The Duchess made a glamorous arrival.
The appearance marks the first of several events the Duchess will be attending in the coming days with a weekend of celebrations marking Her Majesty's birthday beginning with a service at St Paul's Cathedral tomorrow, and followed by Trooping the Colour on Saturday, The Patron's Lunch on Sunday and the annual Order of the Garter ceremonies Monday.
Before the dinner, Kate met current and former SportsAid athletes outside the Palace.
It's an incredibly exciting year for SportsAid, of which Kate has been patron since 2013. Not only is it the organisation's 40th anniversary year, it is also Olympic and Paralympic year with the Rio Games taking place later this summer. The Duchess plans to play an active role in supporting them throughout this special year: "During 2016, HRH will be supporting SportsAid’s anniversary message with a particular focus on thanking those who have supported the charity’s work so far and inviting others to play their part too."
Kate posed for a photo with athletes in the Sunken Gardens,
SportsAid helps young athletes to overcome the financial challenges they face in their bid to excel at their sport. The support of the organisation has proved invaluable in nurturing and enabling some of our most talented sportsmen and women to pursue their dreams. Almost two-thirds of the British team at London 2012 were former – and in a few cases current – recipients of SportsAid’s support, winning 20 Olympic and 27 Paralympic gold medals between them. It was a similar story at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games where more than 460 SportsAid athletes were in action. Alumni include Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Ben Ainslie and Paula Radcliffe MBE.
The opportunity to host the event at Kensington Palace was met with great excitement:
'Kensington Palace is truly a spectacular venue set in the heart of London offering everything from elegance, intrigue and glamour. Rich in history and home to our Patron the Duchess of Cambridge and family, this palace really is setting not to forget. Following a multi-million pound renovation, Kensington Palace is now a wonderful mix of contemporary and traditional which really sets it apart from other venues allowing our guests to feel the essence of an event within the grounds of British royalty.'
Upon the completion of renovations at Kensington Palace, we are increasingly seeing the Cambridges hosting more events for their charities at their London base. One imagines it's a very special treat for the organisation to host their event at the Palace. SportsAid shared this image from Kensington Palace before the gala began.
Emily Andrews shared a photo from the stunning King's Gallery where dinner was held.
The Duchess delivered a speech praising SportsAid and discussing her love of sport.
The speech in full:
'Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It is an absolute pleasure to be here with you to celebrate SportsAid's 40th anniversary. Some of you may know that I love sport. I love cheering on teams and athletes that I am passionate about. I love the physical challenge sport presents and the mental strength it gives us all. And I love the way it so often brings people together to work as part of a team.
I suspect many of you in this room may feel the same. The brilliance of SportsAid is in really understanding just how much athletic competition gives to our country as a whole. By investing in young sporting talent, they ensure that there is a strong pipeline of inspirational heroes.
These athletes then serve as motivators to everyone in the UK to get involved, get active, and embrace the power of sport to make us happier and healthier.
With little over 50 days to go until the Games begin in Rio; the next Olympiad is almost here. As we did in London in 2012, we will see a new generation of sporting stars emerge into the spotlight.
We cannot wait to meet the next SportsAid champions – the next Chris Hoys and Katherine Graingers who will remind us all of the magic and the power of sport.
So thank you all for supporting the incredible work of SportsAid. I am immensely proud to be their Patron and I can't wait to cheer on our team competing in Rio.
I do hope you enjoy tonight’s very special occasion. Thank you.'
You can watch the speech on YouTube.
The intimate banquet saw 200 guests assemble for the event which the charity said allowed them to "showcase the work SportsAid is doing and to encourage guests to support the next generation of British Athletes. This event will help us raise awareness and funds for SportsAid by inviting a select group of guests and partners to attend this exclusive event within the grounds of royalty."
The Duchess looked beautiful in the floor-length, royal blue Roland Mouret Nansen Gown. From the french designer's Resort 2016 Collection, the gown features the label's signature darts and panels providing a flattering silhouette with a nipped waistline and svelte contours. The cut-out shoulders give the graceful style a modern edge. The gown is available at Roland Mouret reduced from £2,095 to £1,255, and at Saks Fifth Avenue, My Theresa and Harvey Nichols.
More from the product description:
'A sleek choice for your next event, Roland Mouret's 'Nansen' gown is precisely panelled and darted to sculpt and flatter your figure. It's made from lightly structured stretch-crepe and finished with the brand's signature exposed zip.'
The gown appears to be something of a staple in the designer's current offering; below we see the Nansen in black at Net-A-Porter. It's discounted by 40% at present.
It's a style that works incredibly well in different hues. Below, we see the gown in a pretty pink at Forward by Elyse Walker, and navy at Neiman Marcus.
It is the second evening gown we have seen Kate wear by Mr Mouret. In 2012, Kate collaborated with the French designer to create the gorgeous Ella gown. She wore it for a dinner at Claridge's in 2012 and again for the Mandela premiere in 2013. I expect we may very well see tonight's gown again.
I was just thinking the other day, it would be great to see Kate in an off-the-shoulder gown, the 'cold shoulder' style is very fashionable at the moment and the Duchess pulled it off with aplomb. It was a stellar look for her; we've often discussed a desire to see HRH wearing more pieces by Roland Mouret. The designer is a genius when it comes to tailoring exquisite designs and complementing the female figure. This is without question one of my favourite evening looks from Kate, what do you think?
It appears Kate wore her Gianvito Rossi Criss-Cross Ankle Wrap Sandals. The Duchess wore them several times during the recent tour of India and Bhutan.
Kate debuted a stunning new pair of earrings tonight.
The Royals and I and Athena identified them as the Cartier Diamond Tricolor Gold Trinity Hoop Earrings. They are described as: "Luring your gaze with the everlasting glare of delicate diamonds amounting to 7.35 carats, this exquisite pair of earrings from Cartier leads the eye along its graceful lines, enchanting in its prestigious blend of 18K rose, white and yellow gold." The earrings originally retailed for roughly $49.000
Royal fans on social media quickly noted similarities between the earrings and Kate's Cartier Trinity Necklace. Kate wore the £49,000 necklace in her role as London 2012 ambassador when she attended an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery celebrating the road to the games. At the time the Palace said the necklace was "from Her Royal Highness's own wardrobe and she thought it appropriate to wear given the Olympic theme".
It's entirely possible the Duchess received the necklace and the earrings as part of a set. There's quite a nice connection in wearing the pieces; she debuted the necklace for London 2012 and tonight she debuted the earrings with the Rio 2016 Games on the horizon for SportsAid athletes.
Kate completed the look with her black Prada clutch.
We'll see you in the morning. William, Kate and Harry are slated to arrive shortly before 11 a.m. :)