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Normandy: Kate and William in Arromanches to Pay Tribute to the Warriors of D-Day

Friday, June 6, 2014



This is the first time that Kate's clothes and even Kate were only a secondary consideration in my mind. That is, of course, because today's events were commemorating one of the single greatest turning points in modern history. The Allied landing on the beaches of Normandy, France as the free world made a heroic push to win back Europe from Nazi occupation. It is an overwhelmingly powerful anniversary, and one that even Kate the Great cannot outshine. That being said, let's still talk about her clothes really quickly... ;)



Kate recycled the McQueen she wore in Blenheim, New Zealand. As we have seen in the past for state occasions and military events, Kate often turns to McQueen. McQueen really is the correct level of formality on a day like today and the light blue nicely complemented William's navy suit. Not only was this a recycle, but it was a very recent recycle which I think was Kate's way of keeping the focus on the events. Had she dug into her closet for say, the navy military McQueen from several years ago, that would have been quite a bit more exciting. So, she was brilliant in her choices here.


Kate also recycled her hat, choosing the black Sylvia Fletcher she christened the Royal Princess in on her last official engagement before George was born. I liked it on that occasion, it worked:


I wasn't wild about it today, but again it worked and I like that she paired the cornflower blue with black. I love that contrast that she isn't afraid to use. The photos were distant and grainy when William and Kate stepped off the plane in Normandy this morning, and at first I thought she was rewearing the Maleficent from ANZAC Day...




Kate wore her hair in a half-do, which really is the perfect compromise for these formal hat events where there will be wind. Some very cute little French girls presented her with a stunning bouquet. Not all bouquets are created equal, but I guess the French know how to do flowers. 


The couple, who are also marking their first official visit to France, began at a tea for veterans in Arromanches. Again, it was unusual, because just this once, Kate wasn't the central celebrity. It was entirely charming how she moved about and spoke with these brave veterans with her usual charm and ease. They seemed to all got a kick out of her.






The Huffington Post reported:

When she [Kate] sat down to talk to Arthur Jones in Arromanches, he asked her: "Is it OK to kiss a Princess?"
Laughing, she replied: "Of course it is."
Mr Jones, a desert rat from the 7th Armoured Division, seized the moment and gave Catherine a kiss on the cheek.
Afterwards, Mr Jones, from Wolverhampton, said: "As the prince (William) left he said to me 'Were you chatting up my wife?'
"I told him I only gave her a kiss.
"William laughed but I'm chuffed I've chatted up a princess. I bet I'll be picked up now and taken to the Tower of London.
"It was a lovely kiss - she is very sweet and very lovely. I lost my wife 10 years ago, and I'm on my own now, so I don't get many opportunities for kisses any more.
"I always thought Kate looked beautiful, but she has a very down to earth personality - it was like she was one of us."
Boys. Some things never change. ;)

The royals then moved to Gold Beach for the remembrance ceremony where William laid a wreath and addressed the gathered crowd. Gold Beach was the central beach of the five beaches invaded in the dawn of June 6, 1944. The British forces were assigned this landing and they took it at the cost of 400 men.



Kate Attends D-Day (Débarquement de Normandie) Services







It was a day of mixed emotions, both elation at the victory that was won so many years ago and sadness at the significant losses sustained, as the men who returned to all the various beaches reminisced on the loss of life and the death that was all around them that day. 


I have been sifting through some of the news reports from the day, especially those that are reporting on the veterans, many of whom are in their nineties, and have still returned for this 70th anniversary. I am struck by how they aren't there to be honored, but to honor. They have returned to pay their respects yet again to their fallen comrades, to the men who did not come home. On one of my trips to France I visited Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery and I walked those white rows reading the places, sometimes the names, but mostly the places: Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New York, South Carolina, California--they had come from every corner of the United States and over 4,000 miles from kin and country I was overwhelmed with grief that these men had never come home, not even in death. It reinforced the completeness of the sacrifice they all made in their commitment to their duty, to their country, to freedom, and to honor. Today's events highlight for us all that their sacrifice, their courage, and their loss was not in vain. All the men of the allied forces, of every nationality, who heroically fought their way through the surf and across those bloody beaches, in addition to the French Resistance who met them and found them shelter, contributed to an effort that liberated Europe and ultimately crushed the aggressive and repressive Nazi regime that threatened civilization. They freed a continent and changed the world. It is the most extraordinary story and it is gratifying to see the world stop and mark this momentous event and these heroes, living and dead.



"No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world,
is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."




19 comments:

  1. Wonderful post!!! Thank you, Jane!! And again you chose the most beautiful pictures!
    I knew she would recycle for the event today and I like her choice. The McQueen was not my favourite on the tour but it is elegant,classic - both understated and fresh - perfect!
    I often wear my hair like Kate did today ^^. I love it!

    Great they payed tribute by attending this! It's so important!

    P.S.: Your "woodsy walk" at C&lC is so funny!! Go on also doing posts like that! It's great! (I hope I can take time to also comment there :-/)

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    1. Hi Vicky! So glad you enjoyed it. What a powerful day. I was very pleased that they went. I think it was a surprise when they announced they would attend, because they don't usually do these things, but this was so important, they made the right choice to go.

      Haha, ah, so happy you enjoyed that post. I looked through the photos and I thought, "what can I do with these?!" Obvious answer, have fun. Hope you continue reading. :) xoxo!

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  2. Great post. Thank you for keeping the proper balance. A sartorial commentary, a fun anecdote about kisses and the Duchess, but keeping the focus on what mattered today: D Day, the veterans and those who never made it back. Thank you, especially, for writing movingly and personally about D Day and your experience visiting the sites. I cannot imagine (insert shudder) the world had the defeat of Germany had not happened. Silvia

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  3. Suzanne in ColoradoJune 6, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    Beautiful post, Jane! I thought las night that the Duchess might wear that blue coat again! I really like it! Question: I love the quote at the end of the post. Who said it?

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    1. I thought the same about that blue coat yesterday but I didn't think my guess was correct until I saw it today (and I was in disbelief for my correct guess!) ..I also thought the navy double-breasted coat would have been a perfect choice as well, but I think it is a shorter length than the general length of her coats now. At the beginning I wasn't favourably impressed by the black colour of the hat, shoes, bag and dress..but more I see it and more I like it..probably the black was a right choice given the type of event . Anyway, it was nice to see them in a significant event with so many world leaders. Today seemed to be a day of great unit between nations in the remembrance and it has always a positive meaning. As you say Jane, I don't think kate overshadow the event at all..conversely she has only brought more attention to the event..and it is only a positive fact! I also love the quote!
      I was just wondering: Has someone found the video with William's speech from today? I didn't see the live streaming and it's difficult to find it now..

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    2. Hi Ladies. Glad you came by and read the post. :)

      Suzanne: it is a fabulous quote, isn't it?! It is Ronald Reagan in his first inaugural address (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/reagan1.asp) which is actually fairly short and a very powerful read. Although, he was speaking to Americans, I think it can be applied to all free people and I believe he would have agreed. :)

      Cinzy: This is a pretty thorough YouTube video of the day. I think William's remarks start around 13:00 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psFiphhqDGY P.S. Thanks for your comment on C&C. :) Loved it.

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    3. Thank you very much Jane for the link..so kind of you! I just finished watching the video. You found exactly the video I was looking for! It was nice so, at the end, I followed the entire ceremony; very special!
      Have a good weekend!

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  4. Lovely post Jane. I was not a fan of Kate's dress coat in NZ but think it is totally fitting for this event. She looked lovely.

    KiwiNic

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  5. Once again you have said it better than I could have. Thank you for another wonderful post. I found it very, very respectful of any and all soldiers of any country that has served. Me and my family are retired U.S Army and I have family alive and gone who have served for pretty much every war since WW1 so I thank all those who have given for any country in helping fight for their freedom. They are forever in our hearts... Mrs. SSG Richard F. Wells and my son SPC Robert D. Wells

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  6. Once again you have said it better than I could have. Thank you for another wonderful post. I found it very, very respectful of all soldiers of these different countries that has served. My family are retired U.S Army and I have family alive and gone who have served for pretty much every war since WW1 so I thank all those who have given for all these countries in helping fight for their freedom. They are forever in our hearts and we are very thankfully for their sacrifice...Mrs. SSG Richard F. Wells and my son SPC Robert D. Wells

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  7. On a day when, as you say, it wasn't about Kate or her style at all, she chose my least favorite dress from the tour down under. I guess it's fitting as it looks a bit dowdy with those big pocket flaps and that belt. Her outfit said "I'm here for a purpose other than to be seen." Perfect choice. The Queen's outfit, on the other hand, could not be missed!

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  8. Thank you for this wonderfully written post. I appreciate that the focus was more on the veterans and the meaning of the day. I appreciate William and Kate's sincerity. Let us not forget what "The Greatest Generation" did for us and gave us. It is now up to us to preserve and protect it. Be on guard! Thanks again. Joan M.

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  9. Jane, you are a wonderful writer. I was so moved by your article. It made me reflect on the great sacrifice so many brave service men paid for our freedom. Let us be grateful and let us never forget.

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  10. As a girl born and bred in Caen, I am amazed at the importance of these celebrations. The whole world remembered yesterday and it is very moving. Kate looked fantastic as ever but have you noticed how all of a sudden, there seems to be gorgeous young royalty everywhere nowadays ? Also, I don't know why, but I have a feeling Kate could be pregnant; I'm probably totally wrong and we should give the poor girl a break but just in case I'm right, I want to be the first to say it !!! Anyway, your post is lovely as ever, Jane ! x

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  11. Hi Jane,

    Thanks for such a lovely post! It was wonderful to see the smiles on the faces of the veterans as they spoke with Kate. It appears as though they have fallen under her spell!

    It was great to see in other news the amount of respect Queen Elizabeth was shown by the other world leaders assembled for the remembrance events. Queen Elizabeth was the only world leader in attendance who served in World War II and imho that puts her head and shoulders above the rest.

    Thank you to all the men and women who have served and fought for the freedoms we enjoy. Let us never forget and let us always be grateful.

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  12. I agree, I suspect Kate is pregnant. Why? Just because it's been about the right time for Mother Nature to send a playmate. But also, because my experience is that nothing makes you want a baby more than having a baby. Babies, I mean toddlers are indeed work, but that is why God designed them to be SO. DARN. CUTE. Because as you clean up the broken perfume bottle you remember how cute his dismayed expression was as he looked down from counter he had climbed i his naughty way. And if daddy thinks he is just a cute, there is going to be a playmate!

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  13. Hi Jane. I am a huge fan of your blog and Kate Middleton. I just read this article on Buzzfead and would love to see your take on it. http://www.buzzfeed.com/societygossipgirl/cambridge-confidential-june-7th-2014-pw16

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