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Walk Through the World With Me: William & Kate's 5th Wedding Anniversary

Friday, April 29, 2016

In 1969 Petula Clark and the charming Peter O'Toole appeared in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." One of the many beautiful songs in that film was called Walk Through the World With Me. Watching William and Kate hike to Tiger's Nest earlier this month got me thinking about their hand-holding and today, as we celebrate their 5th anniversary, the lyrics seems especially applicable to William and Kate: Walk through the world with me, and you will see how happy life can be...hand in hand, together for eternity. This duo has covered the globe in the past five years, often hand in hand.

William said that he was torn about asking Kate first or Michael first, but settled on proposing to Kate. The prince famously popped the question to his girlfriend while on vacation in Kenya, but shortly after their return William invited Michael and Carole to Birkhall, Prince Charles' Balmoral Estate. During this intimate shooting weekend away, William asked Michael Middleton for Kate's hand in marriage. Although William claims he was worried Michael would say no, I think it is pretty clear that every single party involved was absolutely thrilled by the secret proposal. Five months after William asked Michael for Kate's hand, in the proverbial sense, Mr. Middleton delivered in a poignant moment at the foot of Westminster Abbey's altar.

The custom of asking the bride's father for her hand is an old one, which increasingly has been left at the wayside, but William maintained the tradition and more than many couples, it seemed particularly appropriate. Once William took Kate's hand that morning, it seems the two haven't let go. 

The morning after the Royal Wedding, the couple strolled across the green lawn of Buckingham Palace. They had spent the night at Buckingham Palace after their private reception and were making their way to a waiting helicopter. Usually reticent with the press, the newlyweds were happy to put their joy on display for all to see.

There were only a few paparazzi shots of the couple's super-secret and jealously guarded honeymoon in the Seychelles, but the one that did emerge pictured the couple hand-in-hand walking the beach. 

The two spent a weekend in Scotland, where their royal romance first began, to attend cousin Zara's wedding. The newlyweds took a break in Holyrood Park in what was to be the first of many vacation walks we would witness. 

Photos of their happy stroll along the pebbled beaches near their Anglesey home remain favorites for many:

In 2012, the pair travelled to Southeast Asia where they were hoisted high into the canopy of the rainforest, holding tightly to one another so as not to drift off.

Sport games are often frustrating for fashionistas because we don't get a great look at the clothes and the overall view of the royals is often partially obstructed. The balance to that drawback is the relaxed nature of the event usually highlights sweet moments, such as this one from the 2012 London Olympics:

It was Christmas in 2013 that the Duke & Duchess first walked hand-in-hand to the Christmas morning service. It was an evolution not in their relationship, as we have seen, but in their comfort level with the press. The necessary discretion of their dating days was starting to fall away.

When the couple flew to another hemisphere in 2014, they were pictured walking the grounds of Government House in Canberra:

Toward the end of that year, in what appeared to be a more contemplative moment, they watched the Commonwealth Games in Scotland together:

Who can forget their stunning moment at the head of the steps of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City?

It was just a few short weeks later they were at Sandringham once again for their family Christmas gathering. That was a special year as it was the first time that the Middletons joined the royals for this major holiday. Kate's family stayed at Anmer Hall and were present at the Sunday morning service.

The couple marked a milestone on May 2, 2015 when they introduced their daughter Charlotte to the waiting press and to the world on the steps of the Lindo Wing:

Most recently, the couple travelled to India and Bhutan, during which they spent several hours hiking to a historic monastery nestled high in the mountains.

Throughout the years, their joy in each other has been readily apparent to even the most jaded observer. Their penchant for hand-holding is a delightful outward symbol of their unity and the strength of what appears to be a remarkable romance. It has been five years since William and Kate joined hands to walk through the world together and it has been a wonderful, wonderful journey thus far.

The two are celebrating privately this year, and having just finished their tour of India and Bhutan, they have a lot of memories to reflect on both from this year and the past five!  

If you haven't seen last years's post Love Is In The Air, be sure to pop over and OD a little on the pictures. I have had this scene from the Royal Wedding on replay most of the day. The ceremony remains as magnificent, soul-moving, and visually arresting as it was at 3am five years ago!

Wishing you all a very Happy Royal Wedding Anniversary Day and a celebration that continues into this weekend! I am having champagne tonight; I hope you do, too. ;) 

[ID Update] Kate, William, and Harry Launch "Heads Together" Mental Health Campaign

Sunday, April 24, 2016

For many months now Kate has been focusing her charitable work on mental health causes. She spent the majority of the fall of 2015 spotlighting charities, a number of which she is not even officially patron, and she moved into 2016 strongly emphasizing this cause. In March of this year, Roya Nikkah reported in the London Times that William, Kate, and Harry would be launching their largest joint-initiative to-date focusing on Mental Health. Kensington Palace has officially kicked off the project this morning as they released a video announcing "Let's Get Our Heads Together."

via Kensington Palace
The Heads Together Campaign has been selected as the 2017 London Marathon Charity of the Year and three royals will partner with numerous other charities already working in the field to end the stigma attached to mental health. According to Roya's report in March, each of the royals will tackle a certain aspect of mental health. Harry will continue to work with veterans and service members, William with young men, and Kate with children.

Not surprisingly, Place2Be is heavily involved. Although Kate's sharp focus on mental health only developed in the last year, through Place2Be, she has been involved with early development, bullying, and mental issue for some years. Place2Be is the ideal charity to take a leadership role with Kate on this project.

This launch is timed to real perfection. William and Kate generated so much excitement and good will while in India and they are aren't letting that momentum die now they are back in the UK. I know many worried that the couple would disappear for a month or so as they have in the past after a big tour, but this seems to show a turning point for the young royals as they haven't skipped a beat since coming back.

Kate turned to her favorite combo of skinnies and Breton top for this video. The top appears to be new and I will have to Google around a bit to put a tag on that. She is wearing her Lauren leaf earrings from Kiki McDonough that are quickly becoming her go-to pieces for casual occasions. 

They are only visible for a hot second, but she is wearing neutral wedges. She has several similar pairs in her closet, but I think these could be new. 

We've seen this combo before, but I still love it and it is sure to spark a number of new Breton top purchases. You know, because the five you already have aren't enough. ;) As soon as I have an ID I will update, but this is a lovely addition to her Breton collection. It is a little more sophisticated than some of her others, because the fabric looks more substantial and the stripes are thicker. I also really like Breton tops where the stripes stop along the shoulders, which gives it a more polished look. This is her best Breton top to-date. Hopefully I will have an ID for you all soon. Carly at Kate Middleton Style IDed the top as a Jaeger piece, which is regrettably sold out right now. There is disagreement on whether this is correct.

This top is in a luxurious cashmere, which would explain why Kate's's has a soft look. I think it could be this Jaeger, although the stripes don't look the exact same width. Time will tell. I'll keep you updated. It is available in an alternate color scheme at Jaeger's outlet here.  [Update] Sometimes Kate really takes us on a bit of joyride, and today was one of those days. But, the sweater was finally IDed at J.Crew Tippi Sweater with Shoulder Buttons.

You can see the buttons just a bit when Kate throws her head back in these two screen shots:

I don't usually do this, because if I bought every item Kate has worn that is still available when IDed, I'd be broke, but...I definitely bought this. You can find the sweater here. It is on final sale! It is always exciting when Kate wears J.Crew.


P.S. speaking of new shoes, Amanda has pulled together a great selection of repliKates of Kate's shoes from India! if you loved her scrappy heels, unusual flats, or new collection of pointy heels, you need to pop over to Amanda's post here

Kate Gives Peek Into Kensington Palace During Obama Dinner Party

Friday, April 22, 2016

William, Kate, and Harry hosted the Obamas at their Kensington Palace home tonight. Certainly, everyone wanted a picture of what Kate was wearing, but we got far more than anyone had hoped. The Cambridges gave us our first proper peek into their London sanctuary, and several sweet snaps of the most popular little prince on the planet in his robe and slippers!  

The royal trio met the President and his wife in the courtyard where they briefly posed for pictures despite the rain. Then the party moved inside, where Prince George (and we think Princess Charlotte) were waiting to meet the American guests.

To me, the most exciting aspect of this event was to see the inside of William and Kate's private home. Having followed many varied reports over the years about Kate's taste in décor, I was expecting a mix of traditional and contemporary, which happily is exactly what it turned out to be. The room is classic and gracious, but also trendy. Absolutely what we'd expect from the Duchess.

I have already heard from several of you expressing surprise at how busy the room is, but really this is a very modern twist and relatively low-key. Certainly, she has a beautiful selection of ornate 17th and 18th century pieces, including the chairs, several of her large side tables, and of course the huge paintings and assorted chinoiserie-style vases. I love all of this. To indulge those of us whose hearts beat faster around furniture, some close ups. The table by the piano: (Notice the snap of the young William at the height of his heartthrob days?)

The side-table by the rocking horse looks like the top folds out, and the inlay detail is exquisite:

The large table on the far side of the room probably has a marble top--it is hard to see with the glow of the lamp--but those usually do. I know what you are thinking, did I just stumble off of Jane's blog and onto the Antiques Roadshow's website? You did not; stick with me.

These are just a  few of the classic pieces Kate has, but they are contrasted with the modern coffee tables, the simple book case at the far end of the room, and a host of other modifying touches. Perhaps because the modern elements are muted, they don't jump out, but if you cast your gaze around the room you will see them. The walls are plain with no elaborate papering, the couches are creamy and understated, and the color palette in the room is neutral, relying on the chairs and pillows to add a bright pop. The glow from the many lamps injects warmth and gold into the environment, but it is a far cry from the more ornate styles of the major British homes featured in lavish magazine spreads. This room has flavors of Downton Abbey, but it is a thoroughly 2016 interpretation.

In some respect, we know the room was obviously staged, and this is just one of many rooms in Apartment 1A, but it is still an authentic tip of the hat to Kate's taste. You know that old story that the French judge you by the contents of your bookshelf? Well, in this case it is interesting to look around at the photos that Kate has chosen to display. On the piano is a trio of framed photographs. I am straining my memory to remember when the photo of Kate was taken. I think she is in her mid-20s, but it is just a bit too fuzzy to make out. It seems to the left is a picture of William seemingly in country apparel, and on the far left that seems to be a picture of four people in a Middle Eastern locale. I could be wrong, but it almost looks like pyramids behind them? This is the most intriguing photo to me. Is this a Middleton family photo? Is it from the time Kate's family spent in Jordan? Or is it a more recent trip the family has taken?

I love that Kate has chosen that picture of William which graced the cover of People when William started at St. Andrews. His tussled locks and big blue eyes had earned him "most eligible bachelor" status and it is cute to think that Kate probably looks at that picture and remembers way back in the day when she was one of many girls peeking at People and now that handsome boy is her prince.

The Cambridges had thoughtfully displayed the toy rocking chair that the President and First Lady sent to George when he was born, as well as a stuffed animal that I think is supposed to be Bo, Obama's dog. They didn't let those objects sit by idly. Prince George joined the party to be introduced to the President. His monogrammed robe and little slippers sent Twitter into an absolute meltdown of excitement. 

Kensington Palace 

This was certainly something of a photoshoot for President Obama and for Prince George. Pictures of the future king meeting the out-going President of the United States will make a few history books. Nevertheless, there were some natural moments, including my favorite moment captured during the course of the evening: Prince George's sweet smile during this quiet exchange with his mother. 

Kate was wearing another dress from L.K. Bennett, continuing her trend toward midi-length dresses in silky silhouettes. This is the Addison and is a lot like the Madison she wore to dinner on a private date with William last year. I don't love it. The print reminds me of the prints that were popular when I was in early high-school. Not all throwbacks are great. 

This was a relatively casual affair, but Kate Ritzed it up a little by wearing her tanzanite and diamond pendants first debuted at the Afghanistan service last year. This set was welcomed by mixed reviews at the time, but I like it very much and I think it worked with this ensemble. The blues matched the colors of her dress and it dressed up the ensemble for an evening that, although ostensibly casual, was certainly a high-profile event.

The verdict is so-so. I just don't really like this dress. I like the silhouette, I like the motion the dress has and the diaphanous sleeves. In so many ways it was a great look for an elegant dinner party with the President. The midi-length in particular was good, since hostesses have the prerogative to wear long for evening parties, so I liked that touch. Regrettably, the print is just killing me. In other respects, it was a huge win. Seeing inside  KP was a thrill for this décor enthusiast (sorry for all those zoom in shots!) and getting to see Prince George in his nighties was too precious! Is this Prince George's first official engagement? I think it might be. 

Kate doens't have anything on her calendar right now, but we should be seeing her soon since these next few months are busy ones for the royals. Although she will doubtless take some time in Norfolk to rest after the tour, she will want to get in some charity work before we move toward mid-summer when royal events begin to slow. She will be marking her 5th wedding anniversary next week, and shortly thereafter celebrating Princess Charlotte's first birthday. 

The Queen's 90th Birthday Party

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Today, Her Majesty, the Royal Family, and the entire Commonwealth celebrated the Queen's 90th birthday. It is an impressive milestone and it touchingly marked via a number of family centered photos and special tv programs, in addition to a host of live events which you may have followed in the UK. Among the various released photos was this shot of the Queen with her great-grandchildren and two youngest grandchildren taken by Annie Leibovitz.

Obviously, some of the excitement of this picture focused on the two little Cmabridges. Princess Charlotte got pride of place sitting in the lap of the Queen, which according to the picture byline is a royal tradition, while the future little king stood close by. I will just jump out and admit I was disappointed in this photo. I appreciate the stylistic elements--the juxtaposition of the colors of the room and the colors of the figures, and contrast of the grand surroundings of the Green Drawing Room at Windsor with the relaxed ensembles and artsy stances of the children, and I of course acknowledge the sweet, human aspect of the happy Queen surrounded by her grandchildren...but. I thought it was too much. Really, I think it was the color contrast that bothers me. 

I love how George has maintained his thoughtful intensity. It has been his trademark from his infancy--that first unimpressed look he gave the rainy Wellington tarmac--and I absolutely love it. He seems very observant and intelligent. The little prince is a little more bubbly, although no less cherubic, in the postage stamps released to commemorate the Queen's birthday, which feature four generations of the monarchy:

This photo looks a little odd until you see the way the Royal Mail portioned it to work for individual stamps:

The Telegraph ran a fascinating piece after chatting with the photographer Ronald Mackechnie. In the piece he described working with Prince George:
He was absolutely charming, as you can see from the picture. You only have a short window of opportunity with small children, but Prince George was on good form and everyone seemed to enjoy seeing him enjoy the day. He was fascinated by my lights and all the kit, and he was quite happy standing on the blocks. I took maybe 80 or 100 shots, but when I saw this one I knew straight away that was it.
Getting the positioning was an arduous task:
Because the picture was going to be turned into stamps on a sheet, each person’s head had to be in exactly the right place. A millimetre the wrong way on the final stamp sheet would have made the perforations too close together, so I had to make sure everyone was spaced the right distance apart.”
He had computer monitors in the room with templates of the final stamp sheet so he could make sure each person’s head fitted into the right frame.
Buckingham Palace had supplied Prince George’s exact height so he could work out how to get his face a similar height to the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge.
The entire article is so interesting and I encourage you to read it here.  The Queen concluded her birthday with a family dinner at Windsor Castle. William, Harry, and Kate were photographed by Niraj Tanna leaving Kensington Palace. Kate is sitting between the two guys, which I find amusing and charming at the same time.

Niraj Tanna
Niraj had a bit of a run-in with royal protection officers who weren't thrilled the photographer was hanging around getting snaps. 

Apparently, he told the protection officers that he wasn't fascinated by the royals, just good at his job. Since Tanna is one of, if not the, foremost royal paparazzo and this would be a night you'd expect to catch a glimpse of the royals on the way to Windsor, it seems  unlikely the PPOs don't know Tanna and a silly question to be asking. Not a good tone to set on what was a such a joyful day. 

In any event, Kate seems to be wearing a green dress, but it has also been suggested that it is black. Some are hoping a few commemorative shots will be released, but since we have had several family shots already, I doubt we will see any photos immediately. More likely they will filter out as the Diplomatic Reception images have, but we shall see! 

See you tomorrow as William and Kate are hosting the President and First Lady for dinner at Kensington Palace. 

Kate & William Visit the Taj Mahal on Final Stop of Tour

Saturday, April 16, 2016

As I mentioned in the last post, this tour was planned with a glittering start (the Bollywood gala) and what was sure to be an iconic finish, with this visit to the Taj Mahal before the royals flew home to London. As the Cambridges are just a few weeks shy of their 5th wedding anniversary, it seemed fitting that they visit one of India's most famous monuments built as an architectural ode to love.

The Taj Mahal is a tomb which was built by the then-Shah in the 17th century for his favorite wife who had died in childbirth. It is a magnificent structure and features breathtaking interior decoration. The theme of powerful rulers building tombs for their beloved wives is not entirely unique. Pharaoh Ramses the Great built a stunning tomb for his wife Queen Neferatari which is considered the "Sistine Chapel" of Egypt. Nefertari's tomb is unusual because the walls were all painted white before the paintings depicting her life were applied and it has remained well preserved over the centuries making it an especially visually striking tomb. The Taj Mahal is above ground, but also known for its fully white exterior.  

This visit, of course, carried some baggage with it, too, thanks to Diana's trip to the Taj Mahal in the 1990s. By now, everyone is familiar with the photo of the princess sitting by herself on the bench projecting sad isolation. The picture of the two on the same bench was sure to be one that would run worldwide, and be placed next to the shot of Diana for decades to come. So, the pressure on this event felt a little higher than usual. The two were clearly mindful of the import these pictures would have and clearly had thought out coordinating ensembles, to perfection I might add.

William and Kate's relationship is thankfully the antithesis of their predecessors and brought a certain closure, I think, to the sadder associations Diana left here. In this video from Rebecca English, Kate and William are ascending stairs and Kate lags just a hair behind thanks to her heels. William's reaction is just one small example of the new and happier royals touring India this year.  

Kate did not disappoint in the fashion department, choosing a beautiful white and blue dress from Indian-American label Naeem Khan. Khan was born in Mumbai and infuses his designs with inspiration from his birthplace. This white and blue on Kate was just striking and I have already heard more than a few claim it is the best dress of the tour. The photos of the couple in front of the Taj Mahal are gorgeous, but I particularly love the ones with the green of the grass around them.  The crisp white and blue really pops against the green.

Thoughtfully, Kate wore the earrings she purchased during her hike to Tiger's Nest yesterday, which cost her just £6. The Duchess rarely wears jewelry she is gifted and generally knick knacks that she purchases disappear, too, so it was a lovely gesture toward the people of Bhutan and India for her to wear their local jewelry.

This morning I pulled out Dickie Arbiter's book On Duty With The Queen and reread the chapter in which he recounts the tour of India that Charles and Diana took. The tension in the couple's marriage was near breaking point and they undertook a tour of India which ended quite badly. Oddly, the couple split for the majority of the tour, with Charles undertaking engagements on one side of the country and Diana on another. According to Arbiter, Charles was unwilling to join Diana at the Taj Mahal, although he later admitted it was a mistake not too. Her lonely photo, that became the image of her deep unhappiness, was the unfortunate result.

Regrettably, this was not the last disaster on the tour. Not long after Prince Charles played a polo match in Jaipur at which Diana was to give the prizes. When Charles received his, rather than kissing Diana as planned, he turned to walk away.  Immediately thinking better of it, he came back for a kiss, and that is when Diana, at the last moment, turned her cheek, snubbing her spouse in front of the world's media.

It is tough to look back at this all, and not hard to understand why this visit carried some scars for William personally and the royal brand.  I think that is why they have ended the tour here. It is the finishing touch on a visit that has once again highlighted how wonderful these two are as a couple and stressed how bright the future of the monarchy is in their hands.

William and Kate were spotted in a hotel bar having a drink before their flight home to London, where they will doubtless head straight to the Middletons' Bucklebury home to share their stories and gifts, show the many pictures, and hug and kiss their little ones.

It has been a colorful and remarkable week following William and Kate through India & Bhutan! I very much enjoyed it and thank you for joining me--and for your patience when some posts were a little late. ;)