A busy day for The Duchess of Cambridge. In a white and blue ensemble, Kate brightened up the overcast weather in Portsmouth this afternoon as she made her first appearance since Mustique in support of Ben Ainslie and The 1851 Trust, of which she is also patron. In the morning, Kate was in Whiteley on a private visit to Ainslie's offices to hear all about his new yachts.
Kate's first stop was the construction site of the initiative's new hub. Waiting for her was this mural, painted by pupils from local schools, in addition to some 70 youngsters excited to see the Princess.
I love shots of the waiting photographers with their high-powered cameras! This snap shared by royal photographer Mark Stewart.
After greeting her hosts and some of the students, Kate added finishing touches to one of the sail boats, providing the white detailing you see here: (I have to admit I haven't the faintest notion what that might be...)
And, as you can see from her finished product below, some red striping to the sails...all without getting any on her beautiful Max Mara coat! Richard Palmer reported that Kate told students that Prince George loves to paint, and the two were painting together just yesterday.
As mentioned, the mural was at the construction site of what will be Ainslie's new racing hub. Press Association, via the Daily Mail, reports:
The headquarters of Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR), which was granted £7.5 million of Government funding, will initially employ 90 people and act as a focal point for the design, construction and development of the team's boats for the America's Cup as well as provide a visitor centre showcasing the sport.
Kate graciously undertook an impromptu walkabout before joining more students and guests waiting for her at the Spinnaker Tower, a 170 meter building designed to look like a billowing sail. A Spinnaker sail is a particular kind that balloons in front of a boat, catching wind blowing at a 90°-180° angle off the bow. As a girl with sailing background, I am sure Kate very much appreciated the clever architecture.
Portsmouth is a British town with lots of fun history. King John established it as a naval base because of its advantageous proximity to France. John had his eye on Normandy, and while Henry III and Edward I used the port as a launching point to attack France on multiple occasions, the French got a bit of their own back a few reigns later when a French raiding party torched the town almost entirely to the ground. You can easily see why there is such warmth between the two nations. France continued to raid and harass the port until Henry V--that glamazon of the 100 Years War-- began permanent fortifications. Henry VIII established his Royal Navy in Portsmouth and then my knowledge in history ambles across the Channel to Versailles for a couple hundred years. My interest picks back up again with Nelson and Wellington, but I haven't finished the bio I am reading on that period, so further fun facts on Portsmouth must wait until the next time Kate visits...and I have finished my book.
So much for sailing and history; let's jump into the fashion. Kate tapped Max Mara and debuted the 100% wool Villar, featuring a fitted bodice and flattering flare. The belted coat was £580 and is currently reduced to £345.
|House of Fraser|
This coat is marching in lock-step with the successful Séraphine from last month. I absolutely love it. I think Kate's tan, enhanced right now thanks to two weeks in Mustqiue, always looks fantastic paired with whites and creams.
It is so very similar to the Emilia Wickstead Kate has worn twice to St. Patrick's Day. This is a style that really works well for Kate when not pregnant, and now we find it works exceptionally well in the maternity department, too.
Looks like boys are being boys in this shot below. I can see Kate giving George this face...
As has been widely reported, Kate is not the first royal to wear this coat. Her cousin, Princess Eugenie, wore it on Christmas morning at Sandringham and looked absolutely lovely. I remember thinking I wouldn't mind Kate in that coat...voila. Kate does seem to like to take inspiration from her relatives. As we have discussed, Zara Phillips favored Madderson while pregnant with Mia, and Kate had a very successful appearance in their Naomi dress.
Inside the Spinnaker Tower, Kate took off her coat. In the past, Kate has almost always left her coat on, but just recently, we have seen her start to take it off more often. Today, she revealed a Somerset by Alice Temperley dress underneath, with a very appropriate sail-boat motif.
|via Emily Nash|
The dress is very much in the shift style Kate favors while pregnant, and I found the dress particularly flattering. It was only £99 and available in all sizes this morning when it was IDed, (remarkably, from just the smallest peak by the talented @LiveLoveLaughvr) but quickly sold-out entirely. Kate rules the fashion faves!
[I am going to amend this: after looking at hi-quaility photos, the pattern of the dress is such and the sky is sufficiently overcast, that next to the dark navy of her accessories, I think she got away with the color clash...because it didn't clash. On a purely conceptual level, I don't like these colors together, but in practice, today I wouldn't have noticed.] The minor "but" I would inject here is that again, Kate mixed her blue and black in a way I don't love. Her arrival ensemble, if we can split the outfit in two, was white and navy. She accessorized with her Georgia pumps from Jimmy Choo, her Frome clutch from LK Bennet, and her sapphire and diamond drops. It was nautical perfection, and echoed the summer ensemble she put together for her first appearance for the America's Cup initiative:
Once inside, though, and we were dealing with a black dress, the shoes didn't quite match. Is this nitpicking? Yes. And I would rather have the blue with the white, to the detriment of the dress later in the engagement, but I mention it as the only issue with a flawless appearance. It was a fun day, and I am sure Kate has plenty to tell William tonight. Below, she uses a simulator to virtually look over one of the yachts:
As always, George made off with plenty of gifts, including this BAR shirt from Ben Ainslie, which Kate was pictured holding with her clutch. An excited fan snapped this photo of the moment:
Kate has already had a busy week. She made a private visit to a hospital that caters to disabled children, and followed that up the next day by hosting an afternoon tea reception at Kensington Palace to meet with professionals in palliative care. Both events were private. We will see her again shortly, as she has a busy day of engagements on the 18th!
Post will updated with more pictures...