Friday, 1 July 2016

UPDATED: Kate in Lace Dress for Sombre Commemorative Events in France

For their second day in France, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge returned to the Thiepval Memorial to officially open the new Thiepval Museum.

The royals were joined by President of France François Hollande as they arrived.

It's incredibly poignant to see a sea of poppies, filled with messages from the public, organised by the Royal British Legion.

This day 100 years ago, 1 July 1916, became one of the bloodiest in military history with almost 20,000 killed and double that number wounded in the first day of fighting.

William, Kate and Harry toured the centre where they visited the Somme tapestry.

A graphic mural lines the wall of the Thiepval centre, telling the history of the battles in the Somme countryside.

Prince William and President Hollande unveiled a plaque.

The Visitor Centre welcomes over 150,000 people to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing each year. At the Visitor Centre the memorial is put in the context of the battlefield. Display panels in three languages — English, French and German — provide an overview of the course of the Great War from 1914-1918. Display panels focus on events during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 which occurred at the small village of Thiepval and its surroundings.

The new museum offers new galleries themed on the battles of the Somme and to the memory of the lost soldiers. The permanent 400m2 exhibition presents a great collection of artefacts, archaeological finds, multimedia displays and life-sized installations (replica of Charles Guynemer's plane). Like a window opening up onto the battle, Joe Sacco's vast 60 metre-long mural provides a visual account of the 1st July 1916.

The missing.

The gallery dedicated to the Battle of the Somme opens onto a mural by illustrator Joe Sacco, it recounts hour by hour the horror of the tragic day of 1 July 1916. In the centre of the hall, a vast exhibition pit displays artefacts and archaeological finds of the First World War.

Afterwards, the young royals joined Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester for the National Commemorative Event to mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial to the Missing.

The royals greeted (soon to be former) Prime Minister David Cameron who has had a tumultuous week.

French and British schoolchildren marked each of the graves.

A sombre moment.

The royals joined political leaders including Prime Minister David Cameron, the Irish President Michael D Higgins, and French President François Hollande. Princess Anne's husband, Sir Timothy Laurence, was also there in his capacity as trustee of the Commonwealth Graves Commission.

An overview of the event.

The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery passed as the service of remembrance got underway.

Organisers said the event was designed to tell the story of the Battle of the Somme through music, readings and hymns accompanied by the BBC Orchestra.

The royals singing a hymn.

It was very much a case of teamwork on the Princes' behalf when it came to keeping the Duchess dry.

The royals walked past the graves of unknown soldiers killed without known burial sites.

Emily Andrews reported Kate giggled as she spoke French saying "It's about GCSE level" but was praised for "very good" language skills by a child she spoke to.

After the service, Kate chatted with Poppy Hodgson, from Hermitage Academy in Chester-le-Street. Ms Hodgson said: 'She said it was quite emotional being here and that they were really enjoying their visit. She said it was very moving.'

After, the royals attended a luncheon.

Kensington Palace shared this photo with the appropriate caption "At the going down of the sun and in the morning; We will remember them."

Kate wore a new lace dress for today's events. The knee-length frock is crafted of beige lace over black underlay and features a peter pan collar, three-quarter length sleeves and peplum detail. At this point the designer is unidentified.

Whilst we don't know the identity of the designer yet, we do know the lace was supplied by French lacemaker Sophie Hallette (with thanks to Sarah Beth).

The house of Sophie Hallette began its journey in 1887 and has gained recognition globally for making French lace and tulle. From McQueen to Dolce & Gabbana, their lace is used by high-end designers and favoured by celebrities.

Sophie Hallette

The house first gained international recognition when Marilyn Monroe was seen in a bustier dress made of Hallette lace in 1953.

Sophie Hallette

Kate has worn Sophie Hallette lace on a number of occasions - most notably her wedding day.

Sophie Hallette

Most recently, Kate's white Dolce & Gabbana dress and grey Erdem coat both used Sophie Hallette lace.

As you can see, the popularity of the lace is considerable, meaning an array of designers could have created Kate's dress. Given Kate's close relationship with Sarah Burton and penchant for wearing McQueen on occasions of great importance I would lean towards that possibility. Equally, I wouldn't discount the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Erdem. You can see the list of designers they supply here.

Kate brought back the black 'Lion Tamer' hat by Sylvia Fletcher for Lock & Co. hat she wore for Trooping the Colour and Sam Waley Cohren's wedding, both in 2011.

Kate accessorised with her Annoushka pearls and Kiki McDonough hoops.


The Duchess wore a poppy and a cornflower on her lapel today, as did the Duchess of Cornwall. The cornflower is the French equivelent of the poppy.

And completed the look with her black suede Mulberry clutch and black suede Gianvito Rossi pumps.

Gianvito Rossi

The next engagement in Kate's diary is the Art Fund Museum of the Year Prize on Wednesday. I also think it likely we'll see Kate at Wimbledon at some point over the next week. Until next time, wishing you all a wonderful weekend! :)

Thursday, 30 June 2016

"We Lost the Flower of a Generation": The Royals Mark Battle of the Somme in France

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry arrived in France today to attend events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

The royals received a historical briefing on the battlefields of the Somme at Thiepval Memorial.

The trio looked across no mans land in Northern France.

The view from the top of the monument.

William, Kate and Harry viewed the battlefield site and heard a description of the events that took place there during the First World War.

Royal reporter Emily Andrews was on the ground with the royals and shared photos from the small town of Albert which had been gearing up for commemorative events throughout the day.

Rehearsals and preparations at Thipeval have been underway throughout recent days.

William, Kate and Harry attended a vigil at Thiepval Memorial.

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.

The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French battle memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive, and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at its foot.

The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932.

In the words of Sebastian Faulks, Prince William said:

'We lost the flower of a generation; and in the years to come it sometimes seemed that with them a sense of vital optimism had disappeared forever from British life.'

Prince Harry read W N Hodgson's Before Action, written just days before he died on 1 July 1916. "Tonight we think of them as they nerved themselves for what lay ahead."

James Grantham, of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, is leading the all-night vigil at the Thiepval Memorial in France tonight, marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. According to the Minsitry of Defence: "He will be standing just feet away from the engraved name of his great uncle, Private George Henry Grantham, who died on the first day of the battle, 1 July 1916. RSM Grantham said the vigil will be an emotional opportunity for him to pay his respects to a relative who made the ultimate sacrifice."

The sun setting on Thiepval as British Armed Forces prepare to stand vigil overnight.

The Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest encounter in the history of the British Army. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. It was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front; more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the most brutal battles in human history. Shockingly, the infamous first day of the offensive saw British forces suffer 60,000 casualties of whom 20,000 died. It was the largest loss of life on a single day in British military history. Some 60 per cent of all British officers involved on the first day were killed, as Allied troops advanced slowly across no man's land through a hail of machine gun fire.

More from the Telegraph:

'The battle was planned to end months of deadlock on the Western Front, break through Germany lines and also relieve pressure on the French forces at Verdun - a nearby town that had been under siege.
Laden with heavy kit, the British infantry began their laborious advance at 7:30am on July 1 following a week of intense artillery bombardment of German positions from the village of Serre to Maricourt which had intended to annihilate enemy forces.There was a belief that following this bombardment, troops would take a safe stroll across no-man's land to trenches the Allies thought would be empty, but German defences were far better than they had anticipated.
German troops had hidden safely in deep dugouts during shelling the previous week and emerged quickly, catching the Allies by surprise and shooting them down in vast numbers. In the first 24 hours, there were 57,470 casualties (including 19,240 men killed) – just under half the total engaged. Most men were killed in the first few minutes.'

A very moving still from the film The Battle of the Somme showing a British soldier carrying a wounded comrade back from the front line on the first day of the battle.

Commemorations were held far and wide to mark the anniversary. At Westminster Abbey Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh led the nation's remembrance. The Queen laid a wreath on the grave of the Unknown Warrior. Her Majesty's grandfather King George V placed a wreath of roses and bay leaves on the coffin of the warrior 86 years ago. This evening, the wreath was also made of roses and bay leaves.

The Duchess wore the Missoni Long Snake Stitch Coat tonight (with thanks to Kate Middleton Style and Poppy G).

Made in Italy, the coat features front button closure and patch pockets. It is described: "Silver metallic threads shimmer within the monochromatic hues defining a textured A-line coat that's visually shaped with an angled zigzag pattern." The £2,900 piece appears to be sold out for some time, but can be viewed at Nordstrom.


Kate wore a black dress underneath.

Readers will recognise Kate's large pearl earrings as the pair she wore for Trooping the Colour.

Kate wore a black pillbox hat - a style very reminiscent of Jackie O.

And completed the look with her black Gianvito Rossi heels and black Mulberry clutch.

We leave you with this video, the Battle of the Somme: 100 Years On.

Tomorrow, William, Kate and Harry will open the new Thiepval Memorial to the Missing Visitors Centre. Afterwards, they will join other royals to attend the National Commemorative Event to mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial.