The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stepped out this morning for the launch of the National Emergencies Trust at St Martin-in-the-fields, London.
The engagement was initially announced as a solo appearance for William. On Tuesday, Kensington Palace confirmed Kate would be joining her husband. Following their tour of Pakistan, the Cambridges spent half-term break at their country home Anmer Hall. During their time there, Kate was spotted at a nearby Sainsburys for a spot of Halloween shopping with George and Charlotte.
The scale of several dreadful tragedies in the UK in 2017 including the Grenfell fire and terrorist attacks in Manchester and London led the Charity Commission to convene a number of organisations, charitable bodies and leading figures on the ground to establish a means of responding to national emergencies as quickly and effectively as possible. The intensity of 2017 led to the stark realisation proper measures were not in place to co-ordinate the public response to domestic emergencies. The answer was to come together and create the National Emergencies Trust. It will operate independently of government.
The trust will work collaboratively with charities and other bodies to direct public donations to NET appeals, and to distribute funds fairly and efficiently at the time of a national emergency. The concept of a collaborative approach to public emergency response has been proven by the Disasters Emergency Committee, which has been responding to overseas disasters for more than 50 years, and will be applied by the NET to domestic emergencies.
The Telegraph reports:
'Last month, it was revealed that 16 fraudsters who posed as people affected by the inferno that killed 72 people falsely claimed a total of £775,000 from the Grenfell victims' fund, with police only recovering £24,000.
The trust said that multiple charitable appeals following a disaster could leave the public feeling overwhelmed.
General Lord Dannatt, the chairman of the new trust and a former Chief of the General Staff, said of the response in 2017: "The general public were very generous and most of the money that was raised went to the right causes and the right people, but not everything went as it should have done.
"The Charity Commission challenged charities in the voluntary and community sector to come up with a more efficient and collaborative way of working together in response to any future tragedy."
The Duke and Duchess met a group of people affected by the Grenfell Tower Fire and Westminster Bridge terror attacks. Shortly after the horrific fire, William joined the Queen to meet residents and later participated in a DIY SOS project to support those in the area. Those in the UK will know it's been a painful time for those who lost loved ones and their homes in the fire. Phase one findings of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry were shared just over a week ago. The report found "serious shortcomings" and "systematic failures" in response to the fire. While the findings praised the courage of the London Fire Brigade, it was highly critical of their response with a number of recommendations suggested moving forward. The report found the principal reason the fire spread was aluminium composite cladding filled with plastic used on the exterior of the building. It led to a barrage of media coverage and political commentary. As I watched it all unfold last week, I couldn't help but think of the families who are still coming to terms with the unimaginable horror they endured and how deeply impactful the inquiry is for them.
The Duke and Duchess met representatives from the emergency services, NGOs, and some of the NET’s charitable partners.
Kate was particularly taken by a dog trained to assist during emergencies.
During a speech Prince William said: "Catherine and I are very pleased to be here today at the launch of the National Emergencies Trust. The UK is one of the most generous countries in the world in helping those in need and giving to charity. We all know the important role that the Disasters Emergency Committee plays in channelling the British public’s extraordinary generosity to respond to disasters overseas. It is therefore only fitting that a new, national charity is able to fulfill the same function when tragedy strikes at home."
'Just now and on previous occasions, it has been humbling to speak to survivors of the London Bridge and Manchester attacks, the Cumbria floods, the Grenfell Tower fire and other disasters here in the UK.
Their stories are as heart-breaking as they are inspiring. Their resilience and strength are deeply humbling. In talking to survivors, I’ve always been inspired to hear about the help they were offered by people and organisations acting on their own initiative with immediate and heartfelt compassion. This empathy is both natural, and remarkable.
Whenever and wherever disaster strikes here in the UK, this country has a unique way of pulling together. From the people who donate their blood, to the children who empty their piggy banks, to the families that set aside a bedroom in their home. The way that local communities support those affected shows the very best of our values and human nature.
But in the wake of tragedy, managing and channelling the public’s desire to help can prove tricky. I saw this for myself on the ground in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. I therefore fully support what you are doing here today.
I’m impressed about how willing the charity sector has been to learn the lessons from previous responses, and to ensure that the quickest and most appropriate support is offered to those affected.
I commend the Charity Commission for initiating this work, and all the charities in the voluntary and community sector for coming together so successfully. Your cooperation is admirable. The result is an organisation that you helped to design, that draws on all your strengths, and is warmly welcomed.
I am very pleased that the National Emergencies Trust now stands ready to provide a structured, organised response to help people right across the UK in the event of a domestic disaster.
Many thanks to the whole team behind the Trust for all their hard work ahead of the launch. We all dread the day when you are needed. But I know that, like everyone here, I am glad that you now exist.'
If you would like to donate to the National Emergencies Trust please click here.
A video from the engagement.
Afterwards, the Duchess undertook a private engagement as she visited the BBC Children's and Education Team ahead of Anti-Bullying Week. It is understood she met with the BBC's Director General, The Lord Hall of Birkenhead. Reporter Russell Myers noted something "very interesting" is in the pipeline and we'll hear more about it next year. I expect it's possibly a Royal Foundation initiative that may be tied to her early years and mental health work. Speaking of early years, we can expect to hear more about Kate's project in the coming weeks.
Does Kate's dress look familiar? The Duchess wore the Emilia Wickstead 'Kate' dress in navy.
Kate owns the piece in lavender and debuted it during an official visit to Germany. She brought it back last autumn for the Global Ministerial Health Summit.
It became so popular, the designer released it in three colours, aptly named 'Kate'. The £1,420 piece is described as "Emilia Wickstead's wool-crepe Kate dress is an elegantly versatile choice for the social season. It's tailored in the UK with a flattering boat neckline and long darts throughout the front and back of the bodice, then lined with black crepe to ensure a smooth fit." Kate added a belt by the designer to complete her look today.
Kate carried her limited edition ‘Blue Heart’ clutch in black croc. It is described as "a beautiful collaboration between Aspinal of London and Beulah using Beulah’s iconic blue heart print on the interior lining. The Blue Heart clutch is a grown up classic with a timelessly elegant silhouette that works effortlessly and includes Aspinal of London’s distinctive signature shield lock clasp. The intricate metal chain is in a gold finish and adds to the functionality allowing the clutch to be held in the hand or elegantly draped over the shoulder.
Jimmy Choo Romy 85 Patent Leather pumps. They are available in multiple colours for $850 at Net-A-Porter.
And accessorised with her sapphire and diamond earrings.
Coincidentally, a reader messaged me earlier this week to suggest the Women of the First World War brooch from the poppy collection as an ideal choice for Kate to wear this week. The Duchess obviously had the same thought and chose the special £30 piece today. It is still in stock at the Poppy Shop.
The Duchess has several engagements coming up including two events for Remembrance week.
9 November - The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will join members of the royal family for the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
10 November - Remembrance Sunday
15 November - The Duchess of Cambridge, Royal Patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, will visit the charity’s new hospice ‘The Nook’ on Friday 15th November to meet children and families being supported by EACH, tour the hospice, and unveil a plaque to officially open the building.
18 November - The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend the Royal Variety Performance at the Palladium Theatre, London, held in aid of the Royal Variety Charity.
I'll see you Saturday evening for the Festival of Remembrance. It begins at 7 pm. It's always a beautifully organised and moving night.