In March 2017, Kate became the first Royal Patron of the Victoria & Albert Museum. It seemed entirely fitting for her to attend today's opening. Kensington Palace said: "The visit builds on Her Royal Highness’s keen interest in promoting the visual arts, and highlighting the value that public institutions like V&A Dundee can offer local communities, particularly in terms of increased accessibility to world-class art and design."
Philip Long, Director of V&A Dundee told the Evening Telegraph: "We are honoured to be welcoming the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to officially open V&A Dundee. This official opening marks the beginning of a very exciting year for V&A Dundee, with upcoming exhibitions on videogames, robots and the future of design. Through an eclectic programme, we aim to inspire people and provoke discussion about the role of design in everyone’s lives."
Readers might recall William and Kate visited Dundee in 2015 for a day of engagements. The coastal city is a short drive from St Andrews University, where the couple met, and the night before their first official visit they stayed there. It was a fantastic opportunity to reminisce and revisit the place they called home during the first years of their relationship.
The establishment of Scotland’s first design museum, V&A Dundee, was made possible because of the unique collaboration between V&A, the University of Dundee, Abertay University, Dundee City Council, the UK and Scottish governments, the National Lottery and Scottish Enterprise. The museum, which is at the heart of a £1 billion waterfront regeneration plan, is already bringing significant economic and social benefits to the local area, helping to reshape the city’s future as a hub for the creative industries.
Following a global search, renowned Japanese architects Kengo Kuma & Associates, were chosen to design V&A. Considered by many as the quintessential Japanese architect of today, Kuma is also designing the stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Kuma’s vision for V&A Dundee is that it would be "a welcoming space for everyone to visit, enjoy and socialise in - a 'living room for the city' - and a way of reconnecting the city to its historic River Tay waterfront. Curving concrete walls (there are no straight external walls) hold 2,500 pre-cast rough stone panels, weighing up to 3000 kg each and spanning up to 4m wide, to create the appearance of a Scottish cliff face. There are 21 separate wall sections."
It really is a breathtaking piece of architecture. Below, a video on the building process.
William and Kate met architect Kengo Kuma today.
Earlier this month, the museum was named the world's best public building. The Scotsman reports:
'Dundee's V&A museum has been named the world's best new public building - ahead of flagship cultural projects in Qatar, Beijing and Taiwan, as well as a visitor centre at Apple's California headquarters. The £80 million project on Dundee's waterfront was recognised by international architecture and design bible Wallpaper along with Milan, which was crowned the world's best city, a hotel perched on the edge of cliff in South Korea and a restaurant in Copenhagen.
The verdict from Wallpaper* on V&A Dundee, which is the centrepiece of a £1 billion waterfront regeneration project, described it as resembling "a moored ship." It stated: "The highly sculptural V&A Dundee is Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s first UK building – and Scotland’s first dedicated design museum. "The ragged cliffs of north eastern Scotland inspired the composition’s distinct shape, clad in some 2,500 sheets of layered horizontal cast stone panelling. "Yet the concrete structure appears light, bearing an abstracted resemblance to the prow of a moored ship. Kuma wanted this building to welcome visitors with a strong design gesture.'
Countess Kate was immediately impressed and told guests she had "never seen a museum like this".
The couple met representatives from the Young Peoples Collective, who design programmes, and lead activities and tours of the Museum.
V&A Dundee has welcomed over 380,000 visitors since opening its doors in September.
In her role as patron, the Countess delivered a speech and said she has been "captivated by the breath-taking architecture, and the sheer range of design on display." She added: "But most of all I’ve been moved by the passion of the people who work here, and the dedication of all those who have helped make this important project to succeed." The video below includes the full speech.
Kate's full speech:
'William and I are so pleased to be back here in Dundee to celebrate the opening of this wonderful museum today. Thank you so much for inviting us. Last February, I was delighted to become Patron of The V&Ain London. Now, nearly a year later, I’m thrilled to be standing in a brand new V&A: one which has been built for the city of Dundee and for Scotland, and which is already picking up international awards. In its first four months alone, it welcomed over three-hundred and sixty-thousand visitors – a truly remarkable feat.
Walking around this world-class space, it’s easy to see how Scotland’s first dedicated design museum is already inspiring the next generation, by providing a new learning space for discovery. I have been captivated by the breath-taking architecture, and the sheer range of design on display. But most of all I’ve been moved by the passion of the people who work here, and the dedication of all those who have helped make this important project to succeed.
I believe we should celebrate all our leading galleries, museums, and cultural centres playing a greater role in communities, not just in London, but up and down the countrytoo. The cultural riches of the UK belong to all people of the UK. This is what V&A Dundee has achieved. The partners involved in this project from the local area, Scotland, and the UK more broadly all deserve enormous credit for the way you have collaborated to make this happen.
I hope that this Museum will serve as an inspiration to others, by showing how great things can be achieved when different communities all pull together. With this thought in mind, I am pleased to declare V&A Dundee ‘officially’ open. I wish you all every success for the future.'
Then it was time to meet and greet locals on the waterfront.
You can see Kate's private secretary Catherine Quinn behind her as she greets the crowds.
People reports: "Photographer Mark Stewart, who was among those capturing the visit, says that Kate told a woman that “Louis is a fast crawler.” Kate also had 5-year-old Prince George and 3-year-old Princess Charlotte on her mind. Stewart adds, “She told another woman that she hopes to bring her children here."
How adorable is this?
William and Kate with a group of children. Take a look at the paper crowns on display :)
One little girl stroked Kate's hair much to her amusement.
A video of the moment.
A great shot of Kate laughing with William during the walkabout.
Afterwards, the Earl and Countess met with employees and their families from the Dundee Michelin factory, and heard about the impact the factory's closure is having on the area.
The 2020 closure of the factory has dealt a devastating blow to Dundee. 850 employees are set to lose their jobs. I think it's incredibly important for members of the royal family to carry out visits like this and highlight economic and employment struggles in areas across the UK. When I saw the full itinerary for the day, I was delighted this was included.
Lizzie Robinson reports William said: "The factory has been a huge part of Dundee’s very fabric. It has been a key employer for generations, and has helped sustain the local economy for nearly 50 years. For everyone affected, the hope is that all of you sat in this room can find a positive way forward."
The Courier reports:
'Ms Marra, a North-East MSP, said: “We need a much wider economic plan for Dundee where, I hesitate to say this presiding officer, but work is fast becoming a privilege rather than an expectation. We need a proper economic strategy, one particularly for Dundee. We have terrible employment figures. We have one of the lowest male employment rates in Scotland and the highest proportion of males in part-time work.”
Shona Robison, the Dundee East MSP, said the city’s SNP council is “working extremely hard to avoid compulsory redundancies”. The former minister called on the Scottish Government to deliver strategic investment in Dundee in renewable energy and oil and gas decommissioning. The SNP MSP added: “Dundee is a city transforming itself, building on its own already strong performance in life sciences, gaming and now as a cultural centre with the V&A. “A strong manufacturing base is equally as important for the city.
“The port has huge importance in that vision and of course this alongside the redevelopment and repurposing of the Michelin site can ensure that Dundee not only retains a strong manufacturing base but indeed expands and diversifies that base.'
They joined a meeting of the Michelin Action Group that is working to repurpose the site and ensure new employment opportunities for the local area.
Chris Ship reports the visit marks a new royal approach for the couple:
'Kensington Palace wants to do this sort of visit more often, particularly as William and Kate, along with Harry and Meghan, have campaigned for better understanding of the variety of causes of mental health problems. There is much to commend Dundee to visitors but whatever steps forward this city took with the opening of V&A Dundee and the regeneration of its waterfront, the prospect of losing so many good jobs will set this place back.
That two senior royals should want to hear about tough times facing a group of workers - as well as celebrate British success - is a welcome step. Lessons from history show us that the better the Royals connect with all citizens, in all walks of life, facing good times and bad - the better they will understand the people of the UK, on whose support the institution of Monarchy ultimately relies.'
Kate brought back her much loved Alexander McQueen Black Watch Tartan coatdress. The choice of tartan is a very nice touch and the perfect sartorial nod to Scotland.
The popular garment has been in Kate's closet since 2012. She first wore it for a visit to her old prep school, St Andrews, shortly before it was announced she was expecting George. The Duchess sported it again on Christmas Day 2013.
The coat dress incorporates many elements from the Alexander McQueen Black Watch Coat. The McQ Fall/Winter 2012 piece is available via special order at Net-A-Porter for $7200. Cut from swatches of Black Watch Plaid, the mohair-blend coat "marries the romantic and theatrical influences of the collection."
Kate wore her favourite Tod's suede block heel pumps.
Kate's gorgeous new green bag is the Manu Atelier Green Micro Bold Leather Shoulder Bag (with thanks to UFO No More). The green leather/suede combination is currently sold out, however the bag is available in green leather on the Manu Atelier website for $565.
The bag is described as:
'This green Manu Atelier Micro Bold leather shoulder bag has been handcrafted with vegetable tanned leather, features a suede body, textured lining and interior zipped pocket. This one will be handy for our work trip in business class, as Winston Churchill once said, "Keep calm and carry on." More tranquilising than Valium, this green Manu Atelier Micro Bold leather shoulder bag will send us to our happy place.'
Manu Atelier was founded by sisters Beste and Merve Manastir in 2014. Inspired by their father's work as one of the oldest handcraftsman and leather goods manufacturers in Turkey, the pair were determined to a create a brand which stays loyal to classic designs.
Kate accessorised with a green scarf. Tweeter Heaven Hale suggests it may be a piece Kate's had since 2006. Click here to see the photo. It is believed the scarf is an older Pickett London style.
Kate wore her Cornelia James Imogen gloves in black.
And the look was completed with Diana's sapphire and diamond earrings.
If you're just joining us, we've started the 'Best of 2018' polls. To vote for Kate's Best Day Dress please click here (you can choose more than one). There's nothing announced for Kate's calendar at present, I expect we'll see an engagement next week to mark Children's Mental Health Week. Given the recent increase in embargoed events, it's quite possible we'll see her before that.