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Kate's Chelsea Flower Show Debut

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Kate had a busy day yesterday! Sadly, so did I, which is why this post is coming to you fashionably late. Let's jump right in.

Kate began the day with a morning visit to her Royal Chelsea "Back to Nature" garden. This was a casual visit where she introduced the space to school children and climbed around in the tree house and shrubs making sure everything was neat as a pin for the official debut with the Queen later in the day. Kate wore a Broderie Anglaise blouse by M.i.h. Jeans (a lightning fast ID by Laura), and Massimo Dutti culottes. She finished her laid back look with her trusty Supergas and Monica Vinader Siren earrings. By the by, we haven't seen her wear the Siren earrings in a while, so if you are a fan, yesterday was your lucky day.

This ensemble got mixed reviews from fans. We all love Kate. When it comes to Kate, we all have rose (even magenta) tinged glasses, so although there is something about this look I like, I think it is my tinged glasses, because I deeply dislike this style of trouser. I will admit that as an ensemble, this was super trendy. Culottes are en vogue kids, in a big way. I don't mean to offend anyone who has embraced this trend, and I have some friends who have already done so. We all experiment with trends, sometimes with varied results. Sadly, not even Kate can save these for me. She is slender and willowy, and if these trousers could ever look chic and sophisticated, they'd look chic and sophisticated on her. And yet, if this were anyone else, I think we'd all be giving a huge thumbs down. I do like that she is switching it up form jeans and Bretons, or jeans in general, so I hope she continues to experiment. All I can say beyond that is, do not try this at home. Let's make a pact that none of us will go along with this trend, and we will snuff it off ASAP. This was an A for effort, but not a win in the style stakes.

Later in the day, Kate returned with various members of the Royal Family, most importantly the Queen, to formally visit the garden. For her big debut, Kate chose a floral dress from Erdem, paired with the Castanera wedges she wore on her previous preview visit, and finished off with earrings from Accessorize. It is so fun to see the Cambridges with the Queen. Patricia Treble made the point that William and Kate both kissed the Queen in greeting before their formal bow and curtsy, respectively. It is super cute to see the Queen interact with her grand-children.
Emily Andrews shared video of Kate showing the Queen around, and she noted that Kate was "endearingly nervous at first," but that William held back and let her take the lead. 

I loved this dress. I know Erdem isn't the favorite brand around this blog, or even elsewhere in the royal-watching world, but I think it is on point and picture perfect.  I love the blues and yellows in the floral pattern, and this flirty/feminine style dress is a current trend that I can embrace. Kate braided her hair, just the way she braided Charlotte's when they came for the preview, and the whimsical hair, and the flowing floral dress, all melded perfectly with Kate's theme and the day. Honestly a huge win in my book. William in a suit is always a win for me; William climbing around shrubbery in a suit--super win.

This has been a fabulous few days for Kate, highlighting the hard work she has been putting into this project, and her growing role as the future queen. This was such a great project for her, because it combines her private passions so perfectly with her professional ones--gardening, the outdoors, and family time, bringing mental health and early development into focus. It is nice to see Kate take center stage on a project all her own, too, and it was clear that the Queen, and most importantly William, were very proud of her.

Speaking of William, although he spent most of the time in the "back seat," ever the charmer, he did insert himself a few times to make the ladies in his life laugh uproariously. I don't know what he said, but these two cracked up.

One final note, before I run off to start my day. I think this video of George saying that his mummy scored a 20 out of 10 for her garden is the first time we have heard the little prince speak. Am I correct, or have I missed a video?  

This longer clip from ITV shows how spunky Charlotte is, although we already had that sense, I think. At some point she says, Oh la la! So, someone in her life must use that expression often, and I assume it is Kate or Carole. Super cute. 

Cambridge Family Photos at Chelsea Flower Show

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Kate took her family to preview the garden she co-designed for the Chelsea Flower Show before it debuts tomorrow. Matt Porteous was on hand to take snaps for the family's photo album, and happily for us, for public release as well. The couple has shared six snaps of their family enjoying the hard work Kate has put into this show. 

Kate has kept the focus on mental health with this garden, where Kate is hoping to highlight the positive effects nature has on mental health generally, and in the development of healthy children. 

According to Kensington Palace, George, Charlotte, and Louis all helped Kate collect twigs, moss, and leaves to help their mother's efforts to decorate her garden show. 

It was my opinion that Kate took a step away from the limelight at the start of the year, as Meghan enjoyed the honeymoon phase after her marriage and her busy schedule before her maternity leave. I suspected Kate would shift gears after Meghan stepped away to spend time with her new baby, and if this is any indication, she certainly is doing that. 

I love this shot of Louis looking at William as if to say, "Don't let go, Dad!"

I am so happy Kensington Palace has released these photos so that Kate gets the full attention and applause she deserves on this project. 

Laura IDed the dress as a piece from And Other Stories, the earrings from Accessorize.  Kate's wedges are by Castaner--the brand's Carina wedges. 

Kate's Visit to Bletchley Park in Alessandra Rich

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Good evening all, and Happy Monday. This afternoon, Kate visited Bletchley Park for a second time. She first was a guest of the park in 2014; this return was to see a D-Day exhibition in the run-up to the 75th anniversary of the landing. Kate visited with the young and the old, joining school children who were at Bletchley as part of their STEM programs, and also chatting with veterans of Bletchley--women who served at the park during World War II. As I am sure you all remember from Kate's visit in 2014, as well as subsequent war-related events, Kate's grandmother and great-aunt both worked at Bletchley during the war, so there is personal touch when Kate comes to Bletchley. The Duchess even wore a brooch today that belonged to her grandmother, Valerie Middleton. Some of Kate's events catch my attention more than others, and I love the war-related events she undertakes. Bletchley Park in particular has such a fascinating history. I looked forward to this event, and loved looking at all the coverage today from the royal reporters, and from Kensington Palace's Instagram. 

Ok, let's talk fashion. As you recall, Kate wore this Alessandra Rich dress for the Wales family photo-shoot to celebrate Charles's 70th birthday. We've seen a couple of sweet family snaps from that, so most are familiar with the dress. I loved it in all those photos, and I love it today, too, but for two drawbacks. We will come to those in a minute. Still focusing on the good things, many people have pointed out, and I agree, that this dress has a vintage look. Rich's Spring 2018 collection, from which this dress comes, was actually inspired by the World War II era, so Kate knew the convocations the dress would raise. Kate is the queen of occasion dressing--a very royal talent--and I do see why she zeroed in on this beautiful piece from her closet. The dress is made of delicate material and only buttons to just above the knee, so it floated in a graceful ballon around her when she bent down to accept flowers, and revealed her stunning legs when she walked. You all know I love a piece that features a nice mix of staid and sexy. In this video from KP, it looks quite glam, really.
Nevertheless, I have two problems with this dress. The first is that it is too long to properly perform as a midi-length day dress with heels. This is our first full view of the dress, despite its previous appearance, and it is so long on Kate that I would relegate this to a hostess garden dress only, which is almost exactly the context in which Kate seems to have worn it. I'd pair this with woven shoes (I am in love with Tory Burch's new flats) or pretty sandals, or artsy mules. Styled properly, it would be the perfect ensemble to enjoy idyllic English garden during a tea party or similar intimate, yet fancy, gathering. But, on an official function at Bletchley today, it looked odd to me, and I think it is down to the length. It is not a maxi dress, but it is not a midi-dress. I loved all the pictures of Kate that didn't show the full dress. When we couldn't see how long the skirt was, this was a win. As soon as that awkward length was apparent, it was most definitely not a home run. 

The other issue was far more minor. Simply that given its length, the delicate nature of the fabric, and the high slit, there were some strange shots as she arrived. These snaps from Mark Cuthbert have a good example--the picture in the bottom right shows the billowing skirt well. This "flaw" really just highlights that the dress is too long and not quite the right style for a public engagement like this one.

It's a B+ from me. The color and style on top were all lovely, but that weird length... Oh well. Kate paired the dress with Emmy London Rebecca pumps in "Riviera" blue (how appropriate for Cannes week), and she carried the Panama envelope clutch from Smythson. Kate added the perfect touch with her beloved Annoushka Baroque pearl drops. 

On another note, Kensington Palace has been doing a fabulous job on their social media. Today, on Instagram, they shared maybe six photos, all stunning shots that clearly highlighted Kate. In the past, it has often felt that the social accounts downplayed Kate in the posts, sharing pictures from an event that only had her in a few shots, and then didn't really celebrate her. Now, the Palace has started to license the images from PA and the professional images keep the beautiful princess at the center of attention. I do think this is partly to do with Meghan's influence in the family. KP had to step up its game. ;) 

FAQs About Archie Mountbatten-Windsor's Debut

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Good evening all ya'll. Happy Wednesday. We've had quite the day of royal news, and I am just going to run through a bunch of different questions that have been pitched at me throughout the day. 

Harry and Meghan named their little tyke Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. My first question was whether Archie was short for Archibald or Arthur, but I think that because they named him formally, with his last name, they would have said Archibald "Archie" Harrison etc. Because they did not, I believe that Archie is his legal name. Obviously the birth certificate, whenever they file it, will confirm that.

It is true that George told someone that his name is Archie. The royals do love to use nicknames, and it appears Archie is his. If there is already tension between the couples this might be irksome, but at the end of the day, I think parents have the right to name their children what they choose. In my family, there are repeated names among the grandchildren on both my mother's side and my father's side. I don't think it is a huge deal, and as I say, if you like a name, you like a name. 

It isn't a super traditional name, but at the end of the day, little Archie isn't like George or Charlotte, or Louis. He isn't an heir to the throne. He is in line to succession, but he is his generation's Beatrice and Eugenie or even Zara and Peter (no royal status). He will never be king unless something catastrophic happens, so Harry and Meghan don't have the same need to conform to expectations or take into account history books when naming him, because Archie will be a celeb throughout the course of his life, but he isn't scheduled for the royal history books. 

Harrison does seem like a very American name to me. It means son of Harry, but it also makes me wonder if Meghan is a Scandal fan. ;) They were certainly going for modern and unique, incorporating both of his nationalities, and I think these names hits that. Archie sounds quite British to me, and Harrison kind of screams American. 

Archie is a member of the royal family and he is seventh in the line of succession, but technically he is not "royal." He is not an HRH. HRH stands for His (or Her, for a female) Royal Highness. The reason he is not an HRH is because in 1917, George V issued the following:
George the Fifth by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith To all to whom these presents shall come Greeting: Whereas Her late Majesty Queen Victoria did by Her Letters Patent dated the thirtieth day of January in the twenty seventh year of Her Reign declare her Royal Pleasure as to the style and title of the Princes and Princesses of the Royal Family in the manner in the said Letters Patent particularly mentioned  And whereas we deem it expedient that the said Letters Patent should be extended and amended and that the styles and titles to be borne by the Princes and Princesses of the Royal Family should be henceforth established defined and limited in manner hereinafter declared  Now Know Ye that We of our especial grace certain knowledge and mere motion do hereby declare our Royal Will and Pleasure that the children of any Sovereign of these Realms and the children of the sons of any such Sovereign and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales shall have and at all times hold and enjoy the style title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names or with their other titles of honour And We do further declare our Royal Will and Pleasure that save as aforesaid the style title or attribute of Royal Highness Highness or Serene Highness and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess shall not henceforth be assumed or borne by any descendent of any Sovereign of these Realms excepting always any such descendant who at the date of these Letters Patent holds or bears any right to any such style degree attribute or titular dignity in pursuance of any Letters Patent granted by Ourselves or any of Our Royal Predecessors and still remaining unrevoked it being Our Royal Will and Pleasure that the grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms  Our Will and Pleasure further is that Our Earl Marshal of England or his deputy for the time being do cause these our Letters Patent or the enrolment thereof to be recorded in Our College of Arms to the end that Our officers of Arms and all others may take due notice thereof.  In Witness whereof We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent Witness Ourself at Westminster the thirtieth day of November in the eighth year of Our reign.
Essentially, George V limited royal HRH status (and the title prince/princess) to the children of the sovereign, the children of the sons of the sovereign, and the eldest son of the Prince of Wales's heir, i.e. the heir of the heir. Elizabeth II amended those Letters Patent in 2012 by issuing her own declaring that all the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales (aka William's children) would be HRHs and bear the title Prince/Princess:
The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 31 December 2012 to declare that all the children of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour.
Although according to the 1917 Letters, Archie could take HRH status upon Charles ascension to the throne, because he would then be a child of one of the monarch's male children. The fact that Harry and Meghan have decided not to use the courtesy title suggests Charles andWilliam have decided to limit HRH status, or the Sussexes themselves will decline royal status for Archie at that time, as Anne and Edward declined it.

That rolls us into another question, what about this courtesy title Earl of Dumbarton. The idea here is that if you a person who will inherit a title, your dignity requires that you have some form of an appellation while you wait. Therefore, the sons of aristocrats who will one day pass their titles down may use a secondary title of their father while they wait to inherit as a courtesy. One of Harry's secondary titles, his Scottish title, is the Earl of Dumbarton, so Archie could have been Earl of Dumbarton, as Prince Edward's son is Viscount Severn. The Sussexes have declined to use this, which again, suggests that Archie will never be an HRH. 

Why was Doria featured in the photo released by the Royal Family? Meghan has gone out of her way to include her mother in her birth process. She went out of her way to mention her several times. I don't have a problem with this at all. I understand the frustration of Kate fans who feel that Kate never had the option to include her family in this way. I think that is true, and I understand why it feels unfair, but just because Kate wasn't able to highlight and promote her family, doesn't mean Meghan shouldn't be able to. Meghan's mom is also in a different position than Kate's family. Kate has an intact family, but Doria is a single mom and Meghan is her only child, so it makes a little more sense that Meghan is pulling her into her new royal family a little more closely. I don't think we should begrudge her this. 

I think I got most questions. Let me know if I missed yours--there were a lot!