Following Christmas at Sandringham, we first saw William and Kate on 6 January for Sunday service at St Mary's. It's become something of a tradition for the Middletons and close friends to gather at Anmer for Kate's birthday weekend to celebrate privately, but we didn't see Kate's family as they were holidaying in St Barts, but they were joined by a close-knit group including the Meades, Emilia Jardine Paterson and Thomas van Straubenzee. Kate sported her funnel neck Catherine Walker coat and a matching Jane Taylor headband.
Kate's first engagement of the year saw her visit King Henry's Walk Garden to see how the project brings people together through gardening and food growing. The engagement coincided with the exciting news Kate was in the process of co-designing a garden for the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show in May. Architects Davies and White revealed they and Kate had read Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, which raises the idea of a ‘nature deficit disorder’, and were taking inspiration from it.
Kate stepped out in her magenta Oscar de la Renta skirt suit the following day to visit the costume department at the Royal Opera House to learn more about their commissioning and use of textiles and fabrics. Kensington Palace said: "The textile and manufacturing industry is an area of interest to the Duchess. Her Royal Highness’ great-great-grandfather, Francis Martineau Lupton, was a mill owner who ran the family’s successful textile manufacturing business, William Lupton & Company, with his three brothers."
Next on January's schedule was a visit to Family Action to launch a new support line. Kate asked volunteers about the process of helping a caller from the first point of contact. She also touched on the importance of parental help after the first year: "You get a lot of support with your baby, particularly as a mother in the early days up to the age of about one, but after that there isn't a huge amount. Everybody experiences the same struggle".
I absolutely love royal 'away days' and seeing members of the Royal family spend a day exploring towns and cities around the UK outside London which don't see royals as frequently. In late January, the Earl and Countess of Strathearn visited Dundee, Scotland to officially open the V&A Dundee and to meet with employees and their families from the Dundee Michelin factory, to hear first-hand how the factory’s planned closure was affecting them. Kate teamed her McQueen black watch tartan coatdress with a gorgeous Manu Atelier green bag.
This little one was keen to say hello :)
In support of Children's Mental Health Week, the Duchess of Cambridge visited two primary schools in London to find out more about the support offered to students, teachers and parents in helping with mental wellbeing. The Duchess was asked to bring something that made her feel good. Kate told the youngsters: "I’ve got something. It’s not very big. Do you want to see it? This is a photograph of my family. These are my children and this is my husband. And my family makes me feel happy. And we like playing outside together and spending lots of time together as a family. And that makes me feel very happy."
It was a night of glamour as the Duchess donned a beautiful one shoulder McQueen gown for the annual BAFTA awards at the Royal Albert Hall. Sarah Burton outdid herself with the design which featured a whimsical flowing skirt and floral detailing on the shoulder. Statement earrings and glittering Jimmy Choo pumps completed the look (we need to see these droolworthy shoes again in 2020).
The Duchess attended the Royal Foundation's ‘Mental Health in Education’ conference at Mercers' Hall wearing a Dolce & Gabbana boucle suit. Although Kate wasn't intending to speak, she was so impressed by the conference she felt compelled to address guests. Just before she was due to leave, the Duchess told staff she had prepared an impromptu speech. Kate said: "I wasn't actually planning on speaking but I just want to say a few words of reflection after today's wonderful speakers. It's really so exciting to hear everyone here speaking, with your wealth of experience, about the importance of mental health and particularly the emotional development of our children and teachers." I was really pleased to see Kate speaking unexpectedly; it's a topic she's so passionate about, it was excellent to hear her thoughts on the conference in her own words.
Late February brought a surprise in the form of a two-day visit to Northern Ireland for the Baron and Baroness of Carrickfergus. Day one focused on meeting locals and kicked off a visit to Windsor Park football stadium, home of the Irish Football Association (IFA).
Following a quick change, it was time for a kick-about with young people supported by the Shooting Stars programme.
They visited the charity Extern at their Roscor Youth Village, which is a residential activity centre for children referred to the charity by social workers or the Department of Justice. The site provides a safe space to help and support these young people, with particular emphasis on outdoor activities and developing independent living skills. It was a day filled with outdoor adventures including a canoe race...
It was mint green Missoni for a reception at Empire Music Hall to celebrate young people who are making a difference.
Day two began at Hillsborough Castle where William and Kate met with members of the Police Service Northern Ireland. Officers discussed the toll their roles take on mental health. Chief Constable George Hamilton said: "It was lovely that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had asked to meet police officers to get an understanding of the pressure they're under from a wellbeing perspective. I think the staff certainly appreciated the opportunity to talk to Their Royal Highnesses."
In Ballymena in Country Antrim, Kate greeted locals wearing a fabulous McQueen coat which felt like a modern day take on several of the gorgeous ensembles worn by Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins.
Kate was particularly taken by one little boy named James. She told his Dad Alan: "He's gorgeous. It makes me broody." Alan laughed and asked: "Baby number four?" Kate replied: "I think William would be a little worried." Nine-year-old Hannah Ritchie told Kate she was writing a biography of her for school. The Duchess knelt down and asked Hannah if she had any questions for her. Hannah asked her why she likes being a princess. Kate said meeting "special people like you", much to Hannah's delight. The Duchess added: "I love working with young people. Everyone is so brave and strong in some of the places we go. It's very nice to meet you. Good luck with the biography."
MarchThis is Kate telling Hannah what she likes about being a princess. Video courtesy of Bronagh Dobbin. pic.twitter.com/QsVW6BesG0— Valentine Low (@valentinelow) February 28, 2019
On 5 March, members of the Royal family gathered for a special Buckingham Palace reception marking the 50th anniversary of the investiture of the Prince of Wales (fans of The Crown will know it was covered in detail in season 3). Kate wore a pale blue midi dress with a high collar by her independent dressmaker.
The following day the Cambridges travelled to Blackpool for a variety of engagements. The couple travelled to the seaside town to see a series of innovative projects that are focused on investment and regeneration, and learned how the resort is leading the way in tackling some of the social and mental health problems faced by people in Britain today.
A little earlier I mentioned the importance of 'away days'. What makes them so special? Reactions like these... I firmly believe you cannot put a price on how much these trips and making those connections matter. This man is going to well remember the day he met Kate when she's queen consort.
Kate brought back her red military Catherine Walker coat for the annual Commonwealth Day service. The annual event is considered the highlight of the Commonwealth year, offering an opportunity to reflect on the ties that bind member nations together and to look to future hopes and plans.
It was a sartorial surprise when Kate visited the Henry Fawcett Centre in a lilac Gucci blouse worn with the back to the front and a sharp pair of Jigsaw trousers. I loved this look. It was fresh yet sleek and professional. The classic blouse and trousers combination is a great go-to for any daytime engagement.
The Duchess debuted a reworked Alexander McQueen gown for the 2019 Portrait Gala at her patronage the National Portrait Gallery.
Continuing with tradition, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the 1st Battalion Irish Guards for the St Patrick's Day Parade at Cavalry Barracks, Hounslow to mark St Patrick's Day.
The Duchess joined the Queen for the official opening of Bush House, King's College London. Both Kate and the Queen have connections with King's College. Since Prince Philip's retirement, we've seen Andrew accompanying the Queen quite a bit, but moving forward, I expect we may see the younger royals with the monarch more frequently. For 2020, it would be fascinating to see HM make visits to patronages she's passed down to younger royals accompanied by the recipient.
Concluding March, Kate was casual in her Barbour jacket and J Crew sweater for a morning visit to Scouts’ headquarters at Gilwell Park. Kate told a group of children she would love to see George, Charlotte and Louis join the scouting community as she believes "it's an inclusive way of life". The photo of the day came when Kate joined a little girl inside a den.
The Cambridges decamped to Anmer Hall for Easter break in April. They were spotted enjoying a family day out with the Tindalls at the Barnham Horse trials, just a twenty-minute drive from their Norfolk home. George had a particularly fun time playing with Mia Tindall.
We saw the couple on 21 April for Easter Sunday service at St George's Chapel in Windsor. Kate brought back her elegant dove grey McQueen tailored coat from the 2014 Australia tour.
The family also celebrated Prince Louis' first birthday in April with the release of adorable photos.
With Baby Sussex due imminently, Prince Harry made a last-minute decision to join Kate at the annual ANZAC day service at Westminster Abbey. When the Duchess first entered the Royal family, Harry was often by her side (often times making her laugh) at official events, and it was nice to see them together for an engagement again. As I watched them arriving with Harry just days from welcoming his and Meghan's first child, I was reminded of how protective he was of his sister-in-law when she was expecting George. During an interview he said: "I just only hope that she and him - but mainly Catherine - hopefully that she gets the necessary protection to allow her as a mother-to-be to enjoy the privacy that comes with it."
Kate looked regal in a teal Catherine Walker coatdress and a hat by Rosie Olivia. The Walker brand has become a prominent staple in Kate's rotation, particularly over the past couple of years.
To celebrate the Cambridges' eighth wedding anniversary, the Queen bestowed an enormous honour on Kate. The Duchess was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order for services to the Sovereign. Kate received the highest rank of Dame.
May brought Princess Charlotte's birthday photographs taken by Kate outdoors at Anmer Hall and Kensington Palace.
It was a busy month for the Duchess, kicking off with a visit to her patronage, Anna Freud Centre, to officially open their new centre of excellence. She met an array of supporters and families who have availed of the charity's invaluable services over the years including Amy Herring whom Kate enjoyed chatting with. The Duchess wore a bespoke green Emilia Wickstead dress with a square neckline for the outing.
Kate was nautical for the launch of the King's Cup regatta, an inaugural regatta with proceeds going to eight of the Cambridges' patronages. Over the years, the princes' polo outings made substantial financial contributions to a host of organisations, but now they've reduced their playing days considerably, the regatta is very much a way of continuing that support.
The appearance came the day after Archie's birth. William said: "Obviously thrilled, absolutely thrilled, and looking forward to seeing them in the next few days when things have quietened down. I'm very pleased and glad to welcome my own brother into the sleep deprivation society that is parenting." There's a very sweet moment when Kate turns to William and says: "I'm not an uncle." Adding: "It's such a special time, obviously with Louis and Charlotte just having their birthdays, it's such a great time of year to have a baby. Spring is in the air. As William said, we look forward to meeting him and finding out what his name is going to be. It's really exciting for both of them and wishing them all the best. This next few weeks is always a bit daunting, the first time round, so we wish them all the best."
William and Kate returned to their former home of Anglesey. A walk on Newborough beach brought back memories for royal fans from the walks the couple used to enjoy there after the wedding when official appearances were sparse. Glimpses into their life on the island provided some of our first photos of them during the first couple of years of their marriage.
Sporting her polka-dot Alessandra Rich dress, the Duchess travelled to Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes to view a special D-Day exhibition in the newly restored Teleprinter Building, marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Kate first visited Bletchley Park in 2014 to explore a family connection: her paternal grandmother Valerie Glassborow worked as a "duty officer" at Bletchley with her twin sister Mary during the war.
Kate and William took George, Charlotte and Louis to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show which was, in part, inspired by the Cambridge children's childhoods in Norfolk and Kensington Palace. It was the most informal shoot of the family we've seen to date, with a selection of outstanding candid family shots. It's fantastic to see official pictures of the Cambridges and their children against the backdrop of one of London's most stunning annual attractions.
Little Louis :)
For the preview in the evening the Queen joined William and Kate for a tour. Kate incorporated memories from the Queen's life "including carrots and beetroot which she remembers planting as a girl". HM was overheard saying: "Very interesting." Kate replied: "Thank you very much, Your Majesty. We will see you later."
The Duchess was in pink McQueen for one of the Queen's annual garden parties at Buckingham Palace.
Kate debuted her GCVO regalia for a State banquet at Buckingham Palace in honour of the US State visit. A ruffled off-white McQueen design was styled with the Lover's Knot tiara, the Queen Mother's sapphire and diamond earrings, and the Royal Family Order.
On 6 June, the Duchess took the salute at the Household Division's Beating Retreat, wearing her cream Catherine Walker coat and Irish Guards brooch. The two-day event is performed on Horse Guards Parade in front of St James's Park each year on the Wednesday and Thursday evening preceding Trooping the Colour. Funds raised go to service charities. A member of the Royal family is usually present on the second evening to take the salute.
It was a family affair as Prince Louis made his debut for Trooping the Colour in an adroable blue and white outfit his uncle Harry once wore for the same event.
It was another away day for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they travelled to Cumbria to celebrate the resilience and spirit of rural and farming communities in the region. Kate revealed she had taken the children to the Lake District over half-term for a little holiday.
In support of Addiction Awareness Week, the Duchess attended a gala dinner wearing her stylish Barbara Casasola off-the-shoulder dress and those divine Jimmy Choo pumps.
It was a decidedly regal day at Windsor for this year's Order of the Garter ceremonies as the Windsor women were joined by Queen Maxima and Queen Letizia.
The summer season was in full swing as the royals descended upon Royal Ascot for a week of racing and regal style. Many of us have been waiting for years for Kate to wear Elie Saab and the designer's first offering for the Duchess was worth the wait. I loved the shade of blue, the pussy bow detail and delicate trim, the princessy skirt... Yes, Mr Saab, I look forward to seeing your designs for a white-tie affair. We can't close this segment without mentioning the sublime hat by Philip Treacy.
Coinciding with news Kate had become patron of the Royal Photographic Society, the Duchess visited Warren Park Children's Centre in Surrey for a photography workshop to see how learning photography can positively impact young people's confidence and self expression. Kate wore a printed tiered dress by Ridley London.
For the second leg of Back to Nature at Hampton Court Garden Festival, Kate wore a summery geometric print Sandro Paris dress and her Castaner Carina wedges. As with Chelsea, the garden was centred on children and fittingly a group from charities supported by the Duchess joined her for the preview day. Nine-year-old Kane from Place2Be said: "It was beautiful. It was very creative. I chatted to the Princess Kate about making smores on a campfire." Kate said there were foxes in the garden which had left half eaten sandwiches." Little Ruby added: "I thought it was a dream - can't believe I'm really here!"
Kate was in Wimbledon white in a vintage-inspired Suzannah dress for the second day of the championships.
It was a family affair at Windsor Castle for the christening of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. The service was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby and attended by close family and friends including Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Meghan's mother Doria Ragland, Diana's sisters Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale, and the chosen godparents and their spouses.
It was a family-filled day out as the Cambridges and Sussexes spent the afternoon at the Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Polo Trophy at Billingbear Polo Club cheering on William and Harry in the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day. Kate wore her LK Bennett pink midi dress, whilst George and Charlotte had a ball playing and Louis stole the show trying on mum's sunglasses.
It was a very royal girls' day out as the Duchess of Cambridge was joined by the Duchess of Sussex and her sister Pippa Matthews for the Wimbledon women's final between Serena Williams and Simona Halep.
And for the men's final, William joined his wife to see Novak Djokovic triumph over the Prince of Tennis Roger Federer.
From there, they enjoyed a fortnight on the paradise island of Mustique with the Middletons, where they celebrated Prince George's 6th birthday. The July holiday is becoming a staple in their routine.
In a break from the summer schedule, the Cambridges hosted the inaugural King's Cup regatta in the seaport town of Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
The event saw the Duke and Duchess go head to head as skippers of state-of-the-art Fast 40 boats. William sailed on behalf of his patronage Child Bereavement UK and Kate in support of her early years initiative with the Royal Foundation. Michael and Carole Middleton looked after George and Charlotte at the event. Much like Back to Nature, it marked the beginning of the children's gradual introduction into more royal events in the UK.
Who could forget the moment when Kate appeared to ask Charlotte to wave :)
From there, the Cambridges spent the remainder of the summer in Norfolk before travelling to Balmoral for a break with the royals in the Scottish Highlands.
It was a milestone moment for the Cambridges when Princess Charlotte arrived for her first day at Thomas's Battersea with big brother George and her parents.
Charlotte looked ready to take on the day ahead and make plenty of new friends with William revealing she was "very excited".
The Duchess officially opened a new play garden at Wisley, which was inspired by Back to Nature. Designed by landscape architects Davies White with support from RHS horticultural teams, it included a number of features from the original garden at RHS Chelsea such as the hollow log and boulders from the waterfall and the hidden burrow and rolling hill from Hampton Court Garden. It's a permanent installation which children will enjoy for many years to come. During a very nicely delivered speech, Kate spoke of the importance of laying the foundation blocks from the earliest years, her work in the area and how much she has enjoyed the process of creating the garden. "There is a well-known proverb – that it takes a village to raise a child – everyone here represents an integral part of that very village. By coming together, having fun, learning and experiencing new things, we can all impart life-long benefits on our children."
Ahead of World Mental Health Day, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined forces to narrate a landmark three-minute film, Every Mind Matters, which was broadcast across several leading UK networks.
Kate paid a previously unannounced visit to Sunshine House Children and Young People’s Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team. Kate teamed the slim-fit, polka dot Equipment blouse with ZARA culottes.
October commenced with a reception at Kensington Palace for BBC Teen Hero award nominees.
Who could forget George jumping for joy as Aston Villa won!
Classic! Prince George celebrating Villa’s 5-1 win at Norwich. ⚽️⚽️😂👍 #Boldmere #SuttonColdfield #avfc pic.twitter.com/bL6sknRmDm— Boldmere Road 🇬🇧 (@BoldmereRoad) October 5, 2019
With anticipation growing ahead of the Cambridges' official visit to Pakistan, William and Kate attended a special event hosted by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Aga Khan Centre. Kate wore a lovely flowing emerald-silk ARoss Girl x Soler dress for the event and earrings by a Pakistani brand.
Next, it was a visit to her patronage the Natural History Museum to view the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity and hear how it is championing and helping to protect UK wildlife. It was a high street look for Kate with a berry Warehouse jumper and Jigsaw culottes with her burgundy Chanel bag and Tod's pumps.
On 14 October, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Pakistan for their first official tour of the country. The Duchess wore a stunning ombré turquoise ensemble by Catherine Walker. The bespoke look channeled the traditional shalwar kameez - a long tunic and trousers. I was very much hoping we would see Kate honour Pakistani dress; the Walker creation was sublime. The draped detail on the neckline and proportion of the dress and fitted trousers make for a gorgeous look.
Day two saw the couple visit Model College for girls in Islamabad where they learned about the benefits of the 'Teach for Pakistan' programme which recruits young graduates and professionals for a two-year fellowship to teach in schools with a lack of qualified educators. Afterwards they visited the Margalla Hills located at the foot of the Himalayas.
From there, they attended a meeting with the President and had lunch with the Prime Minister. Before entering politics, PM Imran khan was a very famous cricketer, then married to one of Diana's closest friends Jemima Goldsmith. During Diana's visits to the country, she supported Mr Khan's efforts to build a cancer centre and spent a good deal of time with the couple. It is believed William and Kate will retrace her footsteps later on in the visit.
The Duchess wore a shimmering deep green Jenny Packham gown for an evening reception at the iconic Pakistan Monument in Islamabad.
William made fashion headlines when he stepped out in a traditional sherwani by Naushemian.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travelled to the mountainous region of Chitral for the third day of their official visit to Pakistan. The visit focused on climate change and meeting as many people as possible. Kensington Palace told reporters to expect "a colourful and fun introduction to rural life", adding the couple "hope to shine a light on the very real consequences of global warming and its devastating effects on our planet".
In Lahore, it was a spot of cricket before William and Kate visited SOS Children's Villages - the largest independent, non-profit development organisation operating across the world. The villages provide alternative families to children without proper parental care. Typically, children of all ages live together in a house with a 'mother' who is responsible for meeting the children's physical needs. These women are often single or widows, and able to fully commit themselves to the responsibilities included. The ethos of SOS is all about fostering a sense of belonging and family which is why several children are raised together and brought up as siblings. The Duchess wore a shalwar kameez by Pakistani textile company Gul Ahmed and a matching shawl by Maheen Khan.
During a speech the Duchess said: "Being here in Pakistan this week, William and I have seen on several occasions how family is at the heart of your culture. Parents, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents all play important roles - you have reminded us exactly what family means. You have shown us too that it is not simply a term that describes the relationship between blood relatives. You have created a home, where children are given the love, protection, and support that will enable them to have a fairer chance in life. Here, women who were once vulnerable, now play the most vital of roles as mothers and it is most heartening to see that you are not doing this alone."
William and Kate visited Badshahi mosque with the Duchess in a turquoise and gold shalwar kameez and matching headscarf by Maheen Khan.
When unexpected weather meant William and Kate couldn't travel back to Islamabad, it meant a great deal of last-minute logistical changes and the cancellation of a long-planned trip to Khyber Pass on the Afghanistan border. With an additional morning in Lahore on Friday, the royal couple made a return to SOS Children's Villages. In her very first Instagram post, Kate wrote: "The community at the SOS Village is built around family - and the best possible family you could imagine - where everyone comes together to nurture, love and protect the children in their care. These vulnerable children, many who have come through traumatic circumstances, are nurtured in this caring environment and are able to form these quality relationships that they so desperately need to thrive."
To close the tour, the couple were surrounded by adorable puppies at Islamabad Army Canine Centre.
The Duchess spoke exclusively to CNN's Max Foster at SOS Children's Villages: "I think William and I really wanted to see an SOS Children's Village like this. There are so many vulnerable women here but they really use their positivity. The support the village here provides them really to support and protect the next generation. The children in their care and give them the best possible start to their future lives." Regarding the visit, Kate said: "It's been fantastic, we've seen a lot of Pakistan. There's been a huge variety. It was amazing seeing some of the geography, but then to see some of the community activities like this has been really special." It was excellent to see another joint Commonwealth tour, and the visit to Pakistan proved a successful one, from the itinerary to the style, and thoughtful speeches along the way.
Following half-term at Anmer Hall where Kate was spotted shopping over Halloween with the kiddies at a nearby Sainsburys, the Duke and Duchess' first joint public appearance was the launch of the National Emergencies Trust. Kate wore a blue Emilia Wickstead dress for the event.
The Royal family gathered at Royal Albert Hall for the annual Festival of Remembrance.
The Queen was flanked by two future queen consorts on Remembrance Sunday. The balcony placement on the day is a reminder of how suddenly change comes. The Queen and Prince Philip were a fixture laying wreaths every year throughout their lives.
Kate opted for a smart casual look styling her grey Smythe blazer with a great pair of ruby trousers from Joseph for an event celebrating Shout volunteers. I love the fit of these and remarked at the time it would be great to see them again with the matching blazer. The new text messaging line was launched in May as a lasting legacy to the Heads Together campaign. It is a joint collaboration between William, Kate, Harry and Meghan. The team at the Royal Foundation contacted Crisis Text Line in the US to begin the process of bringing their successful model to the UK. It is the Foundation's largest initiative to date with £3 million invested.
15 November was a celebratory day for staff and volunteers from East Anglia's Children's Hospices. Their dream of raising £10 million for a much-needed, purpose-built hospice had come to fruition with the official opening of the Nook. Efforts undertaken to build the hospice exemplify community spirit. Across Norfolk, supporters, businesses, volunteers, grandparents and children came together to raise the mammoth sum. Whether it was £500 raised from a bake sale, or a £10 online donation, to larger donations from businesses in the area, it was very much a step-by-step process which took relentless determination. I'm just awe-inspired by the team at EACH who are now supporting children and their families from the Nook.
The Duchess chose a stunning black lace Alexander McQueen gown for the Royal Variety Performance. The bespoke piece featured puffed sleeves, lace overlay, a fitted silhouette, velvet detail on the neckline and waist, and an intricate floral pattern. Kate has a penchant for this style of gown, and the tailoring was beautifully done as always by McQueen and the touch of velvet against the lace has a very luxurious, seasonal feel to it.
Kate was in green for a reception celebrating Tusk Award finalists. She was due to join William at the awards but couldn't due to the children.
The Duchess of Cambridge joined the Queen and a host of royals at Buckingham Palace this evening for a reception marking 70 years of the NATO alliance. Kate teamed a grass green dress with the Queen's earrings.
The Children's Princess was in her element for an afternoon of festive fun at Peterley Manor Farm. The common thread throughout 2019 is how much she loves working with children and enjoys spending time with them. I always think of Kate in jeans and a casual sweater out and about with little ones when considering her best engagements.
It was a night of regal sparkle at Buckingham Palace for the annual Diplomatic Reception. A night for 'go big or go home' in the jewellery department with the Lovers Knot tiara, Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, statement earrings and a ring on loan from HM. Kate wore a navy velvet gown by McQueen.
In a heartwarming festive watch, Kate and William teamed up with Mary Berry for a television special celebrating the work of several of their charities and culminating in a Christmas party for staff and volunteers working over Christmas.
It was a family affair for the Queen's pre-Christmas luncheon with the three little Cambridges stealing the show.
To wish their followers a Merry Christmas, KP shared a very sweet photo of William with the children, taken over the summer at Anmer by Kate.
The Cambridge Christmas Card for 2019.
Prince George joined Dad, Grandpa and Gan Gan to prepare Christmas puddings as part of the launch of the Royal British Legions' Together at Christmas initiative.
During a family Christmas at Sandringham, there were two surprise additions on the walk to St Mary's.
Over the past month I've talked about George's increasing visibility marking the embryonic stages of his introduction into his royal role and role as a future king. It sounds rather bizarre to be speaking in such terms about a 6-year-old child, yet it is the case. The spotlight is a huge amount to absorb for grown adults, and I imagine growing up with it even in controlled settings is immensely difficult. Since he was born, there's been a great deal of expectation regarding seeing him more frequently; 2019 was the year it began to happen. It's such a fine line to walk, and seeing him look quite sad almost on Christmas Day broke my heart a little. Several of you noted we didn't see as many images of Kate smiling and that didn't entirely surprise me. She's loves her children fiercely, and no matter your position in life, having to choose when to share your little boy with the public just isn't an easy decision.
I think that's partly why Kate and Charlotte greeted one half of the crowds - knowing the cameras would likely follow. It was a lot for Charlotte too, who is just 4 years old. There was quite a bit of noise, camera phones in all directions and people reaching out and hugging her. When one lady hugged Charlotte, I noticed a police woman almost jolt over. In addition to the points mentioned, there are considerable security concerns at each and every royal event. I do think next year, we may see the children do the walk with their parents and then return to the house with the Queen and Camilla via car. It seems the best compromise given how young they are. Equally, if they choose not to take them for another several years, it would be a very understandable decision. Childhood is precious and Christmas morning sacred for families.
As the year drew to a close, the Palace shared several photos from Kate's private two days with Kingston Hospital Maternity Unit in London. In an open letter to supportive nurses and midwives, Kate wrote: "Over the last few years, I've dedicated a significant amount of my work to the Early Years - the pivotal period of development between pregnancy and the age of five when children build crucial foundations for life. Your role in supporting this critical phase of development extends far beyond the complicated task of delivering a baby successfully. The help and reassurance you provide for parents to be and parents of newborns is just as crucial. It goes a long way in building parents' confidence from the start, with lifelong impact on the future happiness of their children. The Early Years are more critical for future health and happiness than any other moment in our lifetime. Even before we are born, our mother's emotional and physical health directly influences our development and by the age of five a child's brain has developed to ninety per cent of its adult size. Your role at the very start of this period is therefore of fundamental importance."
Tim O Donovan's annual letter to The Times put Kate at 126 engagements for the year. Over 20 of these were private meetings in relation to the Royal Foundation, mostly focused on Kate's early years project which will launch properly early next year. Several reporters have said her work supporting early intervention over the past few years will all come together with this project. I'm very excited to hear more about it. Simon Perry reports there are two tours on the agenda for the Cambridges in 2020 including a post-Brexit trip to Europe and there's talk of a larger tour over the summer, possibly to a Commonwealth destination with the children. We'll see Kate appoint a new private secretary in the coming weeks too, with Catherine Quinn departing after two years in the role. Kate's assistant private secretary Natalie Barrows was honoured in the New Year's Honours list, and perhaps she will step up to the senior position.
Today, KP revealed a new initiative William has been working on with Sir David Attenborough. The Earthshot prize will support a decade of positive action against the climate emergency. With the support of Prince Charles and Prince Philip, Chris Ship reports William wants "to get as many members of the family involved as possible". The initiative is a global one with Hillary Clinton supporting from across the pond, following her meeting with William at the Palace over the autumn.
More from the press release:
'In what is set to be a ‘super year’ for the environment with crucial summits including the Convention on Biodiversity in China and the COP26 Climate Change Conference in the UK, we will unveil a small number of Earthshot challenges in special events around the globe. These challenges will seek answers to the biggest issues currently facing the planet, including: climate and energy, nature and biodiversity, oceans, air pollution and fresh water.
We will be awarding a prestigious prize to 5 winners per year over 10 years. Through this, and the winners work following each initial challenge, we hope to be able to provide at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest problems by 2030. An annual awards ceremony will take place in different cities across the world each year between 2021 and 2030.'
Coinciding with the news, an unseen photo of William taken by Kate in Pakistan was released.
I want to thank you all for following the blog in 2019 and wish you all a very Happy New Year! May it be a peaceful, prosperous one. Take a look at the Cambridges' highlights compiled by KP.
To all the fantastic organisations and inspirational people we met and worked with in 2019: Thank you for a wonderful year, and see you in 2020! pic.twitter.com/dmVbJ68SL3— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) December 30, 2019
See you all in 2020 :)