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Kate Visits Hampton Court & Spencer House on Day of Engagements

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

So much for our worries that we would suffer a drought of the Duchess after the conclusion of the India tour. After a slew of pictures and news surrounding Kate and her children, the princess had three engagements today beginning with a visit to Hampton Court to open a new children's play area called The Magic Garden.  

Anytime Kate visits an historic venue like Hampton Court, it is always particularly exciting to me. Hampton Court is saturated in Tudor history and the palace has more than a few famous, but tragic, characters closely associated with it. It was initially built in 1515 by Thomas Wolsey, a prelate of the Catholic Church and a well-known historical figure, due primarily to his place of prominence in Henry VIII's court and his ultimately unsuccessful attempts to secure an annulment that would allow the king to marry the (in)famous Anne Boleyn.  Wolsey fell from grace and died en route to London where he would doubtless have met his execution, but not before he had transferred Hampton Court to Henry as a "gift."  Anne Boleyn reigned briefly at Hampton Court before her star set; Henry's third wife Jane Seymour died at Hampton shortly after giving birth to Henry's heir; and there is a story that Catherine Howard, Henry's fifth wife ran screaming through the palace to beg Henry for her life after he discovered her infidelity and sentenced her to execution. There is a legend that her ghost walks the "Haunted Gallery" at Hampton.  

William III decided to remake Hampton Court to rival Versailles (I can hear the Gallic snort from my French readers). You can't blame the man for giving it a go. In any event, he was interrupted in the makeover, which has left the palace a mix of two competing styles. (See above).  On the other hand, two birds with one stone if you are looking for an attraction that affords a range of stunning architecture and design. I don't think that William III achieved Versailles, but there is no doubt Hampton Court is magnificent in its beauty and rich in history:

Robert Myers is the architect who has created a Tudor inspired play-ground in what was once Henry VIII's jousting lawn. It is themed around castles and dragons and stories and myths from 16th century England. Kate was shown around the new playground, here she is appreciating the perspective pergola with Myers. 

Historical Royal Palaces
Thankfully, times have changed since this palace was the nucleus of Henry VIII's court, and today's royal lady doesn't live under a cloud of intrigue or impeding doom. Nevertheless, as a royal wife, she certainly was experiencing a history of which is very much a part of. Our modern duchess was asked by a little visitor if she was "the princess," and Kate replied, "just call me Kate!" She didn't say no, folks. :)

The news narrative is sometimes predictable for these events, but today we got a twist when Kate told another child that Prince George and Princess Charlotte have a pet hamster named Marvin! I don't know why we were all shocked, but it certainly made waves. Lupo isn't alone, although for all we know the Cambridges could have several cats and a parakeet. According to Kate, Charlotte loves Marvin because his whiskers tickle her face. I have looked at some hamster pictures on Google and given their minute size I am mostly concerned that George is going to squish Marvin, by accident, of course. 

Today was Throwback to April 2014. Kate rummaged into her closet and recycled several favorites from the Australia/New Zealand tour. This Michael Kors coat is famous for stumping those of us who are supposed to ID on the swift. When Kate wore it on Anzac Day in 2014 it took a press release from Michael Kors the next day to alert royal fans that the Duchess had debuted the American label.

Although we didn't know who made it for some hours, this coat was a massive success. It is such a pleasure to see really beautiful pieces on a second wear, because inevitably they are cast in a slightly different shade. As Australia was heading into winter in April, that ANZAC day was a bit overcast. I was struck by what the clear, spring sunshine in Surrey did to give this coat a little twist and bring out some of the lighter threads of the tweed.

It was beautiful then, it was beautiful again today, styled with nude accessories that not only helped to differentiate the wears, but was more in keeping with the seasonal change. As small as it might seem, the barely-there lavender of Kate's Roksanda Illincic peeking out by the lapels also drew out the lighter tones. 

Kate was wearing her Empress earrings by Mapping & Webb and she carried a new clutch from L.K. Bennett. After setting the Twitterverse into excited chatter over her Marvin revelation, Kate made her way to her luncheon engagement at the Anna Freud Centre.

Luncheon in Support of Anna Freud

Stepping out at Spencer House in London for a luncheon in support of the Anna Freud Centre, Kate had removed her Michael Kors coat to fully reveal the Peridot shift dress by Roksanda Ilincic. 

This feminine frock was first debuted in Los Angeles while on tour in 2011. However, I still consider its most successful wear to be to a reception for the GREAT campaign in 2012. Kate had her hair in a chignon and the dress clung to her curves perfectly. If you look up va va voom in the dictionary, this is the picture you will find:

Today, the tour of stunning venues continued with Spencer House, although the most we can really see is a glimpse of those enviable gold pillars in the background of a few of the interior shots. 

Spencer House is the historical London home of the Spencers and still belongs to Earl Spencer, the brother of the late Princess of Wales, although he rents it out. Still, Kate was in something of a family home. What a life. :)

Spencer House UK

Kate debuted this new hairstyle while in India. It seemed just the right relaxed and almost whimsical tone for her her boho ensembles and interactions with kids. I didn't expect to see her use it back home in London, but I like it! It has a casual and youthful vibe, that allows her to leave her hair down, but doesn't obstruct the view of her beautiful face. Plus, we didn't have to search high and low for a good look at her earrings! 

Both recycles were wins for me. The Michael Kors coat is so flattering on her and the Roksanda Ilincic has always been a win, although nothing tops that 2012 wear. Perhaps what I loved the most was the Nina clutch that Kate had. Apparently, it is not available yet in the leather Kate is carrying, although the style is available in other textures and colors, several of which are on sale. The coat doesn't match the dress, which was a little weird at the Magic Garden, but not too distracting. She very clearly distinguished the two events, which I always appreciate, and I am sure the different organizations did, too.  Kate had one final event today, a date with Vogue at the NPG. That will be covered in the next post coming up shortly!


  1. ".....several cats and a parakeet." George squishing Marvin.

    Just two of the reasons I love this blog.
    kate was nice, too.

    1. Alejandra RamírezMay 4, 2016 at 11:02 PM

      Agree! That was so funny and iventive!

  2. The two pics of Kate in the Roksanda Ilincic are perfect examples of the fact that she is too thin and has lost that curvy softness that was so attractive. Don't get me wrong, she is still drop dead gorgeous..but,something is missing. She looks incredible in the older Jane says va va voom. Unfortunately, most women in the public eye seem to think they have to get down to stick figure status to photograph well. She is far too young to put it down to aging, severe dieting is the more likely culprit which, in itself, is aging.

    1. I agree. But it might be more than severe dieting. I gather she has a more vegan diet and takes the time to aggressively exercise. If you look at her mother and Pippa, clearly the family is slender. With her exercise, Pippa has more muscle on her. Catherine does not. But as we saw on the hike in Bhutan, Catherine is very very fit.

    2. Amen, Diamond Ripples. These pictures make her look sickly. In the older pic in this dress, you could see she was working out with weights, look at her shoulders. She looked very slender but healthy. That is gone now.

      And this was an odd choice for daytime. Big fail today.

  3. I'm sorry but the lavendar-gray dress just seemed an odd choice to me for the event. Kate carried it off as well as anyone could but to me the top looks like a bunch of loose fabric artfully tied on from the front. And that exposed back zipper? I admit I don't like those anyway how does an industrial look zipper go with the soft and draped style seen from the front? Just odd to me particularly as a day dress. I liked it much more when she wore it with her hair up..wasn't that event a cocktail hour affair?

    I agree Marvin may not survive too long at Amner Hall. The kids do seem too young for that sort of pet. They are fun for older children but hamsters may bite (and they have sharp teeth in front)  particularly if scared or grabbed when they are sleeping which they do during the day (and are active on exercise wheels all night) I had one when I was young and loved it but I was 10 or 11. 

    1. Lizzie, I like both pieces, but must admit I was a little surprised at the combination. I would be afraid to "crush" the dress with the coat. :)

      And I agree with Jane regarding the "va va voom" evening. With the updo and dangling earrings, it's one of my favorite looks. Simply stunning.

    2. Three of my top ten all in one day.
      Like balm to a wound.

    3. The dress might not ever have been my favorite Royalfan with the back neck to hem zipper. I also don't think it is Kate's best color (I think stronger colors and jewel tones flatter her more.)  But in the earlier wear with her hair up, I thought she looked great because the top looked more "intentionally drapey and asymmetric" (That's the only way I can think to describe it) But with hair down in the mix with the top of the dress, it just didn't do it for me and looked "unstyled" and more like "loose cloth."

    4. I understand what you're trying to say, Lizzie. :) A style like this, especially, is meant to be seen. Kate's hair is an asset, I understand that, but so is her neck and shoulders (just look at the va va voom evening photos).

  4. Gosh she worked that room with grace and confidence
    Theresa Australia

  5. I love the kate visit she slays it all over again can believe the prince George and princess charlotte have a pet named marvin I love the grey dress and happy she wear Michael cors she wore Australia she

  6. she wore the again hey jane where can I buy British vogue

  7. @Bluefire Barnes & Noble in the US

    Very happy to see the Roksana repeat, loved the hair and event. Mixed feelings about the coat - from the bust up, it photographed well. Full body... No. I loved it in NZ.

    Kate talked a lot today - here & @ gallery. She seems more assured after India and Nepal - well done, Kate!

  8. I think she looked lovely at both events. The Michael Kors coat is a favorite and I love the Roksana repeat as well. The earrings and hair were perfect. The coat and dress combo might not have been what I would choose to wear together but they weren't offensive. The beauty is that she had two different looks without needing to change.

    I also love that, while not disagreeing that she is indeed the princess, she also said Kate instead of Catherine. Another sign that she is still that country girl who fell in love with a prince. And poor Marvin!

    Jane, I thought one of the subjects we were avoiding here at FBTB was about Kate's weight. I was disappointed that with two lovely appearances to look at we got those comments right off the top. Saying she looks sickly . . . disappointing.

  9. A particularly well written post.I appreciate it when you go into history mode:-)
    On a fashion note,yay for Roksanda Illic.I'm a fan of her tailoring.

  10. I'm personally not crazy about this hairstyle. For me, it's associated with a look that little girls would wear.

  11. Beautiful! The swingy coat, the stunning dress, the fantastic jewelry...Kate always manages to be ladylike AND gorgeous!

  12. Alejandra RamírezMay 4, 2016 at 11:04 PM

    Great post! Love your views! So very you!
    I didn't realize the hairstyle was from India, Great eye!

  13. Robin- the princess remark makes a nice sound-bite/header There are several versions out there, but the one I find most likely is some children called , " Princess Kate!" Another one, apparently near Kate whispered, "Is that the princess?" to which Kate replied, "Just
    call me Kate." This account was actually documented by names of those quoted. (Rebecca English DM story, quoted in another media site, I believe)
    I take that to mean drop the "princess," not that she prefers to be called Kate by the public. If they had called "Princess Catherine," as those darling little girls on the Aus/NZ tour were actually filmed as saying, she might have
    replued, "Just call me Catherine." William still calls her Catherine. It is her name.

    I feel calling her Kate is a bit like calling Michelle Obama Shel or Princess Anne- Annie.
    Or the Queen Liz. I find the use of Kate with her title particularly over-familiar and somewhat condescending.. This is my personal feeling and not meant to criticise others.
    I use "Kate," but it doesn't feel right.

    Robin, I think the wording of those weight remarks was likely meant to cause a reaction and comment. It is obviously ridiculous to say she looks sickly after the pace she has set in public and private, not to mention a mountain climb a few short weeks ago. People on starvation, severe diets just don't do that. Yes, such remarks are obnoxious and irritating-brush them off as you would any pest buzzing around you.

    1. Hmmm, anon 1, now you have me thinking about whether or not she likes the princess title. Then again, in filling out the birth certificates for George and Charlotte, William did write that her occupation was Princess of the United Kingdom so I don't think it's inaccurate. As for Kate vs. Catherine it seems to me to be the difference between Di and Diana. One was what she was called by friends and family and one was her "official" name. I never liked Di but I don't mind Kate. When you mentioned calling Princess Anne "Annie" I actually laughed out loud! I can't think of an Anne I've ever seen or known who seems less like and Annie than the Princess Royal! I think one might get a royal stare down for using that one! The thing the media keep doing that drives me nuts is that they keep referring to Kate with her maiden name. She has not been Kate (or Catherine) Middleton for five years. Then again, they referred to Diana as Lady Di long after she became the Princess of Wales.

    2. Ha! "Royal stare down." I can actually see it.
      Little Orphan Annie, Annie Hall, Annie Get Your Gun...maybe the last one.

      Agree about the K.M. It isn't Sophie Rhys-Jones, it's Sophie Wessex.
      I think part of the problem is Kate not having an established public last name as
      Sophie does. Of course, Camilla doesn't have a last name and she is rarely called Camilla P.B. Or Cams and then only
      in a disparaging context.
      It's been five years. Time to retire"Kate Middleton." Everyone knows she is the Duchess of Cambridge now. Of course, "Kate Middleton" calls forth all the gossip and labels the press attached to her during the dating years.

    3. Oh, I definitely agree that it's time to drop the Kate Middleton headlines. I could see the media using "Duchess Kate" (similar to Princess Di) and I'd be fine with it. At least is acknowledges her marriage and role. And it's shorter! :)

      Regarding the "just call me Kate" request, it reminds me of all the times I read personal accounts of people meeting Diana and she would be quick to request that they call her by her name. In both cases, I don't see it as being uncomfortable with the title; it has more to do with not putting on airs. For example, if someone is very wealthy AND has class (not always the case :-) they don't feel the need to elaborate on their fortunate circumstances.

    4. Duchess Cams? Queen Liz? I thought it was Lady Di?
      Princess Char of Monaco? Queen Tizzie of Spain?
      You catch my drift here?
      What other high-ranking royal is called by her title with a nickname.
      Prince Chuck?
      I think Kate is fine for family, close friends,and associates.
      Combining a nick-name with a title seems disrespectful and condescending to me.
      Of course, there is Prince Harry- but no one's actually ever called him Harold.

    5. I also thought about how Sophie is always Sophie Wessex. They could at least call her Kate Cambridge as I'm fairly sure they are referred to as The Cambridges in the family just as C,D,W& H were always the Wales. I looked at the most current articles about Charles and Camilla and they always call her the Duchess of Cornwall. Methinks the press is crossing the line into being a bit too casual with her which may be why William always uses the more formal, Catherine, in public.

      Annie Get Your Gun is definitely the closest possibility! :-D

      You're right, royalfan, Diana always told people to call her by her first name. The sincerity is part of what gave/gives both of these women the ability to put people at ease. I cannot see any of the rest of them (well, probably Sophie) doing the same thing. Can you imagine "just call me Charles" coming out of the Prince of Wales? "Hi! We're Chuck and Cam!" Nope. And the press wouldn't dare.

    6. Anon 1, in fairness to the press, the public followed Kate as William's girlfriend for several years prior to their marriage so, to a degree, I can understand "Kate" sticking. What I do *not* care for is the use of "Middleton". And I have heard the arguments about "searches" on the internet, etc, but the excuse doesn't sell five years into the marriage and two children later. IMO, it reflects a refusal to acknowledge her rank.

      In Diana's case, the reference to "Lady Di", even after her marriage, still had a degree of affection associated with it. With Kate, however, I believe there's an element of "ordinary middleclass girl marries future dare she!?"

      And, no, I cannot imagine some of the examples you shared. LOL. My goodness, Charles only started to refer his "Mother" a few years ago. Prior to that, she was always "The Queen" when her children mentioned her.

      And Robin, no the press wouldn't dare. Ohhh, the irony! :)

    7. Edward called his mother The Queen in the recent interview.

      Still-continuing to call her Kate years past the courting days,with William
      calling her Catherine, is not acceptable either.I also think "Lady Di" was used affectionately, but combining
      royal title with a nickname has no other current example, other than Prince Harry.
      Sophie was even more middle class than Kate,yet she is referred to respectfully, acknowledging her royal name.
      Heck, Camilla was basically an ordinary girl, yet no one uses a nick name for her.

      I don't think there is any audio of William calling her by name, prior to the
      engagement interview- where he called her Catherine. If she was called Kate during the dating years, it originated with the press, along with "Katie."

    8. I stand correct on Edward, Anon 1. I guess he isn't as PR motivated, and I do believe this was the reason for Charles' shift from "The Queen" to Mother or Mummy. It's more relatable, isn't it? :)

      I understand where you're coming from with "Kate", but I honestly would not object to seeing Duchess Kate in the headlines. Look at it this way ... is there another royal who inspires the same level of interest from the public? Is the press hiding in Camilla's, Anne's, or Sophie's bushes for that one COVER photo they long for? Whether Kate likes it or not, she has the appeal factor that was missing from the Firm since Diana died. And it isn't just based on looks, although both woman qualify as beautiful. Inner beauty has a lot to do with it.

    9. I really see nothing wrong with calling her Kate although I have wondered why it's not "Cate." But Will referred to her as Kate in the engagement interview. He may have been following the interviewer's lead but if it had mattered to either of them, you'd think he would have said Catherine. While I understand the point about other royals not going by nicknames (except for Fergie, Harry, and Wills) other K/Catherines in the news have become C/Kates like Katherine Hepburn. I don't think shortening a name is quite the same as changing one like Charles to Chuckie or Anne to Annie.

    10. Anon 1, are you unaware that Jane, the author of this blog, refers to Kate as Kate and Princess Kate and Duchess Kate? It is strange to say you don't mean to criticize when that is what you are doing. It is also strange that you spend so much time explaining why you think it is so wrong and also say that you call her Kate yourself.

    11. anon 6:47- I just happened upon your comment. Well, I also eat sweets, although
      I know it is wrong. lol
      I use Kate on this opinion site Because Jane calls her Kate. I think stories written about her in the press are supposed to be opinion-free, non-editorial and are on a different level, protocol-wise, than opinion, fan sites and should refer to her by her official name, not by nickname. -just as they respectfully refer to other senior royals. (note: the "I think")

      If you read my entire comment @3:49, I clearly stated it was my opinion and not meant to criticise others. I realise once the press's use of "Kate" ( including the engagement interviewer, whom William politely did not correct ) once they
      unleashed Kate and (Waity) Katie on the world it is like trying to herd all
      the pests back into Pandora's Box. I think William must have realised this too, although he continues to use "Catherine" in his references to her in an official
      I stand by my statement that no other current royal is referred to by Title with nickname (except Harry) -and Kate is as much a nickname as Chuck or Annie. By the way, in choosing
      to critique me on this, you managed to miss a truly glaring error I made in my
      10:06 comment: Prince Harry is not called Prince Harold , because his name is actually
      Prince Henry.

    12. ps- also, Jane respectfully states below her title, " From Kate Middleton to
      Kate Cambridge, Following the Fashion of the Duchess of Cambridge."
      She does not use the popular Kate nickname with the Duchess title.
      Jane's admiration and respect for Kate has never been in question. Her intent as expressed in content and context , including the comment section, demonstrates this. The nickname Kate is used with affection. Plus the obvious editorial
      aspect of a fan/opinion blog is a completely different forum than a news story.
      One should not encounter feelings and opinion in that context, unless the statement is clearly a column or editorial opinion.
      How and why-context-counts. There are forums that use Kate and
      Princess/ Duchess Kate that show little respect for her. You can call someone a "rascal, " with affection or in an insulting, accusatory manner. It all depends on context- what else are you saying about the person.
      I hope this clarifies MY intent.
      It's a matter of showing respect. That's the bottom line.
      William's use of "Catherine" is one way of showing respect.

    13. lizzie- 06:38- ...but it's not Duchess Fergie or Prince Wills or-yikes!-#Duke Wills and stories that use
      those nicknames are rarely in a respectful tone.
      Duchess Kate sounds to me the same as Duke Wills. I really dont see the difference.
      William was called Wills,apparently by his mother-which was picked up in the press- so the long term useage of Kate does not excuse it. My perspective. No need to
      take it personally.

  14. I love this dress on Kate - but I think she looks a little cold in same - at the moment in Ireland/England -it's still rather chilly - Im also not sure the Michael Kors coat was the best pairing with it -but I of itself the dress on her is beautiful, though she must have felt a bit cold! Angled proportions on her work very well.

  15. Loved, loved, loved that Kate is continuing to wear her Mappin & Webb Empress stunning necklace. I was lucky enough to get the exact same necklace as a Christmas gift and love it. The diamonds sparkle so much, it is just so beautiful. I am hoping to receive the matching earrings to go with the necklace! X

  16. I didn't realise it was the same dress when I first looked; I had previously thought the dress was a pale lilac shade; that would be even prettier, I think. I like her hair pinned back like that, but it is a little less flattering in some of the shots here than others where it makes her forehead look quite big.

  17. Could it be that The Duchess lokked different in this dress as she was not sporting a tan, as she had when she wore it last. The tan skin popped the faint lavender dress giving her that healthier glow.

  18. Good point, Maureen.


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