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Kate Middleton's 10 Years Attending the Order of the Garter!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Ten years ago today, June 16, 2008, Kate Middleton made one of her very rare appearances with the royal family as William's girlfriend. It was an historic occasion that brought Miss Middleton out to mingle with the BRF in front of the cameras. She was at Windsor Castle to see her boyfriend Prince William became the thousandth Royal Knight of the Garter. It was his first Garter Day as a member, and it was her first appearance as a guest! 

The Most Noble Order of the Garter was instituted by Edward III, one of England's most successful and powerful monarchs, who reigned over a veritable golden age for the island kingdom. He launched this order of chivalry in 1348 (some dispute the exact year) and it has become Britain's most prestigious order of chivalry. The fact that Prince William, in 2008, pushed the numbered knights to a thousand is proof positive the order is one of extreme selectivity.

As a Kate fan back in 2008, seeing her at this event was electrifyingly exciting. She wore a ladylike, fitted suit she'd been pictured in before. Kate wore this suit to an art opening in Ireland in April of 2007 right after she split from William!  As a royal, she wore it in 2013 to sign a condolence book after Nelson Mandela's death, and again in 2015 to visit the French Embassy in London to sign a condolence book in the wake of the November 13th attacks. Although it has been relegated to somber and sober events in the past decade, back to 2008, it was quite the sophisticated ensemble. She paired the suit with a lovely Philip Somerville hat and classic pearls. Her suede ribbon clutch hasn't been seen in a while, but it was such a favorite of hers for so many years!!

We wouldn't see Kate at Garter Day again until she was an HRH. The Princess attended her first Garter Day as a royal in June 2011, shortly after her return from her honeymoon. Her silvery grey ensemble for that event is absolutely one of her best royal looks ever. The new duchess turned to Katherine Hooker, a label she favored as a single girl and as a freshly-minted duchess. This slimming, light coat over a delicate silk-crepe dress with a draped neckline hit just the right note at this important annual event. 

Kate paired the coat and dress with a striking, bespoke disc-hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan. Something about the twisted pheasant feathers that completed this hat gave it the perfect flare for Garter Day's medieval roots.

Her earrings were her Kiki McDonough Grace studs, which Kate wore for years, and still occasionally pulls out, although glitzier Kikis often take center stage these days. The small cross necklace she wore was a frequent accessory in her single days, but she stopped wearing it within a few years of her marriage. 

For me, Garter Day 2011 is probably still my favorite, although it has stiff competition from almost every other year Kate has attended. In 2012, the Duchess was back recycling the ruffled McQueen she had worn to Trooping in 2011. Fans were elated at the chance to get a full look after we only got a teasing preview at Trooping. Peeking out beneath the coat is Kate's Reiss Peacock dress, which we just talked about in the Epsom look-back. 

Kate chose a Jane Corbett creation to top off her 2012 ensemble. As you know, if you are a longtime reader, I think Corbett was one of the most talented milliners Kate has collaborated with in her time as a royal (and I miss her now she has hung up her hat). Although this hat did not showcase Jane Corbett's creative genius, it was young and fun and the right pair for this ensemble. 

Kate was wearing her green amethyst drops circled in diamonds (the older pair--a custom order from Prince William as a gift for his bride), and carried her very popular Natalie clutch from L.K. Bennett. Every year, William casts a glance over to his grinning wife under the canopy. This shot captures the two right their exchange. 

Kate clearly determined not to make Garter Day an annual event. She did not make an appearance in 2013. Although she attended Trooping a few days before, Kate was in the final month before George's birth at that point, and doubtless decided it was best to give Garter Day a pass. She was back the next year! In 2014, Kate returned to Windsor in an ensemble that was a decided miss for me, but may have struck a more positive chord in other quarters. 

This coat was by Christopher Kane and was a recycle for Kate from events celebrating the 2012 London Games. Kate turned to John Lock & Co. for her hat, which was outside the box for Kate. In 2014, she was transitioning a little with her fashion, and this ensemble has always been one of the rockier ones in my book. Still, this hat that looks like an open oyster with a little pearl has its merits, and I loved these UFO earrings that matched everything so perfectly. 

In 2015, Kate gave Garter Day a miss again, as she was a little over a month post-partum with Charlotte. In 2016, however, Kate was back with a bang recycling some of her early, iconic pieces for an absolutely stunning ensemble that pulled together big-ticket, sartorial history. This bold red Catherine Walker got its first wear in Canada 2011, on the Duchess's first blockbuster trip with Prince William. 

The hat had equally prestigious debut. This Lock & Co. was a recycle from the 2012 Thames River Pageant, one of the most remarkable of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee events. The Pageant featured 670 boats parading down the Thames, which was the largest parade of its kind in history. It was a smash hit then and it was a smash hit in 2016. 

The pièce de résistance, however, was absolutely Kate's earrings. These diamond acorn and oak leaves are instantly recognizable as the earrings the Middletons commissioned from Robinson Pelham for their daughter's 2011 Royal Wedding! We hadn't seen these since Kate waved her final farewell on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on the afternoon of her marriage. 

In 2017, Kate was again absent from Garter Day.  A reader reminded me there was no Garter Day in 2017, which means Kate has only missed in baby years! Her other two absences have been in years she was pregnant or recently postpartum. I can think of an argument that would support the likelihood Kate will attend this year, and one that would argue against it. But, obviously I am hoping, on this ten-year anniversary of William's investiture, that the Duchess makes an appearance on Monday. Finger crossed!

The Cambridges Enjoy An Afternoon At Beaufort Polo

Sunday, June 10, 2018

We have been waiting a long time for Princess Charlotte to finally make her polo field debut, and this morning everyone's wish was finally granted. The Duchess of Cambridge brought her two little ones (Louis still has to stay home) to the Beaufort Polo Club to watch Prince William compete in the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy. At some point, Charlotte was doing actual summersaults to the delight of her mother--and I think all royal watchers were joining her in spirit over these fun photo-sets.

The pictures that emerged were predictably adorable. This year, with double the Cambridge babies on hand, there was double adorable. Charlotte has a pair of sunnies she was enjoying. Maybe taking a cue from Gan-Gan? The Queen had cataract surgery recently and has been pictured wearing (unusually) sunglasses as several events. 

The Cambridges were at the sporting event with Autumn Phillips and her children, whom we just saw on the balcony yesterday. 

Much was made of Savannah Philips hushing Prince George yesterday during Trooping. Although children certainly have less inhibition, and start mixing it up with their peers far faster than an adult would, I thought her action suggested the second-cousins probably socialize often. Today's antics, and Charlotte's obvious relaxed attitude with Savannah, seem to confirm the theory.

Charlotte and George seem to be perfectly capable of amusing themselves, too, and there are number of sweet shots of Princess Charlotte keeping up with her big brother! I think this is the most casual we have seen George at an event like this?

There was plenty to keep the kids busy in addition to the fast-paced polo game. A helter-skelter by the field provided some extra excitement, and I have to give Kate lots of credit for getting all the way up there in a dress.  I think Kate is watching one of her little ones on the exterior slide, and I assume she followed shortly after. Sadly, I haven't found any photographic evidence, but how else would you get down! 

In addition to the polo mallets, coloring books, and slinky toys, the boys enjoyed what looks to have been a "tools of a police officer" toy set, since they had guns and handcuffs! This all reminds me so much of my childhood--I hope William and Kate have shown George a John Wayne or two. ;) 

It's hard to believe the last time we saw George at polo he was a little toddler squealing with delight as he tumbled down the hill, and just two summers later he looks long and lanky and almost ready to audition for the next Bond film.

George and Charlotte weren't the only ones running around. While coming down this steep incline, Kate ended up in what appears to be a forced run. 

I love how she ended it with a look on her face that said, "yes, I know this is now on camera...oh well."

Kate chose another light and airy summer frock from Zara. This is the label's "Striped Off-The-Shoulder" dress which retails for about $70. 

She was wearing new Russell & Bromley "Coco-Nut" wedges, which I am willing to bet she was also wearing to the Houghton Horse Trials, but we just couldn't make them out when she was kneeling. 

Finally, she was also toting her Victoria Beckham bag, visible here, and behind her in several of the shots of her sitting on the grass. 

There are a plethora of photos out there. It was a beautiful day full of fun and laughter. I loved Kate's relaxed, but feminine look. I suspect she feels more comfortable in front of the cameras wearing a dress right now, rather than skinnies. I thought she looked absolutely radiant. Motherhood really suits her. 

Trooping the Colour 2018: Kate & Meghan Make Balcony Debut Together

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Trooping the Colour is a fan favorite for good reason. All our favorite royals (even those on maternity leave!) come out in their finest to enjoy England's summer sunshine, a bright and bubbling London, and celebrate Her Majesty the Queen.

For Kate fans, the festivities got started this morning when the parade of carriages from the Horse Guards made its way up the Mall carrying the waving royals. As usual, Kate joined Camilla in a carriage, since Prince William rides a horse for Trooping. 

William always looks quite regal in his bearskin hat, albeit sweltering. 

The newly minted Duke of Sussex got his own carriage this year as he debuted his bride at this annual parade. 

Meghan went with a soft pink ensemble, which turned out to be a bespoke Carolina Herrera. She paired it with a Philip Treacy hat, and I still think this is a recycle of the hat she wore to the Buckingham Palace garden party, but I can't say I have investigated closely. If you follow Meghan closely and can confirm, comment below! 

The adult members of the BRF take to the balcony at the end of parade before the rest of the royals (like William) join them with the kids. Back when George or Charlotte needed to be held more, it was always nice to get the earlier shot for fashion's sake.

This year was no exception as Kate, Meghan, and Harry mingled on the balcony and we got a glimpse at the ladies' clutches. Kate looks to be carrying a McQueen to match her dress, and Meghan paired her designer, too, carrying a Carolina Herrera clutch. 

Little Louis didn't make the cut for Trooping (we never expected him to make an appearance), but both George and Charlotte are old enough to stand on their own,  so it was a new dynamic this year as both children enjoying the balcony along with their second-cousins Savannah and Isla Phillips.  

Charlotte is quite the little character. I don't know what momentarily displeased her, but she certainly doesn't keep anyone guessing about her state of mind.

With some gentle encouragement from Savannah, Kate had Charlotte calmed quickly and back with her buddies enjoying the excitement.

Let's chat fashion. This custom McQueen was picture perfect in my book. It was simple with little fuss, so it flattered Kate's still recovering figure, but the peaked shoulders added a regal flare that took it from a plain-jane dress to an occasion piece. Something about the pleating along those peaks made me think of Cinderella, too. It was quite a princess-y look. Her Kiki McDonough blue topaz drops and Eden topaz necklace added the necessary sparkle.

The new hat has me pleased as punch. Kate has been wearing very simple silhouettes by Jane Taylor for a few years now, and with huge success in my book. These are just four examples of the oval shape and the pointed base that Kate has favored. 

But in the past year or so she has moved toward busier bases with lots happening under the brim. I like this progression. I love the fleet of Jane Taylors she was wearing, but I was ready for these more assertive hats, too. Disc hats generally deliver in the flare department, and although she isn't going all out to the size/scope that she could (e.g. Meghan's hat today, or the Philip Treacy Kate wore to Trooping in 2016), this hat is a continuation of her chapeaux's shifting gears.

The only thing I don't love about today's hat is the twist of knotted silk under the brim. This isn't the first time Kate has had an embellishment like this. One notable example is her Gina Foster hat for Zara Tindall's wedding, which had a similar twist under the brim. While certainly bringing the disc-hat wow factor, it looked a little dried out to me.

I would prefer just a collection of flowers, similar to her Philip Treacy for Trooping in 2016, or at least a hat that featured a design heavier on the flowers and light on the silk tie. That would be a little fresher and younger looking. 

Today was a wonderful Trooping. Kate looked magnificent, as I expected her to, and it was fun to see the family grow with the addition of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as their own unit. 

Happy Official Birthday to the Queen!

RAF Photo Ops

"Sneak Peek" Kate & Meghan at Trooping 2018

[Update: full post is live here] Good morning, all! It's Trooping the Colour Saturday and Kate and Meghan have already debuted their ensembles in the carriage ride. I will be posting later today when all the pictures come in, but this is your little "Sneak Peek!" The Duchess of Cambridge turned to McQueen again for this pale blue dress,  but introduced a new milliner into her closet. Juliette Botterill made this topper! 

Meghan and Harry are back from their honeymoon, as you probably all knew, and she is wearing pink. That hat is a Treacy recycle, I believe. It looks like the same one she wore to the BP garden party just after her wedding. 

Ok, kids, more in a bit.

Look-Back: Kate's 2011 Appearance at the Epsom Derby

Monday, June 4, 2018

We all have our favorite William and Kate engagements. Or several. For me, their appearance at the Epsom Derby on June 4, 2011, just a little over a month after their marriage, remains one of the absolute best. Fans were still riding the high of the Royal Wedding and it was still a new excitement to see Kate as a member of the royal fold--standing next to William at public events as his wife--rather than the discreet girlfriend getting papped in the streets of London. This picture in particular was electrifyingly exciting. I'm not saying royal watching isn't fun anymore, but gosh, there was a special magic in those early days.

I also still love this event for its fashion. Kate plucked her white Reiss "Peacock" dress from her closet and paired it with a soft Joseph blazer. I know the whites aren't a perfect match, but I even loved that. Kate was super tan from her honeymoon in the Seychelles, and the creams and whites of her outfit set off her color to perfection. 

She wore her Whiteley hat in Cappuccino, Kiki McDonough citrine drops, and (of course) her nude Sledge pumps from L.K. Bennett, which would become her signature shoe for the next several years. 

The new princess was certainly the belle of this ball. 

And the life of the party, if the pictures were anything to go by. :) 

Unhappily, in the seven years since this idyllic looking day, William and Kate have not returned to Epsom. Although Kate is unlikely to attend this year, I accept Ascot as a fabulous substitute for Epsom. Still, the fun photos from that happy afternoon are some of my favorite.