Wednesday, 8 April 2020

The Cambridges Surprise Pupils at Casterton Primary Academy

How many of you have become acquainted with remote video services like Zoom and FaceTime of late? Be it for a professional conference or a much-needed conversation with a loved one, how we interact has changed monumentally. I think often how incredibly fortunate we are to have such technology at our disposal and the difference it is making for countless people during a difficult time. Today, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge availed of this as they surprised pupils and staff at Casterton Primary Academy.


We recently discussed the roles the royals will play and how, like so many of us, altered their typical work schedules will be for the foreseeable future. I think it important we continue to see them using their platform to support a range of causes and highlight the amazing efforts underway. Many of the children at the Lancashire school are the children of key workers and are still attending classes, whereas most children are continuing their studies at home, including George and Charlotte.


It was very special to see Harris and Lloyd holding drawings of their parents and speaking of the work they are doing at the NHS and in schools. Kate told them: "I'm Catherine, and this is William next to me." William commended their parents' efforts. Kate told them: "They are doing an amazing job, the NHS workers."


During a chat with a group of young sisters, the couple admired their Easter-inspired artistic creations before William asked: "Is that a handbag?" He was quite quickly corrected with an emphatic "No, it's an Easter bag!" :)


More from Victoria Murphy:

“We just want to say a huge thank you to you guys and well done in keeping it all going. Please pass on many messages of support for all the staff and all the volunteers—they’re doing a great job,” the Duke of Cambridge said during the call.
The Duchess echoed his words, saying: “Well done honestly to you and everyone who’s in during this time. It must be such a relief for all the parents who are key workers to know that the normality is there for their children—they’ve got the structure, and they’ve got a safe place for them to be, so really really well done to all of you.”

Watching the video put a smile on my face and I know it meant a lot to the school, teachers and their families. For children in particular, this is such a strange time, with much of their routines drastically changed. The chance to chat with a prince and princess will have made their day and I hope to see more of this from the Cambridges in the weeks ahead.


The eagle-eyed Heaven identified Kate's mustard yellow Puff Sleeve Sweater as a past season style. From a very, very brief moment in the video, it appears Kate styled it with blue jeans.


Mustard sweater and tops have been all over the high street; it's a great shade for spring. Three stylish and affordable examples are French Connection Crepe Puff Sleeve Top (reduced in a range of colours heree) the Warehouse Pointelle Textured Jumper and the Eileen Fisher Organic Knit Sweater which is currently on sale at Saks Fifth Avenue.


The Duchess wore her hair in a demi-chignon and accessorised with her Catherine Zoraida Fern Leaf earrings. The ladies from Kate's Royal Closet noted there's an excellent Repli-Kate available on Etsy for $36.


I'll see you tomorrow evening with a new post.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

"We'll Meet Again": The Queen's Historic Address & the Royals Working Remotely

In a historic address, the Queen has praised the strength of the nation in a deeply personal message broadcast at 8 pm tonight live across several television channels and online social media channels to those around the UK and Commonwealth. The monarch said: "Those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any." The message was recorded in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle earlier this week with just one cameraman present to ensure social distancing was adhered to. It's been an incredibly tough week in the UK with cases continuing to rise and almost 5,000 deaths. A senior government source told Sky News "the Queen is the best judge of when to talk to the country, and we absolutely agree now is the right time".


It is one of only a handful of such addresses Her Majesty has made during her reign, occurring previously in trying times such as the Gulf War and the deaths of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother. She has also spoken to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. During her lengthy reign, the Queen has lived through some of the most painful times in history, including the Second World War when she volunteered as a mechanic and military truck driver. The then-Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret comforted the children of the UK during the Children's Hour broadcast. Tonight, the Queen recalled that day eighty years ago: "It reminds me of the very first broadcast I made, in 1940, helped by my sister. We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety."


The Queen's address from the Telegraph:

'I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time. A time of disruption in the life of our country: a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.
I want to thank everyone on the NHS front line, as well as care workers and those carrying out essential roles, who selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all. I am sure the nation will join me in assuring you that what you do is appreciated and every hour of your hard work brings us closer to a return to more normal times.
I also want to thank those of you who are staying at home, thereby helping to protect the vulnerable and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones. Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.
I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country. The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future.
The moments when the United Kingdom has come together to applaud its care and essential workers will be remembered as an expression of our national spirit; and its symbol will be the rainbows drawn by children. 
Across the Commonwealth and around the world, we have seen heart-warming stories of people coming together to help others, be it through delivering food parcels and medicines, checking on neighbours, or converting businesses to help the relief effort.  
And though self-isolating may at times be hard, many people of all faiths, and of none, are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation.
It reminds me of the very first broadcast I made, in 1940, helped by my sister. We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety. Today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones. But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do. 
While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed - and that success will belong to every one of us.''

As the Queen's moving message came toward its end she evoked memories of Dame Vera Lynn's iconic World War II song 'We'll Meet Again': "We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again."


Finally, Her Majesty said: "For now, I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all." Those reassuring words from the monarch were much needed and I know meant a great deal to many. A memorable evening in the fight against COVID-19 and a defining moment in the Queen's reign.


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It's a strange time for all of us, where many are adjusting to working remotely. This is particularly unusual for the royals whose public appearances during times of crisis serve as much needed opportunities to highlight those on the front lines. Of course, we're not going to see engagements again in the traditional sense for some time; during the interim we've seen members of the Royal family reaching out over the phone and video links. Earlier this week, the Cambridges made two phone calls to NHS hospital teams at the forefront of this pandemic. Prince William praised staff at Queen’s Hospital Burton and University Hospital Monklands: "The whole country is proud of you, so thank you for everything you’re doing and all the hours you are putting in."



'Speaking to staff from University Hospital Monklands on Wednesday about how they are coping with the outbreak, the Duchess said: “You’re stretched in all sorts of ways looking after the patients in your care under such extreme circumstances. But you also need to be able to make sure you support yourselves, and each other.
"It must be so hard but I’m glad to hear that you’re currently getting all the support you need.”
Alice Bloxham, a sister on Queen’s Hospital Burton’s Covid-19 cohort ward, said: “Until recently our ward was an Acute Care of the Elderly ward, but now we are caring for patients with Covid-19. This has been a difficult time for all the patients we care for and for the staff working in a very different environment.
"It was a pleasure to talk to The Duke and Duchess and to be able to explain some of the challenges we face for our patients. Everyone at the hospital appreciates the support they gave us on the call.”'

On Friday, Prince Charles carried out the first virtual hospital opening as he declared the newly converted NHS Nightingale ready to take patients via Zoom from his office at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate. It was an amazing feat to witness the conversion of the ExCel Conference Centre into a fit-for-purpose facility just ten days after the start of construction. The Prince of Wales said: "I need hardly say that the name of this hospital could not have been more aptly chosen. Florence Nightingale, the Lady with the Lamp, brought hope and healing to thousands in their darkest hour. In this dark time, this place will be a shining light. It is symbolic of the selfless care and devoted service taking place in innumerable settings, with countless individuals, throughout the United Kingdom."


On Thursday, the Countess of Wessex joined a series of video conferences with the National Autism Society and the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) to find out how different communities are dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. Sophie also sent a video message to support Women Peace Builders and Survivors and Advocates against Conflict Related Sexual Violence.


Victoria Murphy penned an excellent piece on Sophie's efforts describing the Countess as the "Royal family's secret weapon":

'Sophie’s low-key approach to duties pre-dates her willingness to hop on video calls; she is known to surprise her hosts by driving herself to and from engagements, waving goodbye from behind the wheel of her own car.
“She actually presents herself as an ordinary person and I think that is increasingly what the royal family needs to do,” says Amanda Pullinger, CEO of 100 Women in Finance, an organization which Sophie champions.'
“The Countess is one of the unsung members of the Royal family and in fact she’s been working on quite gritty subject-matters for a lot longer than many people realize,” Hello! Royal Editor Emily Nash tells T&C. She adds that Sophie is “very well-liked” and that the Queen is “particularly fond of” her.Sophie’s low-key approach to duties pre-dates her willingness to hop on video calls; she is known to surprise her hosts by driving herself to and from engagements, waving goodbye from behind the wheel of her own car.
“She actually presents herself as an ordinary person and I think that is increasingly what the royal family needs to do,” says Amanda Pullinger, CEO of 100 Women in Finance, an organization which Sophie champions.
“The Countess is one of the unsung members of the royal family and in fact she’s been working on quite gritty subject-matters for a lot longer than many people realize,” Hello! Royal Editor Emily Nash tells T&C. She adds that Sophie is “very well-liked” and that the Queen is “particularly fond of” her.'

COVID-19 has already touched the Royal family with Prince Charles' diagnosis. It's been reported Princess Eugenie's father-in-law, George Brooksbank, is in a "serious but stable" condition. Eugenie's mother-in-law Nicola has also reportedly tested positive and is currently self-isolating at home. Wishing them both a very speedy recovery.


I'll sign off with this photo of Windsor Castle turned blue on Thursday night to join the nation in celebrating our NHS staff and heroes. Sending you all good thoughts during this difficult time.

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