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[Updated] William and Kate Attend Somme 100 Vigil at Thiepval

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Two years ago, William, Kate, and Harry traveled to Arromanches, France to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Today, they were back in France at the Thiepval Memorial to mark the first day of the Battle of the Somme (tomorrow) and to pay tribute to the dead. 

The Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest battle in human history. One million men died over the course of the engagement which spanned five months, from July to November of 1916. Despite the caveat that the battle lasted not days but months, the human carnage is difficult to process. 

The Cambridges and Prince Harry were given a historical briefing overlooking the now calm farmland of Picardie and their somber faces eloquently conveyed the terrible facts they were being told. 

After getting a sense of the scope and tragedy of the event, the trio attended a candlelit vigil at the Tiepval Memorial. The memorial was built to commemorate some 70,000+ Brits and South Africans who died in France and have no known graves. World War I truly wiped out a generation of Western Europeans. 

Kensington Palace Twitter 

Appropriately, Kate wore a new ensemble for this event. This is the Snake-Stitch coat from Missoni, although I prefer to call it a chevron pattern in grey and black. :)

The coat is the longer length that Kate has been favoring and features oversized patch pockets and a demure collar. The back is quite unusual, using clever tailoring to create a slimming illusion. It retailed for over £2,000. 


Kate wore a new black pillbox which has been very well received. I absolutely love it. It looks similar to the Betty Boop Kate loves so much, just in a new color. They are certainly close cousins. Carole Middleton wore the Betty Boop on Christmas morning in the same manner that Kate sported today's hat--pushed back and with the bow at her neck. 

The earrings we saw just this month when Kate debuted them at Trooping the Colour. They proved to be a bit difficult to ID, but I think that Annie Elizabeth finally figured out that they are in fact by Balanciaga. 

The verdict is a big win. This was a beautiful ensemble with which to mark this somber and historical occasion. I like the chevron look and am excited that she wore it, and that hat is so very elegant. The hat and her dark hair really framed her face well this evening. The Duchess struck just the right note of sophistication, fashion, and respect. 

There is a beautiful song with which you may already be familiar: The Green Fields of France. It is about a young man who fought and died in France during 1916. It is a very moving song, juxtaposing the beauty of the melody with the plaintive and tragic story of young lives lost in the mud and horror of France's deadly trenches. My favorite version is by Ronan Tynan:

The sun now it shines on the green fields of France
There's a warm summer breeze that makes the red poppies dance
And look how the sun shines from under the clouds
There's no gas, no barbwire, no guns firing now
But here in this graveyard it's still no man's land
The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man
To a whole generation that were butchered and damned.

Alan Jenning Twitter
See you tomorrow. 

[Updated] Carole and Mike Middleton at Wimbledon

On Monday we saw Pippa and James Middleton enjoy a match on Centre Court at Wimbledon. The relatives of royals added a special sparkle to the Grand Slam's opening day. As we had hoped, Princess Kate's parents were long in making an appearance. The handsome couple were in the royal box today!

Carole chose to wear a blue printed dot dress and smart blazer in a complementing blue. She paired the dress and jacket with nude patent pumps and a nude croc bag. Mike and Carole were seated in the royal box, just one row behind the Duchess of Cornwall and her sister. They weren't the only celebrities, either, Allen Leech, who played Tom on hit tv series Downton Abbey, was seated a row behind the Middletons.

We haven't seen much of the Middletons recently. The last time they were in the news they were the subject of gossip concerning Prince George's relationship with his royal grandfather the Prince of Wales--or lack thereof. Although I suspect that much of that talk was unwarranted, I do believe it irritated Charles, whose press office likely felt bound to respond in some measure. No one wants a war between the grandparents, even if it is just in the mind of the public. I can't help but wonder if these two decided to go underground for a while to avoid more chatter. Hopefully, the dry spell is over and we will see more of the two!

Doesn't Carole look so lovely here? I think Kate's resemblance to her is very strong in this photo:

William and Kate are currently in France at the Somme 100 vigil. That post later this evening! 

Pippa & James Middleton at Wimbledon Day 1 + What Will Kate Wear?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Wimbledon is here at last. Every year we look forward to this summer staple that always draws the famous and fabulous, chief among these the Duchess of Cambridge and her family. Although it is likely we will have to wait some days before Kate turns up, the royal box had a little extra glamour today with the appearance of Pippa Middleton, escorted by her brother James. 

The Duchess's sister wore a Suzannah sun-dress to watch Djokovic face off against James Ward on Centre Court. The £1,200 dress is 100% silk de chine and features a vintage poppy print. Pippa carried an Emmy clutch, a brand that Kate also favors. 

Pippa has been indulging a lot in florals. Earlier this month she was a guest at a picnicking in the park fundraiser for the Bryan Adams Foundation.  It included opera, so it must have been the perfect picnic and she chose the perfect dress. 

Pippa wore a £450 frock from Beautiful Soul London. Both the pattern and the design are very busy, but somehow it all still works. I wish we had more pictures of Pippa in this dress. The purple looks great with her dark coloring and I loved the ruffled front. Kate would look great in this, too, I think, and it would be a bit of an unusual choice for the often minimalist Duchess.

Speaking of Kate and what she might we look toward her next appearance at Wimbledon let's look briefly over her past choices. HRH stuck to Wimbledon white for the first few years of her marriage. I absolutely loved this Temperley that Kate wore to her first Wimbledon as a princess.

In 2012, she wore two recycled white ensembles, the McQueen sailor dress from Canada:

...and the Joseph shift dress from Canada with the tweed blazer from Epsom:

2014 was the year Kate broke with her Wimbledon white. The Duchess missed 2013 because of Prince George, but in 2014 she came back in white Zimmermann recycled from Australia:

For the final, however, she surprised us all in her aqua green sheath dress from Jonathan Saunders.

In 2015 Kate only attended Wimbledon once and she wore bright red from L.K. Bennett. That was a debut rather than her usual recycle, perhaps because she was still moving back to her normal size after the birth of Charlotte.

This year it is anyone's bet. Kate has been pulling from her 2011/2012 closet frequently over the past few months, so it might be instructive to look to that era if you are trying to make a prediction. That being said, I think some of her more recent styles might be more appropriate at Wimbledon. She likes to pull from tour closets, which makes my mind move to India's pieces. The white Wickstead would be a similar silhouette to the red L.K. Bennett from last year, and would be a return to the classic white.

It is possible that Kate would wear the seafoam green dress from her visit with India's PM:

The Madison shift that Kate wore on a dinner date with William in 2015 would also fit last year's profile.

Kate has been pulling from the 2011 wardrobe, but she has also been far more willing to wear new pieces, so she could easily show up in something entirely new. Unfortunately, it has been a little chilly in London, or I would really be hoping for something a little more in keeping with that first sundress from 2011. As it stands, though, Kate could wear any number of dresses from her closet and be quite cool in the royal box. Time will tell! A Wimbledon appearance has not been confirmed, but barring something unusual, I think it a very safe bet that Kate will attend at least one day.

Kate Recycled Her Glittering JP for A Taste of Norfolk

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Not all charity galas are created equal. It is always a gracious touch and a special draw when a fundraiser is held a private home and when a special guest is added to the mix. Tonight the private home was the magnificent Houghton Hall, a Palladian mansion set in the rolling lush hills of the Norfolk countryside, and the special guest was the glittering Duchess of Cambridge herself. The event, dubbed A Taste of Norfolk, saw an elite group of philanthropists gather toward dusk to clink champagne glasses and toast EACH's capital campaign. 

The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge were both honored guests at what was a thank-you event that took place a hop, skip, and a jump from their own Anmer Hall hideaway located just a few miles down the road. Kate and William arrived by chauffeured Jaguar and were greeted on the front steps by their friends and hosts the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley. 

You might recall that in Downton Abbey [final season spoiler alert] when Edith married she was raised to the exalted rank of Marchioness. Rose and David are chums of the Cambridges and are members of the Norfolk set with whom the royals enjoy socializing in country. Interestingly, before she married, the Marchioness was a fashion-model, so the women make quite a striking duo. (Tonight the hostess chose Valentino.)

Their hosts didn't waste much time getting drinks into the royals' hands and the meeting & greeting got going. Kate very, very rarely ever drinks publicly, although we know that she does in private, but tonight she was clearly holding a glass of wine. Although it doesn't look like she was making the same headway as her companions, it underlines the intimacy of the evening. She seemed to view it more like a personal social event and less like a work one. 

You probably remember that Kate helped launch the capital campaign in 2014 while in the early stages of her pregnancy with Princess Charlotte. She was the obvious choice to lead the appeal given her heavy involvement with EACH and the fact that the new facility will be right in her Norfolk backyard.

Guests were entertained tonight by a number of performances while the evening glow cast a flattering golden tone across all assembled. I know many a fashionista prayer was answered when it was revealed that Kate had recycled the blush sequined evening gown she first debuted at the Ark gala in 2011. Tonight, it absolutely glittered as it was brushed by the setting sun. 

This dress's debut was the very first public engagement that Kate undertook as a royal, if you discount Epsom, which I do. It seems so long ago and at the same time the excitement still feels fresh. I remember when it was announced that the gown Kate was wearing was by Jenny Packham. Little did any of us know what an extraordinary and lasting collaborative relationship would blossom there. It was the first of many Packham evenings, but I think for many it remains one of the best. 

Tonight's recycle, with the same L.K. Bennett shoes and Prada clutch, was particularly lovely because Kate wore her hair in a chignon, revealing the diaphanous, rolled neckline which had been obscured by Kate's incredible, post-marriage locks before. 

This was the perfect dress for this night. The beading caught the setting sun and the soft blush pink blended perfectly with the peaceful backgrounds. It is a glamorous dress that held its own at a power-packed London gala, but seemed gentle and alluring at this more sedate, albeit no less pricey, dinner party. Kate added even more sparkle to the ensemble with her earrings loaned from Her Majesty and the diamond encrusted bracelet, also loaned from the Queen, that we first saw at the China State Banquet. 

This was an event we have been looking forward to for many months. There were not as many pictures as we would get at a big fundraiser in London and we had to wait for poor Richard Palmer to drive five miles up the road to find cell reception to text out the first early photos of what Kate was wearing, but A Taste of Norfolk did not disappoint. It was everything I had hoped for from a gala at one of Britain's palatial estates. Kate was glowing, the gown was was a success! It's hard to believe that June 9, 2011 is already five years in the rearview, but time hasn't dulled the Duchess a bit.  See you soon for more royal adventures! 

Happy 34th Birthday to Prince William!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Today we are celebrating the 34th birthday of the Duke of Cambridge. Yesterday, Prince William was in Saint-Étienne, France to watch England play Slovakia in the Euro 2016. This morning, he boarded a commercial flight in Lyon heading for Heathrow. Several travelers in Lyon tweeted their excitement at seeing the prince who boarded his flight last and promptly dozed off for the flight across the Channel. At Heathrow, William was the first to deplane, making his way to a waiting Range Rover on the tarmac. He will be spending his birthday with his little family, of course. 

William has gotten some bad press this year, but I think--like much of the bad press leveled at his wife--the accusations are often unfair and take advantage of William's more reserved personality. Several weeks ago William was pictured doing warm-up stretches before a polo game. Anyone who takes pilates or yoga (btw, it is World Yoga Day today!) will immediately recognize this as the cat-camel stretch, one of my favorites. 

I laughed when I saw the funny snaps and particularly William's good-natured grin as he contorted himself this way and that. It reminded me how the press and the public often forgets William's more complicated personality.

Personalities come in all shapes, sizes, and volumes. Some are very outgoing and bubbly, while there are others among us who keep a little more to ourselves. From the outside, the more discreet personalities can seem cold and even unkind, while in reality they can be as caring and thoughtful as the gregarious. Just this past week the Daily Mail ran an odd article about how well Kate and Harry get along, which is perfectly true, but right in the middle, the article took a swipe at William, commenting that he seems at odds with the happy friendship between his wife and brother. This is absurd.

William keeps pretty tight "internal security" around his private personality, but given how long he has been in the public spotlight, none of us is ignorant of the fact that he is quite the tease in private, who opens up around family and good friends.

It is impossible to divorce the attractive quality of future king of England, but William obviously also charmed Kate with his sense of humor. That was clear in many photos of the two throughout their dating days...

...and it is clear that he continues to charm her now she is his wife. 

We see his warmth shine in his charity work, too, where people from all walks and strata of life light up when William reveals his charm:

The mischievous little boy we saw larking around outside St. Mary Magdalene as a child isn't gone, he is only revealed occasionally. 

William is clearly a man who loves his wife, his children, and his broader family, his charities, his country and his Queen. In his care and attention to all these people, his true and private personality is revealed. I like him very much and I think he will weather the storms of public opinion just fine as the years go by. Wishing him a perfect day with his beautiful family!  Happy Birthday, Your Royal Highness!

P.S. My sister Fiona shares her birthday with Prince William, so today we are also celebrating her! Fiona took over the Kate's Clothes Instagram page for me when I went to law school because I couldn't keep up with it all, and she has done a fantastic job with that. Happy Birthday, Fiona! I hope we can pull off a day of royal worthy celebrations for you! :) 

Duchess of Cambridge Makes Her Royal Ascot Debut

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It is time for a proper post covering Kate's debut at Royal Ascot. This year has marked a number of first time attendances. William made his first appearance at a BP Garden Party, the couple attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show and the Chelsea Flower Show, and today they participated for the first time at Royal Ascot.  This was certainly a highlight of the royal year.

Ascot sees the royals process to their enclosure via horse drawn carriage. This tradition was launched by George IV in the early 19th century:

Although Kate has never been, her parents were guests of the Queen in 2012. By the way, Mrs. Carole, we haven't seen you out and about in some time, and although I am sure royal-granny-duty is keeping you busy, a little something for the masses would be appreciated. A shopping excursion on Kensington High Street, or a society wedding. Just about anything will do, but your fans miss you! 

My hope was that Kate would wear white. It is such a great color on her and it pops beautifully against the green backgrounds. Her white ensemble at Epsom was perfection and I was hoping for a similar ensemble today. I got part of my wish. As the carriages swept in Kate was seated next to William in white lace with a contrasting Jane Taylor hat in a neutral cream:

If that lace looks familiar, it should be. Kate recycled her Dolce & Gabbana lace dress first worn to the Windsor Horse Show to...extremely mixed reviews. I believe I likened the dress, such of it that we could see, to a Miss Havisham ensemble. Today, we could initially only see the bodice, which didn't look too shabby, so I waited with baited breath to know if we had a hit or a terrible miss.

Via Elliot Wagland

Kate exited the carriage and we had a mixed result. This dress is not as bad as it looked with that bulky swing coat at the WHS. Kate is quite lithe and the fitted bodice went a long way in righting the wrongs done to the dress on its first wear, but I just don't know that I can reconcile myself to that dust ruffle at the bottom. Perhaps if the lace were not such a busy pattern or if the ruffle was not such a tight bunch.

It was an odd ensemble for me and made me think of that Pavarotti song I Hate You Then I Love You. I have vacillated so many times. I think if I didn't already have a deeply rooted antipathy from the first wear, today's scales would tip in favor. The dust ruffle is regrettable, but I still like the overall impact.  When you can't stop looking at pictures it must be a win.  I will tell you what I love, I love that Jane Taylor hat. It just makes the entire ensemble work.

Via Ascot Facebook

This is the Una mesh disc hat with feather accents which retailed at over £1,000. It features a beautiful rose just the way roses ought to be featured on hats. ;)

Something about the flair and the way it angles reminds me of some of the hats in The Duchess (such a great movie) particularly this one below. It lends Kate's ensemble almost a period feel, which works at an event like Ascot.

Kate was wearing Gianvito Rossi pumps in praline, carrying her Natalie clutch, and wearing what appear to be new earrings from Kiki McDonough:

In 2013 one of the races was renamed to honor the Duke of Cambridge and today he presented the trophy for the Duke of Cambridge Stakes. The couple were cuter than ever together as they enjoyed an afternoon that had seemingly miraculously cleared of rain. Kate looked radiant as her dapper husband kept her close, continuing to foster relationship envy the world over. :)

Rumor has it we have more surprises coming this week, but if nothing turns up tomorrow this engagement ends a streak of consecutive public engagements for Kate. If so, this was a very strong finish to a succession of successful events. Well done, Kate!