Earlier today, Kensington Palace announced the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit Bhutan this spring. The trip will coincide with their tour of India, and it us understood the visit will take place in April. The couple will be welcomed by the country’s Dragon King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema, known as the “William and Kate” of the Himalayas.
Gordon Rayner notes there are a number of similarities between the 25-year-old queen who is expecting her first child and the Duchess in his piece for the Telegraph:
'Queen Jetsun Pema is expecting a baby in the spring and may be nursing a newborn when the Duke and Duchess arrive, providing the perfect ice-breaker. The queen also studied art history - in which the Duchess has a degree - as part of her degree level studies at the private Regent's University in London. The couple married in 2011, the same year as the Duke and Duchess, and have a keen interest in conservation, like the Duke.
Like the Duchess, the queen is considered a fashion icon, as well as being sporty: she captained her school basketball team, while the Duchess was a keen hockey player. The queen, like her husband, is fluent in English.'
There is already excitement brewing in Bhutan, which means 'Land of the Thunder Dragon'. The tiny kingdom is nestled in the Himalayas between China and India. A royal aide said William and Kate are very much looking forward to the trip. Bhutan was almost entirely cut off from the outside world for centuries, and refused to allow outside influences such as television, because they felt it would undermine their culture. Television and the internet were finally allowed in 1999.
|His Majesty the King of Bhutan Facebook Page|
Back to the Telegraph's article:
'Slavery was only abolished in 1958, the first foreign tourists were allowed in 1974, and the country only became a two-party democracy in 2008, having previously been an absolute monarchy.'
An interesting titbit about the country: rather than measuring success through GDP, it is measured through 'Gross National Happiness'. With a population of 750,000 (with one third under the age of 14) it is considered one of the most content nations in the world.
Following some research on the kingdom, I was fascinated to learn the constitution dictates that at least sixty percent of the country must be covered by forests. While it may be one of the smallest countries in the world, it's dedication to conservation is bigger than most. Indeed, conservation is one of the four pillars of Bhutan's 'Gross National Happiness' philosophy.
The commitment to conservation is evident in its wildlife - including endangered royal Bengal tigers, snow leopards, black cranes and elephants to name a few. All roam freely in the country's five million acres of protected areas. In terms of world benefits, Bhutan is a region that provides water for one-fifth of the world's population. I imagine the conservation aspects will be one of the primary reasons the Cambridges wish to visit, and I expect we'll see William and Kate exploring the outdoors and hoping to see the amazing wildlife.
According to reports, George and Charlotte will not be accompanying their parents on the tour. With that in mind, I expect the Cambridges will be away ten days or so with perhaps the last couple of days spent in Bhutan. It's shaping up to be a memorable tour. We look forward to seeing the full itinerary!
Continuing on with our polls, we're turning our attention to gowns this evening. The Duchess publicly wore four gowns for royal engagements last year, and interestingly they proved to be her most polarizing looks. First up, we have the glittering bespoke red Jenny Packham gown with cap sleeves and a full skirt she wore for her first state banquet in October.
It was another bespoke Jenny Packham for the premiere of the latest Bond movie, Spectre. The duck egg blue gown featured sheer sleeves and overlay, a glittering belt and it was partially backless. This was very much a love it or hate it piece with a range of diverse opinions expressed on the night.
If we had an "unexpected look of the year" category the award would unquestionably go to the floral-print Erdem 'Alouette' gown Kate wore for the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Gala Dinner. Considering the conversation it generated, it will be interesting to see how many votes it garners.
Our final option is the bespoke lace Alexander McQueen gown the Duchess repeated for the annual Diplomatic Reception. We are yet to see the gown in its entirety, however, given it's popularity it seemed prudent to include it in the poll.
In our next poll, we're asking you to vote for your favourite dress. The Duchess debuted a selection of memorable new pieces throughout 2015 from both favoured and new designers. The first option is the Madderson London 'Naomi' dress.
Kate brought back her Hobbs London Animal shirtdress for an engagement in Islington. If I recall correctly, it was one of the least popular dresses in last year's polls. I wonder how it will fare this year?
Kate was stylish in the Seraphine 'Florrie' printed dress for a day of engagements in Kensington. The dress comes in "stunning marine ocean shades" and is made in soft woven fabric. The Duchess wore it again a month later for engagements in Stoke-on-Trent.
In keeping with the sailing theme of her visit to the home of Ben Ainslie Racing, Kate wore a boat print dress from Somerset by Alice Temperley. The red and black print dress from the designer's diffusion collection retailed for £99.
Kate donned Jaeger's £250 silk tie print Aquifer dress in a video message for Children's Mental Health Week. The collared shirtdress is patterned with a tile print inspired by the architecture in Florence and Porto. It is cut from fluid silk and comes with an optional belt.
To mark the Goring Hotel's 105th birthday celebrations, the Duchess cut a stylish figure in the purple and pink print Erdem 'Darla' dress from the designer's Resort 2013 Collection.
The Duchess has a fondness for print and polka dot dresses. She debuted a very pretty new Spot Print dress by ASOS during a visit to Brookhill Children's Centre in March.
To introduce Princess Charlotte to the world Kate wore a very pretty bespoke Jenny Packham dress in a white and yellow floral print. The three-quarter length sleeve frock was a lovely choice for a very special occasion.
For the Wimbledon quarter-finals Kate opted for a change of pace from her usual choice of neutral colours at sporting events and chose the striking cardinal red L.K. Bennett 'Cayla' dress. It features a full skirt which falls below the knee, artfully placed seams and elbow-length sleeves.
Kate wore the Ralph Lauren silk 'Austin' shirtdress for a visit to the Anna Freud Centre in September. Described as "the quintessential shirtdress", the houndstooth-patterned silk style flares at the skirt for a flattering fit.
Kate chose a new British label The Fold London for her visit to HMP Send. The 'Eaton' dress in winter white tweed is a stellar garment featuring a structured silhouette, v-neckline and flattering peplum detail at the waist. The 'Eaton' is described as the "ultimate power dress" with long fitted sleeves, a pencil skirt and signature gold zip at the back.
Kate brought back her Tory Burch 'Paulina' open-knit dress first worn during the New Zealand-Australia tour for World Mental Health Day.
Next, we take a look at the Dolce & Gabbana Guipure lace dress the Duchess wore for a creative industry event with President Xi of China and his wife. It marked the first time we had seen Kate in the label, and I suspect we may see several pieces from the brand throughout the year.
For a fun day at BAFTA London, Kate sported the Tabitha Webb 'Meg - Space' dress for the event. The £375 garment features 3/4 length sleeves, a fitted top and an A-line skirt that falls below the knee with large pockets. The side panels on the silk dress are described as "ideal for slimming the waist and adding a touch of edge to a classic design".
Kate brought back her much-loved grey and black Orla Kiely dress for an engagement with Chance UK. I much preferred the dress on its second outing as Kate's stylish ponytail showed off the neckline of the garment.
It was another Dolce & Gabbana lace dress for the Festival of Remembrance.
For the Fostering Awards the Duchess chose the cobalt blue Martine crinkle-effect dress by Saloni. It is crafted from lightweight fabric in cobalt blue, and cut with cropped sleeves, a nipped-in waist, an elegant v back, and full skirt.
A look at Kate's dove grey Matthew Williamson with peplum detailing and turquoise and gold encrusted detailing.
The Duchess repeated her bespoke teal Emilia Wickstead dress for her visit to Action on Addiction's Centre for Addiction Studies.
Finally, Kate was festive in her popular red Alexander McQueen dress for a Christmas party at the Anna Freud Centre's Family School. An excellent choice for the nature of the engagement.
Poll Notes: As several readers had issues with our last poll, we're using another poll host. Due to reader requests and the number of options in our dress polls you can vote for more than one option (I know I'm finding it tough to choose just one :)). For the gowns the red Jenny Packham is a stand out, however, for the dresses there're several up there for me including The Fold's and the Packham dress Kate wore when she left the hospital with Charlotte. Which pieces won your vote? If you're just joining us you can find our Polls page here.
Kate celebrates her 34th bithday tomorrow. Wishing the Duchess many happy returns and another great year! She usually opts to spend the day privately, and according to reports, with a nice family dinner. We hope you all have a wonderful weekend! :)