Today marked a royal milestone for Kate: her first solo visit to Scotland in an official capacity. We tend to see the Cambridges travel together for 'away days' to Scotland and Wales, so it's quite nice to see Kate's role developing in that sense.
Ahead of the visit Kensington Palace noted: "The focus of the day is on the valuable partnerships that exist locally between charities, communities and schools to deliver a range of integrated programmes and sporting activities designed to nurture children and young people."
Kate's first port of call was St Catherine's Primary School to see some of her patronage Place2Be's work in Scotland to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, parents, families and school staff.
The Countess joined the school assembly where students sang a song of welcome and presented a quaich cup of welcome. What is a quaich cup you might ask? It's a special kind of shallow two-handled drinking cup in Scotland, deriving from the Scottish Gaelic 'cuach' meaning cup. "The origin of quaichs in Scotland is traced to the Highlands; it was not until the end of the 17th century that they became popular in such large centres as Edinburgh and Glasgow. Commemorative quaichs were awarded as prizes or given as gifts. These prize cups are rarely used for actual drinking. Wooden commemmorative quiachs were given as presents to winners of the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Kate joined headteachers from schools in Edinburgh to discuss the mental health challenges of their school community and the benefits of having a partnership with Place2Be. It's good to see the focus on children's mental health continuing with this visit. Over the past several months we've seen Kate's interest and commitment grow with engagements in the area, a video message for Children's Mental Health Week, and most recently a collaboration with The Huffington Post. The Palace recently stated this is an area Kate plans to support in the years to come.
A fantastic drawing from a student participating in a Place2Be programme.
Kate's second engagement of the day saw her visit The Art Room's first studio in Scotland at Wester Hailes Education Centre.
The Art Room's presence in Edinburgh represents a new phase in the charity's growth. In addition to providing an Art Room studio offering therapeutic intervention to children and young people, the charity is working closely in partnership with local support agencies in the area to maximise the impact of its work within the community in Wester Hailes. The Countess was greeted by talented students who are working on a Frida Kahlo project. No doubt art history graduate Kate will be familiar with Mexican artist Kahlo's famous self-portraits. Indeed, several royal fans and fellow bloggers were incredibly excited about this portion of the visit. Ms Kahlo's work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form. As with many great artists her life was a troubled one, with a volatile marriage and lifelong health problems caused by an accident she survived as a teenager. Kahlo famously said: "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best."
Kate then join practitioners, school representatives, local stakeholders and members of the wider community for a roundtable discussion about the role and impact of the charity's presence in the area. Again, an opportunity to evaluate the progress and success of the organisation's programmes implemented in schools in the area. The Duchess enjoyed helping children with their artwork and chatting to them about their experiences. A peek at some of the recent artwork recently created by talented students of The Art Room. I'm always amazed by how creative and talented the children involved are and it's always a joy to see their latest work.
The Countess' final stop of the day was to Craigmount High School to participate in a 'Tennis on the Road' workshop hosted by Judy Murray, mum to star tennis players Andy and Jamie Murray. The exciting event called for a change of clothing. Built on the assumption that more can be done to capitalise on the success of the Murray brothers, 'Tennis on the Road' was created to increase coaching capacity in Scotland and grow the game at a grassroots level. Featuring engaging and creative activities, the programme is tailored to teach the basics of tennis to parents, teachers, volunteers and sports development teams to help children develop core skills.
|Tennis on the Road|
Since Judy founded the workshops in 2014 over 2,200 adults have been trained and over 35,000 children have had access to tennis as a direct result of the programme.
Kate sat on the wooden floor with other attendees of the workshop and listened to Judy speak before activities began. Kate joined Judy and her team for a demonstration workshop and joined in activities to test the skills learned. The Duchess was in her element and appeared to have a fantastic time throughout the workshop. It was an ideal event for keen tennis player Kate who is reportedly set to become patron of Wimbledon during the tournament this summer. Judy Murray said Kate told her she loves tennis because it's one of two sports she can beat William at. A coach from the event said the Duchess was "very competitive". Kate shows off her racket skills.
Kate appropriately debuted a new Scottish label for today's events; Le Kilt. The Gray Classic Houndstooth Wool Kilt is pleated with pin embellishment, frayed trim leather buckle fastenings at wrap front. The piece is 100% pure new wool. It retails for £470. (with thanks to A Petite Princess).
Founded by Samantha Coach in 2014 with a vision of adding a dash of modernity to her family's kilt-making heritage. Samantha's grandmother has been a traditional kilt maker in Scotland for over 40 years and through Samantha's teenage years she would observe her grandmother expertly tailoring kilts, trousers and other traditional staples from fine Scottish tartan. Samantha has continued the tradition and re-appropriated the style into her modern wardrobe.
This love of tartan inspired the creation of Samantha’s brand Le Kilt. The name being both a playful homage to the legendary Soho club of the 80’s and a wink towards the untapped, chic potential of the kilt. Central to the Le Kilt philosophy is a preservation of traditional techniques, underscored with modernity. Le Kilt plans to complement its ‘kiltie’ core with key garments and accessories in the coming season - all with a nod and a wink to Samantha's wistfully nostalgic Scots background.
The brand recently showcased their Autumn/Winter 2016 presentation at London Fashion Week. It featured a freak take on the classic kilt with a variety of colours used. They are also stocked at Harvey Nichols.
Kate wore a black turtleneck sweater underneath; it's a popular choice for her, especially with skirts.
Kate sported her trusty Stuart Weitzman Power Pumps in black suede.
The Duchess accessorised with her £2,200 Kiki McDonough 'Lauren' yellow gold diamond pave leaf earrings.
And her Cartier Ballon Bleu watch.
The Duchess carried her black suede Mulberry Bayswater Clutch.
For the tennis workshop, Kate opted for a fresh, sporty look featuring a mix of brands. Kate's top is the Nike Baseline Half-Zip women's tennis top (with thanks to Kate's Closet) It features a mock neck and half-zip front for a custom fit and coverage, and contoured seams for enhanced range of motion. The top has 3/4 length sleeves and flat seams to minimize irritation caused by chafing.
It's a very sleek top perfect for tennis. It comes in an array of colours and is available in sizes XS - XL at Nike for $70.
Middleton Maven quickly identified Kate's Monreal London Side Panel Track Pants. The panelled track pant has a relaxed silhouette designed in superior Italian-stretch fabric. The pants have been restocked at Monreal London and are available in very limited sizing at Saks Fifth Avenue reduced from $365 to $146. It's another new brand for the Duchess - one her sister Pippa is a fan of.
|Saks Fifth Avenue|
It is thought Kate wore the Asics GEL-Solution Speed 3 trainers. The $130 pair are described as: "Beloved for its perfect blend of moderate support and speedy ride, the New GEL-Solution Speed® 3 keeps the same low-profile sole geometry of its predecessor yet features a new high-performance upper design." They are available in all sizes at Zappos.
There's a video from the day available on YouTube.
It was a lovely day with a nice variety of engagements encompassing several important areas. It was fun to see Kate having such a good time at the tennis. What do you think of the day's event and Kate's two looks?