'The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit New Zealand and Australia in April 2014. Their Royal Highnesses have been invited by the New Zealand and Australian governments. Further details on the exact dates and itinerary will be issued in due course.'
It is very much "anticipated" they will take Prince George with them, although no final decision will be made until nearer the time, as new parents William and Kate want to see how things go and take the lengthy travel into consideration. I cannot see the Cambridges not taking little George, and I think it's pretty much a certainty he will accompany them. Contrary to reports, it is not believed Carole Middleton will make the trip, although nanny Jessie Webb could very well join the family.
The tour will kick off in New Zealand where William and Kate will spend roughly ten days before taking a few rest days, most likely to have quality time with George. They will then spend another ten days or so touring Australia. Between the two countries, travelling and days off, it is thought they will be away for 3.5 weeks.
Exact details and the itinerary will be released next year, however, from previous tours we have a vague idea of what to expect. More from The Mirror:
'If the tour follows the pattern set by other royal visits it will have formal and more relaxed elements. There are likely to be events involving the prime ministers of both countries, others recognising the military, indigenous people, and religious groups, and visits to see the spectacular natural attractions both countries have to offer.
William and Kate's charitable interests are also likely to play a part in where they travel.'
In September 2012, William and Kate toured South-East Asia, where Kate made a speech at Hospis Malaysia and announced her patronage East Anglia's Children's Hospices planned to collaborate with Hospis Malaysia to roll out a new programme. During next year's tour, Kate's dedication to supporting hospices will no doubt feature on the itinerary. Kate's 2012 speech can be viewed at ITV.
The Australian media have already confirmed an engagement for the couple. They will be guests of honour at Royal Randwick's $18 million festival of racing (with thanks to SJ). More from The Daily Telegraph:
'A racing insider confirmed "We are expecting William and Kate to attend the championships on April 19th for the $4 million Queen Elizabeth stakes. Racing NSW Chairman John Messara is understood to have been working quietly behind the scenes to secure the visit to Royal Randwick's new flagship carnival.
And there will be no question which horse William and Kate will be backing on the day with Queen's Gai Waterhouse-trained Carlton House set to race in the stakes.'
Commentators believe the tour will be "historic" and "unforgettable". Indeed it will mirror Charles and Diana's 1983 tour of Australia. Diana had to ask special permission form The Queen to break with tradition and take nine-month-old Prince William with them for the six-week tour. Coincidentally, George will also be almost nine months old when he joins his parents for his first overseas tour.
Diana, Charles and William received a tumultuous welcome. It was Princess Diana's first overseas tour and according to The Telegraph it "lit the flame of 'Diana-Mania' that carried on for the rest of her life". William stayed with his nanny Barbara Barnes on a ranch in the outback where his parents visited them as often as they could. The public did have an opportunity to see the young prince during photo calls such as the one seen below. I'm sure we'll see something similar with George.
It will be Kate's first visit to both countries - although she and William created a stir when they flew to Brisbane airport to catch a flight home at the end of their South-East Asia tour.
|Photo used with kind permission of Media-Mode|
William has travelled to Australia and New Zealand a number of times. More from The Telegraph:
'The Duke's last visit to the two countries was shortly before his wedding in 2011, when he made solo visits to flood-damaged areas of Queensland and Victoria and to part of Christchurch in New Zealand damaged by an earthquake. He also visited the two countries in 2010.'
Below we see the Prince at a 2010 reception in Sydney, speaking with Barbara Selby who showed him a large photograph of the late Princess Diana meeting her daughter and grandson. Mrs Selby said, "I wanted him to know that we loved his mum." Of course, many Australians will have fond recollections of meeting Diana in 1983 and will be eager to catch a glimpse of her son and his wife.
Of course, like Diana, Kate will need a hairdresser by her side to style her hair for engagements and evening functions (Diana wore a tiara during her tour of Australia, perhaps Kate will bring back her Papyrus tiara for a state dinner?). Indeed it has been widely reported the Duchess plans to avail of the services of Joh Bailey, the same hairdresser who tended to Diana's locks when she visited Australia in 1996. Mr Bailey is enormously talented and I'm sure Kate's hair will look fabulous throughout the tour.
Below we see Mr. Bailey with some of his most famous clients, including Diana.
Kate will need an extensive wardrobe with her for her stay. This tour is considerably longer than the previous two she has undertaken, not to mention she'll be packing for George. There are many elements to take into consideration, and it is not simply a case of choosing garments one is partial to for the royals. The Duchess will need to think of the occasion, honouring her host country, climate, incorporating a mix of her favourite designers whilst paying homage to the New Zealand and Australian fashion industries. Kate did this extremely well in 2011 on the Canada tour, when she wore dresses by Erdem.
|Canadian Heritage Flickr|
While I feel certain Kate will opt for pieces by Australian and New Zealand designers, I think the majority of her wardrobe will comprise of pieces from a mixture of designers and high street brands she feels comfortable with. Kate will most likely bring back pieces we've seen before, too. She'll be looking for bespoke pieces from her favourite three - Alice Temperley, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen and Jenny Packham. Perhaps Kate's favourite Temperley 'Amoret' will get another outing? Is a fourth public appearance for the lace gown on the cards? (I can hear many of you voicing a resounding 'no' to that question :)).
Another one of Kate's go-to designers who will feature during the tour is Emilia Wickstead. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Emilia has become a firm favourite of the Duchess over the past couple of years and given her connections to New Zealand, she is a definite possibility.
Karen Walker is perhaps New Zealand's best-known fashion designer, lauded internationally for her modern, tailored style. Fans of Ms. Walker's designs include Liv Tyler, Claire Danes and Madonna. Below we look at three looks from her Resort 2013 Collection.
A reader suggested Auckland's Adrienne Winkelmann. As you can see her pieces are 'very Kate'.
Ms. Winkelmann's wedges would be perfect for the Duchess who is a huge fan of the style.
Moving on to Australian designers, although the fabulously talented Collette Dinnigan has decided to step back from the fashion industry to spend more time with her family, I still think she is a strong contender for the tour. Kate has been a fan of her designs for years, as has her mother Carole. Ms. Dinnigan's Resort 2014 Collection offers plenty of suitable options for Kate.
Whilst researching this post, I was interested to discover just how unique Australian fashion is, full of originality and edgy labels. I was also very excited to discover classic, timeless Carla Zampatti, a designer I had heard of but not studied up on. Described as the "Australian Dame of Fashion" Italian-born Zampatti moved to Australia with her family as a child and debuted her first limited collection in 1965. Now in her seventies, the Zampatti label is still going strong and I think you'll agree her designs are fit for royalty.
Aside from stunning evening wear, there are several other Carla Zampatti designs which would be perfect for daytime engagements such as receptions.
And four more looks from Ms. Zampatti.
Nicki Zimmermann has been one of Australia's most influential fashion figures for over twenty years. From her ready to wear collections to her beach wear, she has gone from strength to strength and is in demand both at home and internationally.
Finally, several looks from celebrity favourite Alex Perry.
What do you think of the above designers? Which ones would you like to see Kate choose?
More details should emerge over time regarding the tour, and I have no doubt it will be the couple's most exciting yet. I look forward to more moments like this...
...and this :)
Some may wonder why the tour was confirmed at 7 p.m. only days away from Christmas. According to royal commentators it may have been done so the media would stop talking about "Babykins". You might wonder what it's about if you haven't already heard. Briefly, the phone-hacking trial yesterday revealed voicemails Prince William left for Kate during the early years of their relationship. In two of the voicemails the Prince affectionately called his girlfriend "Babykins" and in another revealed he was "almost shot with blanks" during a training exercise at Sandhurst. Former News of the World editors are on trial with four others, accused of a number of offences including conspiracy to illegally intercept voicemails.
Will many of our readers from New Zealand and Australia try to meet the Cambridges during the tour? Is their excitement surrounding the visit? For those who simply cannot wait for April, William and Kate have arrived in Sydney's Madame Tussauds - in wax form that is!
Have a lovely weekend and for those who will be away from their computers/iPhones over the festive period, we'd like to wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Christmas!