Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Kate Brings Back McQueen from George's Christening for Garden Party, Kate's ICPCN Letter & Outings with the Children!

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the Queen's last garden party of the season at Buckingham Palace this afternoon.

Today's party marked a milestone for Prince William - the first one at Buckingham Palace he has attended.

 Also present were Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the Gloucesters, and the Duke of Kent.

The royals stepped out at 4 pm to the national anthem playing before dispersing into the crowd, each taking a separate route, known as 'lanes', to ensure as many guests as possible have the opportunity to chat with a member of the Royal family.

The parties are a staple on the royal calendar with Her Majesty hosting at least three annually at Buckingham Palace, and one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. The garden parties were instituted by Queen Victoria in the 1860s when they were known as 'breakfasts', despite taking place in the afternoon.

Kate chats with a guest.

The Duchess is pictured with her hair stylist Amanda Cook-Tucker and her PA Natasha Archer. The man talking to Kate is Getty Images royal photographer Chris Jackson, who is also Natasha's boyfriend.

William mingling with the crowd.

Her Majesty looked regal in a striking blue Stewart Parvin ensemble and a hat by milliner Rachel Trevor Morgan.

The Duchess of Gloucester also wore blue.

Kate shares a laugh with guests.

An overview of the party.

With an 8,000-strong crowd, enormous quantities of refreshments are served. More from the official website:

'Over the course of each year, the Queen welcomes over 30,000 guests to spend a relaxed summer afternoon in the beautiful gardens of Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse. At each Garden Party, around 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cake are consumed! Garden Parties are an important way for the Queen to speak to a broad range of people from all walks of life, all of whom have made a positive impact in their community.'

A selection of the cakes served.

The Palace has been sharing a behind-the-scenes look at garden parties. In and around the rose garden regular work includes dead-heading, weeding and clipping to ensure everything is as beautiful as possible. And in the final days and hours before guests arrive, final touches to the lawns and grounds are made. Guests can also explore the history of the Queen's life in the Palace Gardens, which includes this magnolia gifted to Her Majesty on her 55th Birthday.

It's always interesting to see what the royals wear at the garden parties. As for the dress code, the Palace notes the following: "For a Garden Party, gentlemen wear morning dress or lounge suits, while women wear day dress, usually with hats or fascinators. National dress and uniform are also often worn."

Today marks Kate's fourth appearance at one of HM's garden parties. In 2012 and 2013 she selected designs by Emilia Wickstead. In 2014 she wore her very popular nude lace Alexander McQueen sheath dress. The yellow Wickstead coat was a new piece, while the other two looks were 'repeats'.

It came as no surprise to see the Duchess 'repeating' today. I expect it's done in an effort to minimize the attention drawn by her sartorial choices, ensuring the focus of the day remains on the event itself. It's something we often see Kate doing when she's attending an event with Her Majesty, such as last night's garden party.

A look at the back.

It was a treat to see Kate wearing the ivory Alexander McQueen dress she wore to Prince George's christening. It's a fantastic look on her; it proved a stellar choice for the christening and worked very well again in today's setting. The bespoke piece was described as: "From Spring Summer 2012 Collection, the leaf crepe garment with wave ruffle panel, rounded padded shoulders and silk lining."

Kate once again teamed it with the Georgie hat by Jane Taylor. The sophisticated sinamay beret with delicate silk/organza rose and classic veiling trim retailed for £755.

Jane Taylor

Kate accessorised with her pearls earrings.

Kate carried her new L.K. Bennett Nina Clutch.

L.K. Bennett

The Duchess also wore a new pair of suede pumps. We'll update when they are identified.

You can watch a video here.


In other news, the Duchess was spotted on an outing with George and Charlotte earlier today. Tweeter Political Pictures shared this snap of Kate smiling and looking on as George plays on a police motorcycle.

More from the Mail Online:

'As a young royal, he is used to having an armed escort, however today Prince George got his taste of what life is like for an officer - with a ride on an official Met Police motorbike.
The two-year-old was watched carefully by his mother the Duchess of Cambridge, who smiled as she held Princess Charlotte in a pushchair, while four officers helped the prince on to the vehicle and place his hands on the handle bars - which his little arms could just about reach. The scene, which took place today around Kensington Palace as the royal family waved off Princess Anne in a helicopter.'

The onlooker who took the photos said:

'I was walking to Notting Hill from Kensington to go to the gym when I saw a helicopter taking off at the back of Kensington Palace. I noticed George and his mother watching Princess Anne take off. The Princess was wearing a Navy uniform. After the helicopter took off, the prince had a go on a policeman's motorbike for quite a while. Kate was really smiley. There were about three or four hundred people watching. It was so lovely.'  

Kate looked very chic in the Great Plains Cezanne dress in its latest colourway; we wrote about the new print in a recent post.

The £75 ebony/navy combo is described: "Precision pleating features from the waist to the hemline of our best-selling Cezanne Pleated Dress for a feminine style that is as alluring in design as it is in print. Cinch in the waistband a little further when transitioning this chic dress into the evening." It's a very versatile and wearable piece - a great wardrobe staple.

Great Plains

Kate is known for purchasing pieces in a number of colourways, and she's previously worn the dress in two other prints.


The Duchess was also seen enjoying a stroll at Kensington Gardens with the children yesterday by Ashley Guitrau. As Kate pushed Charlotte with one hand, she held onto George with the other. Kate wore a long blue skirt with a matching blouse and a sweater around her shoulders. It looks like a lovely summery look for an outing with the children.


Our lovely reader Linda kindly emailed me a photo of Kate's latest portrait along with her letter in support of ICPCN. The Duchess wore a white jacket for the photo which was taken outside - perhaps at Kensington Palace? It's a lovely portrait.

Courtesy of Linda

In the letter of support for the International Children's Palliative Care Network's conference, Kate wrote:

'When families are confronted with the shattering news that their child has a life-limiting condition, their world can fall apart. For those facing this awful reality, access to hospice and palliative care services can transform their quality of life and help families to make the most of the time they have together.
I have had the privilege to see this transformational work for myself, both in the UK and through visiting inspirational hospices in Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. With each of these visits, what has consistently been clear to me is that while circumstances and environments can differ around the world - those involved in providing palliative support to families are united in their aim to provide the best and most loving care possible.
I have also been struck by their willingness to work together, and have seen the impact this can have. When healthcare workers share resources and expertise across borders, it can transform care services for organisations, and the families in their care.
I would like to thank the International Children's Palliative Care Network membership for being the global advocate for children receiving palliative care, and working to ensure that children and families across the world have a chance of accessing the vital lifeline. I wish all the delegates a successful conference and a special time together - to learn, share and plan together for the benefit of children everywhere.'

I was very impressed with this letter. I thought it informative and encouraging, drawing attention to the important work being done in palliative care, with Kate noting her own experiences and observations at hospices she has visited. A very nice message of support for those attending the conference.


Also today, news the Duchess held a meeting with representatives working in support of services for women in prisons yesterday (with thanks to Cepe). I imagine the meeting is a follow-up to Kate's visit to HMP Send last September.

Cepe Smith

And finally there's still time to enter our StyleRocks giveaway. If you'd like to win $500 worth of jewellery simply subscribe to the newsletter and let us know how you would spend your prize. All details can be found in this post.

Style Rocks

And we end today's bumper post with a shot of William and Kate boarding a helicopter this evening.

Catie Giebner Instagram

The Duchess appears to be wearing black.

Monday, 23 May 2016

UPDATED: The Cambridges Make Their Debut at the Chelsea Flower Show

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made their debut at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show today.

The show is very much considered Britain's undisputed horticultural event and known globally for its spectacular floral displays. It is also considered a staple on the royal calendar thanks to Her Majesty's patronage of the Royal Horticultural Society, and the show has been attended by countless royals over the years. Since the Queen's ascension to the throne in 1952, she has only missed it five times.

The Cambridges arrived with Prince Harry, who is becoming a regular at the event. Last year Harry was involved in a garden created for his charity Lesotho; at his request it featured plants that are both native to the UK and Lesotho.

There's been much speculation as to why William and Kate haven't previously attended, a spokesman said it was due to "diary issues. This year the diary has worked out fine and especially in the Queen’s 90th year, Their Royal Highness were keen to join her."

There was quite the royal guest list for this year's opening with other members of the Royal family present, including Prince Philip, the Duke of York and his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Princess Anne, the Countess of Wessex, the Gloucesters, the Kents, and Princess Alexandra.

A gorgeous shot of William and Kate.

The prestigious Chelsea Flower Show has been held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London every year since 1913, apart from gaps during the two world wars. It is attended by 157,000 visitors annually with tickets purchased in advance. Highlights of the show include avant-garde show gardens, and smaller artisan and urban-inspired gardens.

Preparations have been underway for some time.

This year's show was another visual feast featuring cutting-edge gardens from world renowned designers. One of the reasons for the large royal turnout was surely down to the selection of tributes for the Queen's 90th birthday.

To mark the occasion, the RHS installed a magnificent floral arch at the Bull Ring Gate entrance.

A photographic exhibition celebrating the Queen's regular visits to the flower show was on display.

Her Majesty enjoyed the displays.

The royals viewed a selection of exhibits.

Perhaps the most poignant of the displays was the '5000' poppies, an Australian community tribute for those who have served their country in wars and conflicts.

Designer Phillip Johnson - who won Best Show Garden in 2013 - is the creator behind the exhibit. Using almost 300,000 individually crocheted poppies, Phillip’s garden design covers nearly 2,000 sq m of the grounds.

More on the poppies from the RHS website:

'Phillip has collaborated with the 5000 Poppies Project on the design of his spectacular tribute garden. The design stems from an installation at Melbourne’s Federation Square on Anzac Day 2015.
 Creators of the 5000 Poppies project, Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight, initially set out to crochet 120 poppies to honour their fathers who both fought in the Second World War, but this quickly escalated into a final total well in excess of quarter of a million poppies from an estimated 50,000 contributors. It captured the hearts and imaginations of people from all over the world, and inspired Phillip to present the collection at Chelsea this year.
The poppies have been beautifully handmade as a tribute to those who served in all wars, creating a thread of connection to servicemen and women in the armed forces. Each of the hand-knitted and crocheted flowers was individually crafted by people from a range of cultures, and communities and ages, from two to 102 years old.'

The Countess of Wessex views the poppies. Sophie looked elegant in the Floral Ruffle Dress by Kate's favourite brand Alexander McQueen.

William and Kate were particularly keen to see one flower in contention for the coveted 'Flower of the Year' award - the Princess Charlotte Chrysanthemum.

Produced by Dutch company Deliflor, the world's largest chrysanthemum breeder, the flower is helping Kate's patronage East Anglia's Children's Hospices to bloom, with the charity receiving 50% of all royalties from sales.

The royals enjoyed the beautiful display at East Anglia's Children's Hospices garden.

Peeking to see a display.

This photo begs a caption contest :)

The Duchess was pictured grabbing a hanky from her clutch. I expect Kate may have encountered a touch of hay fever from the pollen.

The theme of this year's show will champion the health and wellbeing benefits of greening-up our grey spaces.

As a lover of flowers, plants and nature, it is always such a treat to see concept images of the displays. Below, a look at the Harrods British Eccentrics Garden by Diarmuid Gavin. It is inspired by kinetic sculpture from some of the UK’s most imaginative minds. Elaborate machinery performing simple tasks has become associated with Britishness.


A look at the garden today.

Absolutely stunning, aren't they? Let's look at another design - the LG Smart Garden, which is inspired by the concept of intelligent homes and is intended to demonstrate that technology can be incorporated harmoniously into the garden as well as the house. You can view all the gardens on the official website.


Emily Nash shared this tidbit from the show.

Emily Nash Twitter Feed

Afterwards, the royal party attended a private reception, at the newly named Queen Elizabeth II pavilion.

I had a feeling the Duchess would repeat a previously seen look today, however, I thought we might see one of her floral-print dresses. Instead Kate surprised us by bringing back the bespoke grass-green coatdress by Catherine Walker, first worn for engagements in Canberra in 2014.

The garment incorporates elements of both the Evelyn Coatdress and the Lara Coardress. The Evelyn is described: "The sharp and precisely cut shoulders of this grass green Venetian wool coatdress are softened by the sinuous neckline and full A-line skirt with hand pick stitching." As you can see the neckline on Kate's has been altered, whilst the Lara features the distinctive high neck and zipper.

Catherine Walker

I must admit the coatdress was my least favourite piece worn during the tour (if I recall correctly it received the least number of votes in our tour polls) and seeing it again today I can't say it's grown on me. I think it's the combination of the fabric, the buckled belt, the high neck, and the very vivid colour. Has it grown on you?

The Duchess accessorised with her Kiki McDonough Lauren earrings.

Kiki McDonough

And carried her new £185 L.K. Bennett Nina Clutch.

L.K. Bennett

It looks like Kate completed the look with her L.K. Bennett Fern pumps.

L.K. Bennett


Also today, to mark Children's Hospice Week, the Duchess sent a message of support to East Anglia's Children's Hospices. In the letter, Kate praised the work of hospices: "The amazing, and life changing support provided by children's hospices and palliative care charities across the UK offers a lifeline to families under incredible pressure."


Children's Hospice Week runs from 23 - 29 May. You can read more about it here.

The Queen is hosting her final garden party for this year at Buckingham Palace tomorrow. I think it very likely Kate will be in attendance.