Monday, 24 May 2021

The Countess of Strathearn in Blue for First Day of Tour

The Duchess of Cambridge, styled as the Countess of Strathearn in Scotland, joined William today to embark on the second leg of a week-long. The itinerary will see the couple undertake their first official trip to Orkney in addition to engagements in Edinburgh and Fife. A trip down memory lane will see the couple return to St Andrews almost twenty years after their story began at the university. The Palace noted the focus will be on "meeting a wide variety of people across the country, as well as charities and organisations who are doing incredible work on issues such as the environment, mental health, homelessness and addiction".

The week of engagements ties in with Prince William's role as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Each year, the Queen appoints a Lord High Commissioner to represent her. Members of the Royal family who have been chosen in the past include all four of the Queen's children -- the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex.

Background from the Royal family's official website:

'Monarchs have sworn to maintain the Church of Scotland since the sixteenth century. The duty to "preserve the settlement of the true Protestant religion as established by the laws made in Scotland" was affirmed in the 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland. The Queen made this pledge at the first Privy Council meeting of her reign in February 1952.

The Church of Scotland is entirely self-governing. It is managed on a local level by kirk sessions, at a district level by presbyteries, and at a national level by the General Assembly, which comprises 850 commissioners and meets each May, generally in Edinburgh.

The Sovereign is represented at the General Assembly by the Lord High Commissioner, who attends as an observer and is appointed by Her Majesty on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Lord High Commissioner's role is to maintain the relationship between the State and the Church, and a long-standing tradition of appointing a Lord High Commissioner originated in the latter part of the 16th Century.'

A central part of the role as Lord High Commissioner is marking opening and closing speeches to the General Assembly. In William's opening address he said, "Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to come here in person to reassure you of her pledge to preserve and uphold the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland. One day, it will be my responsibility to swear my own oath to maintain and preserve the security and independence of the Church of Scotland. This convention signifies the mutual respect, tolerance and understanding that has characterised the relationship between the Sovereign and the Kirk over the past three hundred years." Addressing changes to the event this year, he added "This year’s General Assembly will feel very different from normal – and it is odd I confess to be speaking into a camera, rather than to the sea of faces that I know would normally fill this hall."

Touching on his own connections to Scotland in the opening address, William continued: "Scotland is the source of some of my happiest memories. But also, my saddest. I was in Balmoral when I was told that my mother had died. Still in shock, I found sanctuary in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning. And in the dark days of grief that followed, I found comfort and solace in the Scottish outdoors. As a result, the connection I feel to Scotland will forever run deep. And yet alongside this painful memory, is one of great joy. Because it was here in Scotland – twenty years ago this year – that I first met Catherine. Needless to say, the town where you meet your future wife holds a very special place in your heart. George, Charlotte and Louis already know how dear Scotland is to both of us, and they are starting to build their own happy memories here, too."

It marks the Cambridges' first tour in the UK since the royal train tour in December. Their stop in Scotland made headlines when it emerged Scottish government aides had contacted Kensington Palace suggesting it should be postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions. It was criticised by politicians at the time, though the Palace argued as it was for work reasons it fell into permitted guidelines. Five months later, we are in a very different situation thanks to a successful vaccination programme, and this royal visit has been very much welcomed. The schedule reflects brighter times whilst acknowledging the need to proceed cautiously. Plans for a concert at the Barrowlands in Glasgow celebrating local heroes were shelved, despite hopes it could proceed. The city is currently under more severe restrictions than other parts of the country due to concerns over rising cases.

There are additional factors at play following Brexit and the debate surrounding Scottish independence. Scotland's daily newspaper The National reports the Royal family are "leading a charm offensive to save the union". The strategy is said to be "discreetly" backed by Downing Street. It comes after the Scottish National Party's success earlier this month, which saw the party take their fourth consecutive five-year term in the election.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon told Prime Minister Boris Johnson a second independence referendum is a matter of "when not if". It's worth noting Sturgeon's principal private secretary John Somers was a leading voice sharing concerns about the royal train tour. In an email to KP last November he wrote, "You’ll know that we are currently asking people living in Scotland to avoid unnecessary travel from local authority to local authority and to keep journeys within the area they live to an absolute minimum. I think my view is that at the moment the chances of the tour having to be postponed are potentially quite high." The above offers a snapshot into the political situation in Scotland for readers in other countries. We often discuss the royals deploying a touch of soft diplomacy on trips, and there's most certainly an element of that given the spotlight on Scottish independence.

Their first joint engagement in North Lanarkshire saw the Earl and Countess visiting Scotland's leading social care developer and provider, Turning Point Scotland.

Their broad range of work reflects the success the organisation and its partners have had in putting the needs of individual's and their challenges first. It's very much a tailored approach by a dedicated team. They work with those with learning disabilities, Huntington's disease, early onset dementia, autism, and tackle addiction and mental health by offering support every step of the way.

William and Kate heard about their work breaking down cycles of crime and addiction. They also participated in a Zoom call with staff and service users from TPS’s Glasgow Overdose Response Team (GORT), to hear how the service works to reduce drug-related deaths by providing real-time crisis support for people who have experienced a near fatal overdose.


The Palace added:
'GORT assertively connects individuals with mainstream alcohol and other drug services in the immediate aftermath of an incident, intervening to try to prevent a fatal recurrence.

Funded by, and developed in partnership with the Drug Deaths Taskforce, the service began operating in December 2020 and has quickly delivered highly promising early results, leading to a planned fast-tracked rollout of services to other regions in Scotland.'
Kensington Palace said, "Over the past ten years, through her official engagements and charitable work, the Duchess of Cambridge has gained an understanding that the root causes of adverse challenges, including addiction, can very often be traced back to the earliest years of a person’s life, and have an impact over generations. This has shaped much of the Duchess’ ongoing work on early childhood through the Royal Foundation."

Victoria Murphy reports:

'CEO of Turning Point Scotland, Neil Richardson, said that the couple were clearly "very well-tuned into" how the organization supports people with mental health challenges and some of the barriers that they face. "I think they recognized a lot of what they heard today," he said. Turning Point Scotland is the country's leading social care provider and helps people with challenges including homelessness, mental ill health, and substance abuse, as well as aiming to break down cycles of crime and addiction.

"They came over as very relaxed, very personable," said Richardson. "Everyone commented on it afterwards, they were just lovely people...I think this will give the whole organization a real lift, partly that they have taken the time and the interest to come and spend some time with us, but also it's an endorsement that what we are doing matters and that it is valued. And in social care that's not always the case, staff often get treated pretty poorly. So it really counts for an awful lot."

This short animation was released in 2019 to celebrate 20 years of their work.

Time for a photo before departing. 

From there, the Earl and Countess visited East Lothian to hear about violence reduction work and about the pioneering Scottish Violence Reduction Unit where Kate got into the spirit of music production. The Palace noted, "The Scottish Violence Reduction Unit is a national centre of expertise in tackling violence, motivated by the belief that violence is preventable, not inevitable. The unit was founded in 2005 by Strathclyde Police, who in the face of rising homicide rates wanted to try a different approach to tackling violence. Working in partnership with Police Scotland and the Scottish Government, the SVRU aims to stop violence wherever it is found by using a public health approach to tackle the root causes of violent behaviours."

More from the SVRU:

'The unit was founded in 2005 by Strathclyde Police, who in the face of rising homicide rates wanted to try a different approach to tackling violence. That year Scotland had been branded the most violent country in the developed world, with 137 murders in just one year, with 41 of those deaths in the city of Glasgow alone. Following a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) the city was dubbed the “murder capital” of Europe.

Since then, Scotland has worked hard and seen homicides fall to their lowest level since 1976. Latest figures show a 39% decrease over the last decade. However, despite the improvements made, violence remains a chronic problem for our country with domestic abuse and sexual violence growing concerns.

Expanded to a national unit in 2006, the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit is directly funded by the Scottish Government with an annual budget of a million pounds. Our team is made up of serving police officers, civilian police staff, experts and people with lived experience work closely with colleagues and partners across health, education, social work and many other fields.'

The organisation is motivated by the belief "violence is preventable, not inevitable".

William and Kate heard how the SVRU is working closely with Heavy Sound, an Edinburgh-based social enterprise, to help keep young people pursuing their educational goals. Obtaining skills and qualifications is a crucial step in ensuring young people are not vulnerable to violence.

The couple met young people supported by the service and heard how the centre inspired them to return to education and qualification in areas such as bike maintenance and music production.

Kate tried her hand at producing sound...

To which William replied, "What's that? It sounds like a cat. It's hurting my ears!"

Afterwards Kensington Palace thanked the organisation for their incredible work and added "Oh and please delete that music..."

Then it was time to don aprons and make chapati with a Sikh community group preparing meals for vulnerable families in Edinburgh. William revealed he doesn't like his curry spicy, whilst Kate "likes a bit of spice".

Sikh Sanjog was launched in 1989 and is Scotland's only Sikh family support charity in Scotland. Their efforts largely focus on supporting women from the Sikh community integrate into wider Scottish society. It has expanded over time with the pandemic bringing so many additional challenges.

There's an inspiring story behind the kitchen. During lockdown, Sikh Sanjog provided hot curry meals twice a week to those in need in the community. That service is still ongoing with volunteers helping to meet demand. 

Mrs Singh told Hello! Magazine "The women of our community only socialised with each other. But then in 1994 I lost my son and it was a real turning point. We were born and brought up here but nobody knew who we were, it was difficult to get support. So I decided to broaden the group to the wider Sikh community, with the founding principle of equality for women. We had great support from Edinburgh City Council and the Scottish Government and have gone from five members to more than 200."

Finally, Kate joined an arts and crafts session with a group of children and suggested they draw rainbows.  

Kate selected a cobalt blue separates look with a ZARA blazer and Hope Fashion skirt combined with tan suede accessories and striking jewellery. I would imagine the choice of blue is a sartorial nod to the Scottish flag.

We first saw the double-breasted ZARA blazer for a Zoom call marking International Day of the Midwife earlier this month. The £50 tailored piece features a lapel collar, pronounced shoulders and front flap pocket.


The £95 Hope Fashion Contrast Hem Pleated Skirt is described as, "A move on from the Satin Pleated Skirt last season, this time in bold, confident colours and with a contrast asymmetric hem. The upper is made from polyester sateen which has a silk like softness and the lower is made from polyester georgette which gives a semi sheer finish to the hemline." It's available for pre-order in sizes 8-20.


Founder Nayna McIntosh was thrilled to see Kate in one of her pieces. On Instagram she wrote: "We were overjoyed to see The Duchess of Cambridge wearing our skirt. We’re proud to be associated with Catherine as a small British brand working hard to keep going in these uncertain times. Catherine choosing to wear Hope means so much to us, both as a local West Berkshire business close to her family’s heartland, and for helping to champion British business!"

The Duchess accessorised with her Spells of Love double beaded satellite chain necklace.

Kate's gorgeous new earrings are by Edinburgh luxury jewellers and Royal Warrant holders Hamilton & Inches (a great ID by Innominate via Twitter). The £1,395 Flora Drop earrings in 18ct gold consist of "marquise cut citrine, cabochon cut rutilated quartz and round brilliant cut diamonds".


Kate carried her Métier Roma small suede shoulder bag.


And her tan suede pumps. It's thought they are a Gianvito Rossi or Jimmy Choo style. 

The Duchess wore an Amaia Kids face mask in 'blue phoebe' print.


************

Earlier today, Nursing Now shared a message of support from the Duchess to celebrate the "incredible work" of nurses as the campaign comes to a close. Kate said when the campaign was launched three years ago "we had no way of knowing just how much the work, dedication and infinite care of nurses would be tested, needed and appreciated".

It appears Kate wore the ivory peplum Alexander McQueen dress from the Cambridges' 2017 visit to Poland.


The Duchess accessorised with her Mappin & Webb Empress earrings.

British Royal Fashion Date via Twitter suggests Kate wore her Asprey Daisy Heritage Pendant.

I'll see you tomorrow for what promises to be a packed day. 

27 comments:

  1. pretty sure kate is wearing these earrings from edinburgh jeweller hamilton & inches https://hamiltonandinches.com/products/flora-drop-earrings-in-yellow-gold

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    1. Pretty earrings! I love new and expensive earrings! :) Only thought is that they should be on the opposite ears, so the jewels are away from the face.

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    2. Good catch Anonymous. Will be interesting to see if this is corrected next time we see them on her. Unique earrings but as it is not my preference to be so matchy, matchy. Good jewels stand alone. Less is often more, which in my opinion has not always resinated with Kate in this department.

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  2. Caroline in Montana24 May 2021 at 17:04

    At first glance, I love the skirt! is that a new clutch? will be interesting to see what shoes she has on....Excited for this tour!!

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  3. I love cobalt blue and Kate looks great gesturing with her hands like she does! Oh, it is so good to have a week of engagements ahead to look forward to!

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    1. Zora from Prague24 May 2021 at 22:30

      +1 on all your points, IBR! :)
      I enjoyed watching all the videos and reading all Charlotte's detailed information.
      Looking forward to tomorrow!

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  4. The Duchess always looks great in blue. Those new earrings are a nice addition to her collection. It will be great to see them at their finest this week working hard on behalf of the Queen. On the video released for the nurse's the Duchess looked absolutely amazing. Radiant and very regal, I had to watch it twice stunning. I also have to mention William ignoring that question about his late Mother. Well done Sir and good for him. It's heartbreaking what has come out, best left to the police now and the government. Having watched the so called interview when it was broadcast, I find her words even more haunting now. "I won't go quietly". I like to think of her looking down with pride, happy her sons are both continuing some of the fantastic work she did in her all too short life. 🙏

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  5. A familiar refrain: love the outfit and hate the shoes. Such a lovely royal blue blazer and skirt ensemble needed something other than plain brown suede pumps. I know it seems like Kate was trying to match the shoes with the clutch but an outfit with so much pop does not go with plain brown shoes.

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    1. Caroline in Montana25 May 2021 at 16:06

      Im with you ivy lin! Had to come back and check out the full post and that was my first thought, i do like the purse and shoes just not with this outfit. Love the blue, the skirt is fab!

      anyone else think that that was the best suit jacket that william has ever worn?? it flattered him soooo much!!

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  6. Marie from France24 May 2021 at 19:07


    I can't wait to see the tour and all that is planned. I like the jacket,the color blue but not the pleated skirt

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  7. Robbie from Hampton, Virginia USA24 May 2021 at 19:31

    Love her unusual choice of the tan/amber accessories with the cobalt blue! The colors are very close to that of Eastern Bluebirds, which are so beautiful. She has quite the eye for color!

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  8. I think I will spare everyone and not comment on the blue ensemble. I will rather say how fantastic she looked in her repeat of the white McQueen and how nice it was to reminded of the beautiful shade of blue her coat had last December. I hope we will see the white dress again. I loved her pairing with the red pendant in 2017.
    C.

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  9. Perfect from head to toe. On both occasions. Love the blue outfit. Both are doing fine work.

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  10. Is it me or have her past 2 outfits look very much like something her late mother-in-law world have (or did) wear. Could be the pointy shoulders. I love love love these new earrings!

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    1. Yes, I think so, because 80's shapes are starting to show up in fashion designs again.

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  11. I loved the McQueen dress and hope that we get to see it at full length again some time. I can't make up my mind about her outfit today. I think I like it but it's taken me a little while to get there! I did notice that her posture was very good today. Really worthy causes as usual. So looking forward to reading here about more engagements tomorrow! :)

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  12. Tammy from California24 May 2021 at 21:29

    Love the causes as I always do! I am completely underwhelmed by the outfit. It's the first out-of-country visit in a long time, I wished to see something that wowed me. Love these two regardless and can't wait for tomorrow!

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    1. Scotland is a component part of the UK, so it's not really an out of country tour, any more than going to Wales or NI.

      I love the blue and the way the skirt moves.

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  13. My guess is that the tour overall, Prince William's speech this weekend on his many connections with Scotland, and the selection of Kate's lovely, but moderately-priced ready-to-wear separates is done with an public relations goal of keeping Scotland in the U.K. There is always the possibility of another referendum for Scotland to leave the UK in order to re-join the EU. A high-priced designer outfit might be a great fashion choice but politically, it might not strike the right note for the Scottish population who will one day vote on this.

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    1. Kate has worn many moderately priced pieces, especially in the beginning. Never did she look like a 80s caricature though. And honestly, I’d rather see her repeating things she already has then buying something new, no matter how moderately priced.

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  14. I think the blue jacket and skirt looks very good on Kate and gives her a well-tailored and professional look. The outfit draws attention her elegant height and slimness without making her look like a pencil. The colors look wonderful on her, and the price points sent a very good message.

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  15. I love the blue tartan outfit she really suits itv well I. Love the video message for nursing can't wait for Tomorrow

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  16. Yes! I loved everything about this; the outfits, causes - EVERYTHING.

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  17. So fun to see them together touring and interacting and highlighting worthy causes! Catherines' outfit is a miss for me, I do not think the blazer and skirt work well together. Love her new earrings. Her video outfit and jewelry is gorgeous. Can not wait to see more from this tour.

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  18. When I saw the initial photo, I wondered if she got the match of blues “right” (it can be really tricky to match colors from different lines), but I think it works here, maybe because of the differences in the texture between her skirt and the blazer. Pretty color on her. Don’t love the muddy brown suede accessories with this outfit. They look heavy compared to the swishiness of the skirt. The button placement on the top part of the jacket is not great. I’m thinking perhaps she should avoid double-breasted coats with buttons. Maybe we all should.

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  19. She looks very nice, but I assume that both garments are made from polyester. I am quite surprised she probably feels good in them, otherwise she wouldn't wear it.

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  20. She's so lovely and fun. I adore those new earrings.

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