Wednesday, 5 December 2018

William and Kate Bring Festive Cheer & Family Gifts to RAF Akrotiri

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travelled to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus this morning to meet with Serving personnel, families living on the base, wider station personnel and members of the local community. 

RAF Akrotiri is home of the Cyprus Operations Support Unit which provides joint support to British Forces Cyprus and operations in the region to protect the UK’s strategic interests.

Yesterday, William and Kate hosted a festive-filled Christmas party for RAF Families at Kensington Palace. The children present made cards and took photos in a booth for William and Kate to take to their loved ones in Cyprus today. It's undoubtedly the most difficult time of year for a parent to be separated from their child. The sacrifice those in the military make in service of their country year after year is incredible and truly selfless. The little ones at the party yesterday will love seeing photos from today's visit and the knowledge their cards and gifts were delivered by a Prince and Princess. A couple of you mentioned the Cambridges should make this an annual engagement, focused on different bases and areas of the military each year. I couldn't agree more.

During a speech yesterday Kate said: "As someone whose husband has served, I know how hard it feels when a loved one leaves to do the job they trained for,” she said. “When William served doing search and rescue, I remember how I felt, but I can’t imagine how it feel when your loved ones are away on active service during Christmas. The absence of people you love must be especially hard at this time of year."

Upon arrival, William and Kate met deployed personnel from 11 and 31 Squadrons, operating Typhoon and Tornado GR4 Squadrons aircraft respectively, who are engaged on operations in support of Op SHADER, the UK’s contribution to the ongoing campaign against Daesh. They also meet personnel from the lead infantry company of 2 Mercians, who have recently been supporting Op TORAL in Afghanistan.

They spoke to personnel about the party at Kensington Palace and plans for Christmas.

Hannah Furness reports a soldier said the visit was "important" and "really appreciated".

7,500 military personnel are currently serving overseas or away from home on exercises. A large portion of these have children who will have a parent away over the festive period.

Prince William thanked those serving during a speech: "All of this work is done without fanfare. You don’t seek praise for your contribution. It’s not about credit or recognition - for you, it’s just about service. But as we approach Christmas, Catherine and I feel strongly that praise for your work and recognition of your sacrifices is exactly what is due to you all. From my time in uniform, we both know a bit of what it feels like to balance your work commitments with your family life."

He continued: "You all put duty first. And so do your families, some of whom we had the chance to meet yesterday at a party at Kensington Palace. We know this isn’t easy for you or for your wives, husbands, children, and friends back in the UK.  On behalf of everyone back home, we would like to say thank you."

The Duke and Duchess visited and officially opened the Oasis centre which is used by Serving personnel on the base as a recreation area when they are not on shift. The centre has recently been renovated by staff working on the base, with trade work having been provided by members of the local Cypriot community.

Before unveiling a plaque, William and Kate visited the cinema room and the video room where personnel can make private calls to their family and friends back home, and the cafĂ© area which is run by CESSAC. CESSAC is The Church of England Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Club which operates amenity centres in military stations and other places at home and abroad and manages rented housing for elderly ex-Forces personnel and their families.

The couple joined families at a Christmas reception.

Hello! reports:

'Corporal Karl Noakes from RAF Marham, said he had been sent pictures of his daughter Alysia, two, at yesterday’s Christmas party at the palace. He said: “It’s a tough one. I’ve been away lots of times and it’s never easy but it’s very different now I am a dad. My little girl is now asking for me when we speak and even playing her mother off against me when he is playing up. It’s difficult all round. I’m complete lost in admiration for what my wife, Nicole, does when I’m not they, especially work Christmas coming up.”

A nice video from the Christmas party.

During a walkabout they met families living on the base.

Emily Nash reports Kate said Louis is learning to wave and promised a little girl she would come back in a pink dress and a crown :)

This little guy was determined to say Hello :)

William meeting a shy little girl. Rebecca English said George asked him to take a photo of the helicopters before he left this morning.

The Duchess opted for a green blazer, white top and navy wide leg trousers. I know many of you have been hoping to see Kate wear more trousers for official engagements for some time. It's a very professional look.

Kate wore her Smythe Duchess Blazer. The army green blazer features peak lapels, long sleeves with button cuffs, front button closure, chest and waist welt pockets. The blazer is available in a number of sizes at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Kate debuted the piece during the 2016 Canada tour.

A closer look at Kate's navy trousers.

Middleton Maven suggests they could be the £130 Jigsaw High Waisted Sport Luxe Trousers.

Kate's green croc belt has been in her wardrobe for several years. Below, a closer look at the piece from St Patrick's Day 2014.

Kate's carried the L.K. Bennett Dora khaki suede clutch (with thanks to Laura). It's currently on sale for £119.

It is thought Kate's pumps are by Gianvito Rossi.

The Duchess accessorised with her Asprey Oak leaf earrings.

In other news, Kate took Charlotte to the Royal Opera House last Thursday for a rehearsal of The Nutcracker. The Duchess saw the production last year and obviously wanted to share it with her daughter. Both William and Kate have discussed Charlotte's love of dance, I imagine she had a wonderful time. There's one photo available to view on Instagram here.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

The Duchess in Lover's Knot Tiara for Diplomatic Reception!

Following a Christmas party with RAF families at the Orangery, the Duchess changed from her festive ensemble into a gown and jewels for the annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace.

The Duchess arriving.

It was a rainy evening in London.

In a major departure from previous years, a pool photographer was invited inside to take photos. It's a wonderful surprise and hopefully the beginning of a new tradition.

William and Kate joined Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall for the white-tie event.

The Queen wore her Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara.

The Duchess of Cornwall selected the Greville tiara for the night.

There are over 170 foreign missions accredited to the court of St James's in London (St James's Palace is still the senior palace and official residence of the sovereign).

Each year Her Majesty throws a reception in their honour and members of the Royal family in attendance make a point of meeting with each one.

Guests were welcomed to the palace ballroom. At 36.6m long, 18m wide and 13.5m high, the ballroom is the largest multi-purpose room in Buckingham Palace. It was opened in 1856 with a ball to celebrate the end of the Crimean War. It is used by the Queen for State banquets.

The Duchess mingling with guests.

Kate was every inch a princess in a shimmering bespoke Jenny Packham gown (with thanks to Heaven). The delicate beading and sheer overlay add delicate touches to the sweeping gown. Jenny Packham remains the Queen of evening wear for Kate. Another gorgeous design.

A closer look at the detailing.

The Duchess wore her signature Lover's Knot tiara tonight.

The tiara, which is steeped in royal history and is so closely associated with William's mother, looks beautiful on Kate. It's a stunning piece and one I expect we'll see the Duchess wearing throughout her life. The tiara features elements of the Gothic Revival style. The circle of the Lover's Knot is made up of a lower semi-circular band, set with a row of brilliant cut diamonds. Where two adjacent arches meet, a pillar-like structure is formed that rises up and ends in a round diamond, forming a diamond spike. There are nineteen diamond spikes of this nature and the size gradually decreases from the centre towards both ends.

Kate last sported the tiara for the Dutch State banquet in October.

The Duchess wore Diana's Collingwood pearl earrings once again.

The Duchess wore her Royal Family Order. Kate was awarded the RFO last year; it's made of glass.

A closer look at Kate's Jenny Packham clutch and shimmering bracelet.

If you're just joining us, click here to read today's earlier post.

We also have word on another pre-Christmas engagement for the Cambridges next week. Kensington Palace confirms:

'The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit Evelina London Children’s Hospital and homeless resource centre The Passage on Tuesday 11th December.
The Duke and Duchess will meet a number of children receiving care at the hospital, and will hear more from staff and parents about Evelina London’s life changing care and support for families. Their Royal Highnesses will then join some of the children as they take part in a number of Christmas-themed activities, before joining celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the hospital.
The Duke and Duchess will then travel to The Passage, where they will hear from frontline workers about some of the challenges relating to street homelessness, including drug addiction and mental health issues. Their Royal Highnesses will also meet a number of The Passage’s service users as they join an arts and crafts workshop to prepare cards and gifts ahead of centre’s Christmas party the following week.'

Tomorrow, William and Kate will fly to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to meet with serving personnel, families living on the base, wider station personnel and members of the local community.

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