Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The Duchess In Bouclé Eponine London For 'Dear Evan Hansen' Performance

It was an evening on the West End for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! The couple visited the Noël Coward Theatre for a special performance of 'Dear Evan Hansen', which was held in aid of The Royal Foundation.

The Cambridges spent last week with the children in Norfolk over George and Charlotte's half term break from Thomas's Battersea. In his role as patron of the Welsh Rugby Union, William travelled to Cardiff on Saturday to watch the team in a Six Nations match. Speaking to former player Rhian Roberts, he said the family had been lambing during the week. "We’ve been lambing with the children this week. Charlotte wasn’t sure at first but George was straight in there. Louis loves the tractors. They love seeing the lambs and feeding the lambs." We've heard Kate speak quite a bit about the importance of spending time outdoors with the children and her love of country life. During her conversation with Giovanna Fletcher she revealed she is happiest when "I’m with my family outside in the countryside and we’re all filthy dirty." Kate added she has found "a new enjoyment out of life" since becoming a mum. She's dedicated to giving her own children all the same experiences she had growing up in leafy Berkshire, which is why spending school holidays at Anmer is so important to them.

The Tony award-winning musical tells the story of a boy who is "struggling to connect in our hyperconnected world". "More from the official website: "A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Both deeply personal and profoundly contemporary, Dear Evan Hansen is a new musical about life and the way we live it."

The cast performing a rendition of 'You Will Be Found', an inspiring song from the musical.

The Washington Post described it as "One of the most remarkable shows in musical theatre history". It's playing at the Noël Coward Theatre until late June.

Kensington Palace said: "The musical spans generations and has been credited with helping to start important conversations about mental health between parents and teenagers. The issue of mental health is a key priority for The Royal Foundation which works to tackle the stigma and encourage more people to talk openly about their mental health. Shout 85258, a free and confidential 24/7 UK text messaging helpline that supports people in crisis and was developed by The Royal Foundation, is one of four not-for-profit partners of the show which provide mental health resources to audiences and beyond." Cast member Marcus Harman is already acquainted with the Duke and Duchess - he
performed at Shout's crisis volunteer celebration last November.

More from the Palace:

'The Duke of Cambridge is currently spearheading Heads Up, a season-long campaign which uses the influence and popularity of football to show the nation that mental health is just as important as physical health. It follows on from the Heads Together campaign which convened eight charity partners with one voice, encouraged more people in Britain to talk openly about mental health than ever before, and led to more people accessing services as a result.
The Royal Foundation is also supporting efforts to provide children with the best possible start in life, recognising that with greater focus on the early years, we can better provide solid social and emotional platforms for children to make them healthier and more resilient later in life.
In January, the Duchess of Cambridge launched a nationwide survey on the early years – ‘5 big questions on the under 5s’. Conducted by Ipsos MORI, it aims to spark the biggest ever conversation on early childhood that will ultimately help bring about lasting change for generations to come. The survey follows eight years of work by the Duchess of Cambridge in which she has explored how experiences in early childhood often lie at the root of the hardest social challenges the country faces today.'

William and Kate met members of the cast backstage.

Hello! reports:

'In a programme note, William said: "Catherine and I are delighted to join you this evening for a special charity performance of Dear Evan Hansen at the Noel Coward Theatre. One of the issues that we care passionately about is mental health and we are pleased that Dear Evan Hansen is helping to start important conversations between parents and teenagers about this important subject. Through initiatives including Heads Together and Heads Up, the Royal Foundation is helping tackle the stigma and change the conversation around mental health.
"We are particularly proud that Shout, a mental health support service launched by the Royal Foundation, is one of four not-for-profit partners of Dear Evan Hansen providing mental health resources to audiences of the show. As we look to the future, we will continue to deliver ambitious change and genuine, sustainable solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face - including the environment and ensuring young people get the best possible start in life."

A group photo.

The Noël Coward Theatre, formerly known as the Albery Theatre, opened in 1903 as the New Theatre. The building was designed by architect W. G. R. Sprague with an exterior in the classical style and an interior in the Rococo style. Following extensive refurbishments, it reopened in 2006 as the Noël Coward Theatre. Below, in 1905 and 2009.

Coward was one of Britian's greatest playwrights and actors. Many of his works remain hugely popular in theatre repertoire. Below, Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in the 1931 production of Private Lives on Broadway.

In 1983, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton took on the roles of Amanda and Elyot in Private Lives. In recent times, a revival at the Vaudeville Theatre in London starred Matthew McFayden and Kim Cattrall. Coward is also known for Hay Fever, Design For Living and Blithe Spirit. The classic 1945 romantic drama Brief Encounter was based on the playwright's 1936 one-act play Still Life.

A wave from the Duchess as she was leaving.

A wrap up video from the night.

The Duchess was elegant in a black bouclé dress with a pointed collar and pleated skirt from Eponine London's Autumn/Winter 2018 Collection.

Kate's piece is a bespoke version with different buttons and collar detail.

The womenswear brand is inspired by the timeless lines of the fifties and sixties. Founded by designer Jet Shenkman, Eponine was born from her passion for clothes with a unique, relaxed silhouette. Jet’s years of styling experience have equipped her with an expert eye for precision and an innate understanding of the female form. Every garment is designed and made in London for women who seek out individuality and who desire to be both chic and contemporary. Kate's worn their designs on several occasions. 

The Duchess teamed the dress with her fabulous Jimmy Choo Romy silver glitter pumps.

Kate accessorised with the Jimmy Choo Ellipse clutch.

And completed the look with the Queen's chandelier diamond earrings. We've seen Kate wearing them on multiple occasions over the years.


In other news, the Duke and Duchess will undertake their first official visit to Ireland next week. We may not see the full itinerary until much closer to the visit (or potentially on the day they arrive). Yesterday, KP revealed the couple will spend the three-day trip in Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Galway.

'The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will undertake an official visit to Ireland between Tuesday 3rd March and Thursday 5th March, at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The visit, which will see Their Royal Highnesses spend time in Dublin, County Meath, County Kildare and Galway, will highlight the many strong links between the UK and Ireland.
From its thriving cities to rural communities, the programme will take in Ireland’s rich culture, its impactful community initiatives and spectacular scenery. Following Her Majesty The Queen’s historic visit in 2011, the visit will also focus on the relationship between the two countries, and build on the theme of remembrance and reconciliation.
During the three-day tour, The Duke and Duchess will learn about local organisations working to support and empower young people and projects which provide opportunities to help them develop important life skills. Their Royal Highnesses will also hear more about Ireland’s conservation initiatives and efforts to protect its environment, with a particular focus on sustainable farming and marine conservation.
2020 will see Galway host the European Capital of Culture on behalf of Ireland – a showcase of events highlighting the richness and diversity of Irish culture, art and sport. During their time in Galway, The Duke and Duchess will have the opportunity to experience a taste of modern and traditional Irish culture for themselves.
Throughout the visit, Their Royal Highness will meet a broad range of people, including the President, the Taoiseach and senior political leaders, children and young people, and those working in the creative arts, business and charity sectors.
The UK’s links with Ireland are extensive, and The Duke and Duchess are looking forward to building a lasting friendship with the Irish people.'

I'm very much looking forward to seeing the itinerary, it should be a very interesting visit. Before that, we'll see Kate tomorrow for a a SportsAid event dedicated to celebrating the role that parents and guardians play in their child’s sporting success.

**This post will be updated with additional images and video shortly**

Friday, 14 February 2020

UPDATED: Duchess Kate Recalls Childhood Memories For First Podcast Interview

In her very first podcast interview, the Duchess of Cambridge has spoken candidly about motherhood, childhood memories and her passion for early years work as part of her efforts surrounding the launch of 5 Big Questions which runs until 21 February. Kate spoke with Giovanna Fletcher of the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast. Kensington Palace said: "Having met in Birmingham at the launch of 5 Big Questions on the Under Fives, the Duchess of Cambridge and Giovanna Fletcher sat down after a joint visit to LEYF Stockwell Gardens Nursery in London to talk about the work that has built up to this landmark survey, the importance of the early years, and some of their shared experiences as mothers to three children. Their conversation will be released this Saturday, 15th February, at 1600hrs as a special episode of Giovanna’s Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast – a series of frank and warm conversations with mums and dads covering all aspects of parenthood, from tackling loneliness, to being a single parent".

Speaking about the survey during the conversation, the Duchess said: "I think ultimately if you look at who’s caring and looking after and nurturing children in the most vital period from pregnancy all the way to the age of five, you know parents and carers are right at the heart of that, and families are right at the heart of that, and although I’ve spoken to the scientists and the service providers, it’s so important to listen to families. What is it that they aspire to? What are their challenges? What we’re doing with the survey is asking people – what is it that matters for them in raising their children today. It’s going to take a long time – I’m talking about a generational change – but hopefully this is the first small step: to start a conversation around the importance of Early Childhood development. It’s not just about happy, healthy children. This is for lifelong consequences and outcomes."

When asked what parts of her childhood she would want to give her own children, the Duchess recalled memories with her grandmother and spoke of the importance of quality relationships:

“If I take the experience from my own childhood, coupled with what I know now and what I’ve learnt from the experts in the Early Years sector, I think there’s a few things that really stand out for me.
"One is quality of relationships. So, those moments that you spend with people that are around you. I remember that from my own childhood. I had an amazing Granny who devoted a lot of time to us, playing with us, doing arts and crafts and going to the greenhouse to do gardening, and cooking with us, and I try and incorporate a lot of the experiences that she gave us at the time into the experiences that I give my children now.
"There are also the environments you spend time in as well: a happy home, a safe environment. As children, we spent a lot of time outside and it’s something I’m really passionate about. I think it’s so great for physical and mental wellbeing and laying [developmental] foundations. It’s such a great environment to spend time in, building those quality relationships without the distractions of ‘I’ve got to cook’ and ‘I’ve got to do this’. And actually, it’s so simple.”

Sunday Times No.1 bestselling author Giovanna Fletcher said: “It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have, or where you come from - we’re all trying to do our best with our children while continuously doubting our decisions and wondering if we’re getting it completely wrong. Talking helps unite us all. Having been with the Duchess of Cambridge on a couple of engagements to celebrate the launch of the 5 Big Questions survey, it was clear how passionate she is about the Early Years. It was then beyond wonderful to sit and talk further about the survey, her work – for which she has so much knowledge, and her own experiences of being a mother. This is a very special episode of the podcast and I’m very excited for people to hear it.” Giovanna is married to Tom Fletcher from the band McFly. They have three children Buzz, Max and Buddy. She often speaks very openly about her own family and experiences.

The popular podcast has seen Giovanna speak to a host of well-known faces including Kate Ferdinand, Jessie Ware, Katherine Jenkins, Caitlin Moran, Nadiya Hussain and Davina McCall about parenting. The podcast very much focuses on the importance of supporting each other and not only discussing the amazing moments but the challenging times every parent faces. One of the best aspects of this survey has been hearing Kate's voice more, it adds another layer to her early years work. Hearing directly from the royals in their own words is the most effective way to share messages on the causes closest to their hearts.

A quick refresher on Kate's look in the new image shared. The Duchess wore a petrol blue coat (it remains unidentified), Sézane Tulio Jumper, Accessorize earrings and Russell & Bromley Fab Dry boots during the visit to (LEFY) Stockwell Gardens Nursery and Pre-school in London.

Omid Scobie reports members of the press heard the content during a Kensington Palace briefing and said the Duchess was incredibly candid. "She spoke about parts of her own childhood and some of the things she would have taught herself if she knew what she knew now. I think what really stood out from this was just Kate speaking from the heart. She talks about how motherhood has been challenging and how her first pregnancy with Prince George was the toughest experience of her life. She said she was actually quite excited about giving birth, because it meant the end of that chapter." Kate also shared fun anecdotes about the the day she and William took George home and how William practiced putting a doll in the baby car seat in preparation for the Lindo Wing departure. The podcast will be live at 4 pm (GMT) tomorrow, when it's uploaded click here to listen to it. I'm very much looking forward to hearing it in its entirety.

UPDATE: To celebrate the launch of the podcast, Kate shared a new photo of Charlotte which she discussed with Giovanna.

“I’ve got this one photo of Charlotte smelling a bluebell, and really for me it’s moments like that mean so much to me as a parent. I try every day to put moments like that in, even if they’re small or even if I don’t have time” - The Duchess of Cambridge

With George and Charlotte on half term break for the coming week, I wouldn't expect we'll see Kate undertaking engagements. On Wednesday, 26 February, Kate, Patron of SportsAid, will visit the London Stadium at the Olympic Park in Stratford to join a SportsAid event dedicated to celebrating the role that parents and guardians play in their child’s sporting success.

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