Rebecca Deacon was in Malta with William. As the decision was put off to the very last minute, the entire tour had been planned for Kate and obviously Ms. Deacon was entirely informed on every detail. It only highlighted the last minute nature of the change, but also how flawlessly the royal household was able to accommodate the change. The plans were not altered by a Duke rather than his Duchess flying to Malta, and of course, thanks Rebecca worked closely with William before his engagement to Kate, so it was old-home week all around. 

It was a weekend with a debut, as well: William attended his first public Mass this morning in Valletta at St. John's Co-Cathedral. The Cathedral is widely considered one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in Europe and houses a stunning Caravaggio. Aides remarked that although William may have been to a private requiem, it was his first public Catholic ceremony.

There has been a certain ennui with William's wardrobe, so excitement was high when he debuted his Frenchman pants earlier this year. Women being the fickle creatures that we are (that's a blessing, by the way) need more variety in fashion, but it seems that men do not. Day 2 saw the Frenchman pants return with a vengeance. Someone needs to tell him these come in a variety of colors...In any case, these really could be just a tad more fitted, and a little darker. Right now it requires a double take to ascertain that they are indeed his Frenchboy pants and not just a pair of faded jeans. Kate, this is your department.

I still very firmly believe that the long hesitation in announcing Kate's decision on Malta speaks to her continuing recovery. William is always the thoughtful gentleman and the disappointment that was inevitable after the Duchess's withdrawal was often the subject of his remarks. He told fans on a Saturday walkabout that Kate was "feeling so-so" and that it was up and down at the moment, and at a garden party today he said that he had spoken to her on the phone this morning and that she was feeling "a little bit better." People reported William's remark:
He was very happy to be here. William told me that Catherine was sad to have missed the trip, but we both agreed that the hot weather would have been too much for her. I asked how she was doing and he said he spoke to her this morning and she was feeling a little better.
So, I think that we can very safely assume that she will be feeling markedly better in the relatively near future and we may even see her add an engagement to the calendar before long. I suspect she could be back on the job by mid-October. 

William gave fans a quick update on George as well, saying that the baby prince was "very busy" and that "they are very hectic at that age." I can just imagine what a rambunctious tot he must be, as every sighting of him as indicated quite an independent spirit. I am sure he is darling.

Valletta, Malta

William read a statement from the Queen, who has many happy memories of Malta. Between 1949 and 1951 then Princess Elizabeth lived intermittently in Malta with Prince Philip who was serving in the Royal Navy at the time. Prince Charles and Princess Anne remained in Britain. William said he had just been asking her about her time in Malta last week...possibly while he visited her in Scotland as they anxiously awaited Scotland's vote for independence or unity. This trip to Malta was, after all, commemorating Malta's break from the UK. William read a message from the Queen:
We have such fond memories of your country at different stages of our lives," it read. "First as a young married couple when we lived in Malta, and then again when we returned at the time of our 60th wedding anniversary in 2007. Prince Philip and I are grateful to the people of Malta for always making us, and our family, feel so welcome."

It is a shame that Kate was unable to come, since the beautiful, warm island would have been right up her alley. Hopefully, we will get a chance to see her visit in the future. In any event,w e know what Kate is doing right this second. She is curled up on her couch--hopefully George is in bed--she has some tea and something to settle her stomach and she is watching the season premiere of Downton Abbey! Oh September, you truly are the most wonderful time of the year.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

London Fashion Week SS 2015: Royal Edition

Ok, kids, the Fashion Weeks roll on. My little sister told me the other day, "Oh, I stopped reading your blog because you were reporting on Fashion Week and I thought that was boring." Soo, if you are with JBarr the Younger, you can toddle off now, but if you want to see how the wind is blowing in the world of couture, march on.

This week we are in London. Oh, London. What a wonderful city. Kensington and Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Notting Hill, Bloomsbury... Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Simon Syon

I think that after a certain town that doesn't stop sparkling, this is coolest city on the planet. And, of course, it is also home to our very favorite Royal Family and their shining, the luminous Duchess of Cambridge.

Pedro Szekely

London Fashion Week was naturally packed with labels that Kate has worn, so it was certainly a busy week. Again, keep in mind that much of what walks the runway becomes significantly more wearable, if you will, once it actually hits the rack.

Emilia Wickstead

Kate can be counted to wear Emilia Wickstead with relative regularity. She loved one of Wickstead's designs so much she wore it several times, in two shades. I fully expect to see this designer often on the Duchess in the future.

There was absolutely nothing in the show that Kate would wear directly off the runway, and precious little you could imagine her wear altered unless some serious re-inventing took place. That being said, Emilia Wickstead's style of tailoring and design were very present and the entire collection reminded me of Kate's baby blue maternity dress that she wore to the National Portrait Gallery. The scoops, the darts, the lines...

McQ Alexander McQueen

McQ is a diffusion line of Alexander McQueen and as we all know, Kate loves all kinds of Alexander McQueen. The beautiful Black Watch tartan coat she wore right before her pregnancy announcement in 2012, and then again to Christmas just this past year, is a McQ.

While we all loved that, I wasn't doing back flips over what McQ showed this week in London. Don't hold your breath on these.

Orla Kiely

Kate doesn't wear the Irish label as much as she does other brands, but when she does it is always unique, super cute, and memorable.

There was a lot to love and to dream about in Orla Kiely's Spring 2015 presentation. It was full of  imaginative detailing. Orla Kiely's playful vibe might not always work for a duchess, but I think these looks are very youthful on Kate and particularly nice when she visits a school, or is dealing with children. I hope we see lots more Orla Kiely on Kate. 


Kate has worn Joseph several times with fantastic success...of course. The creamy Joseph jacket she paired with her Reiss Peacock remains one of my favorite ensembles. Nevertheless, the collection shown at LFW is almost enough to undo all my happy memories.

I have nothing positive to say about Joseph. Frankly, after viewing the collection, I was irritated that I had wasted the ten minutes it took to review it. Ten minutes I can never get back. I could have been sipping coffee and staring at the ceiling and it would have been more productive. It seemed the designer had been tripping on acid and thinking of the 80's...

Topshop Unique

Kate has been sporadically wearing TopShop for years. The High Street brand could hardly be termed a staple label, but certainly it pops up with enough regularity to warrant a quick peek at the show.

There were some pieces that certainly had potential, but in general nothing was extremely "Duchess-worthy." The pleated skirt looks like something Kate could wear in a less flashy color and the knit dress on the far right is in her silhouette if not her whole style. Nothing was a show stopper.

Temperley London

Kate is such a Temperley fan. While it still does not rank with McQueen and Jenny P, the veritable Queen's of Kate's closet, Temperley is a very solid player. Kate wears Temperley for the formal all the way to the casual, and the unique style is exactly the look to which Kate seems to gravitate.

Oooh, Temperley. I do love Temperley. This collection was patterns gone wild, but done so stunningly well. I covet this structured pink skirt, and with a smart, starched, white blouse and a statement piece, Kate could really make this gorgeous at a mid-morning event or luncheon. Temperley is extraordinary, the label makes the quintessentially relaxed boho stunningly elegant. It is perfect for our princess. This was a great show!


This is a solid brand that you can count on Kate wearing at least several times a year, both in public and when spotted on her off time.  Her Mulberry choices are usually relatively classic and subdued.

The Mulberry show didn't present anything immediately wearable for Kate, but the elements that attract her were there, as has been the case for many of these collections. We will have to wait and see if any of their pieces transform a little off the runway and make it to Kate.

Jonathan Saunders

Kate has worn Jonathan Saunders only a few times, but certainly with success. I really loved the colorful print she debuted on her tour of South East Asia:

You would be forgiven if at first glance you struggled to guess to what or whom Saunders attributed the inspiration for his collection, but he said it was inspired by cotton voile from Japan--light and airy. I think he was successful, and I think once the large bows and paper-mache like embellishments are ditched, there could be some really beautiful dresses from this collection. The delicate blue is reminding me of Kate's Temperley dress at her tea party with Jimmy Choo...

Roksanda Ilincic 

When Kate first wore Roksanda Ilincic it seemed it might be a one-off, but the duchess not only recycled that dress, but then debuted two more just recently on tour Down Under. It seems Kate likes the bold designer as much as we do.

She showed bright colors and geometric color blocking as well as attention grabbing "architectural" details, like the swirling ruffles on the left and the right and the curving neckline and bodice in the middle. I hope Kate wears Roksanda Ilincic again, albeit in lightly more subdued pieces, as we saw with her Australian sheath dress.


A major player in Kate's label line-up is certainly Erdem. Debuted almost the moment she became a Duchess, we have had a very steady diet of it, with almost universal success. I overlook the blue embroidered Trooping dress...

The show this week left me feeling a little dreary. I was starting to look around for my vodka bottle. I kid.... But, seriously, did they forget this was Spring 2015? The darker colors, subdued lighting, etc seemed more appropriate for a moody fall collection. Nevertheless, all of Erdem's signatures showed up. Heavy detailing, such as feathers and appliqué, were present in force. I do think this will transform into a really great SS line-up off the runway, but honestly I feel like they needed to lighten the atmosphere.

Burberry Prorsum 

Is there anything more British than Burberry? Maybe Buckingham Palace... Kate isn't actually a huge, huge Burberry girl. It was a bit of a surprise when she stepped out in a classic trench with a twist...or should I say Ireland during the Engagement Tour of the UK. Partly because up to that point she hadn't really been wearing a lot of really high-end labels. The winds of change were blowing...

Brace yourself, though. Moving from Erdem's dark-jungle-woman vibe to Burberry's sugar-and-not-much-spice girl might give you light whiplash. Easy conclusion: unless Kate is invited to another charity roller disco, we won't be seeing any of this on HRH. Candy Land called...they want their wardrobe back.


Kate's former It-label showed this week as well. Although in the past we have discussed in detail how the princess won't be wearing Issa anymore, I have still loved following the label over the years. The problem now is that Daniella Helayel, who founded Issa and was at the helm when Kate was such a devotee, left the brand in 2013. As inevitably happens when a new creative director takes over, the flavor changes just a little. I didn't dislike the collection, it just is a new perspective.

For example, this was Issa SS 2012

Then SS 2013:

This is Issa SS 2015:

You always know that Carolina Herrera will deliver her exquisite evening gowns and Oscar de la Renta has been playing with his breathtaking embroidery for several seasons, and you used to know that Issa would deliver color, flattering jersey knits, flowing kaftans, and daring plunges. That's not what we got. Times change and all good things come to an end. This is a little life lesson right smack in the middle of fashion week. C'est la vie.

Christopher Kane

Well, you all know what I think of Christopher Kane, so I will keep this brief.

He still likes shiny fabric:

That wraps up my coverage of London Fashion Week. Today is the very tense Scottish Referendum vote and I am certainly hoping very much that Great Britain still exists at the end of the day. For those interested in the election and the ramifications this was a very interesting article that you may enjoy. The last poll taken showed the "no" vote ahead by a hair.

The Countess of Strathearn

Lastly, as you no doubt have heard, it was announced this morning that Kate is still too ill to go to Malta, and William will go in her stead. Nevertheless, I do hope very much that her weekend in Bucklebury and the long hesitation before canceling the trip to Malta indicate that Kate is feeling significantly better, even if not entirely well. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kate to Decide on Malta, William in Scotland, and the Queen Braces for Scottish Independence Vote

As hypothesized in late July, the Cambridges did not got to Scotland in August, instead they spent the majority of their time in Norfolk readying their house for their move and now it turns out, Baby #2!  Nevertheless, now that is is September, one of them has headed to Balmoral as is their custom. William arrived in the north on Thursday and spent the weekend with his grandmother and father. They were shooting Saturday, and although I am sure this partially is the annual visit that William likes to make to Scotland, Balmoral and his family,  it is also timed before the upcoming referendum. If Scotland breaks away, it will be very hard for the Queen.

Grouse Hunt Near Balmoral September 20, 2013
We are just days away from the Scottish Referendum. In case you were not aware, on Thursday September 18th, the Scots will vote on whether or not to remain a part of the United Kingdom. This is a big, big deal for Britain politically and for the Queen personally, and frankly it will also have quite an impact on the geopolitical landscape worldwide. Poll numbers are very close and no one knows which way this will go. 

Crathie Kirk, Scotland September 22, 2013

This past Sunday, William was at Crathie Kirk with his grandmother. The position of the monarch is one of political neutrality, a neutrality that the Queen is very careful to maintain, nevertheless, she made a significant gesture on Sunday morning. The Telegraph reported on the extremely unusual move on the part of the Queen:
She normally walks in and out of the small church from her car, while on holiday at nearby Balmoral Castle, without talking to bystanders.

But before she left the kirk on Sunday, a police sergeant invited members of the press waiting 200 yards away to come up to the church to see the royal party depart.
There is no direct transcript of her comments, but...
Asked what the Queen had said to the group, a woman who asked not to be named, replied: "She was lovely and said she hoped everybody would think very carefully about the referendum this week".
Lastly, a photographer on hand impressed upon the unusual nature of the occasion:
Donald Stewart, an experienced photographer who covers royal visits to the kirk, said the last time he could remember being invited to photograph members of the royal family walking out of the building was on the first anniversary of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall. He said it was a very unusual invitation, and the kind of thing that happened “once or twice in a generation” on special occasions.
Meanwhile, Kate has moved from Kensington Palace in central London to the leafy quiet of Bucklebury where her mother is caring for her. I take from this that Kate must be feeling at least marginally better. Camilla Tominey even reported that it has been suggested to her that Kate may still go to Malta as scheduled.

Honestly, no matter what the Palace intimates, there is no real way to know until they announce tomorrow.  The press office can be very coy. To go to Malta she would have to be feeling remarkably better, and it is possible that the Palace is suggesting she might still make it to guard her privacy as she continues to be ill.  On the other hand, she may very well be feeling very improved.

Christmas Morning 2012

When they release the decision tomorrow that will be exactly two weeks since her pregnancy was announced. Looking back to her past pregnancy (as we have before) to get a sense for this one, Kate was driven to present at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award in 2012 and stayed for a mere 45 minutes before going home two weeks after her hospitalization. She didn't look 100% that night. Assuming that they were forced to announce almost immediately last pregnancy, but that they were able to keep her sickness quiet for approximately a week this time, she has that under her belt already, which means we are closer to the Christmas appearance she made at church with her family in Bucklebury. How well was she feeling that day? She didn't press release about it, so we don't know, but she was popping into a petrol station for crisps a few days later.

If she is in Bucklebury now and William is in Scotland, she must be feeling just a tad better and honestly if she were fully incapacitated beyond any hope of moving, it would be impolite for her not to cancel with a little more warning. My conclusion: she does feel a little better, she doesn't want to cancel Malta and she is holding out and hoping. If Kate had a really big gala event in London, rather than Malta,  I would guess she would go. But, traveling over 1,000 miles for two fully scheduled days of public engagements seems dodgy at best. I will be the first to cheer if she is well enough and goes ahead as planned, but I still think the likelihood is small. I hope I am wrong. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Harry: Kate & Harry's Friendship Over the Years

Prince Harry turns 30 today and as was reported yesterday, the (rumored) birthday party being thrown by the Duchess of Cambridge has (again allegedly) been post-poned for obvious reasons. We can still give a moment to focus on the birthday boy.

Harry and William are very close brothers, and so as inevitably happens, William's girlfriend got to know Harry very well over the years, and he had a front row seat to watch the romance of their generation develop and blossom. Here, the trio watch a game of football in early 2007:

More than likely Harry was drafted for an advisory role during his brother's headline grabbing break-up in 2007. Chelsy accompanied Harry in the front row at the Diana concert that July and the prince was obviously aware of the dynamics as Kate sat just a few rows behind her ex-prince. Harry was probably already in on the secret that the couple were on the mend.

By the spring of the next year, they were all back to partying at polo together:

Harry kept Kate company as she attended her first Order of the Garter ceremony in 2008 as William was being inducted. It was a big signal that Kate was on the scene to stay and Harry was there to keep her comfortable and laughing as she navigated one of her first major royal moments before her marriage.

Here in 2009 Kate chats with friends and then closely (or is she bored) follows the game from the comfort of her Audi before Harry and William join her at the car.

Kate, William, and Harry were also quite the close trio on the London night scene partying together into the early hours of dawn at night spots like Boujis, Raffles, Whiskey Mist, Mahiki and more. They would trickle out separately to the flashing of the paparazzi bulbs and the shouting of cameramen. Below the three try to sneak out of the London premiere of Sherlock Holmes:

For the majority of these early years, Harry was also dating the stunning South African Chelsy Davy, and while it doesn't seem that Kate and Chelsy were best pals, they certainly seemed to get along well. When Peter and Autumn married, they sold the picture rights to Hello! magazine--unbeknownst to the other members of the royal family. When the spread hit the stands, filled with photos of the royals (and royal girlfriends) chatting and relaxing, it caused quite the royal kerfuffle. Included in that photo-set were sweet pictures of Chelsy and Kate happily laughing over cocktails together and taking to the dance floor later in the evening.

William, Kate, Zara, and Chesly at polo

When the news broke that William had proposed to Kate and the two would be married, Harry had some very sweet remarks. He said he was, "delighted that my brother has popped the question! It means I get a sister, which I have always wanted." He was wreathed in smiles on the morning of the Royal Wedding, as he stood up to support his brother. Harry even did a little recon for the groom, checking the aisle several times and then informing William that Kate was on her way up.

The trio remain very close. Maintaining much the same routines as they did in their twenties, sans super early mornings on the London night scene. They continue at polo games where the two princes either compete together, or at times play on opposing teams:

Weddings both near and far:

Family events:

Public engagements:

Kate and Harry are clearly good chums and their senses of humor click well. I don't know that there are any pictures of the two together where Kate isn't laughing at one point or another as her brother-in-law keeps her in stitches.

It is nice to see Kate has a warm rapport with her husband's family and particularly his close brother and only sibling. It was always possible that Harry might not get on well with his brother's girlfriend, certainly these things are never guaranteed. The fact that the two click well also probably played a part in the ultimate success of William and Kate's relationship.

When Kate and William moved from the small Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace into 1A, Harry moved into the cottage. It must be nice to have him close by, particularly this past year with Prince George's exciting arrival. As the Cambridges essentially relocate to Norfolk, Uncle Harry will have to start driving to spend relaxing evenings hanging with his best friends and favorite nephew, and I am sure he will.

A very happy birthday to HRH Prince Henry of Wales. Many more to come... And a royal wedding one of these days, buddy. We can all use some extra pomp and circumstance in our lives now and again.