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Will the Cambridges Take August Off?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

As is almost always the case with Kate, her engagements are bundled. She opened this week with back to back appearances at the Commonwealth Games and she will open next week with a WWI centenary commemoration in Belgium on Monday and a poppy installation ceremony at the Tower of London on Tuesday. Both with William of course. After that, though, Kate's calendar is empty until her visit to Malta in late September. While her schedule is rarely released very far in advance, so undoubtedly the calendar will be filled-in a little, some are speculating that the young family will take holiday time in August.

The Cambridges in Scotland in September of Last Year

Vanity Fair ran a piece claiming that the Cambridges will spend the majority of the month at Anmer Hall, while also fitting in a brief break with the Queen in Scotland. This is entirely possible. The Cambridges visit Scotland to see William's grandparents as well as Charles and Camilla every year, and Kate's parents have joined William and Kate in the past. That being said, the royals are creatures of habit--as are we all--and Kate and William have travelled to Scotland in September most years, not August. I suspect they will spend time transforming Anmer from a house to a home, and go to Scotland in September. Of course, George does change the dynamic, and they can always go both months...

British Monarchy Facebook

The Queen has already kicked this year's break off to an unusual start. When she appeared at the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games she was so close to the start of her holiday that she stayed in Scotland rather than trekking back to London. The problem presented was that Balmoral is open to the public during the summer and her early arrival caused a conflict with the tourists still wandering the estate. Instead of heading straight to Balmoral, the Queen spent the greater part of the week at Craigowan Lodge waiting for the tourist season to close and for Balmoral to be readied for her arrival. 

Kate and the Queen view her bridal gown on display at BP in 2011
British Monarchy Facebook

With the Queen away in Scotland for two months, the doors to Buckingham Palace are in turn thrown open to welcome the tourists. In 2011, after the Royal Wedding, Buckingham Palace displayed Kate's bridal own and accessories in the ballroom of BP. While not exclusively focused on Prince George, this summer you can see his christening gown on display, in addition to other paraphernalia of royal childhoods. 

via Twitter @RE_DailyMail

Commonwealth Games: Kate Wears Stella McCartney For SportsAid Reception

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kate started the second of her two days in Glasgow at a breakfast hosted by one of her patronages, SportsAid. The charity mentors promising athletes and has worked with many young people who have gone on to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics. 

Kate, who herself has an amateur background in rowing, chatting with an Olympic hopeful:
Twitter @Loney46

Twitter @ICoachChildren

At the same time, the boys were goofing off at Coach Core project. Something tells me that George gets a little of his playtime personality from Dad. :) 

The trio reunited to spend some time in the stands again. George might also have inherited some sports enthusiasm from Mom. It's a double whammy. It must have been pretty engaging, though, because even Mr. Security was grinning:

William seemed a little concerned about Kate's footing, which isn't entirely surprising given she was wearing the towering Corkswoons....

While his concern for Kate's safety and comfort is one of his most endearing qualities, Kate was ok, because these Weitzman wedges are Kate's sport shoes. She is nimbler than a mountain goat in them. They are her jumping shoes:

Her "clamber uncomfortably close to cliff" shoes:

Her "climb all over chairs' shoes:

And she has only once come close to a tumble:

This afternoon, the shoes were at it again. The highlight of the day had to have been the Cambridges time playing children's games with kids involved with UNICEF:

That is how a princess does it.

@UNICEF_uk Twitter

Kate is going to be a really fun mom. I can already see them trying these out in Granny Carole's garden or the yard at Amner Hall:

@UNICEF_uk Twitter

Kate pulled a recycle, wearing her electric blue Stella McCartney for the 4th time. I think I will call it her Sporting Stella. Three out of the four wears have been sports related. The NPG event was the launch of the "Sports Star" exhibit in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics, The second wear was to cheer Andy Murray on at Wimbledon, (I suppose we could argue that handling squirming George while deplaning gracefully is athletic enough to be considered a sport, too, but let's just leave it out) and now this wear to the Commonwealth Games... Yep, I dub it the Sporty Stella:

Today she styled it almost identically to her appearance at Wimbledon, only adding her Asprey charm necklace: the Sporty Stella paired with the much coveted, but sadly sold-out, Smythe blazer. I really do love rewears. Kate looks fabulous in this beautiful dress, but variety is the spice of life, and some subtle changes are always appreciated, if for nothing else, than to quickly be able to differentiate the two when sifting through several hundred photos of the Duchess.  Little changes...Maybe using hats:

Updo vs. loose:

Adding bling-a-ding:

Or, both a hairstyle switch-up and added bling-a-ding. (It's like a blow-out bar menu):

Despite the lack of significant change, it was still fantastic, and frankly we didn't get really great shots at Wimbledon, so this was an opportunity to more fully appreciate the mix. 

Fashion verdict: I loved it. I have always loved it, but I loved it again. This entire outfit was a no-cut-corners ensemble. The Stella McCartney has always been a striking shift dress, and the Smythe blazer  is sharp and smart as can be. It was great pairing at Wimbledon, and a great pairing today. It would have been fun had she put her hair up in a relaxed bun or pony, but I can't complain with the classic Kate. She looked great and they all had fun. Speaking of she looked great...she looked great! Who would guess she gave birth just barely over a year ago... 

Wills, Kate, and Harry Spend the Day at the Commonwealth Games

Monday, July 28, 2014

As scheduled, our second favorite royal trio, (only recently dropping from first place after the arrival of a certain chubby-cheeked little man) are in Scotland today. The Earl and Countess of Strathearn, accompanied by Prince Harry, attended the first of two planned days at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

I have to say that I find something comforting in Kate's adherence to a sport "uniform." I too have certain outfits for particular types of events that I go back to again and again and again; I am sure many others do as well.  I understand that there seems to be a certain boredom with the whole ensemble, but honestly when I sat down to think of ways she could switch it all up, I didn't have a very large range of options. Part of the problem that Kate faces is one we all face...change one element and you toss the balance of the look. Still, she has added variety in the past:
Times Kate has broken from her habitual blue skinnies and blazer include...The polka dot blouse and red blazer at the Olympics. We haven't seen this since, so I rather suspect it was one of those times she jumped in with both feet, but found the water too tepid to her taste. It certainly was a lot going on for the usually more subtle Duchess:

...her blue skinnies and Olympic T:

The white skirt from the archives. This was the first and last we have seen her watch a sporting event (excluding Wimbledon, of course) in a skirt.

I liked very much these bold red trainers with the matching red top. It was striking without overwhelming, which is always a good balance:

These tangerine skinnies when she popped in for a short visit at Olympic Park. On that occasion she showcased the colorful jeans both more formally with heels, a blazer, and scarf...

And more relaxed in trainers and a sport top on the turf:

I really loved the coral skinnies with the blazer. It was the right pop of color, she was radiant, and the scarf added just the touch to pull it all together very smartly. It was a major success. I would be happy to see that again. Frankly, I would be very happy if she just wore flats. She looked darling in those flats in Auckland. I think she is probably trying to create a certain professional-but-dressed-down look, which she is doing very well, but I wouldn't mind the flats. It was a very cute.

So, there are some variations that Kate could play, but ultimately it is a fairly narrow scope. There just aren't the same possibilities when you are going to be seated in stadium chairs half the day as there are for the average public engagement. But hey, back to today. It was her Zara skinnies and blazer, her Stuart Weitzman Corkswoons, the Russell & Bromley "Muse" clutch, and her citrine drops from Kiki McDonough.

Kate was wearing an as yet un-identified sleeveless, striped top.

Handsome Harry charming the onlookers:

The fun thing about these sports events is that although we do not get the same fashion fun, we always have fantastic little interactions between the Cambridges. It is hard to say for certain what William was whispering to Kate, but...

This is the face he got out of it...

Yes, that is William's hand on Kate's knee. Yes, they are still pretty much the cutest couple out there.

Kate: "William, the cameras! The CAM-er-as!"
Wills: "I do not care!"

William seemed in pretty high spirits most of the day. While Harry is usually the one who is egging his brother and sister-in-law into giggle fits, Wills was doing a good job of stealing the role:

The Royals are issued passes, just like everyone else. Well, perhaps not just like everyone else. I believe Kate's pass says: distinguished guest, which is certainly not an understatement.

A lot of us wonder what cellphones the royals use, since they are almost never photographed holding one. I haven't seen Kate carry a cellphone since before she married. Today, we got a glimpse of what I am fairly certain is hers. Whether they were engrossed by a picture of George throwing cheerios at home, checking stats on one of the athletes, or Googling good places for a quick bite afterward, one thing is certain: that is not an iPhone. :(  (I have it on reliable information that this is a Samsung Galaxy about awesome product placement.)

The royals skipped around to a number of events over the course of the day. The schedule was not released beforehand to help security keep everything in hand, but they attended gymnastics, boxing, hockey, and swimming...

I will be updating toward the end of the day!

Kate & William Attend Eton Friend Alexander Vaulkhard's Wedding in Batcombe, Dorset

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Yesterday, Kate and William were at the wedding of Alexander Vaulkhard and Sarah Nicholson in Batcombe, Dorset. (Early photos available here) Mr. Security was on hand as well, just in case you have been wondering how well he pulls off morning dress... you get one guess on the answer to that. I have a sense his private motto is: "Keeping Wills & Kate Safe; Keeping Harry Humble."  I don't know for sure, I just have this sense...  Back to the lady of the blog! I would say I have no idea what dress she is wearing, except for what appears to be the same sleeve as the dress she wore to Santa Barbara polo.  

Polo 2011

I love almost every element of the dress. Its floaty and feminine and flatters Kate's perfect figure. But I'll tell you, Jenny P--and we love her--must have been a little too far into a bottle of red the night she chose this print. Really. It is dull, and far too old for Kate. This is not fun, this boring. This...has dust on it. And it doesn't get better with age. 

Polo 2011

It seems that Kate likes it, though, because this is the second wedding to which she has worn it. She wore it in 2012 to Emily McCorquodale's wedding. (If you can spell McCorquodale without Googling it, message me and I will give you a prize. I jest, but...) At that time, Kate paired the polo dress with the stunning Catherine Hooker coat that took our breath away at the Order of the Garter. Unfortunately, pairing that luminously beautiful coat with this dress was like asking a chorus member to sing the lead in an opera even though you have Placido Domingo standing by. It doesn't do anyone any favors.

Kate Wearing the Katherine Hooker

That being said, she was still radiantly beautiful on that occasion. I love this picture below. The row of fans snapping away. Harry and William (a smile just perceptible along the side of his face) waiting while Kate walks to join them. You can see she is aware. She sees the hubbub, she feels it, she is even twisting her ring a little, but she has a serene and confident smile on her face. Her presence is commanding. Anyone concerned that the media attention is too much for her need only examine her expression here. Kate the Great, folks. Kate. The. Great. 

It is also possible this dress has subtle magic powers of PDA, since on every occasion we have some sweet little moments between our favorite love-birds. I am forced to approve. What I really am waiting to see is if this wear is THE ONE where she transforms "blah" into "ahhh." That would be cool. 

Basically, while I can't say I love the print, everything else clicks for me. None of this chit chat changes the fact we still have no pictures from yesterday. You can view the first few here, as mentioned earlier, but nothing super hi-res, much to my disappointment. I will update if/when those are available. 

George's Swim Lessons at the Palace

Saturday, July 26, 2014

When Prince William said that bath time with George "had become quite painful" many of us assumed he meant the baby prince had an antipathy for water. This weekend is has been revealed that George has been going with his mother to Buckingham Palace regularly for swim lessons in the palace's private pool. Indeed, on the morning of his birthday, that was the royal errand the two were undertaking. (Although, I think it possible he stopped of to say "hi" to great grand-father, too.) So, perhaps George likes the water too much at bath time...

On the way to BP for a Birthday Swim
The pool is in a room that was a conservatory until it was converted to a private pool in 1938, so it has beautiful windows to let in the natural light. Staff are allowed to use the pool, but have to exit if a member of the royal family arrives--unless they are invited to stay. According to Victoria Arbiter, whose father Dickie was press secretary to the Queen, he used to swim very early in the pool before work...before Diana would arrive for her splash time. In the below photo, the glass room on the far left of the photo (BP's right) is the pool. There is another similar, but smaller room that mirrors this one on the far right, but that is the chapel, I believe.

Both of George's parents love water. Prince Charles recently passed the scuba baton to his son when he handed him the presidency of the British Sub-Aqua Club.

William Scuba Diving (via British Monarchy Facebook)
Of course, William and Kate spend more holiday time at beaches and tropical locales than any other genre of vacation destination, and George was barely 6 months old when he took his first overseas vacation to none other than the island paradise of Mustique. The sooner Mr. Georgie learns the ropes in the water, the better. 

The Buckingham Palace pool is the perfect solution to the quandary Kate would be in when finding a place to swim with George. While Kate reportedly joined the Harbour Club (Diana's favorite members only fitness club) in the run-up to her marriage, and took advantage of their indoor pool, she could hardly bring the most popular little prince in the world along to enjoy the water.  Although I am sure all members and guests at the Harbour Club--or any exclusive gym--would be polite and discreet while adult Kate professionally went about exercising or getting in a few laps, it would be hard not to stare a little at cute little George. It is equally hard to imagine that Kate could relax and let her hair down with even the most polite of strangers present. Only an entirely private pool can provide this royal duo with the seclusion they need.

To Kate's clothes....Remember the pink McQuene that Kate wore to Adelaide? I LOVED it, and I think many of you did, too. But, there were complaints that at times the hemline didn't look level.

We had pegged it for McQueen separates, but the always thorough Susan at WKW has just recently discovered that it was in fact a modified dress.  Guess what the major modification was? The hemline!

I am surprised that if Kate had it changed to level, it didn't fall perfectly even. Perhaps it was not modified at all, but I think the length discrepancy is quite marked on the original and not anywhere near as sharp on Kate. The only other possibility I see is that she wanted the length difference as modeled, but wanted it softened, which to my mind would be a mistake. It is hard to say. It remains one of my favorite dresses of the tour, though. I just love it  a million times over.

Don't forget: July 28th and 29th William and Kate (and Uncle Harry) will be in Glasgow, Scotland for the Commonwealth Games!! 

Party at the Palace: Prince George's Birthday Party at Apartment 1A

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What would George's birthday be if we didn't have a little media stake-out?  It had been reported that the Queen would be the guest of honor at a family birthday party for George at Kensington Palace today. In the morning, however, Kate drove George herself (accompanied by Nanny Maria) to Buckingham Palace to see his great-grandfather Prince Philip. Reports are that the Queen's guards played a "Happy Birthday" tune for the baby prince. Then it was back to KP and by approximately 3pm, guests began to turn up at Kensington Palace. 

First to arrive were the birthday boy's grandparents, Michael and Carole, who arrived at KP in separate cars.

The Middletons were closely followed by Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton. Jamie has been a longtime senior staff member to the Wales princes and only just resigned as principal private secretary in the fall of last year. I believe he remains on once a week to help the transition.  He has been with William since the earliest days of Kate and William's relationship, and is one of George's god-parents. Mr. Lowther-Pinerton was carrying a brightly wrapped present for the little prince. (Below, Kate is pictured greeting Jamie at a polo game in 2006)

Uncle James arrived driving what was described as "an F type Jaguar" with conflicting reports about a female companion. If he was accompanied, presumably it was his girlfriend of some time now, Donna Air, since Pippa arrived later. (James and Donna pictured in September of last year)

Kate's school chum and close friend Emilia Jardine-Paterson (née d'Erlanger) also arrived with her son Leo. Emilia has been tipped as the friend who most influences Kate's fashion. While I believe Kate has a very strong sense of her own style, friends often share similar tastes, so I am happy to imagine that these two share a shopping bond. Mrs. Jardine-Paterson is certainly a beautifully dressed woman. Indeed, this afternoon it almost appeared that she was wearing the printed Beulah that we have seen Kate wear before:

A cheeky neighbor enjoyed his front row view as the guests continued to make their way to the party:

Zara and Mike arrived with their daughter Mia. Mike told reporters that George met Mia at Highgrove when she was about two months old. Mr. George wasn't entirely behaving that afternoon, and apparently was throwing his food around while his infant (second?) cousin slept peacefully away.  Hopefully, everyone stays calm this afternoon.

Pippa arrived not long after and it is assumed that Uncle Harry just wandered over to Apartment 1A from his quarters at the cottage that William and Kate occupied when they were first married. Other guests may have included Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and there were reports of a van Cutsem and other close friends of the Duke and Duchess.

But, the looming question hung in the air...would the Queen be arriving, as Camilla Tominey of the Express had predicted?  A first birthday is a big deal, and she did!

The Queen was driven to KP smiling and waving at the well-wishers, and stayed around 50 minutes to celebrate Georgie's birthday. Former royal chef Darren McGrady described the menu of royal birthday parties of the past to People:
Tiny jelly sandwiches, including one called the jam penny — “just bread, butter and jam cut into little two-inch circles, to resemble the old English penny,” McGrady says — are a staple. So are mini egg mayonnaise sandwiches. “We would cut them into horse shapes or animal shapes. And we would add berries, like fresh strawberries to the table.”
Hard to say what Kate and her mother Carole whipped up for this occasion, but I am sure it sprang from the same delightful mix of elegance and charm showcased in George's whimsical birthday shoot. Perhaps it was butterfly themed?

Where Were You When The Great Kate Wait Concluded? Prince George's Birthday In Review

People often have very vivid memories of dark events, national crises and tragedies. It seems everyone who was alive at the time can remember with absolute clarity where they were when JFK was shot, or for my generation, what we were doing when we realized the United States was under assault on September 11th. But, I don't think we should only remember the dark times. The excitement of July 22nd is still very vivid in my memory, and probably yours, and vidid. As Kate fanatics, we all were a little obsessed with the imminent arrival of the royal prince or princess. The Palace had not released a due date for the Duchess, only hinting at mid-July. So, it was anyone's guess, and the media didn't want to guess wrong. July 1st the cameras and journalists set up camp outside St. Mary's Lindo Wing. I was cockily calm at the start, convinced she was not due that first week, nor that she would come too early.

By the second week, though, the tension began to creep in. Assuming she was due mid July, she could possibly come a little early... Soon, I was sleeping fitfully, my phone by my pillow, starting awake in the middle of the night to scroll through my notifications. As the press continued to swelter in the scorching July sun, I was doubly tense because I was facing a trip to France. The first leg of my holiday was in the south, where I would not necessarily have internet. I prayed that the unknown little royal would either come before I left, or hold off those few days.  As the plane engines churned on the day of departure, and I powered down my phone for the 8 hour flight across the Atlantic to Nice, I said a silent prayer that Kate would hold strong. Not, yet, I prayed, not in the next 8 hours! The phone went black, and we lifted off into the dusky sunset for France...

via Instagram @6nagram

Descending into Nice, I stared out the window at the turquoise blue of the Mederteranean Sea. My sister slumbered peacefully next to me, while I maniacally cluctehd my cell phone wondering if I powered it up with 10  minuets to touchdown if I was endangering the flight. A law-abiding Americana, I subdued the urge and hoped that the British heir hadn't miraculously popped out and been named in the short time it took me to cross to the continent. When we finally landed and I powered up, the news was the same. The Great Kate Wait was still going strong at the Lindo Wing, with not signs of relief for the sweltering press.

I spent four days on the Riverea. Soaking up the sun, the aqua-marine waters, the delightful native French, the local culture...and searching for cell reception. We were well past the 15th--was this child ever going to come? Would we spend eternity tied to the phone watching our favorite reporters and photographers slowly expire from heat exhaustion and sun exposure? By the time I got to Paris, I was at the end of my rope--and from all repots anarchy was close to breaking out in the press pack. The unsung heroes of that July may have been starting to see royal baby mirages by the evening of the 21st... The morning of the 22nd of July dawned much like the preceding ones. I jolted awake with the sun pouring in the window. Paris was sweltering, too, and even at a little after 7am local time, the delicate sunbeams were quickly heating my already warm room to an oven. The crenelated spires of the Sorbonne were visible through my window, but all I wanted was my phone...And at last, the alert was there. Still fresh news: Kate has been spotted by photographers slipping into a back entrance of St. Mary's in the barely lit hours of the dawn. Showing the proper judgement call, the photographers did not snap the laboring princess, and I think that remains one of the beautiful little stories around George's birth.

The waiting wasn't over, though. The day slipped by with no news of a new prince or princess. It wasn't until almost dinner that the Palace announced Kate had delivered a boy several hours before.  George was born at 4:24p.m. at 8lbs 6oz, but William and Kate kept the news private while they phoned close family and simply soaked up time with their son before the frenzy broke loose. Break it did. Outside of Buckingham Palace it was a madhouse as the announcement was placed on the easel:

via Instagram @elanasolomon1

Despite the level 3 heat warning, the euphoria in the capital was palatable, and the press, released from almost a month of burning and boring days, leapt into action. News outlets around the world began airing their pre-redorded specials on royal births of past and recent history, speculation on the baby's name, and even on godparents for the tot were the order of the evening. Remember this guy? What a dude.

The mood was considerably lighter the morning of the 23rd. Now that the baby was born, our interest turned to the next milestone of the event as a whole: the appearance on the steps of the Lindo Wing. When would William and Kate take their baby home? When were we going to see Baby Cambridge for the first time? We had to wait our turn as the first visitors to the hospital were his Middleton grandparents. Mike and Carole arrived by cab and spent about an hour with their new grandson:

The cabbie who picked the Middletons up told her story of pure chance that had her participating in a little slice of history:

It was certainly a popcorn and candy sort of a day. Having stared at an entirely static door for close to a month, these comings and goings were riveting for royal watchers intent on soaking up every second of the well-deserevd excitement. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were next to visit the newest heir to the throne:

The question of the new prince's departure was still in the air, although the palace promised that if they left that night, it would not be before 6pm. At 6pm KP confirmed that the couple would take their son home that evening. I think the wait for the Wills and Kate to walk out that front door was almost worse than the entire saga of the Great Kate Wait. The three did not emerge until a little after 7pm. The culmination of nine months of pregnancy watch, 22 days of sweltering and nerve jangling waiting, and a little over 24 hours of exhausted excitement, the little prince was finally making his iconic world debut--and my gosh was it worth it:

Kate and William spoke briefly to the press before returning inside to bid final farewell to staff, strap Baby Cambridge into his carseat, and take their leave of the Lindo:

The couple returned to Kensington Palace, where a doubtless exuberant Pippa and James waited to meet their first nephew. The Cambridges wasted little time bumming about their London home, and were on the road the next day for two weeks of quiet, rest, and relaxation with the Middletons in Berkshire. The happy snaps we got from those two weeks were the pictures of deep contentment. 

In some ways the Great Kate Wait was absolutely miserable. Stressful, time-consuming, and for those physically waiting outside the hospital it was day after day of scorching ennui. But, despite the discomfort or inconvenience, it was a wait filled with happy anticipation. The tension paid tribute to the historic nature of the event, as well as contributing to the outpouring of joy when the long-waited day finally arrived. I think all the waiting and nervousness made those 48 hours from the morning of the 22nd to the evening of the 23rd all the more memorable. George's birth lifted the British nation and people around the world in common good-will. He has certainly been the gift that keeps giving as the world has been enchanted by the little prince in this first year. 

It is hard to believe that hot July is now a full year ago. Hard also to believe how much everyone's favorite little royal has grown. At the photo-shoot for his first birthday, inquisitive George got to play with butterflies.
He was fascinated to see them fly by, but a little scared when they got a bit too close to him. 
William and Kate released a statement of thanks to well-wishers:
We would like to take this opportunity on George's first birthday to thank everyone over the last year, wherever we have met them, both at home and overseas, for their warm and generous good wishes to George and our family. 
It has been widely reported that William and Kate will throw a family birthday party for Prince George at their freshly renovated Kensington Palace apartment today. The guest of honor is purportedly Her Majesty the Queen. I imagine that Kate will probably use her brand new kitchen to make George a themed birthday cake, as she so fondly remembers her mother doing for her when she was a child. 

Happy Birthday, Prince George! You certainly warm our hearts...smiling or somber!