Today marked Kate's first engagement of February; a promising month with several events scheduled which will include a focus on mental health and an appearance at the glittering BAFTA awards next Sunday. The Cambridges elected to forego the annual Middleton family holiday to Mustique this year, however, Emily Andrews reports Michael and Carole Middleton went and celebrated Mrs Middleton's 62nd birthday. I suspect there are a couple of reasons for this such as George's nursery schedule and perhaps the fact it had become more or less a given the paps would follow them there. I imagine they'll take a skiing holiday with the children - as they did last year in the French Alps. Meanwhile, Prince Harry has undoubtedly been the royal making headlines recently as he and girlfriend Meghan Markle were photographed following dinner at London's Soho House - a private members club where the pair are said to have first met last year. The couple are said to have been spending a lot of time together in London recently.
William, Kate and Harry wasted no time taking part in a fun relay race.
It might be apt to say there was a little friendly competition :)
And they're off!
Prince Harry took an early lead and quickly won the race. He was followed by a smiling William and Kate.
A very sweet brotherly moment after the race.
The Clacton Gazette reports:
'William joked, "Oh my hamstring" after being briefed before the race. Despite an impressive sprint, the Duchess was beaten by both William and Harry - who were wearing chinos and trainers. At one point, the Duke crossed into the Duchess's lane. William and Kate are known for their competitive nature but the couple laughed and hugged on the finish line, while Harry patted his brother on the back.'
Cheering on the runners.
Kensington Palace posted a video.
The training day was held at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London. The sporting complex was built for London 2012 and will be a familiar sight to royal fans as a number of events Kate attended over the course of the Olympics were held there. For anyone visiting it's a great place to spend an afternoon and free every day of the week. It’s home to the London Stadium, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the London Aquatics Centre, the Copper Box Arena, Lee Valley VeloPark and Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre – as well as parklands, waterways, playgrounds and cafes.
The royals launched Heads Together at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park last May; with the marathon approaching and efforts intensifying it seems fitting to return there to see runners who will be participating in the action. The day also featured informative presentations and Q&A sessions in the Copper Box Arena on training and preparing for a marathon from specialists in areas such as nutrition, running and stretching. Team Heads Together received advice and encouragement on how they can lead from the front in achieving the campaign mission of starting millions of conversations on mental health in 2017.
The trio meeting runners and athletes who chatted about the marathon and their reasons for taking part.
William, Kate and Harry posed for a photo wearing their Heads Together headbands.
They were joined by the current Marathon World Record Holder and three-time London Marathon winner, Paula Radcliffe, who spoke to the assembled Heads Together runners. British 400m Record Holder and London Marathon regular, Iwan Thomas, also attended.
During a cool down at the Copper Box Arena Prince William gave words of encouragement to Team Heads Together runners "We want to normalise mental health, we want to get people talking about it, to make it more normal and to reduce the stigma. What you are doing and having so many of you here today, you’ve already seen the benefit of joining in, by being part of this marathon, we want to make it a mental health marathon. You are crucial to making this happen and we can’t do it without you. We really hope your training goes very well. Good luck with the training and we look forward to seeing you on the big day".
Kate hugged a volunteer.
Of course, the runners are fundraising for the eight Heads Together Charity Partners or the campaign itself - a commendable endeavour and it's heartening to see so many getting behind the initiative. The inspiring charities that are tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health challenges are Place2Be, The Mix, Anna Freud Centre, Mind, Contact, Best Beginnings, CALM and Young Minds.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the 'Runner Stories' page on the campaign's website, where I read a number of inspirational stories about the reasons people signed up and got involved. John, who is running for charity partner Best Beginnings shared his heartfelt and deeply moving story on coping with the loss of his sister Michelle.
'I lost my sister, Michelle, in May. May 3rd. My birthday. She took her own life somewhat out of the blue.
She had been struggling with some depression for about 6 months (maybe longer but the signs had really started to show). She had just recently had her second child pretty quickly after her first. She was having a full house renovation and about to get married in May. We just assumed she would get better. That there were just too many things going on. After the wedding it would be fine.
We never made the wedding. We didn’t understand it. We didn’t really talk about it. We just thought it would get better. She went to see a couple of doctors and they didn’t really understand either. Just referred her or gave some drugs. I try not to waste too much of my life looking back. We should have all talked to people and found support for her and for us.
I have some great friends. I’m lucky. A number of them called me afterwards, or sent me messages telling me to call them when I could. My best friends (and even some friends I didn’t know so well, wanted to talk and help) helped a lot. Different people take different angles, so it’s hard to pin point a single discussion that made the biggest difference, but some friends are just great at making you laugh and helping you to remember all the good times, some are good at really focusing on how you are feeling and how you are coping. All methods work. Talking is the most important. I spent hours going through pictures with friends and family, bringing back all the fun times.
We can’t change the past. We can influence the future. If I can help one other person, one new mother who is struggling to come to terms with things, I won’t get my sister back, but maybe I let one other person keep their sister.
Running is where I go to be alone, and reflect on the good times, to tell her what I’m up to, what her children are doing, what her niece and nephew are developing into. Now I can combine running with helping others. The longer I run, the more fun memories I have time to enjoy and hopefully the more money I can raise. As a running group in the Best Beginnings Heads Together family, we are all in this together. The Heads Together movement is creating a great platform where we can spread the message further. Within our running team we all have our stories and reasons, and it’s been important for us to share them, and accept them. Many of us haven’t met each other, but we are friends already. We share our training runs, we encourage, we support. No one judges, we are all in it together and we are there for each other.'
Broadcaster Mark Austin wrote an incredibly powerful piece for The Sunday Times revealing the heartbreaking journey he went through when he discovered his daughter Maddy was anorexic. "She was there, but she was gone, is the only way I can describe it. The daughter we loved so much had left us to be replaced by an emaciated, ghostlike figure. It all happened so quickly. One moment she was a vibrant, strong, energetic and beautiful young girl; the next, she had begun a rapid, dangerous descent towards what seemed, at times, certain death." Five years later, Maddy is much improved and running the marathon for Place2Be. I would highly recommend reading the full piece here.
|The Sunday Times|
Meet more of the runners and hear their stories by viewing this video by Heads Together. I have to say, learning more about the participants and their motivation for getting behind the campaign has been truly moving, educational and inspiring.
Heads Together wants as many people as possible to get involved today: "You can cheer on Team Heads Together by tweeting using the hashtag #TeamHeadsTogether. You can also join the movement by helping us get millions talking about mental health by sharing Heads Together messages and content." For those interested in keeping up to date with the progress of the campaign you can subscribe to the newsletter (scroll down to the bottom of the page to sign up) and follow on social media channels including Facebook and Twitter.
The Duchess looked sporty in new pieces today.
The talented Kate's Closet quickly identified Kate's new jacket as the Mini Duvet Quilted Down Ski Jacket by Perfect Moment.
The $450 jacket is cut from mid-weight durable Airtastic EX shell, it's padded with insulating down, has a protective high neck and is finished with soft ribbed cuffs to lock in warmth. It features distinctive navy elbow patches. It's described as "Perfect Moment's vivid red quilted ski jacket is inspired by the energy of Greenland's Northern Lights - it will also make you easy to spot in whiteout conditions." As of writing, the jacket is available at Net-A-Porter, ShopBop and Lane Crawford.
The jacket also comes in other colourways including the striking black/pink combination and star print. It's available in various shades at ShopBop, Net-A-Porter, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges and Matches Fashion.
More on the background of the brand:
'Perfect Moment rigorously tests its activewear to ensure optimal athletic performance and an exceptional fit. Extreme sports documentary-maker Thierry Donard launched the Chamonix-based brand with skiwear at the forefront, but the line has since evolved to include surf, swim and workout staples that will outlast the seasons.'
UPDATE: With many thanks to Meredith and Middleton Maven, Kate's new trainers are a collaboration between British activewear retailer Sweaty Betty and New Balance.
The £90 New Balance x SB Sneakers are a limited edition trainer in exclusive Sweaty Betty print. They are described as "This exclusive trainer mixes fashion-forward prints with New Balance’s technical trainers. Lightweight, well-cushioned and technical the Vazee is built for fast, lateral movements. With a sock-like fit for easy on and off, plus a foam cushioned mid-sole to absorb impact, wear in and out of the studio." They are currently available in sizes 4 - 8.5.
Kate debuted a new pair of round diamond stud earrings. As several have suggested, they are the matching pair to her Asprey 167 Button Pendant Necklace.
A very enjoyable engagement - lovely to see efforts for Heads Together continuing! Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon is running the marathon and wrote a most interesting article with background on the day. Click here to read it.
Also today, news of additions to Kate's Calendar.
14 February - On Valentine's Day, The Duchess will visit a RAF base in Cambridgeshire to meet with local air cadets. Kate became Royal Patron and Honorary Air Commandant of the Air Cadet Organisation in December 2015. The Duchess will be introduced to air cadets from Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing Air Training Corps, who are taking part in a half-term skills development camp. The week acts as an initial "camp experience" for cadets who are in their first six months of membership. During the visit, HRH will join the cadets as they view a tutor aircraft, participate in a personal development training session and will have the chance to fly a flight simulator.
9 March - The Cambridges and other royals will join the Queen to unveil the Iraq Afghanistan Memorial. More from the Express: "The Defence Secretary said the memorial would mark the 'huge contribution' made by the armed forces, aid workers and civilians in the Gulf region from 1990 to 2015. The memorial in Victoria Embankment Gardens in London will be unveiled at a service on Thursday, 9 March. Around 2,500 invited guests will attend a service of dedication from a specially conducted drumhead on Horse Guards at 11am, to include prayers, music and readings."
We'll see you tomorrow when the Cambridges have two engagements. First, they will will attend Place2Be's ‘The Big Assembly’ hosted at Mitchell Brook Primary School as part of the Heads Together campaign. The Duke and Duchess will also attend a Guild of Health Writers conference.