Every year on Remembrance Sunday, the royals gather at Whitehall's Cenotaph for a ceremony paying tribute to Britain's fallen. It is a solemn and moving morning that focuses the nation on the debt that has been paid and should be acknowledged. Kate has gone every year since her marriage, and barring some extenuating circumstance, we can expect to continue to see her on the balcony of the Foreign Office in all the years to come. This year, the Duchess was joined by another royal. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands took her place next to Kate and Sophie, Countess of Wessex this morning.
You might well wonder what brought the fashionable royal to this morning's event. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima were invited to take part in the Remembrance Sunday events to mark the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. Willem joined the Queen on the street in front of the Cenotaph to lay a wreath, and Maxima stood with the spouses.
Some of you follow other European royals, but for those who do not, Queen Máxima has a real flair for fashion. Máxima is a relatively new Queen. Her mother-in-law Queen Beatrix abdicated the throne in 2013, which set off a flurry of mis-placed speculation about whether Queen Elizabeth II would abdicate. Not many considered that abdication has been a bit of a tradition in the Netherlands, but certainly that has never been the case in Britain.
Back to Máxima--she loves bold colors and big hats and I always notice news stories about her. I really enjoy her style. She is Argentinian, and I think that inspires her style.
My first thought was that it must have been a little daunting for Máxima to attend an event next to the royal world's fashion cover girl, but I think it had to have been equally, if not more daunting, for Kate to think through her ensemble to stand next to Máxima with her very strong personal style.
Both women stuck to their style and looked equally appropriate. I am so pleased that Kate had her hair pushed off her shoulders so we could see this beautiful coat.
Perhaps in the wake of last year's light snafu with the similar McQueen coats, Kate didn't take any chances this year, and opted for a bespoke piece from McQueen and a brand new hat. This coat is clearly inspired by pieces in the current collection:
The wool coat features color-blocking to create a "patchwork" pattern and is trimmed in velvet. McQueen's tell-tale tight tailoring is evident and fits Kate like a glove. I love, love, this coat! It is fresh and modern and so interesting.
The designer of the Duchess's new hat has not been confirmed, but I think it is Jane Corbett. It has similar structure to several of her past pieces. If it isn't JC, it is likely Jane Taylor, who also has a few pieces that could be cousins, and the beading on the butterfly is in keeping with her style. My money would be on Jane Corbett. This hat is even more interesting with the addition of the netting. Kate doesn't usually wear bird-cage, but it pops up every now and again. I don't love the butterfly design, but otherwise I like this hat. Kate seems to have a range of millinery style since getting married and this is closer to the bolder side of the spectrum, which I always encourage.
Kate was wearing her Annoushka Baroque Pearl Drops and carrying her Bayswater clutch from Mulberry. This was a really stellar ensemble. I loved it.
As Britain and the Commonwealth mark another Remembrance Sunday, and the United States pays tribute to her fallen this weekend, I wanted to share this beautiful arrangement of Pie Jesu from John Rutter's Requiem.
Laurence Binyon composed his best known poem while sitting on the cliff-top looking out to sea from the dramatic scenery of the north Cornish coastline...The poem was written in mid September 1914, a few weeks after the outbreak of the First World War...Laurence said in 1939 that the four lines of the fourth stanza came to him first. These words of the fourth stanza have become especially familiar and famous, having been adopted by the Royal British Legion as an Exhortation for ceremonies of Remembrance to commemorate fallen Servicemen and women.
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.