Wednesday, 15 September 2021

The Duchess of Cambridge Resumes Duties with RAF Brize Norton Visit

Kate's back! 

Following a two-month summer break, the Duchess of Cambridge resumed engagements today with a visit to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, where she met a number of people who supported the UK's evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan.

Over the past nine weeks, the Cambridges enjoyed a family holiday on the Isles of Scilly off the Cornish coast. From there, it's understood they spent a great deal of the summer at their Norfolk country home, Anmer Hall. Vanity Fair revealed the Cambridges "are very much a family of sailors now", with reports they sailed a boat on the north Norfolk coast for several days in early August. The annual sojourn to Balmoral took place over the summer bank holiday weekend. The summer culminated with the family jetting to the beautiful village of Bormes-les-Mimosas in the South of France for James Middleton and Alizée Thevenet's wedding. Now back in London, George and Charlotte have commenced another school term, with Louis at nursery. 

Kate was warmly welcomed upon arrival.

The scenes from Afghanistan have been heartbreaking and deeply distressing to watch unfold. A glimmer of light amidst the darkness was the unwavering courage and dedication of soldiers involved in Operation Pitting.

The largest humanitarian operation in over seventy years saw 15,000 lifted to safety from Kabul by the Royal Air Force. 

Those evacuated included 5,000 British Nationals and 8,000 vulnerable Afghans. Over 2,000 were children - the youngest just one day old.

Kate emerging from one of the aircraft involved in the mission.

The Duchess met military personnel and civilians directly involved in the effort. Among those present were RAF aircrew, medics and volunteers who established a Repatriation Centre at RAF Brize Norton.

The Telegraph reports:

'Corporal Guy Watts, whose job involved making sure the flights remained safe, told the Duchess of the anxiety on the faces of the Afghans they rescued. 

Watts, who did seven flights to Kabul, told the Duchess: “None of them had seen a military jet before. The adrenaline was really pumping as we were getting them on. Then as soon as we were in the air and got to altitude, they just collapsed.”

She asked him: “Did they know what the plan was? You must have been asked loads of questions, like, ‘What’s happening next?’”

He said: “A lot of them did not realise we were going to Dubai. They were asking, how long is the flight to the UK? When is the next meal coming?”

He said afterwards: “They didn’t really believe they were leaving until the ramp was up. Once we got airborne, they started to relax, like the adrenaline was dropping. That was such a big burden that was lifted off their shoulders. It was lovely to see, it was very rewarding.” He said the Duchess expressed her “thanks and her pride” in the job they had done.'

Corporal Watts added the Duchess "appreciates that some of it wasn’t easy. And she appreciated how smoothly we managed to keep things running."

The Duchess had "very personal" conversations with personnel. 

Victoria Murphy reports:

'The Duchess went on board one of the aircraft that was used and listened to some harrowing and uplifting stories of the evacuation. “For us there’s a lot of necessary catharsis. We need to share our stories and we need to get them out,” Wing Commander Calvin Bailey, who was in charge of the operation and flew several missions, said. He also described how some of the military personnel were able to have “very personal” discussions with Kate that “would never leave that crowd.”

“She's so engaging and she's so lovely. She wanted to show that she had knowledge and understanding of the planes. We knew some people her husband worked with and they got in touch. And there was one guy who was part of the course behind her husband. So, you know, there's an instant connection there and they want to tell their story. They want to say, this is hard. I did this. This is what I feel proud about. And she gave that to them today.”

Kate revealed George, Charlotte and Louis are "very interested in aircraft".

Over 850 people arrived at RAF Brize Norton in August.

They were provided with medical support, children's toys and childcare while their details were processed.

Military personnel readying clothes and toys for the children.

Kensington Palace said, "Operation PITTING involved every unit based at RAF Brize Norton, with personnel supporting the operation alongside the Royal Navy, British Army, local authorities and aid organisations in Afghanistan and the UK. The full fleet of RAF transport aircraft from RAF Brize Norton flew around the clock to support the evacuation, including a record flight for an RAF C17 Globemaster which took 439 passengers out of Kabul on a single flight. Aircraft involved in the operation also carried supplies ranging from clothing and baby food for the evacuees."

A behind-the-scenes look at the operation, including interviews with several military personnel.

We've chatted about the immeasurable financial difficulties faced during the pandemic due to the closure of charity shops and lack of fundraising opportunities. Yet when the hour calls for it, incredible grassroots organisations step in. There's one in particular I want to highlight -  baby bank Little Village (a beneficiary of Kate's efforts to bring British retailers together to support baby banks).  

Amidst a time of chaos, the charity rallied and led a fundraising drive. The result was overwhelming...

Over 500 bundles of essentials including nappies and clothing were supplied. One point of importance to the team -- ensuring arts and crafts sets were included in each bundle.

Among countless moments of kindness -- one little boy arrived at Little Village to donate his cricket bat and other toys to children arriving from Afghanistan.

The Duchess signed her name to mark the visit before departing. 

Following the visit, RAF Brize Norton shared they were "delighted" Kate stopped by.

We saw the Duchess in a mixture of new and old pieces today for a professional look.

Kate selected the timeless Reiss Larsson blazer for her first post-summer outing (with thanks to Emily Collins for her outstanding work ID'ing today). The £285 is described as a neutral piece "offering tailored simplicity". The piece features wide peak lapels and button fastenings with front pockets. It's available in very limited sizing at ReissJohn Lewis and Bloomingdales.

Middleton Maven suggests the Duchess repeated her GOAT Binky blouse. Below, Kate wearing it at the Heads Together launch in 2016. It remains available for £440 on GOAT founder Jane Lewis' new website Jane Atelier.

Kate's elegant new handbag is by British brand Tusting. The Mini Holly is described as: "A runaway success since its launch in 2020, and now benefitting from a new and more refined handle, the Mini Holly is a pretty and curvaceous 1950s-inspired bag. She comes in a selection of delicious colours and is a petite top-handled leather handbag with clean, curving lines and a fold-over flap secured by an elegant turn-lock fitting." Kate carried the bag in 'Taupe Atlantic'.

Kate sported her Emmy London Josie block heel pumps.

And accessorised with her Gold Disc Circle earrings by All the Falling Stars.

In other news, you may have heard about an incredible sporting feat by Emma Raducanu, who made history at the US Open over the weekend, becoming the first British woman in 44 years to win a Grand Slam singles title. The Duchess congratulated Emma via Twitter. Both the Telegraph and the Times report Kate is eager to meet Emma when she returns to the UK.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is also one to look out for next week.


  1. Great post, Charlotte. It’s good to see Kate back in action.

    1. Ditto Kiwi Gal!
      The picture of the smiling little boy donating his cricket bat brought tears to my eyes! 😇 What a sweet example of selflessness and empathy from such a young child. It will stay with me for a long time.
      Thank you, Charlotte! Your post did me good after a difficult day.

    2. That little boy made me well up, too, Zora!

  2. Good for Kate, highlighting the humanitarian work of helping refugees from Afghanistan. It sounds as if the Cambridge family enjoyed a wonderful summer, and perfect for being out of the spotlight. Kate's outfit here looks good on her. I like the lines, except the too-long hems on the slacks. Just a quarter to a half inch shorter would still work to give her the long-leg effect, in my opinion. I hate to see the hems actually brushing the ground.

    1. I agree with pants too long and brushing the ground; just not attractive at all, plus you'd think they'd get wet in a puddle, get stepped on, etc. Glad to see her looking great, doing great work and out and about.

  3. Kate looks terrific, and I very much like what she wore. I don't think the little bag is needed but it's such a pretty little bag! A good cause to highlight -- although these people are so very, very fortunate, they still had to fight their way out, taking literally nothing but what they wore and leaving behind families and their lives. They must be so conflicted -- like all survivors. Being in the US I certainly have strong feelings about this operation, including how magnificent all the military people were. What I saw in the US operation were service members working against incredible odds to fight for the freedom of thousands of people, and I know that is the same for the UK military.

  4. It’s seems Kate has been shifting more towards blazers and trousers for past two years as opposed to dresses in the years prior. I really like the blazer and trouser looks it makes her look professional. But I must admit I miss her beautiful dresses and coats dresses. It made her look more princessy.

    1. Just what I was thinking. She looks nice and elegant but...

    2. I like this look as she always looks nicely put together, but definitely I am a fan of the coat dresses, it's a look that is pretty much signature Kate and very elegant.

  5. Kate came back! Yeeey! I was waiting for it for sooo long. I think we all need some positive events in those tough times.

    1. Yes we do Tyska!! Much needed and welcomed!

  6. Very glad to see that the return of Kate after a hiatus, is an event that has such relevant meaning and importance in this moment. And just when you almost want to give up on humanity for all the negativity, you read about how so many people behind the scenes rally to help others in need. The efforts of Little Village is an absolutely heartwarming example of goodwill and intent. What an effort all the way around during such a tumultuous time for the refugees. To me, this is the role of the royals to be ambassadors for the people and bring to the forefront these organizations so that we may be more aware. There are just so many people within all these organizations who devote their lives and time because they have strongly held values and convictions. Thank you Charlotte for always bringing to us such indepth information, it is appreciated.

    On the fashion front, love this look on Kate, it is very subdued, professional, and very appropriate for the event. A nice mix of old and new, loving both the blazer and the new bag! Kate is lovely as usual.

  7. Great event. Catherine looks lovely. A nice Fall outfit. Really like the lines of the blazer and love her bag.

  8. Effortless beauty and elegance and professionalism, as usual. What a gorgeous and sweet smile she has!

  9. So great to see her again. She looks great! Doesn’t stand out with colors that camouflage with the uniforms. Amazing mission done by our service people. Sue

  10. Thanks for the post. The Duchess of Cambridge shines! She looked radiant and very much engaged in her duty. UK is gifted with such a beauty.

  11. Nice to see the Dss back at work. Very nice combination and color of her outfit. The people's commitment to help others is heartwarming. Keep up the good work.

  12. Well glad to see the duchess of Cambridge today she shines whatever she does commitment on her work as well and genuine love her

  13. Love it!!! Go Kate, we are behind you!

  14. Tammy from California16 September 2021 at 01:32

    My girl's BACK BABY! Ohhhhh how I missed her! Her hair is so long! She looked wonderful today!

    Interesting things about this airplane: the C-17. Held 642 Afghan citizens fleeing the Taliban on U.S. flights out. Many babies were born during the flights. Many people had not eaten in a week and were given MRE meals (they self heat and make a small hot meal. U.S. military service men and women eat them on harsh trips where there is no other food). The airplane can hold 2 Blackhawk helicopters or 4 Humvees or 100 hospital beds with oxygen hook-ups for patients. It was built to be able to take off and land on short distances. It has infrared flares on it, that when it senses heat like an incoming missile, it shoots off flares that make angel wings around it.

  15. I do believe that when people are given a chance to help others they will step up. The charities helping the refugees are so important right now. I’m glad the first engagement the Duchess had was to thank the RAF members. I love that light blazer with dark pants.

  16. I think I checked this blog every single day she was on vacation. So glad for an update!

    1. Ditto that Sarah!! EVERY DAY!

  17. Awesome!!
    Great first engagement!
    Also on the IG od "katemidleton1", someone commented that the bag's brad was founded by someobe who served in the RAF during WW1

  18. I think that’s a very poignant engagement for a return. She is their honorary air commandant since 2015 and I think even if “only” honorary it’s important to show your support.
    But I truly dislike the outfit. The high waist, long blazer, wide leg look just doesn’t suit her frame and silhouette (which is surprising because most tall slim people look good in most styles). After Pakistan she ventured more into the slim cut business trousers and that looked amazing. The little bad made it especially dated and diminished every ounce of a professionalism look for me.
    It looked completely wrong in the environment. I don’t know why but I feel even a coat dress would have worked better. I do love the blouse and the shoes though.

  19. I love her outfit- she looks amazing.

  20. Thank you for the post. I read that The Duchess may have selected the bag for the brands history. AS the WWI Soldier established it. here is the link.

    1. Thank you for sharing the link sue cooper! How interesting and how very like our Duchess to do her research! Love the history.

  21. After reading some articles and comments from the RAF that met with Kate the other day, I see this as a very significant engagement. Some of the military who were directly involved with the evacuation spoke of how looking back on the faces of the refugees, they were met with the faces of many; little children who were excited to be on a plane, so innocent and not knowing all that was going on, and parents who were apprehensive about what would happen next and all of them in need. The generosity of the RAF had to be very comforting in a very difficult situation. One reported that several of the parents stopped short of the ramp to look back at the country they were leaving, possibly for good, with just a single bag in their possession....I cannot even imagine. The RAF expressed that they were very happy Kate was there to show her support, and there was royal recognition for the efforts of many in this humanitarian mission. This certainly isn't enough, but it's a start that can move others to join, its moved me to take a more active role in charity work particularly for the refugees who truly may only have the shirt on their backs. The emotions of these pilots was felt by Kate, her husband has been a pilot on many a life-saving missions and she listened to them. Very proud of the service of those who assisted in bringing out those fleeing Afghanistan, and a very fitting return engagement for Kate, I am inspired to do more.

  22. C-17’s are massive . I walked inside one that was on display at an Air Show. The Duchess was right to wear pants while walking up the ramp to see it. They can hold three combat-ready Stryker vehicles or 10 HMMWV (Humvees) to comprise one deployment load. Also, the C-17 is able to transport three M1 Abrams main battle tanks, but usually two.

  23. Where can I get those trousers ?

  24. Very professional outfit. Where can I get those trousers ?


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