Monday, 20 January 2020

Duchess Kate In Sparkling Red Needle & Thread Dress For UK-Africa Investment Summit Reception

On behalf of the Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace this evening to mark the UK-Africa Investment Summit.


The UK-Africa Investment Summit took place in London today. It brought together heads of state and government and senior representatives from African countries, key multilateral agencies and high profile UK and African businesses. Kensington Palace said: "The summit will demonstrate the strength of the relationship between the UK and Africa, showcase and promote the breadth and quality of investment opportunities across Africa, and highlight the UK’s commitment to supporting economic development in Africa, including through the creation of jobs and new partnerships."


Upon arrival, William and Kate enjoyed meeting with guests and leaders from all over the world.


There were plenty of moments like this too.


The Earl and Countess of Wessex were also present. Below, the Countess speaking to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.


The royals greeting each other warmly.


Wishing Sophie a very Happy Birthday - she turned 55 today. The Countess was also in red tonight, choosing a red scalloped Alaia dress.


Princess Anne mingling with guests.


The UK's trade with Africa is estimated around £33 billion and between now and 2035, African nations will have to create 20 million jobs per year to keep pace with the rapidly growing population. The government revealed "In the lead up to the summit, £6.5 billion of commercial deals have already been signed by British companies to deliver jobs, growth and investment across the UK and Africa, with deals worth billions more expected to be made during the course of the day. They are expected to mobilise billions of pounds in private sector investment for Africa, marking a new era of trade between the UK and Africa."


More from the Department of International Trade:

'Africa has 8 of the world’s 15 fastest growing economies and there is huge demand on the continent for clean, sustainable and innovative investment. As home to some of the world’s most enterprising technologies and the financial centre of the world in the City of London, the UK is perfectly placed to meet that demand and be the continent’s investment partner of choice. A range of programmes, totalling £370 million, include:
Supporting African countries to meet their rapidly growing energy demands through green energy, including better access to solar energy and electricity. Helping Africa thrive digitally through a £45 million programme helping young Africans, especially women, access the internet, develop digital skills and find jobs. Enabling at least 100,000 more women in Africa to secure high-quality jobs by funding their education and training.
A £200 million programme to help build basic trade infrastructure in southern Africa. The new programme will support upgrades to border posts, ports and roads. It will also work with governments and businesses to improve trade policies and cut red tape. Boosting the flow of private financing into African projects supporting girls’ education, healthcare and climate resilience.'

William and Kate chatting with guests.


During a speech, Prince William shared hopes for future trips to Africa and recalled proposing to Kate in Kenya almost a decade ago. "The African continent holds a very special place in my heart. It is the place my father took my brother and me shortly after our mother died. And when deciding where best to propose to Catherine I could think of no more fitting place than Kenya to get down on one knee." He continued "As Catherine and I have said to several of you here tonight, we hope to have the chance to visit many more countries in the future and share our mutual love of your continent with our children." The video below has footage of William's speech in addition to some lovely interactions between Kate and Sophie. The Countess jokes about forgetting the time for the reception, and Kate tells her "I need to practice my French Sophie".


Another shot from the reception shared by Buckingham Palace.


A group photograph at the Palace.


Earlier today, Prince William met with several leaders including Rwanda's president Paul Kagame. People's Simon Perry revealed the Cambridges would undertake two tours this year. Perhaps visiting several Commonwealth countries in Africa is in the planning?


William greeting Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo.


The Duchess chose a fabulous sparkling red dress by Needle & Thread for the occasion. It's a shorter version of the brands £410 Aurora Sequin Gown. During 'Styling Kate' posts, Needle & Thread has been suggested with some frequency and it's easy to see why. Designs include whimsical, elegant pieces - often times with signature embellishment or sequin detail. Many of their pieces would be ideal for Kate, I hope we see more in her evening-wear rotation.


The ruffled neck dress is described as "A vision of tulle and shimmering embellishment, the Aurora gown from Needle & Thread presents a grown-up way to wear sequins. From chevrons and diamonds to floral shapes and horizontal panels, each and every one has been purposefully placed, resulting in a light-catching finish that's sure to garner a whole host of compliments."


A shorter version of the Aurora is available at Net-A-Porter.


Kate teamed the dress her red suede Gianvito Rossi pumps.


And her Jenny Packham Casa clutch.


Kate completed the look with a new pair of statement earrings by Soru Jewellery. Kate's Royal Closet spoke to the brand who revealed they are a 2017 style. They will be available for pre-order tomorrow.


The £140 Ruby earrings are described as: "Handcrafted from 18kt yellow gold vermeil on sterling silver, genuine semi precious ruby gemstones are set within multi facetted sparkling crystals. Slight natural variances may occur between colours, shapes and sizes of the gemstones. We use natural gemstones which may contain internal inclusions, adding to the beauty and uniqueness of each individual gem."

The Palace confirmed the Duke and Duchess will attend the UK Holocaust Memorial Day Commemorative Ceremony in Westminster next Monday. 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Additionally, reports are beginning to surface regarding a two-day trip to the Republic of Ireland for the Cambridges in March. We should hear more on that in the coming weeks.

79 comments:

  1. Oh my! Gorgeous dress. Can’t wait to see closer pictures. I just wish Catherine would wear her hair up - she looks so great with her hair up and it would showcase the dress!

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    1. Completely agree regarding her hair. Either wear it up of keep the "bangs" long and tucked. The loose curl around her lean face can make her look tired with it's volume and heaviness. Otherwise, love the look. Proud of them to be "on" after an emotional week.

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  2. Gorgeous dress!!! Very shnazzy!! Perfect how The Duchess of Cambridges' heels match the elegant gown perfectly!!!

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  3. Fantastic and red is my favorite color.

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  4. William and Kate always look lovely however I do agree that Kate is especially lovely with her hair up. So happy to see them host an event solo at Buckingham Palace. A bright future for the U.K. with them.

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  5. New ruby earings.

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  6. Great dress. I agree on an up-do with it. Tireless Sophie, waiting to see what she's wearing.

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  7. She looks amazing all right but an updo would be the icing on the cake. Sophie is in red too which looks great in the group photo. Pity Anne isn’t - I think she (she does look great mind) but kinda blends in with the men in the group photo. Sophie looks amazing for 55 doesn’t she ?

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    1. Zora from Prague20 January 2020 at 21:47

      I agree, Annicke - Sophie does look great!
      Not my favourite dress on Kate (too sparkly for my taste) but she looks beautiful anyway.
      I like the new earrings.
      Thank you, Charlotte!

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  8. Love this look! Glamorous but somehow not over the top even though it's red and sparkly! :)

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  9. At first I thought Kate looked more "dressed up" than Anne and Sophie. Of course, Anne was wearing what she always wears for these semi-formal occasions. I like what Kate is wearing and I think, looking at the way the men are dressed up and some of the guests, that she was dressed appropriately. As, of course, Sophie and Anne were although I thought Anne looked more daytime dressed than evening dressed.

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  10. Well done to the Duke & Duchess they have done a marvellous job supporting the Queen. I love Kate’s dress but I also agree that Kate is especially lovely with her hair up. Happy birthday to the Countess of Wessex!

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  11. Susan in Florida20 January 2020 at 21:36

    I really like this dress and shoes !

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  12. Every inch a royal, as usual. For some reason the waist is bugging me but I'll get over it.

    I don't know about you gals but I've got a serious case of Royal Fatigue.

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    1. Hahaha. So true. Like too much treacle.

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    2. Lol. I didn’t think you could get Royal fatigue - until this week!

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    3. ...a serious case an all :-).

      Even the Royals look a bit fatigued - and even the sparkle on Kate's dress failed to convince me. A proper meat feast and some outdoor activities might do the trick, though.

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  13. Wow! What a gorgeous dress. Love it!
    Anne looks great for her age, as does Sophie. Very generous of Sophie to work on her birthday, and nice of William to acknowledge that.

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  14. Kate looks gorgeous. The dress really is pretty on her. Not sure about the earrings, will need to see another photo. Shoes and bag great. William looks wonderful also and the two of them seemed relaxed and very professional. Always love seeing Anne and Sophie. Like both of their outfits. Sophie's hair was very pretty.

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  15. My first thougt was: dream team. What a peace and harmony.

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  16. Caroline in Montana20 January 2020 at 22:02

    I love it! love how the bottom of the dress is sort of flapper and has great movement, great color on her and liking the sparkles. love the new earing's and that clutch. I love her hair down!! I find I think that some/most up-do's make women look so severe, almost unwelcoming, that it looks like it hurts their heads and pulls on their face:/

    love me some countess of Wessex, happy birthday to her!! I love her dress and really like her hair, but someone should have told her to wear a slip under this dress or it should have been looser as I think it looks way too tight in the back (rolls) and comes off as unflattering on such a beautiful woman who is in great shape, this dress does not convey that from the back!

    Anne seems to be dressed the way she always is, which is ok, but to me this looks more like a country picnic afternoon photo shoot than a night time semi formal royal affair.

    just my 2 cents. cant wait for more thought provoking reviews:) Have a good week everyone. Thanks as always Charlotte!

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    1. I agree with you on all counts except the hair as I love it done up in a loose way, romantic way. I think that would have been nice with the dress having a high neck. So agree about Countess Of Wessex. Kate is dazzling in that color. Lovely flow as you said to the dress. Right on Montana. I'm a Canadian.

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    2. I agree with everything you said!

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  17. Gorgeous color, gorgeous dress and shoes. So good to see this young couple doing so much good for Britain and the Royal Family!
    Beth in SF

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  18. Absolutely love this dress on Kate! Her and William look radiant. I loved the video of the family greeting each other. I’m sure all are eager to move forward and put bad pressure behind them. I do hope they add more engagements. They were the reason I began to be such a devout follower of Charlotte and this Blog! Thank you as always

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  19. What a lovely hostess in a beautiful dress! Sophie and Anne look pretty, as well.

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  20. Katr is perfection personified. I love. And I love her hair, even down. It's just so pretty and bouncy and full.

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  21. Kate looks great as usual, beautiful in red as always. I am glad to see Edward and Sophie there as well, supporting the queen for this event. Sophie does look great for her age and I love her dress also. Kate and William seem so happy and content working together lately. Anne looks nice, always with a smile as well. Thanks Charlotte for the report on this event.

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  22. Kate's dress is extremely pretty and not too expensive! I like the color very much, and I think it's good that she's gets a bit dressed up, because it makes the attendees (who are all men except one!) feel like it's an extra special occasion.

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  23. It's a nice material and color but I don't think maxi dresses really suit Kate. I know it's her new fashion thing and it's very "in" but I always think they're an awkward length that are too casual for evening wear and too formal for business wear. I thought 55 year old Sophie with her red dress with that cute detailing on the sleeves and half-up do had a more youthful look.

    Having said that I like that she's wearing a new (???) brand and the price is fairly reasonable and more high street than truly designer label. I also wish she'd wear more red -- it's a great color on her.

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    1. Ivy Lin, You're right -- Sophie's outfit was youthful! I really liked it but couldn't think of why exactly. :)

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    2. Now I think that particularly this maxi length is perfect for this event, not too casual and not too formal. I'm really happy that Catherine has sported this length for several appointments now and do hope she sticks to it!

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  24. Given the nature of the event, I believe Kate left her down to make it all a bit more "semi-formal" however, this look deserved her hair up. IMHO, I believe this dress is the gown with the last 8 inches cut off. It works well as a midi and if that's the case, clever of them to just lop it off.

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    1. I thought that was quite clever. If the dress had been full-length, it would have been too formal for the occasion.

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  25. Kate looks beautiful in this dress, and in the moments of laughter, her loveliness shines, but I also see exhaustion in her face tonight, and can't help thinking that the last couple of weeks have taken a toll on her. It was lovely that there were several other royals present. Thank you for including the video of them greeting each other, Charlotte.

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  26. Kate looks stunning. Sophie looks nice as well happy bday to her!

    Thanks Charlotte as always

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  27. Looking lovely and regal in red. For some reason, I think maybe she wears her hair down so often because maybe William likes it that way? Perhaps I think that because there are times I'd wear mine up.. but my husband prefers it down. They're obviously very in love, I'm happy for them. They're beautiful together.

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    1. While I also know that many men prefer women wearing their hair down, I really hope Kate wears her hair just as she likes it & because she herself likes it. For the record, I love when Kate wears her hair down and when it is a little longer (as it is now). I think she looks splendid and I hope she feels that way, too.
      Ella

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  28. Kathleen from Chicago21 January 2020 at 00:06

    Charlotte, I am a regular reader of your column. A very sincere thank you for all of your time and thoughtful posts. I am currently visiting England for the first time. I want to attend the event in Westminster but truly can not find any details on the exact location. Any information would be very much appreciated. The readers of this blog wonderful insight. Longtime royal admirer.

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    1. Hello Kathleen,

      I hope you're having a wonderful visit. Send me an email at hrhcatherineblog@hotmail.com and I'll see what I can find out :)

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    2. Kathleen from Chicago21 January 2020 at 00:12

      Thanks so much!

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  29. What a gorgeous dress. Just enough sparkle for an evening event. I love seeing the interaction between the royal and how William made his speech personal.

    Hope from USA

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  30. I thought both of the Royal “Ladies in Red” looked lovely tonight. Princess Anne looked polished and professional as always.

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    1. I also like how Anne dresses. Very professional & she always looks engaged with whoever she is speaking to.

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  31. Well done, William & Kate! You both look confident, charming, welcoming, gracious, and gorgeous! Love Kate's dress. Not in love with the heavy hair covering her eyes & face but the color & waves are pretty, and familar. I prefer a half up/down for this occassion. Still stunning, as always. William appears relaxed, handsome,comfortable and totally, in his element. Such a good team! Wonderful to see Edward and Sophie! She looks beautiful in red. Another confident women. Happy Birthday, Countess Sophie. Happy to see Princess Ann, too. She looks lovely and always confident, too. Good family turnout for good cause. I wish them all great success.
    Thank you, Charlotte for your continued, quick, thorough coverage! I think we all needed this, today! Love the upbeat & positive post!

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  32. Emily in Houston21 January 2020 at 01:15

    Kate looks stunning! The dress is reminiscent of her China banquet gown, which is my all-time favorite. Agree with others that an updo would have been better but she looks lovely regardless. Sophie is cute as a button in her dress as well!

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  33. I loved seeing the Cambridges with my other fave Royals - Princess Anne & the Wessexes!
    I’ve always wanted Kate to wear Needle & Thread. She looks fantastic & it’s a great colour, too! I like Sophie’s dress and hair, also :) I’m looking forward to the Cambridges undertaking more tours to Commonwealth countries this year, hopefully some in Africa.

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  34. I love Catherine in red. I think she looks best in saturated rich colors. I have seen other comments that said they wished she had worn her hair up and some that love her hair down. Well, my favorite, and preference for this look, would be half up and half down--ha! I would also like to see a little more color on her lips. But really, I think she looks gorgeous no matter what. I really liked the whole look overall. I am sure that the last few weeks have not been easy for anyone, but I really appreciate the class with which it appears everyone in the family is attempting to conduct themselves.

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  35. Gorgeous! I'm intrigued by the earrings - how can rubies that size cost only 149 pounds?

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  36. Lady In Red! A little to much red for my taste. But, Kate always seems to overdo her color fashion statement. Dress is fabulous as are the shoes. Would have loved to see simple earrings. Marching earring stone color to every fashion statement is a personal style statement of Kate. But, not one that well dressed people do. Having one of the most fabulous collections to choose from it is difficult to understand why she does not go to the classic and what is so readily available to her. Glad to see Sophie out and about. I find her to be so lovely and always on the mark fashion wise in an understated manner.

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    1. I think Kate's one of those women who just likes to mix up her jewelry a lot. She sticks to one type of shoe usually (suede pumps) and has very definite preferences for clothes but with earrings she seems to like to switch it up day to day and engagement to engagement. It's just her thing.

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  37. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge really make fantastic appearances at these functions; they’re lovely. Thanks, Charlotte for giving insight into the purpose for this reception. Good info.

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  38. So refreshing to see royals and there's no drama or intrigue. Hope we see more of Sophie & Edward now in the press. They work very hard but don't get the coverage they deserve. And of course Anne and Timothy too!

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  39. I think I liked Kate’s dress at the longer length. I love her earrings and as rubies are my birthstone I’m going to try and order myself a pair tomorrow.
    Lovely to see Anne, Sophie and Edward supporting the Cambridges. I think Sophie works very hard and would fit nice with Kate IMO.

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    1. Jac: agree 100%. Sophie and Kate always seem to be in good spirits when together -- whether that be falling into an Ascot carriage or attending a fashion editors event. They just seem very natural with each other.

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  40. Mentioned earlier love the dress and she looks gorgeous, have never been a fan of her costume jewelry. I prefer real gold, platinum and real jewels. If you want to switch then I would spend $200 on a pair of 14 kt hoops over the costume jewelry that truly will be a throw away piece. But I think Kate just loves to wear different earrings and the way she does it while not worrying about it is to go costume.

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  41. Hi, Becca USA here.... I appreciate that some of you have coined the phrase "Royal Fatigue"! I too have definitely felt it & have so appreciated seeing W&C tonight, looking wonderful & hosting the event with elegance & grace! I actually loved seeing them working side by side with Edward & Sophie! (agree... Dream Team!) Anne as always is brilliant! So great seeing William stepping into his role increasingly with that same sense of natural organic confidence we often speak of seeing in Kate. They are quite the team! Bravo! Lovely evening & love Kate's whole look!

    Cheers,
    Becca USA

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    1. 'Royal Fatigue' great phrase, and having suffered it and social media 'op-ed overload', was very happy to plug back in see and enjoy reading about this event. Agree Becca, appreciated the Cambridges hosting the event and loved the warm way in which they all greeted each other. Anne is amazing and always stalwart. Have always liked the relationship between Sophie and Kate, and tonight was no exception. Both ladies looked very beautiful, the dresses they wore suited each of them, and while I very much liked Kate's dress, she looked very statuesque, liked Sophie's a tad better. I too like the two couples together, both the Cambridges and Wessexes have a quiet style to them. Also think that William doesn't always get the credit he deserves, his speeches always impress me. Great evening and looking forward to the calendar filling up! cc

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  42. I think Kate looks lovely. However; I think she would have looked even better with her hair up. I like Sophie's dress but it looks a little tight. You can see the outline of her undergarments. Happy Birthday to Sophie! Thanks for this great blog, Charlotte!

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  43. Gorgeous red dress on Kate! I imagine she'll wear this lovely dress again, and we'll get to see it with another hair style. It's nice to see the royals turning out for this important event.

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  44. I wonder in which palace and room William met with some African leaders? Not at their Kensington home?

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    1. It appears that the meetings between Prince William and the African Heads of States are being held in the Reception rooms of the Belgian Suite at Buckingham Palace. HM the Queen meets other members of State in other rooms (The White Drawing Room, the 1844 Room, and other smaller Salons). These may be reserved for HM, but also to note that Buckingham Palace is going under a massive renovation and those rooms may be under going repairs, as the Queen is at Sandringham in Norfolk for the Christmas / New Years Break through to her Ascension Day.

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    2. I have always found it very interesting that W&K consistently never have any meetings at either of their homes. (The only exception in 9 years were the Obamas) They always have their meetings either at their offices at KP or at BP like these ones.

      I suppose that is one way to keep their home a family only zone.

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    3. RachelZA, I had not thought about that. Bet you are right. :)

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    4. I think in this case it is the selection of Buckingham Palace is for logistics and security. The palace is well know to have a higher level of security that other countries security teams could potentially feel comfortable with. As this was a premier event, I imagine it was assumed that the premier location, Buckingham Palace, would host the event. Also the private meetings between Prince William and others I believe were held before the main reception so logistically it seems correct to have all parties meet in one location.

      I have a feeling that the Royal Family sees Buckingham Palace as their main office- and this was purely a work event. I imagine that The Duke and Duchess have private events in their home - similar to the Obama visit- but for the most part all work events are held in their offices or in the main office, just as you or I would entertain our clients at the office or away from our homes. I think the idea of the home entertaining as portrayed in the 50's - and 60's US TV sitcoms is really not a thing done in the UK, and especially for Heads of State, or regular business meetings.

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    5. Buckingham Palace makes absolute sense. It’s the official residence of the Monarch. Important engagements like this are bound to happen here. It speaks to the level of importance and appreciation of the roles those leaders have.
      I wouldn’t use my private home for work either. The BRF is working hard on separating their privat life from their public life. Invitations in their homes are seldom and pretty special.
      C.

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  45. This is my absolute favorite color on her—I wish I could wear red like she does. Beautiful and confident. I also enjoyed how warmly and genuinely all the royals greeted each other. Looks like a fun evening.

    Sharyn—USA

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  46. Beautiful dress. Agree about an updo. She looks very tired.

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  47. Hmm i love the duchess wearing she looks so good i love the sophie of wessex and prince royal are all greeting each other

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  48. What a big step for them. This only speaks further to their progression in their way to become Prince and Princess of Wales. It's especially nice to see that they seem to have found a good balance and joy in their roles. Wiliam has spoken about the pressure and his struggles but they seem to be compleatly at ease for some time now.
    For fashion: I agree with everyone who would have preffered an updo for Kate. The ruffled neckline and the ruffle details at the shoulder seams get lost and make the look very buttoned up. I am also no fan of the length and the waistline seam.
    I would have also preffered a different coloured bag (maybe gold?) and a solid pick from her Majesty's jewels. I think she sometimes overdoes it with her colour matching. I would prefer diamonds or pearls, but the Queen has some pretty nice ruby earrings.
    The interaction of the family members was a treat. Especially Anne, is said to be pretty straight forward and not too warm- so it's nice to see her being so warm with them.
    I am a huge fan of Anne and Sophie. But I must question Sophie's fashion choice this time. She looks great in the dress but the colour makes her stand out a lot. This kind of skirts can look a bit too girly? Anyhow, she looks lovely.
    C.

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  49. M so happy Kate has introduced the needle and thread into her wardrobe. The gown is absolutely smashing. N&T resemble Jenny Packham or Eli Saab gowns but at a reasonable price point. Hope she wears more of their pieces as their Instagram show some lovely designs which will suit Kate.

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  50. Caroline in Montana21 January 2020 at 15:48

    I just have to chime in and agree with everyone saying that Kate and Sophie would be a great team! The Wessex's are tried and true, mature and constant, they have the long game capability which I think is underrated in the BRF. really hope they can all step up engagements so they can leave the black eye that was deposited on them behind. would love me some "royal fatigue" but at about an engagement a week I'm just not feeling it:)

    P.S. loving those earing's more with the big clear picture, Thanks Charlotte!
    Almost makes me want to pierce my ears:) Ruby's my birthstone!

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  51. Thank you Charlotte for another interesting post. An important event in William and Kate’s progression and they did it so well in the aftermarth of some very difficult times. Interesting to see William seems to be picking ip the African responsibility and selfishly it will be fun to see the little Royals on tour in Africa in the future.
    This was quite a statement event in future royal relations. There was evident support from the family team for William’s position. Good vibes thank goodness as I am over the drama.
    On a fashion note. Liked both women in red and the dress choice very much in their individual style. Thought Catherine’s dress was exquisite and though hair up probably would have suited the dress better, hair down was right for a less formal event.
    And doesn’t the guest list have a lot to say about power dominance in Africa.

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    1. It’s true, I can’t help but think Harry would have enjoyed this. I’m glad other members of the family came to the event. William and Kate do look comfortable in their roles, I like the dress, I think I’d vote hair up.

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  52. Wow, seems Kate is launching her early years initiative with a "5 Big Q's on Under 5" survey!! Seems it is a 24 hour Q&A session with various early years organizations. Way to go Kate!

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  53. Hi Admin. Just saw The Duchess Kate on MailOnline wearing wideleg navy pants today I think she wore think in 2018 and they are the jigsaw high waisted navy trousers and a zig zag patten blouse with bow tie in different shades of green & blue and she was visiting whistle-stop tour in Birmingham today.Nice professional outfit visiting with children.💙

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  54. Duchess Kate looked lovely and William wore a dark red tie to match her outfit, how appropriate! This being a cocktail reception, Kate’s dress is perfect with a tea length, fabric and level of ornamentation so it would not be mistaken for a day dress but without a revealing neckline such as a formal evening gown. Her outfit does not make any of the guest feel over or under dress. Kate as hostess looked dazzling in this rich red color of this beautiful dress! ❤️

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