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[Updated] WWI Centenary in Belgium: Morning at l'Abbaye Saint-Laurent & Cointe Inter-Allied Memorial

Monday, August 4, 2014

As countries around the world held services of remembrance this morning, the Duke and Duchess arrived at l'Abbaye Saint-Laurent in Liège, Belgium for the start of a day full of commemorative events.  The ducal couple were greeted by their hosts King Philipe and Queen Mathilde who were on hand to greet all visiting heads of state and foreign dignitaries.  




Kate strictly followed protocol and curtsied to both the Philipe and Mathilde who rank above her in the order of royal precedence. 









L'Abbaye Saint-Laurent is a former benedictine monastery built in 1026 and has been a center point throughout local history for centuries. Today it is a military hospital. To give you the most cursory of backgrounds on today, in 1914 Germany had her eye on Paris. In an attempt to catch the French off guard and take their capital, Germany hatched a plan to enter France through a neutral nation: Belgium. After their request for free passage through the country was denied, they invaded on August 4, 1914 and fought the first battle at Liège. Britain, bound by the 1839 Treaty of London (granting independence and neutrality to Belgium) was consequently thrust into the conflict. For the United Kingdom, The Great War had begun. The next four years would wreak destruction across Europe and change the world.
Thousands of people died in the siege[of Liège], and hundreds of civilians were subsequently executed in atrocities committed by the Imperial German Army at Liège and other Belgian towns. Because of its heroic defence, it was awarded the Légion d’Honneur by France.
Headline Announcing Germany's Invasion of Belgium
Wikipedia 




After the formal welcome, a service was held at the Cointe Inter-Allied Memorial on the hills overlooking Liège. 


Cointe Inter-Allied Memorial
Liège Tourism


An international committee asked for the support of the allied countries to erect a monument dedicated to the glory of the allied soldiers on the hill of Cointe in Liège. The “Merode Committee” commissioned Antwerp architect Joseph Smolderen to design a monumental complex comprising the Church of the Sacred Heart and the 75-metre Inter-allied Memorial...The “crypt” contains the Franco-Belgian, Romanian and Spanish monuments while the vast esplanade comprises the Italian, Greek, Polish, English and Russian monuments in its hall of pillars. 

William, however, took time to particularly remember the fallen British service members, before proceeding to the main ceremony:







Several dignitaries gave speeches at the ceremony, including King Philipe, France's François Hollande, Germany's Joachim Gauck, and Prince William.






Kate was certainly stunning for today's commemorative events. The Duchess, of course, debuted an entirely new ensemble as is appropriate for such a momentous series of events. Her creamy coat has been confirmed as McQueen. yet to be identified. McQueen is certainly the usual suspect for this type of day, but Emilia Wickstead is in the mix, as well. If not one of these labels, I wonder if it is Belgium or French. There are elements that remind me very much of Roland Mouret and it is possible Kate chose a local designer to pay tribute to the Belgians. I will update when the mystery is untangled. I certainly think it was an absolutely fantastic choice. Kate is stunning in creams and neutrals and today was no exception. I particularly like the Peter Pan collar that gives it a sweet and lightly vintage vibe. The shoulders, drop-waist, darting, and pleating of the skirt all provide beautiful details.



Kate accessorized with another Jane Taylor creation. I suspected this as soon as I saw it because of the strong resemblance to Kate's chapeau at George's christening. Both hats are simple, but such very elegant designs that perfectly flatter Kate.


She was wearing her LK Bennet Sledge pumps, wearing her Annoushka pearl drops, and carrying her nude McQueen clutch:



William, Kate, and all the invited dignitaries had lunch at the Prince-Bishop's Palace. During the Holy Roman Empire, the Prince-Bishopric was ruled by...you guessed it, the bishop who held the rank of prince in the Empire. This was his home:

Wikipedia

Elio di Rupo, the Prime Minister of Belgium, shared a photo of himself chatting with William and Kate on his Twitter. They all appear to be having a good laugh together:

@eliodirupo Twitter

Later today the royals will be in Mons where they will be joined by Prince Harry. 12:30pm EST and 5:30pm London time will see them at a reception at the Mons Town Hall, and at 2:30pm EST and 7:30pm London time they will close the day at the St. Symphorien Military Cemetery.



I would like to note that tomorrow William and Kate will visit the poppy installation at the Tower of London, "Bloodswept Lands and Seas of Red." Indeed, the ceramic poppies that flow from the Tower into the dry moat are very reminiscent of blood as they pay tribute to the thousands upon thousands of lost lives from that tragic war. As you know, the entire tradition of poppies was born in Flanders--a region of Belgium--when a Canadian penned, In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow, between the crosses row by row...  I think the continuity of today's and tomorrow's events quite lovely.

Tower of London Facebook

I will see you this afternoon...

49 comments:

  1. The horizontal piping along the bodice, I am not sure if that is how to describe it, makes it almost look like a little coat over a dress. Very pretty!

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    1. Yes, I agree all the different elements give it a very unusual look. I like it very much. :)

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    2. I didn't really like that. But besides that, she looked nice. However, it's summer. It would have been nice if she just wore a summery dress, like Queen Mathilde did.

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  2. Beautiful Catherine---but much more. I wondered at the ease with which she conversed with President Hollsnde--always drawing Prince William into the conversation. The Prince's speech was excellent.
    Loved to see the curtseys and the kissing when they met the King and Queen-the King kissed Catherine's hand.
    However that really is all incidental---the ceremony and those it remembered was the important thing.
    Wondered about the language being spoken, as there was a great deal of gesticulation

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    1. Perhaps she was practicing her French with him. :)

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  3. I had a good laugh about the photo where the 4 royals are standing next to each other, the 2 younger one body language is quite telling, unfortunate, ridiculous I must say. As for her outfit nothing which we have not seen zillion times before. Love the hat though.

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    1. Aren't they the cutest, though? Interesting to see how couples have matching body language. William and Kate always do the clasped hand thing. :) I have to say, though, I actually think this coat is rather unusual in design, which makes it even more special on this special day. Certainly agree on the hat. :) Thanks for weighing in!

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    2. You are a peach, you know that:) But what I meant is this clasped hands reflect insecurity, shut the whole world out type of things, just amazing how these two cant get used to public events. They look timid, almost afraid, William sometimes has the look the gives me a scare:::))))) But it is only me, it just feels strange to see them like this.

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    3. Clasped hands? That's what is being criticized? Wow. Other pictures their hands are at their sides. What does that body language convey? Someone else commented about Kate's slouched posture which I simply do not see. Perhaps I looking at different photos.

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    4. I don't get the clasped hand criticism either. Seems excessively picky to me. If you look at photos of Prince Philip, the Queen, Prince Charles and on and on, they often clasp their hands either in front or behind them. Maybe it's a British royal family thing. I don't see anything insecure about it at all. In fact, I thought they looked every bit as relaxed and regal as the King and Queen. And, I thought William's speech was marvelous and showed his confidence. Great day all around! Thank you for the thorough review, Jane, as always!

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    5. Thank you, Anon 8:24. I hope so. ;)
      Here is what i think of the hand clasping in this particular and in general. For this event there is a difference between the two. Age, positions, experience. If at any time William and Kate seemed a little less sure on their royal feet or a little less on the ball, it would not be shocking. Their hosts were a king and a queen--so proceeding them in rank. AND, they look to have a few years on Wills and Kate, too. Whatever time takes from you, she usually gifts in return increasing confidence and comfort in yourself--a more deeply rooted self-assurance. I do not shtik that reflects poorly on William and Kate who impressively represented the Queen and Commonwealth.

      As to the hand clasping in general--to me it is like Kate's hair being up or down. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. They need to learn when posing for pictures to do just that...strike a pose. That is harder than it sounds. Hopefully they will learn, frankly, I am sure they will. Then, other times i think it is fine. Most of the time I think it looks fine and they do it for a valid reason, which is also fine.

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  4. Hi Jane,

    Thanks for such a wonderful post! I find it so sad that after 2 World Wars, which killed millions, destroyed historical landmarks and forever changed our world, that we as human beings continue the fighting. I truly hope and pray that one day we will finally learn from the past and stop making the same mistakes. The few pictures I've seen of the poppy installation at the Tower in London are so haunting but beautiful. I think it's wonderful that William and Kate, as representatives of the younger generation, attended this event. I think for people my age and younger, the World Wars are just events that we've read in history books or seen in movies. It's good for all of us to be reminded of these events and strive never to repeat them.

    Now on to fashion, I really like this look on Kate, with a few, small exceptions. Peter Pan collars on adults drive me crazy, why would an adult woman want to dress like a 3 year old? Also, I am not a fan of how Kate wears her coats, closed at the neck, it's too severe for me. The only other comment I have is the same as Anonymous, why do William and Kate clasp their hands in front?? It brings their shoulders forward giving them a hunched look. My first impression of them standing with the King and Queen, was of two little kids posing with the adults, a little unsure of their place.

    On the whole however, I liked Kate's look today. She always looks lovely in cream colors and the has was wonderful. Also, I thought Queen Mathlide looked beautiful today. She can be somewhat of a fashion risk taker and sometimes that doesn't work for her, but today she looked marvelous.

    Can't wait to see the evening reception pictures!!!

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    1. Agreed Lauri, two naughty kids having a bad day look! :)

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  5. I admit to ignorance--just what is the primary language spoken in Belgium? Best guess: French, but I am willing to stand corrected. If Kate and President Hollande had to resort to gestures, and I don't know that they did, might it not hammer home the notion that George needs to be raised with skill in languages?--something which seems to have been missing in Wills education. Maria Teresa could come in handy re Spanish, and from there, its just a mini-hop into French. Facility in English, Spanish and French would go a long way in North, Central and South America, as well as France, Spain and many other European countries, whose natives can usually converse in at least one of the three. Ditto the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand. Takes care of every continent excepting Antarctica (penguinese anyone?) and Asia--so use a translator, if needed.

    Got off on a language riff--retired teachers sometimes do. But I am very inclined to approve of a Spanish-speakig, Norland-trained nanny for George. ENUF.

    I was happy to see Kate in a new dress coat today, and I liked her hat. However, there is something about the dress, something which strikes me as not-quite-finished, which leads me to believe that it is a Wickstead, not a McQueen, creation. Having said that, Queen Mathilde is known for her exquisite taste in clothes and, given their disparity in royal position--Kate is two steps below, and two rungs below in clothing income--I thought Kate did extraordinarily well, aided by her enviable physical figure and relative youth. Vis-a-vis Mathilde and Kate, I would call it a tie, and hats off to Kate for pulling it off.

    Regarding the significance of the day, another big hats off--had I not been a Kate follower, I would not have known that August 4,1914 was regarded as the start of WW1, which led to WW2, and the death of members of my own extended Canadian family. I hope that WW3 will never occur, and that my government will expend both diplomatic effort and money into deterrence. To hell with killing the best of our youth.

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    1. The 3 official languages of Belgium are: Dutch, French and German.

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    2. Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip are both fluent in French. I would think that at least French would be an obvious requirement in a royal's education--and for those closely in line to the throne--
      International Relations.

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  6. When I first saw pictures of Kate this morning I saw only from the waist-up. When looking at the coat like that you think it would have either a straight or A-line bottom-half that is simple like the top. Then when I saw a full length photo, I was shocked it had the pleating. I thought it looked like two separate halves that had been put together. Reminds me something Camilla would wear.

    I like it from the waist-up and from the waist-down, but I'm not a fan of the two halves together.

    Absolutely GORGEOUS hat though!! And of course she looks beautiful as always!

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  7. The color is wonderful and the only complaint I have is the Peter Pan collar (I personally DETEST those things! lol).

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    1. I agree on the peter pan collar. It makes her look like a school girl. Charlotte from Italy

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    2. Apparently, from what other posters elsewhere are saying, Peter Pan collars are being put on a lot of fashions --for grown women! I always associate those collars with baby clothes!

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  8. A very nice ceremony to reflect on a sad time in history. Kate and William looked confidant and respectful as they represented the UK. William's speech was endearing and thoughtful; I liked the way he emphasized how they once were enemies, but now are friends and allies. The pictures from the Tower are stunning. Wow!

    Kate looked radiant today! Her hat was magnificent and I think she chose a lovely neutral color that works well with her coloring. I agree, Jane, it's a lovely choice and the hat gives it a pop of color. My only complaint is that I am so tired of Kate's shoes. I would love to see Kate step out of her comfort zone in this area. Thanks, Jane! Great post, as usual.

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    1. RT--I understand that Kate was going to be on her feet all day (and so she was!) And that the sledges are as comfortable as slippers--despite their great height! So that--and their go-with-everything neutral color--is why she wears them so often!

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  9. It's pretty, but all the pleating looks a bit odd.

    I know you disagree, but again, I think she's pregnant! I'm just going by fellow-mom instinct. You just know how you would dress to hide the early stages and you recognize it in other women (especially since you "pop" much sooner in subsequent pregnancies). Looser tops, higher waists, bottoms with a bit more volume. Her face is definitely fuller as well.

    She would also know to take Zofran - or whatever she took for the nausea - much sooner this time and avoid the hospital instead of toughing it out like she did with George.

    Here's hoping I'm right and there's an announcement soon!

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    1. One pictures shows her holding a champagne flute, so unless she teasing us all, I suspect she is not pregnant. Love the coat. Is it chilly in Belgium? When I first saw it I thought it was separates, but then saw the zipper/button placket down the front of the skirt. Read that it is McQueen which she always wears very well and the things she has from that brand is sooooo much better than the bizarre runway things they produce. Queen Mathilde looked very lovely as well. Both were very appropriately dressed although Kate's coats in the summer do look a little odd. Perhaps she wears them because the heavier material should help prevent the wind from causing fashion problems.

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    2. Looks like it could be a water glass to me. You can also hold a glass so people won't comment on you NOT drinking, but never actually take sips. Wouldn't call it "teasing", more like just buying herself more time before everyone's going nuts over the baby (especially since everyone found out so early last time). I could be wrong, I just think she's changed her wardrobe enough that it could be possible. Also does seem like her lower stomach protrudes a bit more than her chest in some of these pics. Unusual for her.

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  10. Hi Jane,

    Do you know the curtsey protocol? For instance, Kate curtseyed to the King and Queen this morning, would she need to repeat that this evening? I remember when she curtseyed to the Queen and Prince Phillip at George's christianing, it was a cute little bob followed by a kiss on both cheeks, very sweet!

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    1. She did repeat it this evening as did William and Harry. She and the Queen also kissed each other again.

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    2. Hi Lauri: As Maggie says, it was repeated tonight. I think I posted a photo on the Facebook page of her curtsying to King Philipe if you would like to see. I love how her curtsy to the Queen is both respectful and affectionate. :)

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    3. I belueve the protocol is a curtsy upon meeting then a curtsy upon saying goodbye (or, if it's a several days visit, upon saying goodnight). That way you're not bobbing up and down all day long as you encounter each other--which can be hard on the knees!

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  11. I love this look on kate she always shines on these special occasions!

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    1. Yes! She certainly puts her mind to the task and wows. The Queen and the UK can be proud. :)

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  12. Hi. I don't think we can be able to tell if she's pregnant or not only by a dress or a coat or a look. If you suffer from serious nausea you can very well loose weight in the first 3 to 4 months. But she wouldn't be able to be out and about, and on heels, in that case. Her son is only 1, so it is very soon.
    I must say I don't envy her at all. I am pregnant now and I don't like people looking at me, asking, intruding, even when it is done out of affection.
    Charlotte from Italy

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    1. I could not say, although there are proponents on both sides of the debate.

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  13. Thank you so much, Jane, for your post. It was such a great and important event today!
    To make this short: I love today's outfit from head to toe, even the collar which seems not to be much appreciated here ;-). The horizontal seam is extraordinary and I'm not sure if I like it or not. But nothing to complain about. It was a stunning appearance!
    Mathilde also looked beautiful today. She's simpatico! It's notable how different Kate's and Mathilde's figures are.
    I had to smile about Kate's and William's body language at the welcome and the comments about it.You're all right - lol! It seems they have to tidy their hands to feel comfortable. That's why Angela Merkel puts her hands into a lozenge shape.

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    1. They always stand like that. I laughed about it when they posed for pictures at the Blue Mountains and it was the same today at the poppy installation. :) One of these days...
      I agree, Mathilde is a lovely woman. Her hat was fantastic!

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  14. Could anyone tell me what time William, Kate and Harry will be at the Tower of London tomorrow at all please?

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    1. Sorry, I am entirely too late to the party on this question. Hope you found the answer elsewhere before the event!

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  15. This is lovely! I was rather surprised at myself for liking this collar - I usually wouldn't! But today it has a finishing quality that I like very much. In addition, at first I thought the deep nude color of the hat was too off from the coat's cream color, but when I saw her clutch and shoes, I had the "Aha!" moment where it all tied together. I LOVE it now, from top to bottom and bottom to top! Perfection! Thanks so much for the post, Jane. By reading your other blog as well, I know you're en route to France any day now, so it must be tough to blog in addition to getting ready for that. Thanks for putting in the time, even if you don't have much of it to spare!! ~Katie :)

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    1. What other blog??

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    2. Her personal blog - you can find the link on the left side of the page. Champagne and le chameau! :) ~Katie

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    3. Hey Katie! I am glad we agree. I am pretty obsessed by how well the entire outfit fit together yesterday. So, so beautiful!

      Thanks for keeping up with CC! I am definitely down to the wire trying to get organized and packed and everything done. Packing is the worst! :)

      Thanks for your lovely comments here and there! xoxo, Jane

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  16. Hi, Jane and Fellow Readers,

    I feel very sad today thinking of all the lives lost but I'm glad that tributes are being paid around the world. As a Canadian, I'm very sad that my nation "grew up" as a result of The Somme, Ypres and so many other WW1 battles. I wish the maturation could have come some other way. The famous poem, "In Flanders Fields" by a Canadian field surgeon, Dr. John McCrae, who was killed shortly after he wrote it, sums up what the War meant to my country. Please look it up if you don't know it. It's haunting and beautiful.

    I'm so glad that William and Catherine attended. I'm in the minority in saying I didn't like her fashion choices today. She looked lovely but I feel the coat dress was too girly-a "blah" colour, Peter Pan collar, drop waist, puffy skirt. I thought the hat was pretty but none of it was solemn enough for this occasion. It looked like an ensemble better suited for a friend's wedding.

    I thought Queen Mathilde looked beautiful-nothing was fussy about her ensemble. I wish Kate could take a page from her book-a richer colour, more pared down tailoring and a different shape/colour of hat would have been more suitable.

    I'm not "Kate hating". Whatever she wears, it's apparent that she cares and is participating in an appropriate and supportive way.

    Thanks for letting me express my opinion.

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    1. Hi there! Thank you for commenting! Polite disagreement is certainly welcome!
      It was an edgy look, in that it was a risk, so I am not surprised that it did not receive universal accolades. I think it was something that strongly divided people: you loved it, or you kind of really, really didn't. :)

      I agree on the Flanders Field, though. A must read. May we never forget...

      Hope you can back and comment again! ;)

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  17. I loved Kate's outfit from head to toe. I thought it was occasion appropriate, age appropriate and body-type appropriate. It was so refreshing to see a coat with such unique styling. I thought Queen Mathilde needed a better bra under her dress. That area does not look nice and smooth in the pictures. Also, I thought she needed a little more "something" at the top part of her dress. Perhaps the V neck was too low or a bra that would have given her a little more shape and lifted the "girls" up a bit. She looked a little bottom heavy to me. I have an opposite opinion to some about the picture of the four of them. I think the King and Queen looked awkward with their arms just hanging at their sides. I thought Kate and William did not look awkward at all. Just my opinions. I am bummed they will be taking time off in August. I do enjoy these little "fashion shows"! Thank you for a wonder post. -Joan M.

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    1. I, too, am disappointed at the looming dry spell, but we still get something, or at least a candid. I guess we all need time off. :)
      I do appreciate your reflection about age. I think Kate's choose was youthful...which she is, and I like her to remind us of that sometimes. It was awesome. xoxo, Jane

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  18. @ Catharina, Thank you for your reply. Here in Canada we have two official languages, English and French. My children speak both.

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  19. the hand clasping in front of her is a huge pet peeve of mine ....I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels that way too, it just makes her look like a school girl or something she needs to keep her hands to her sides, plz!

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    1. There rare times when it looks very stilted--mostly when they both do it together, but I don't mind Kate's hands in front with her clutch routine. Time will change them, I think.

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