Tuesday, 25 May 2021

UPDATED: William & Kate Make First Official Visit to Orkney

The Earl and Countess of Strathearn continued their tour of Scotland with a trip to Orkney, a panoramic archipelago off the northeastern Scottish coast. The couple were spotted boarding a helicopter at the the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh this morning.

It marks William and Kate's first official visit to Orkney. Addressing the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at the weekend, Prince William remarked, "Catherine and I are looking forward to going to Orkney...I understand it will be the very first visit by a Lord High Commissioner." He added he hoped "the weather plays ball". Kensington Palace said the couple were looking forward to "celebrating individuals who have gone above and beyond to support their communities over the past year."

The day began with the Earl and Countess officially opening The Balfour hospital.

A very warm welcome.

NHS Orkney's new £65 million hospital has transformed the way healthcare is delivered in the islands. The brief for the hospital required a rural general hospital "with particular attention to be paid to the unique needs of Orcadians". Enabling the repatriation of many NHS services from the Scottish mainland, the opening of the hospital could not be more timely amid the disruption COVID-19 has caused the NHS.

The couple were reportedly impressed by the building's striking circular design. It's inspired by Europe's best preserved Neolithic village, Skara Brae. A 5,000 year old settlement in Orkney.

The couple spent time with staff and discusses the challenges they experienced over the past year.

The Standard reports:

'Michael Dickson, CEO of the Orkney NHS Board, said afterwards: "It is first time a Lord High Commissioner has been to Orkney and William said he was delighted that had been noted on the plaque."

During the visit William, 38, praised trauma nurse Dr Tariro Gandiya. He said: "It must he reassuring to know we are all in this together." Kate added: "Well done".

Paul Maguire, catering assistant, spoke to Kate and William in the hospital’s sensory garden.

He said afterwards: "We spoke about how it has been in the last year and I explained how we split into two teams so I hadn’t seen most of my colleagues till now. Its been tough.'

William and Kate unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion.

William and Kate dropped in on the Bichan family for a cup of tea in Kirkwall. 

They heard about life in Orkney and the challenges of the past year. 

Businesses in Orkney are incredibly excited to welcome visitors again. The tourism sector has been in a very precarious situation. A 2020 report stated that spending by visitors increased from £49.5 million in 2017 to £67.1 million in 2019, making the tourism sector invaluable to the area. Last month, Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said, "Tourism is not just to the benefit of businesses, it is of benefit to the whole of an island's economy." The decision to visit Orkney signals a message that the islands are ready to welcome guests. Orkney is not only visually breathtaking, it is a treasure trove of historic sites, landmarks and natural history.

As this is the Cambridges' first visit to Orkney, and royal visits there are relatively infrequent, I've been looking forward to sharing more background beginning with something royal history enthusiasts will enjoy. In 1468, Orkney was pledged to Christian I, King of Norway, Denmark and Sweden, as security against the dowry of his thirteen-year-old daughter Margaret, who was betrothed to James III of Scotland. In the Treaty of Copenhagen in 1468, it was agreed Margaret's dowry would amount to the sum of 60,000 guilders (an enormous number). The first 10,000 was to be paid coinciding with the wedding, but Margaret's father Christian I was in immense financial trouble and could not raise even a fraction of the agreed sum. James III involved the Scottish parliament without hesitation and Scotland legally absorbed Orkney on the grounds Christian I had reneged on their arrangement. Since then, Orkney has been Scottish. Unfortunately, the marriage was an unhappy one. Margaret was considered a "gentle, beautiful and sensible" Queen. Historians would later declare she was far better qualified to rule than her husband. Both Margaret and James died young with the Queen passing aged just 30 and James meeting a perilous fate after the Battle of Sauchieburn in his late 30s.

The grave of King James III and Queen Margaret at Cambuskenneth Abbey was restored by Queen Victoria at her own expense in 1865.

Famed for its well preserved archaeological and historical sites spanning 5,000 years, there's a saying in Orkney: "If you stick a spade in the ground, you’ll probably unearth an archaeological site."

Home to some of the oldest Neolithic sites in Europe, the "Heart of Neolithic Orkney" is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The coastal cliffs and moorland make Orkney the ideal home for many species of wildlife, especially seals, puffins, ravens, great skuas and kittiwakes. The name Orkney apparently derives from Orkneyjar, meaning 'Seal Islands' in Old Norse.


Indeed, 90 percent of orca sightings around the United Kingdom are in the water off Orkney and Shetland. Though, known as 'Killer Whales', they belong to the dolphin family, of which they are the largest member.


The Scottish primrose is native to the coasts of Orkney and nearby Caithness and Sutherland.

Whilst researching, I stumbled upon photos of the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh having a fantastic day in Orkney over sixty years ago. Following the Duke's passing, Orkney Islands Council remembered the visit with fond memories. The Queen and Philip passed through Scapa Flow to Stromness aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia with Charles and Anne, who were just 11 and 10 at the time. As the children enjoyed a private picnic and hunting for buried treasure, their parents immersed themselves in a busy day of engagements. They spent time at Skara Brae which we discussed earlier in the post. A 5,000 strong crowd cheered as they visited St Magnus Cathedral as the Kirkwall City Pipe Band played 'Will ye no’ come back again?'.

When Prince Philip saw a red school bus nearby - a Morris BS 5933 - he joked, "Is this what I have to drive?" The Queen sat in the front seat with the rest of the entourage in the back. After a slight "crashing of the first gear change", Philip drove on with confidence. The photos and the smiles are just splendid. Afterwards, the couple remarked, "We've had a wonderful day." The local media described the visit as "triumphal and glorious". (A special word of thanks to Orkney Islands Council and credit to those who kept such an insightful record of the day). The images and memories are particularly poignant now.

Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November, the couple were keen to see "innovative projects that are aiming to positively change the dial on climate change". Orkney's European Marine Energy Centre perfectly fits the brief.

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Established in 2003, the EMEC is the world's first and leading centre for testing wave and tidal energy converters -- technologies harnessing the power of tidal streams and waves in the sea. Their efforts are constantly growing and currently staff are "pioneering the development of a green hydrogen economy in Orkney, and have set up an onshore hydrogen production plant in Eday to generate hydrogen from tidal and wind energy". Their long-term vision is a "globally successful marine energy industry as part of a clean energy system". Over the past two decades, they have made innovative strides in the sector.

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Below, Orbital Marine Power's O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, photographed in Orkney.

They met a group of children outside.

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Kate was asked, "Are you a prince?" She laughed and replied, "No, I'm the Duchess of Cambridge."

Kate met a little girl who told her "I'm a Princess". Kate smiled and said "you look like one in your pink coat". She added "lots of people call me Catherine". There's some lovely footage at the end of this video.

William and Kate enjoyed a trip out to Kirkwall Bay.

William and Kate enjoyed a drink.

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A video from the trip.

The Countess enjoying the view on board.

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Kate looked effortlessly chic in a camel ensemble with a vibrant pop of colour added in the form of a Strathearn tartan scarf. She wore her hair in a demi-chignon for the day. It's an excellent look for the Duchess and a seamless choice for a varied day of engagements.

You'll recognise Kate's coat as her Massimo Dutti Limited Edition Buttoned Coat in camel. The garment is described as: "Classic, sophisticated and with a flattering silhouette for the feminine figure, this camel-coloured coat made of natural fibres will be an essential piece this season. Tailored coat made of wool and cashmere. Featuring a slim fit, peak lapels, double-breasted button fastening, two flap pockets, long sleeves with four-button cuffs, a back vent and lining."

The Duchess first wore the piece in January 2020 during the 5 Big Questions tour. 

It looks like Kate's sweater is the Temperley London Cordial Sleeved Knit Top (an amazing find by Emily Collins). The round neck piece is spun from metallic lurex yarn in glittery gold and features bell sleeves. It's heavily discounted at Temperley London from £380 to £190. It's also on sale in pink at Farfetch.

Very fittingly, the Countess of Strathearn paid homage to her Scottish title by wearing her Stathearn tartan scarf. It's a piece Kate's had for almost a decade and was made by ScotWeb and DC Dalgliesh.

ScotWeb began trading in 1995 as a Tartan Mill and were Scotland's very first e-commerce site. The brand was the first in the world to market kilts, tartan fabrics, and bagpipes online. With the largest tartan range on earth, their own weaving mill, expert tailors and a promise to provide outstanding products at incredible prices, ScotWeb continues to grow. The team behind the company are fantastic people. When we were running the Baby Cambridge Fundraiser ahead of George's arrival, they were only delighted to donate a scarf. I was reminded of this during a chat with the winner of the piece, Sara, earlier today. The Strathearn Royal Celebration Scarf  (an affordable wool version of Kate's gorgeous scarf) is woven at the same artisanal mill in the Scottish borders and features the same hand-knotting as Kate's. It remains available for £85. 

For the second consecutive day, the Duchess is wearing her Flora Drop earrings by Edinburgh luxury jewellers and Royal Warrant holders Hamilton & Inches. The £1,395 pair in 18ct gold consist of "marquise cut citrine, cabochon cut rutilated quartz and round brilliant cut diamonds".

Kate's shoes are the Emmy London Josie style in 'saddle' (with thanks to Regal File). 

What Kate Wore noted the matching clutch is also by Emmy London.

For Kate's second look of the day, she sported her £189 Seeland Woodcock Advanced Jacket.


Georgie's Mum identified Kate's blouse as the £119 Dobby Cotton Blouse by Scottish brand Brora. It's available in limited sizing at John Lewis


Kate wore her trusty See by Chloe Leather-trimmed suede ankle boots.

Tomorrow and Thursday will see engagements in Edinburgh and Fife including a return to St Andrews and a special screening of Cruella for NHS staff at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

45 comments:

  1. Zora from Prague25 May 2021 at 12:34

    Wow, a very elegant look!!
    Every scarf-lover must be excited 😃!

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  2. I'm from Orkney! I live in Spain now but I've been messaging all my friends living there to see if they were going to see them! I wish I was there! :)

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  3. She is very elegant....but not my favorite look. I don't like those trousers.

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    1. I agree. The trousers are have too much volume around the lower hems. The hem length isn't quite right and I think a more tailored leg would look better. These ones swamp her a bit.

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  4. The only part I like about this ensemble is the tartan scarf. If the trousers were a darker colour to contrast with the camel coat & accessories, I’d like her outfit more.

    Regardless, it’s great to see these two out & about in Orkney. And Kate’s hair is perfection.

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  5. Looking beautiful and vibrant as always, Duchess Kate accompanies her husband, Prince William in Orkney, place to amazing archaeological sites.

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  6. Very elegant and of course they even smile with their eyes. I love how they have managed to cope with talking in public with a mask on and you can still see them smile by the glint in their eyes. Wonderful future King and Queen.

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  7. Susan in Florida25 May 2021 at 15:06

    Thank you for the history of Orkney. The design of the new hospital is perfect for the landscape , something I wish all architects would consider. The photo of HM have a laugh while the DoE grinds the gears is sweet. I know the Countess needed to keep warm. I do like her coat. The puddle pants and midi skirts are not draping well on her. It looks like she borrowed clothes from someone taller.

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  8. Loving this! Tours are always such a treat

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  9. I like the darker shade of camel of the coat, which is not apparent on all images. I think some dark green pants would have been very striking -- the coat, sweater, and scarf are beautiful! She has her earrings on "backwards" again. :) The background information is so interesting, thank you for that and the beautiful photos!

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    1. Sorry what do you mean Earings on backwards. They look fine to me. I would have thought it’s a personal preference.

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    2. Anon 16:23, I agree that personal preference wins the day. But if you go to the company source of the earrings, they are shown as what would be left and right. Also, the heaviness and bulk of the gems push your eye away from the gems to the remainder of the earring. So your eye goes from the gems toward Kate's hair rather than toward her face.

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    3. Detailed earrings do have a right/wrong side facing away from the ear to appreciate the design element. It is so strange to me that in the second wearing no one has brought it to her attention that they are backwards. Then again, expressing myself probably for the 100 time in ten years I do not think Kate has yet perfected her jewelry selections as accents to her fashion statements. Again, less is more.

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    4. Sorry but as a heart transplant patient who died about 9 times I find nick picking about little tiny things rather senseless. However everyone has their right to critique. I look at the bigger picture more these days and not the little things. Great day great cause and Catherine looks wonderful and her smile is amazing. You can see the warmth and compassion shine from her. They both have Wonderful personalities and you can see how everyone enjoys their company. That’s the main thing.

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  10. Question? When the Royal family stays at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland where do they actually sleep, cook and eat in the Palace? Thank you to anyone with knowledge.

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  11. I just told me husband, when I get the desire to travel again, I want to go to Scotland! Thanks W&K, and Charlotte!, for giving me ideas of where to go!

    On Kate’s wardrobe so far, looks like she’s having fun with monochromatic looks. The brown/tan suede accessories this morning work a whole lot better than they did with the cobalt blue yesterday. Regardless, it’s great to see her out and about with people. I’m amazed at how she always looks truly delighted by her visits and activities.

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  12. I’ve always wanted to visit Orkney, but since Kate is wearing a coat at the end of May and where I live is +90°f I think I’ll wait until full summer.

    Loved that they’re there though. I’m always glad when smaller places get visits & I love the scarf.

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  13. What glorious memories of The Queen, and Prince Philip. They look so happy.
    William and Kate are terrific as always.

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    1. Zora from Prague25 May 2021 at 20:17

      The memories are precious! Watching the video from 1960 made my day :).
      I loved the whole day and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Thank you for your superb coverage, Charlotte!
      Oh, and btw: I've already received the giveaway book about the first 10 years of the Cambridges as a married couple. I was beyond thrilled!! I knew many pictures from DKB and it brought back so many memories of reading the posts about the various events and engagements over the years...🍀🌼

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    2. That is wonderful news Zora, I'm delighted you have it :)

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  14. Caroline in Montana25 May 2021 at 16:19

    I really love this coat! loved it the first time and might love it more now:) I'm good with her entire outfit except for...yup, the pants. they are better than the blue ones, (have a bit shorter length) but these just drown her and agree with kiwi that they are too light in color, darker would have made a better pop. they also seemed a bit high waisted?! Do like the clutch and what I could see of the shoes and the scarf is beautiful!! but then the outfit change into skin tight clothes I will never understand. she looked elegant and beautiful, and professional! and then looked like trying to be in her 20's in skinny's and oversize boots on a camping trip!
    makes no sense to me IMO.

    This hospital looks fantastic, some great initiatives! love all the history, love love the pics of the Queen and PP. Beautiful place I would love to visit. Thanks Charlotte

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  15. Thanks for sharing some of the history of the Orkney Islands! That's always so interesting. And HM and the DoE pictures made me smile.

    As for fashion... I like all of these pieces individually. I wish the pants were a different color - I would have picked red to bring out the scarf. But as Allison in US and Kiwi Gal pointed out, any contrast would have been nice (and dark green would be gorgeous as well!).

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  16. I love both outfits. I think Kate looks great in skinny jeans and since I love my skinnies I can relate to her wanting to change into skinnies. But the pants, coat, and scarf of the first look was great too. The pants are wide-legged without being overly baggy, and they are shorter than her navy pants. I love her hair too.

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  17. Tammy from California25 May 2021 at 18:07

    Ohhhh LOVE this outfit! LOVE the film reel and pictures of HM and the DOE!

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  18. I hate to say this, but the camel ensemble is the worst outfit I’ve ever seen her in….

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  19. Valerie in Arizona25 May 2021 at 19:25

    Thank you as always for the historical background about the Orkneys. I love seeing the people's faces as they meet and give the Royals their tours. I am sure it's something they remember all their lives. The pride on that gentleman's face at the start, at the hospital. And the wee children are SO cute. I remember my mother and grandmother being so excited in Montreal because the Queen would be passing by Grandma's house in her motorcade. I have a fuzzy memory of being about four years old, shepherded outside with our Union Jack flags and, yes, it's special to remember.

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  20. The monochromatic fashion statement always gives the appearance of sophistication in my opinion. It is my favorite be it casual day wear, business or evening events. Kate has achieved this handsomely today but and this is a big BUT, the break in her bellbottom slacks is such a distraction. Any taylor looking at her would have be the first to say the pants are off. Slacks/trousers/pants worn on the runway do not translate well to street wear. All it would have taken is a half inch to create a seamless professional look.

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  21. Elegant 😀

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  22. Charlotte you put so much time, thought and energy into these post and it is greatly appreciated. The history included in today’s post is fascinating.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I love researching and always learn something new.

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    2. I second that Lady West! Charlotte you do an amazing job, and I’ve learned so much about what it’s like across the pond. Well done 👍🏻

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  23. Scotland what a beautiful place. I like the first outfit of Kate a lot, very nice camel coat and the tan pants. The 2nd one was for fun. But then Kate looks good in almost everything she wears. Hope their visit was everything, it needed to be and more.

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  24. Oh my god that lovely of hervthe highlight of these trip Is the girl asking she a prince and the duchess of Cambridge reply was adorable I love the Carmel cream outfit I love the 2nd outfit too

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  25. Oh my god that lovely of hervthe highlight of these trip Is the girl asking she a prince and the duchess of Cambridge reply was adorable I love the Carmel cream outfit I love the 2nd outfit too charlotte any idea what on there list tomorrow

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  26. Sorry but a miss for me. Terrible color. It seems Kate and William can’t coordinate. She is dressed up and he looks like he is going to the pub.
    Not sure about the hair either looks like how we wore out hair as school girls in the late 70s.

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  27. Have always thought of monochromatic dressing as a very polished, elegant look, and totally love what Kate is wearing, especially with the pop of color (and nod to Scotland) of her scarf. It also would look good with a pair of pants similar to the ones the model wears in the first photo! LOVE the shoes, nice added texture and especially love the heel with the pants. The photos of PP and HM are beautifully sad, but a lovely reminder of the happy memories they have had together. Kate's casual game is always on point IMO(skinny pants and all) as she always looks appropriate for each occasion. Definitely Scotland is on the bucket list, what a beautiful country!!

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  28. Charlotte:

    Thank you for all the information in this post. I do have a couple questions which I hope you can answer.
    (a) Was that a special type of boat and was it powered by hydrogen? (b) It seems icy and is that the reason for the whiskey? :) (c) Is the island Kirkbay (sp) inhabited or is it mainly used for research and such?.

    Thank you in advance for your response.

    Regards

    RW.

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    1. Hello RW,

      My apologies for the late reply! I read today they poured whiskey over the rotor blades for good luck. Orkney has over 70 islands, only 20 of those are inhabited. Kirkwall is the largest town with about 10,000 residents. It's truly a beautiful area and a haven for wildlife.

      This website is treasure trove of info https://www.orkney.com/

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    2. Charlotte:

      No worries. Thank you for responding. I know that you have been busy and understand that asking questions at this time is somewhat an infringement on your time while you do such a great job covering this tour. I am thankful for the link as well and can't wait to dive into it.

      You totally rock!

      Regards,

      RW.

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  29. I really like the camel color outfit on Catherine. To me it really shows off the scarf with having an all neutral background. To me, she can wear most anything. I like her in the skinny leg pants as well as the wide. It mixes up one’s wardrobe, plus she looks stunning as always. I love the casual outfit too.

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  30. Re the comments about the earrings. I assume Catherine and her dresser know how to wear earrings of all styles but either she does not worry about it when she puts them on or she prefers how they look with the fancy elements closest to her face:).

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  31. I like the monochrome outfit today and love seeing them on tour!

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  32. An additional note to all the excellent information in the post: The Moderator of the Church of Scotland General Assembly (to which William is High Commissioner and to which he will return on Thursday) this year is Jim Wallace, Baron Wallace of Tankerness. He is only the third non-clergyperson to be Moderator, a one-year honorary post, in hundreds of years. In Wallace's career, before he became a life peer, he was MP for Orkney and Shetland and then Member of the Scottish Parliament for Orkney. He also held posts in the Scottish Executive. I don't know whether Orkney was chosen as a stop on the Cambridges' tour at his suggestion, but he commented in the Assembly on how pleased he is about their visit.

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  33. I rather enjoy it that Catherine might be wearing her earrings backwards, 🤣🤣🤣🤣

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