Last night, as the Duke and Duchess retired for the night at the 500 year old Restormel Mansion, there were rumblings amongst media and locals that the Scilly Isles visit was in jeopardy due to the weather. Some press travelled to the islands last night, while others stayed behind. When the sun rose this morning, the weather had indeed rolled in and the airport had cancelled flights to Scilly. Several media members just headed back to London or on to their next assignments while the Cambridges' team threw together an alternate event for the royal couple to do in Cornwall. It was announced the two would visit the Eden Project and hope that by afternoon it was clear enough to make the trip to Scilly.
Eden Project boasts the largest indoor rainforest in the world, in addition to a dome that simulates a mediterranean environment, so the visit felt like we had been transported to a foreign locale and full-blown trip. In addition to admiring the flora, the tour of the Eden Project included a stop at a little rum stand where smoothies with a shot were served to the royals. William might not frequent the London club scene anymore, but hasn't forgotten how to lean nonchalantly against a bar.
The pizazz of this second day was boosted by a new piece in Kate's closet that caused quite the stir. She switched up her usual style rhythm by wearing pants rather than a dress or a skirt. Kate has been wearing this style--patterned trousers with a jacket or sweater top--for some years now in private, and it was really fun to see her choose it for an official event. These were skinny patterned crops from Gap, and the Duchess paired them with her Smythe blazer and wedges. That Smythe blazer just gets more beautiful every time I see it.
Kate loves, loves, loves her skinny pants. It was reported several years ago that she was shopping at a Gap or Banana Republic and was intently browsing the jeggings, which were very en vogue at the time. Fashion favors the super skinny style right now, and Kate has always tracked the trends in jean styles. She had a range of Diesel and other designer jeans in boot cut and flare in the early and mid 2000s.
As the general preference for straight and "skinny" jeans began to take off, Kate started sporting the style, too:
Kate's wedding weight loss probably precipitated her preference for even skinnier styles, which was not out of step with fashion's continuing trajectory toward what was ultimately termed jeggings. I don't think the blue jeans from the Olympics were technically jeggings, but they were pretty close.
While patterned skinny, stretch pants (these need a better name) didn't just hit the scene recently, they have been more prominent in the ads I have seen over the past few years. Kate also hit a point where her public was weary of the blue jeans and she needed to find a more interesting middle ground between dressy and casual. She certainly hit the spot today. As mentioned, the gorgeous blazer goes a long way to making this the classy/casual hit that it is. Kate looks young and trendy, but polished and professional. Both the Cambridges, actually, are hitting this middle ground very well.
Happily, the Duke and Duchess did make it to the Scilly Isles in the afternoon, although they had to cut St. Mary's. Much of the Scilly Isles is Duchy land, succinctly described in a 2005 article in The Telegraph:
For centuries, the Duchy owned all the land and properties on the Isles of Scilly but in recent times ownership has become more complex. Tresco is leased to the Dorrien Smith family, who run it commercially as an up--market tourist island.Many homes on St Mary's have been sold off, so the Duchy now owns 330 - just under 30 per cent - of the 1,150 residential properties on the islands.The Duchy continues, however, to own all the land on the other inhabited islands of St Martin's, St Agnes and Bryher...
I don't know how ownership has changed in the past decade, although there have been bumps for Prince Charles in the management of his land and tenants. In any event, the couple visited Abbey Garden on Tresco. Abbey Garden is a 17-acre sub-tropical garden. Since it isn't enclosed like Eden Project earlier in the day, you might well wonder how the system works. The garden was built in the 19th century as a private retreat by Augustus Smith.
It sounds like a little paradise. The description of the tiers reminds me a little of the terraced gardens at Mount Vernon in Virginia. Certainly a very different climate than Cornwall, but it sounds like a similar mechanism to control the environment for the plants. My favorite part of the day was the boat ride and visit to St. Martin's.By building tall wind-breaks, Augustus Smith channelled the weather up and over the network of walled enclosures that he built around the Priory ruins and the three terraces he carved from the rocky, south facing slope looking towards St Mary's. You can learn more about the history of the garden here. The hotter, drier terraces at the top of the garden suit South African and Australian plants; those lower down provide the humidity that favours flora from New Zealand and South America.
Kate and William wear blue all the time, but I wonder if they particularly plan ahead for an outing like this. Their blues against the water really made for gorgeous photos.
The duo greeted residents, several of whom could recall William's childhood holidays on the islands with Diana, Charles, and Harry. As mentioned, many of these people are tenants of the Duchy of Cornwall and Prince Charles. They have more of a connection than most "fans" we encounter while following Kate. To me, the connection injected a higher human interest factor.
William and Kate toured a community center before their trip concluded. The Duchess was in her Sebago boat shoes for the final bit of the tour, so it was fun to see this ensemble with both the wedges and the flats. This ensemble was a huge hit for me. Kate is in such fantastic shape and if anyone can pull those figure hugging trousers off, it is Kate. I know there has been talk about just how skinny they are, and some wish Kate would ease up and wear more tailored trousers. I like skinny jeans myself, so these were a hit for me. I think that skinny jeans, or in this case dressier printed ankle pants, hit the casual/dressy balance better than tailored slacks would, simply because the skinny keeps these hip and casual and the print dresses them up. An event like today called for either jeans or something in the vein of these prints. I am sure Kate would look fantastic in more business-suit slacks, but for today, I think she made the right selection. It was a huge, huge home run.