Sunday, 29 March 2020

An Update from the Cambridges Following an "Anxious and Unsettling Week"

As so many of us all over the world adjust to working from home, we have seen royals from various families sharing an insight into their own home office - including the Queen who shared a rare photo of her remote audience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is self-isolating following a positive test for COVID-19 earlier this week. Tonight, the Cambridges released similar images and a new message following an "anxious and unsettling" time for everyone in this unprecedented situation. The Duchess is pictured speaking to the CEO of her patronage Place2Be Catherine Roche. It appears the photos were taken the same day William and Kate visited the London Ambulance Service 111 control room in Croydon about ten days ago and before the family travelled to their country home in Norfolk.


Kensington Palace said: "Self-isolation and social distancing can pose huge challenges to our mental health - in recent weeks the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been in regular contact with organisations and patronages to understand the issues they are facing during this difficult time." Below, Prince William speaking to Paul Farmer CEO of mental health charity Mind. It comes as the government has announced a £5 million grant to help support the organisation and enable them to continue to provide their vital service in the weeks and months ahead.


Victoria Murphy reports:

'Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, the charity that will administer the £5 million grant, said: “We are facing one of the toughest ever times for our mental wellbeing as a nation. It is absolutely vital that people pull together and do all they can to look after themselves and their loved ones, when we are all facing a huge amount of change and uncertainty...Whether we have an existing mental health problem or not, we are all going to need extra help to deal with the consequences of this unprecedented set of circumstances.”'

A statement from the Duke and Duchess reacting to new guidance from Public Health England with specific advice on maintaining good mental wellbeing during the outbreak reads:

'The last few weeks have been anxious and unsettling for everyone. We have to take time to support each other and find ways to look after our mental health.
It is great to see the mental health sector working together with the NHS to help people keep on top of their mental well-being. By pulling together and taking simple steps each day, we can all be better prepared for the times ahead.'

As a voracious reader, I was delighted to see a selection of timeless classics on Kate's antique desk. I've been making a concerted effort to focus on the silver linings wherever I can find them, and one of those has been the importance of taking time out from digesting the news cycle to indulge in hobbies I never have enough time for such as reading. I remember during an engagement some time ago the Duchess spoke about enjoying The Girl On The Train. I suspect the collection on her desk may represent some lifelong favourites. The eagle-eyed Emma quickly discovered they are a collection of Penguin clothbound books designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith.


Kate's choices include Sense & Sensibility, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Tess of the D'Urbervilles (the Thomas Hardy boxset by Coralie Bickford-Smith is available at Amazon). We also see greats such as Mansfield Park, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and my favourite Jane Austen novel Emma.


The Duchess wore her pink Marks & Spencer trouser suit. The £99 Wool Blend Double Breasted Blazer is described as: "Tailored fit with added stretch for a figure-defining silhouette. Italian wool-blend fabric creates a luxuriously smooth drape. Contrast button fastening."


The matching £59 Wool Blend Cropped Trousers features a zip, hook and bar fastening. Front pintucks and two functional side pockets.


I hope you're all having a good weekend and have the opportunity to connect with loved ones. One difference I've noticed within my own family is the importance of picking up the phone for a conversation, whereas in the past, due to busy schedules, it was often shorter texts. Time and the value of every moment has taken on a whole new meaning.

80 comments:

  1. Ohh this is so important.

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  2. So wonderful news about the Cambridges! Is good to see that they are continually interested in the charities that they supported. Thanks again for the post.

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  3. First all I am so happy they gave us a glimpse inside their personal office. I absolutely love the classic decor in Kate’s office. I am also happy Kate and I have the same taste in books. Jane Austen in one of my favorite authors, Pride and Prejudice and Emma are my favorites. Mansfield park is my least favorite. I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility yet but I hope too soon.

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    1. Zora from Prague29 March 2020 at 21:48

      ILoveElephants, I love Jane Austen too! My favourite is probably Persuasion (alongside Sense and Sensibility), my least favourite is Northanger Abbey. I'm happy Kate likes them too! I wish we could ask her if she likes some of the film adaptations too.
      Great post... thank you, Charlotte!

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    2. My favorite after pride and prejudice is also Emma. But I love them all, even Mansfield Park...

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    3. Zora, it would be so great if we get her opinion on the film adaptations. But sadly that will probably never happen. I almost forgot about Northanger Abby, hopefully I can read it sometime soon.

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  4. I’m so glad I’m not the only one whose first thought was “what are the books??!!” :)

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    1. Same here! I'm so glad Charlotte solved the mystery for us.

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  5. I have been waiting to see a picture of the Cambridges@work for a couple of days now. They timed it well to combine the release with the launch of a mental health grant.

    But there are so many subtle things to comment on in these photos. Firstly, Kate does have an eye for what makes a pretty picture. The colour of the suit perfectly fits the room and the collection of books on her desk.
    On the other hand, the fact that she is doodling with a pen in her left hand, when we all know Kate is righhanded, looks a bit posed.
    Have I mentioned the books yet? I love the row of books as decorative feature.

    And the fact that they took the work pictures before they decamped for Anmer just adds to my theory that KP is their work house and Anmer is kept private.

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    1. It's not your theory, KP is their office. The photos are obviously posed, it's not like the left hand was a giveaway of something they wanted to keep secret. Kate's in particular is very posed.

      Camilla

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    2. I'm quite sure the photos of Katherine and William are posed, because on a used desk normally is much more clutter like different pencils, notepads, papers. During a genuine phone call you are taking notes but the sheet of paper in front of Kate is empty and doesn't even show a doodle.

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  6. Oh i love working from home and be with family hmn i love the books too..

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  7. We have beautiful sunny weather in Arizona so we have been sitting outside in the sunshine, for once welcoming the UV rays (in moderation of course.) Some research has said that the sunshine kills the virus. We don’t know if we have the virus but as Arizona doesn’t have enough testing kits and it’s allergy season so there is always coughing and sneezing we are taking care. I don’t know if the sunshine theory is true but sitting outside for a wee while, looking at the flowers and watching the birds is lovely anyway. Have been texting with friends and family far away and yesterday through the wonders of technology was able to help an 83 year old cousin who lives in New York State put together a scrapbook of memories of her cousin, an RCAF pilot, who died in a plane crash in Donegal in 1944. Involved communicating online with two 85 year olds in Ireland and a 98 year old in Florida. They were all delighted to share their memories and to have something to think about other than the virus. Made me appreciate this quickly dwindling generation above me (I am 68) and send prayers for their health and safety during this time.

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    1. its early autumn in australia and we have had the virus for the last few weeks in weather averaging about 30degrees centigrade so i wouldnt hold out for warm weather to help

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    2. noreen, I've had that hunch too. I hope everyone is doing ok? If it helps anyone as a reference, I have it & whilst I was hospitalized in the beginning for a few days, I came home & have been passing through it here. I had a rough go of it with my breathing & a bronchitis like cough. I was on steroids & am still on Rx cough med. Since pneumonia had been ruled out while in hospital, that helped me psychology as I dealt through the breathing issues. Covid19 has me visualizing a slalom skiing run with various gates one has to pass through. There are so many symptoms one goes through & you pass through one phase & enter another. There are lesser known symptoms of GI distress & a complete loss of taste & smell. I'm much improved, but still pretty uncomfortable at times with the symptoms. I have daily video check ins with my Drs. My greatest concern remains my husband. He's a Dr. on the frontlines & I worry every time he leaves for the hospital! Each morning when he leaves I come here to read, for the distraction! So yes... you guessed it, he just left! He's still performing biopsies & other interventional procedures.... so he's right in the thick of it with patients. Praying for all of you & your families that you have good health, both physically & mentally. I think initially I was so occupied with getter through my own illness that I didn't have the energy to fret, but I'm fretting now... Ugh!

      Thanks Charlotte as ever for the welcome distraction & your wonderful coverage! I hope you & Mr. Charlotte are hanging in there. xo

      Becca USA

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    3. Caroline in Montana3 April 2020 at 15:47

      Becca, I hope you get better everyday! your husband and all the medical professionals are in our prayers. hang in there everybody!!

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    4. Oh Becca, so so glad to hear you are feeling better! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your husband, that you continue to recover and that he keeps safe on the frontlines. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the medical and healthcare workers who are fighting this crisis daily. If ever we needed welcome distractions, inspiration and positivity to keep our minds healthy, it is now. I hope you feel the love and support from your "DK family"!! Please stay well Becca. cc

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    5. Becca - so sorry to hear you are dealing with this but so glad to hear you are improving. All the best for your continued health and hoping your husband (bless him) remains healthy. Please keep us posted as to how you are doing.

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    6. Zora from Prague4 April 2020 at 11:50

      Dear Becca, I hope you get better every day, at least a little! Thank you for sharing your experience with us, it's reassuring to know someone who is on the mend. No wonder you are worried about your husband; the dedication of the medical workers is incredible and people are truly grateful. It might help to call a therapist or a good friend and talk about your worries if your fear gets worse. I do hope you both will be OK, as well as your loved ones. Love and prayers from Prague!

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  8. Am I right, she's not wearing her engagement ring? I mean, good for her, not a critic at all. I've read somewhere she always wears it, even when she sleeps - it could be just a gossip though. I thought it was rather uncomfortable. Given she reportedly cooks and is hands-on-mum, having a statement ring always on sounds very impractical :)

    Hope everyone is safe and in good spirits!

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    1. Surely she doesn't sleep with that ring. She also takes it off whenever it is impractical, also in public. Also, I think in tgis picture is just rotated under the finger, as we can still see some ring bands.

      Camilla

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    2. Definitely gossip. We have seen Kate photographed without her engagement ring in her private time. That is not a ring you wear when cooking or changing a poopy diaper, lol.

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    3. Caroline in Montana3 April 2020 at 15:43

      I feel like that ring is almost kind of an albatross (Maybe that's not the right word?) I am sure she does not wear it 24/7. seems like it is almost part of her working uniform? I can not imagine she just wears it around the house to cook and play with the children with?? that would be one uncomfortable ring to sleep with on:( I think its more of a statement piece for work and she probably just wears her slim band all the time.
      just my 2 cents

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  9. I believe the book on the end of the row left is Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I have the same edition. (A particularly apt choice as it is about contagion—social and physical.)

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    1. Anon, do you or anyone else have any idea what the Pale Rose Book is with the Cameo on the binding? It's 6th in from the far right. I've located most all of them, but can't seem to find what that one is? xo

      Becca USA

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    2. Becca could it be Middlemarch by George Eliot? cc

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    3. Becca, I believe it is Middlemarch by George Eliot. 😊

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    4. Becca, I believe it is Middlemarch by George Eliot. 😊

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    5. Thanks, I will commence the hunt to find it! :)

      Becca USA

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  10. Tammy from California29 March 2020 at 18:10

    I noticed those books too. I also thought they must be her favorites. I love it! Perfect for a desk. I love these little glimpses into KP. Charlotte, I agree with you about calling people. FaceTime has worked for our family too. There has never been a better time for technology :)

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  11. Emily in Houston29 March 2020 at 18:21

    Charlotte, I’m so glad you included details on the beautiful book set! As soon as I saw the photo I planned to ask in the comments if anyone could ID them. I think, in general, book covers and bindings have come a long way over the past couple of decades. I borrow almost all of my books from the library, but since having a baby, my husband and I decided to try to invest more in our home library - especially books that we love, would read again, and want to share with our children when they’re older.

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  12. So eagle eye royal followers on Twitter confirmed my gut feel that Kate is actually not sitting in her office but in the same “sitting room” where they hosted the Obama’s. Once you know they are there you can see the books behind Obama in one ofnthe photos.

    I have a gut feel Kate’s actually office/study look a lot different with kids toys on the floor and maybe some if the children’s artwork against the wall. And she normally wear jeans and a Breaton top and not a business suit.

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    1. I believe you might be right. They certainly have a show living room so why not have a show office. The BRF is very particular in protecting their private life.
      The books were a big hint too. Why present you favourite novels on your working desk? And while I am massive fan of classics, no way are those her favourite novels. More likely her favourite British classics, in a pretty set. It’s obviously very much for display and show. Nothing wrong with it, but I think they slightly overdid it for those pictures.
      Nevertheless, I am very happy to see more of them. They started to step up massively this year and in this current crisis they will be the faces of the BRF. I do wonder though if we will see the Queen addressing the nation next week. Her presence does indeed soothe and conveys stability and endurance.
      C.

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    2. Gut feeling? This is obviously a living room. And that's a mini desk for decoration, I can't believe someone thought it was an office.

      Camilla

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    3. And also at least a laptop or two. I have a hard time imagining they work without any screens whatsoever. Because of that missing detail I immediately knew these were staged photos and found them quite cheesy, although I still support the message they’re trying to convey.

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    4. These were obviously staged after they did their visit. Same outfit.
      It’s definitely PR but hey, that’s what these are for. I think all public figures do this. It’s just a way to get their message across. I think while Kate looks really good that looks especially staged.
      But like others have quoted they keep a lot private. They have been allowing a bit more public into private but I doubt they will show an office with Kate in a plain outfit and no makeup making calls before school pickup. This is what royals have done in all times of crises and war to drum up morale and support. And we are all at war.

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    5. Considering that you all are analyzing all details of the room I understand they did not show their real offices and that she’s wearing the same suit as in the visit. Everybody focusing on what she’s wearing or what she has or doesn’t have instead of in the message.

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    6. Who says they work without screens? These photos were of out reach via the phone - something that anyone with a phone can do. The fact that they are using landlines up is because of hacking risks; high level protected people Leary’s use land lines for secure work & private calls!

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    7. Anon 15:41, I found it funny that you pointed that out, as the first reflex I felt upon seeing Kate's photo, was that it reminded me of the staged photos of George VI etc. taken after they would make their radio addresses! :) No problem with it, it's the thought that counts. xo

      I too thought that it looked like Kate was in the room where they received The Obamas. To me, Will looked like he was sitting in some vague general room in KP that could be used by anyone for any work purpose.

      The thought was nice & it was nice, as I said that it reminded me of photos we've seen in history for generations! :)

      Becca USA

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  13. Have you noticed the small chair near the window? It seems child size!

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  14. Great to see them stepping up. A very important point to make also, take the time to pick up the phone and catch up with people alone.

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  15. Impressive that William’s appeal to raise funds for the emergency trust has helped raise 12 million.

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  16. Susan in Florida29 March 2020 at 22:21

    Love the book collection, too ! They are timing their messages very well. Just when so many of us are getting restless. I’m very grateful we live in this modern era where we can stay in touch with each other online. I’m also grateful to live in a nice home here in FL where we have a screened in patio to sit out on. I really feel for people in apartments who have to time going outside with their other obligations. Stay healthy, everyone. Do all the things you are supposed to. And, yes it’s great to call people and hear their voices if you can’t Skype or use other video apps.

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  17. Beautiful pink salmon outfit. She is so pretty and feminine. It is a great time to pick up the phone, or write "Thank You" cards to the healthcare and emergency responders. Thanks for the wonderful blog, Charlotte! Parthenia

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  18. The books are so elegant, thank you for the info on the titles. I also love the clouds of purple and white flowers behind the children. Does anyone recognize what they are?

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    1. Heather, insofar as one can tell from the rather smudgy video.

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  19. Can we all just note, with a chuckle (during hard times) - even the Cambridges have that same ugly file cabinet with the printer propped on top...(look at William’s pic). All that gorgeous furniture...and the same file cabinet as seen in every random side sometimes office room in America. Hope it gives someone else a chuckle too:)

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    1. I noticed that too! Made me feel less badly about my IKEA WFH set up.

      Best to all

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    2. I noticed that, too. I guess Chippendale didn't foresee the need for filing cabinets or printer stands. :-)

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    3. Susan in Florida30 March 2020 at 18:38

      Yes Kelly ! I had a chuckle over it too !

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    4. Ha ha Kelly, I thought the exact same thing. It is so true and I love this about many of the images I see from the entire BRF. They have that mix of extremely old and very valuable pieces and the architecture it self of the places they live and work from and the old stuff that is looking a bit ratty simply because it is old, no matter the value, and then the new more practical pieces purchase and kept over the last 50 years like a file cabinet maybe nabbed from an unused office space. I like this about them. I am not as crazy with everything brand new and all matched.

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    5. I noticed too and thought it seemed a bit out of place. I also wondered how many of us in the Americas actually still have a phone with a curly cord like Duchess Kate used. 😊
      I too am enjoying coming to this blog during these uncertain times. Many of the kids I care for are at home so my days are quieter. Miss them tho.

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    6. I just smiled & had an appreciative chuckle when I saw that too! :) xo

      Becca USA

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    7. ali, I agree with you. They remind me of my parents & my husband's parents. They have old money & while they own a lot of valuables, they are very thrifty (aka cheap lol :) & as long as some odd thing has even an once of use still in it, they keep it around. We'll often give them a gift of a newer more practical item & they say "the .... is still perfectly good!" lol :)

      Becca USA

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  20. How fortunate Kate and Will have focused on mental health for so long. Who knew we would have an even greater need for help as today. Well done Cambridges!

    Charlotte, I too smiled when I saw the beautiful books! I have the Jane Austen Complete Works of the same Penguin clothbound design. Might be a good time to reread them :)

    Whether they are at Anmer Hall or KP, the rooms are beautiful and it is a nice treat to be able to peek in. Thank you for the post Charlotte. Hope everyone who visits this sight is well.

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  21. I am sure that if she enjoys these books she has reading copies as well as decorative ones.

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  22. I love love love seeing her work space, even if the picture is posed as some have said.
    I love the row of really pretty books - good old classics yet, the look is soft and modern!

    This picture encapsulates how I wish I'd look working from home. Even if reality is far more practical and less pretty looking where I am, seeing the Duchess' desk motivates me to transform a bit mine, which is kind of needed in these circumstances when it's the majority of what I see and do now.

    I don't really have role models as that kind of idolizes blindly other people to our eyes, but I'd be willing to make an exception for her :)

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  23. Thank you Charlotte for posting the information about the cloth covered classics! In such a dreary time, it gave me such a lift to go hunting for them. I was able to purchase a lovely assortment of my favorite books & I am counting the days until their arrival! I will enjoy reading them & enjoy seeing them on my shelves! I think I will also begin a tradition of giving my young granddaughters one of these beauties for their Birthdays & For Christmas Gifts. Then when they are older, they will have quite lovely collections! :) xo

    Becca USA

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    1. Zora from Prague31 March 2020 at 14:48

      Great idea, Becca! 😃
      Stay safe! XO

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    2. As a book lover, over the years I have collected my favorite classics from Easton Press. One Christmas my son asked to borrow one and slowly through birthdays and Christmas I have sent him his own collection of books. It's the one thing I know I can't go wrong on and that I know he treasures. Becca, I think your granddaughters would love to have one of these beautifully covered books, they are so inviting! Leave it to Kate to give us back the gift of books in such a pretty way!! cc

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    3. Becca, you (and Kate) have given me an idea. I am moving into a new flat when all this craziness is over, so I am looking at decorating ideas. Maybe I can find a place for a set of books...will have to see.

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    4. Rachel, I thought of the same thing, when I was purchasing them. I thought, not only will they be wonderful to read, but what a great decorating idea! Just looking at them now on Kate's desk, they make me smile :) & oh how we need smiles right now! xo

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  24. I haven't seen a telephone that has a cord in over 10 years! :) Good on them for sending their message of staying mentally healthy in such a challenging time.

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    1. If you live in a place such as the Highlands where the electricity sometimes goes off, it is important to have at least one phone that is wired into the telephone socket, as it will not go down with the electricity. I suppose certain government offices take the same precautions in case of emergencies.

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    2. we live in western Arizona and my mother's phone has the curly cord for exactly the reason you mention, the power goes off, sometimes for no apparent reason, sometimes because we have high winds.

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    3. We have over the years held onto an old curly line phone used to connect to a landline:). Same reason as above.

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    4. Could they have fully wired phones for security purposes? I don't know anything about those things, just wondering?

      Becca USA

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    5. That is what I was implying. I have one because I am in the Highlands; but there are other advantages.

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    6. Becca, I think the answer is simpler, Kate probably just like the vintage image. Just like the pram she used for Charlotte’s christening. And a set of classic books as decor. And she is in a position to have a wired phone if she wants to. Me and you, we will probably not be able to find one even if we wanted too.

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    7. Here in Scotland they are widely available.

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    8. Wired phones widely available in the USA also. Ours was an old one but you can buy ones at many retailers or online.

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  25. Crown princess Mary od Denmark Have her Down Office and has photos in her Office.

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    1. I love CP Mary’s office.

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  26. she looks great thankful all the work they are doing during this pandemic

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  27. Of course these are staged photos and the books are a prop, which isn’t to imply Kate doesn’t read or doesn’t care for Jane Austen. The point is to comfort anxious people and show support of the Royal Family. In that task, William and Kate succeed admirably. Good for them to help out.

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  28. How are you Charlotte, is everyone healthy around you?

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    1. Hello Gaby,

      I'm very well thank you for asking. I'm fortunate enough to be spending this period with family. Both of my parents have been unwell (not COVID thankfully). We're very much taking it a week at a time and following the restrictions which is so important for all of us to do right now.

      I hope you and your loved ones are well? The Queen will address the nation tonight, I'll have a post then.

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    2. Thank you for asking, we are also well. We have quite a few elderly in our extended family, my fraternal gran is 94, but so far everyone is doing alright, diligently taking vitamins and staying in self-isolation.

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  29. Keep up the great work, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Thanks, Charlotte.

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