We're back with our next poll asking you to vote for Kate's Best Dress of 2016 and calendar updates, but first we have some very interesting news to share. As you all know, William's contract with the East Anglian Air Ambulance comes to its end later this spring; the Prince and the Duchess are said to have been grappling with a decision on whether he should renew his contract or if the time had come to take on a full-time role within the Royal family. It seems the couple have firmly reached their decision, as the incredibly reliable Roya Nikkhah exclusively reports in The Sunday Times: "The Duke of Cambridge is to end his career as a Norfolk-based helicopter pilot this year and move his family to London to take on full-time royal duties."
|The Sunday Times|
The Sunday Times article noted the Cambridges will make Kensington Palace their full-time home in the autumn when Prince George starts school, whilst Princess Charlotte is expected to attend a London nursery. The decision has followed "months of discussion within the Royal family who are said to be very supportive". Apparently, William even explored the option of Kate and the children remaining at Anmer Hall during the week before eventually deciding they didn't want to spend too much of it apart. This is particularly interesting as it would appear the possibility of raising George and Charlotte in Norfolk for the forseeable future was very much in consideration - so much so that being apart during the week was on the table. The privacy and normality they have enjoyed in Norfolk was clearly a major factor.
More from the article:
'A royal source said there had been "no pressure from above" to increase William’s workload but "he knew there would come a point where this would be his life for ever more. He has always been a lot less reluctant than people think to take on more work and this phase of his life. The duke and duchess are a strong team and believe in their family and supporting each other," the royal source said. "They will always put their family first, while juggling family commitments with their work.
While royal aides insist William is ready to commit to official life, friends say the duke will miss the normality and privacy he has enjoyed while living and working away from the royal spotlight. One friend said: "I know he has really loved living in Norfolk and being just one of the lads at work. He loves the banter.” A royal source added: “He will really miss the flying. He does love it."
William is reported to have ultimately decided to extend his contract by just a few months before the move in the autumn. This makes sense to me - we've heard very little regarding the possibility of a tour, overseas trips or plans in general (apart from the Heads Together initiative) for William and Kate in 2017. With a move ahead, there will be a huge amount of planning going into carving out an expansive role for the future king. Areas of focus are said to include mental health, bullying and homelessness. How will Kate's role change? I think, naturally we're going to see Kate's role grow substantially as William's does, with a much heavier portfolio of engagements, causes and likely patronages. Her primary focus will continue to be the children of course, but I would anticipate a considerable change moving forward. I recently wrote I thought the time was right for such a move; with the Queen and Prince Philip still incredibly active in their duties this will give William and Kate an opportunity to transition into full-time royal life. With their public profile and global popularity, the sky's the limit in terms of what they can achieve, and 2017 looks to be a definitive year in their lives as royals. A royal source told The Sunday Times: "This is a natural evolution of the new generation of the Royal family."
Tying in with Roya's report, Camilla Tominey wrote an interesting article in the The Sunday Express regarding plans for George's choice of school.
It had been assumed the three-year-old royal, who starts reception in September, would attend Wetherby School in Notting Hill, where Princes William and Harry were both pupils. But the Sunday Express has learned that George is more likely to be enrolled at the brand new Wetherby Kensington, a five-minute walk from the Cambridges’ London home.
As well as being close, Wetherby Kensington will be much smaller, initially opening with just two reception classes for boys aged four and five. A source said: “The Duke and Duchess like the idea of George enrolling at the new smaller school because it is much more discreet than the original Wetherby.
“A few of the pupils at that school in Notting Hill are the children of celebrities so it has always attracted quite a lot of paparazzi. Although the children cannot be photographed, there is still a market for pictures of famous parents on the school run. The new school off Gloucester Road is preferable because it is much more intimate and less likely to attract photographers. Plus, it is just around the corner from Kensington Palace.”
It's going to be a big year for the Cambridges. What are your thoughts on the news?
Also tonight, we have news of upcoming engagements added to Kate's calendar. On Tuesday, 17 January William, Kate and Harry will speak at a briefing to outline the next phase of Heads Together as the campaign intensifies its efforts to create millions of conversations around mental health in 2017. The royals and other speakers will preview some of the themes and initiatives people can expect to see in the months ahead. I'm looking forward to this and hearing plans to continue efforts.
The following Tuesday, 24 January Kate will visit East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) in Quidenham, as it continues fundraising for a new purpose-built hospice in Norfolk. The Duchess helped to launch the Nook Appeal in 2014, and will be updated on the progress of the £10m appeal by staff, supporters and families at the hospice.
It's looking very much like we'll see William, Kate and Harry participate in a television programme in April in support of Heads Together. It's all very hush-hush at present with little known. Early details from People's article:
'The royal trio are set to take part in a documentary for the BBC leading up to the London Marathon in April, according to reports Friday. The royals are working with presenter Nick Knowles, who told The Sun, “I’m working on a mental health documentary with the young royals, which should come out around the time of the marathon. I can’t tell you anymore.” Knowles also worked with William and Harry on the day that they helped renovate homes for injured or sick Armed Forces members on the BBC show DIYSOS in September 2015.'
We'll keep you up to date as official news becomes available on the programme. It's a great way to expand the conversation as Heads Together amps up its efforts - especially if the young royals have given interviews speaking candidly on their feelings regarding the topic.
As part of Party Pieces 30th anniversary celebrations, Carole Middleton shared a look back on the history of the successful company with a lovely photo taken in 1989. You'll notice a 7-year-old Kate on the far right with (I believe) Pippa and James behind their mum. In the accompanying piece Carole wrote: "From the small beginnings in my garden shed, we now employ more than 40 people and are able to send out 4,000 orders a week in busy times. It is still very much a family business today, and over the years all my children have played a huge part in it from modelling for the catalogue to developing new categories for the brand. James established our personalised cakes, Catherine started the 1st birthday side of the business, and Pippa developed the Party Pieces blog. They grew up with me working and appreciate the demands of a busy business and a working mum, and although now they are not involved day to day in the business, I still value their ideas and opinions."
Continuing on with our polls, are you ready to vote for Kate's Best Dress of 2016? There is an abundance of options to choose from, and myriad hues and designers. From bespoke designer creations to L.K. Bennett favourites, Kate covered quite a bit of sartorial ground last year. As with our Coat and Gown Polls (click here if you haven't voted already), looks from the India/Bhutan and Canada tour have been omitted as post-tour polls were already held to determine your favourites from Kate's tour wardrobes.
In March, William and Kate carried out engagements focused on suicide prevention in London. The Duchess wore her green Erdem Allie coat, but unlike many such events when we don't see the dress underneath, on this occasion Kate removed the outer layer to reveal the eye-catching Jonathan Saunders Swallow Print Dress. From the designer's diffusion line in collaboration with department store Debenhams, the £60 dress was actually part of a 2012 collection described: "This black day dress from Edition by Jonathan Saunders features a button fastening along the centre front, pleats along the lower part of its skirt and a sash at the waist. It is styled in sheer chiffon with printed white birds."
Kate mastered understated sophistication in the L.K.Bennett Addison Dress when the young royals hosted the Obamas at Kensington Palace in April. The £325 dress features a jewel-toned print, transparent sleeves and ankle-grazing length. It's described: "Ideal for events both formal and casual, timeless in its style and fashion forward in its execution." Kate added her own navy belt to the look.
The Duchess brought back her Roksanda Ilincic Peridot Dress for an Anna Freud Centre luncheon in May. The blue-grey dress first made an appearance in Los Angeles in 2011 and again for a GREAT luncheon in 2012. It is draped to one side with cap sleeves and a pleated skirt. It originally retailed for £815.
For a visit to the National Portrait Gallery to view photos from her British Vogue photoshoot, Kate wore her pink McQueen Wool Cashmere Peplum Dress.
The Duchess brought back the cream ruffled McQueen dress she wore for George's christening. I was surprised both looks Kate wore for her children's christenings make another appearance (the McQueen coatdress Kate wore at Charlotte's christening was chosen for Trooping). I had thought they were tucked away safely somewhere for future exhibitions. The bespoke piece is based upon designs from the Spring/Summer 2012 Collection. The leaf crepe garment with wave ruffle panel, rounded padded shoulders and silk lining.
Kate was vibrant in a colour-block Roksanda dress for the Patron's Lunch in June. The combination of blue, coral and pastel-pink made the dress a very nice choice for the celebratory event.
The Duke and Duchess visited the American Embassy in central London to sign a book of condolences for the victims of the Orlando nightclub attack. Kate teamed her black Ralph Lauren jacket with the Tory Burch Sophia Dress. The garment features a leafy monochrome print, short sleeves and a pleat-flared skirt.
Kate channelled Eliza Doolittle for her debut at Ascot last summer. Attired in a white lace Dolce & Gabbana Midi Length Dress; it was a winning look for HRH. The swishy skirt, nipped in waist and intricate lace detail made this memorable for me!
We saw Kate experiment with her style quite a bit in 2016, something that was very much evident when she arrived at the Natural History Museum wearing the Off-the-Shoulder, Mesh-Paneled Dress by Brazilian designer Barbara Casasola. The $2,210 midi dress is cut from figure-sculpting, stretch-jersey and panelled with sheer mesh inserts for a sporty feel. Made in Italy, it was designed to create a flattering, feminine silhouette. A fantastic look for the Duchess and a new designer with excellent future potential.
Roksanda made her third appearance of the year at Wimbledon when Kate chose her white and yellow colour-block dress by the designer. Affectionately known as the "Banana Dress" (when Kate first wore it in Australia (William told her she looked like a banana), it was suggested Kate may have chosen it for Wimbledon as the colours are the same as a tennis ball. A nice bright choice for the day.
Much to our surprise, the Cambridges brought Prince George along to the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Airford in July. Kate selected her striking Stella McCartney Ridley Dress for the occasion. Since 2012, the electric blue dress had had multiple public wears - and is certainly a contender for the most seen dress on Kate.
For her second visit to Wimbledon, the Duchess selected a new dress by her go-to label McQueen featuring the season's popular 'Obsession' print. The jewel neckline and A-line silhouette dress was adorned with butterflies, skulls and lipstick.
We saw the return of reader favourite the L.K.Bennett Lasa poppy print dress in August when William and Kate carried out a day of engagements in Luton.
For a visit to the YoungMinds helpline service, Kate opted for the feminine and floaty L.K.Bennett Eugenia Dress - a vibrant red summery dress.
For the Cambridges' trip to Cornwall, Kate was pretty in pink in the Lela Rose Double Faced Twill Elbow Sleeve Dress with body contouring seams with band at waist, a fit-and-flare silhouette with soft pleated skirt and a back zip. The blush dress is from the Resort 2016 Collection.
We saw another brand debut when Kate wore the Altuzarra Aimee Button-Front Dress for a Heads Together engagement.
Kate was in Kate Spade for a special Heads Together event marking World Mental Health Day in October. The Encore Rose Chiffon Dress received mixed reviews on the day. The 100% silk collared dress includes long sleeves, a bow tie neck, left chest pocket, side seam pockets and Kate's favourite fit-and-flare style.
Kate was in a McQueen Floral Print Dress for a Team GB reception at Buckingham Palace. Upon first look, I felt certain it was a Beulah London design and was surprised to learn it was in fact a Sarah Burton creation.
For a children's party at the Natural History Museum, Kate was stylish in L.K.Bennett's Cersei Dress. Crafted from a luxe chiffon with textured velvet print, this style boasts a high neck and long sleeves for a sleek silhouette. The silk dress comes in an evergreen print.
That evening, Kate impressed fans and critics alike in the black Preen Finella Dress. We had seen HRH opt for the red version of the dress in Canada, and she obviously liked it so much she purchased it again. I love the 1950s silhouette, the draped bodice and voluminous box-pleated skirt (for fans of the dress it is reduced from $1,370 to $548 at the moment on Boutique1).
The Duchess was festive in Vanessa Seward for a volunteer Christmas party in December. The Cai Floral-Print Jacquard Dress was a seasonal choice with a combination of red and green.
What a variety we've seen in 2016! There really is so much to choose from! A few cursory observations: Kate very much embraced the midi-dress trend last year - this is evident across her choice of brands. One might suggest the Duchess is perhaps seeking to broaden her list of 'go-to' designers and enjoying pieces from designers she may not have considered in previous years. As always, staples such as prints, florals and lace featured heavily. I am very excited to see which dress wins the title of 'Best Dress of 2016'. Do please share your selections in the comments section; I'm leaning towards the Jenny P. worn in France...
We'll see you Tuesday! :)