Wednesday, 27 April 2022

The Duchess of Cambridge & The Princess Royal Officially Open New RCOG London Headquarters

In a royal first, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Princess Royal stepped out together for a joint engagement supporting a cause close to both their hearts. Traditionally, we tend to see very little overlap in terms of joint appearances outside of major family occasions, which I've long bemoaned due to the many shared areas of focus between members of the family. Over the past year, I'm happy to say, we're beginning to see changes to the status quo. As you probably know, Anne is an incredibly hard-working royal and undertakes a significant programme both at home and abroad. It doesn't get the coverage her efforts warrant, so another wonderful element of joining Kate today is the opportunity to have her work amplified and seen by many who otherwise wouldn't read about it.

It was a typical April day in London when the pair arrived at the headquarters of the Royal College of Midwives, Anne's patronage, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Kate's patronage, to officially open the new building.

A Palace spokesperson said: "Home to a collection of women's healthcare organisations which are dedicated to improving and advocating for women's healthcare, the hub has been designed by the RCOG to foster collaboration across the sector."

Preparation ahead of the royal arrival.

The Duchess became Patron of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Nursing Now Campaign in 2018. At the time, the Palace noted: "The Duchess has seen first-hand the impact of front-line medical professionals during visits to hospitals and hospices, and through her work in support of children's mental health and early intervention. The Duchess' patronages at RCOG and Nursing Now provide an opportunity to shine a light on these vital professions, both in the UK and internationally." I remember Kate's first engagement in the role the same year, when she was expecting Prince Louis. She wore a bespoke Jenny Packham outfit which offered a nod to the traditional nurse's tunic.

It's a patronage with close royal links.

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Before becoming its first Patron, the Duchess of York (later the Queen Mother), had with her husband, the future King George VI, opened the RCOG’s former home on Queen Anne Street in 1932 (pictured below). When the Queen Mother passed in 2002 RCOG said: "The College lost one of its original allies. But her commitment to improving maternal wellbeing carries on through her younger relatives." RCOG has awarded an Honorary Fellowship to ten members of the Royal family, including Her Majesty the Queen (1949), Princess Margaret (1966), Diana, Princess of Wales (1987), Sophie, Countess of Wessex (1996), and of course the Princess Royal (1979), which offers additional insight into the thinking behind this joint engagement. It's very much a perfect match.

Kate's own links with RCOG began in 2017, a year before she was confirmed as patron, when she delivered a speech on motherhood, telling the audience it is "full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together". The Duchess continued: "Your fundamental identity changes overnight.  You go from thinking of yourself as primarily an individual, to suddenly being a mother, first and foremost." Kate's speech was excellent - easily the most personal one she's given discussing the highs and lows of becoming a parent. I imagine these are feeling all parents experience. With the joys come challenges and perhaps it's not always easy for people to discuss those challenges."

People reports:

'In 2020, Kate got personal about her experiences during childbirth, revealing that she turned to "hypnobirthing" for all three of her deliveries. While battling hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness she had during each pregnancy, Kate says she took it upon herself to learn about the birthing method.

"I got very bad morning sickness, so I'm not the happiest of pregnant people," Kate said in a revealing interview on the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast in February 2020.'

The RCOG works to improve healthcare for women everywhere by setting standards for clinical practice, providing doctors with training and lifelong learning, and advocating for women’s healthcare worldwide. Founded in 1929, the College now has over 16,000 members worldwide, and works with a range of partners both in the UK and globally to encourage the study of obstetrics and gynaecology and advance its science and practice.

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The new building is really quite spectacular and the perfect location for its London base. Staff moved into the new space in 2020 following an enormous undertaking which saw a converted 19th century hop warehouse and a 1980s office building fashioned into a home for RCOG. The glazed atrium is a beautiful piece of architecture.

The Royal College of Midwives is very much considered the "voice" of midwifery. They are the only professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. In her role as patron, Anne has visited maternity units all over the UK. 

In a letter celebrating midwives in 2019, Anne expressed her "profound admiration" for "the incredible work" of midwives. Anne continue to write about Kate's involvement with the RCOG and RCM, so again we're seeing links over the past several years.

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Gloucestershire Live writes:

'What many people do not know is that Princess Anne broke a royal tradition which paved the way for Kate Middleton and other royals to have modern maternity care.

Until 1977 when Anne gave birth to son Peter at the Lindo wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, it was tradition for royal babies to be delivered quietly behind closed doors at Buckingham Palace.

Anne broke the mould when she had her babies in hospital and also started another royal tradition at the same time. In May 1981 she became the first royal to be photographed on the steps of the now famous St Mary's hospital with newborn baby daughter Zara. Decades later Kate, 40, also had her three babies at the Lindo Wing of St Mary's and stood on those same steps to show them off to the world.'

The Duchess and the Princess heard about the latest steps both organisations are taking to improve maternal care and ensure women are cared for at one of the most significant times in their lives. They spent time with representatives from Tommy's National Centre for Maternity Improvement to hear about the latest digital technology to assist women experiencing high-risk pregnancies.

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Anne and Kate participated in a roundtable discussion with experts in the sector. 

They were also introduced to partners of Avoiding Brain Injury in Childbirth and discussed their developing approach to monitoring foetal wellbeing during labour.

The pair were pleased to congratulate recipients of RCM awards, celebrating outstanding achievements and dedication above and beyond the call of duty.

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The Oxford Mail reports:

'The Princess Royal left midwives and the Duchess of Cambridge in stitches when she recalled fearing one of her babies had become “wedged” when she tripped over in a horse lorry while heavily pregnant.

The royal women were shown a demonstration of a new Intrapartum Foetal Surveillance tool, which monitors the safety of babies during labour in order alert medical staff to start a delivery if the baby’s head gets stuck in the mother’s pelvis.

“Wedged?” asked Anne, to laughter.

The princess – who is a mother to Peter Phillips, 44, and Zara Tindall, 40 – then told the group how she feared that would happen to her during one of her pregnancies, adding: “I thought, that’s a bit interesting… ended up the right way up though.”

Before departing, the Duchess and the Princess Royal unveiled a plaque to officially open the building. It was delayed due to the pandemic.

RCM’s Chief Executive, Gill Walton said:

“It’s great to officially open our new headquarters. Having the RCM’s Patron, The Princess Royal, and The Duchess of Cambridge here to mark the occasion has made it even more special. The past few years have been particularly tough for maternity services, so it’s been great to showcase some of the excellent work that midwives and all maternity staff are doing across the country.

“I am also really proud of our joint working with the RCOG which is so key in improving safety and the way multi-disciplinary teams work together. It has been fantastic to be able to share all of that and more today with our Patron and The Duchess of Cambridge who I know is also a great supporter of midwives.”

The RCM and RCOG were the first Royal Colleges during COVID-19 to develop joint guidance for all maternity staff and pregnant women using maternity services, which was continually updated as the medical and scientific evidence changed. Together they also provided key advice nationally on the importance of pregnant women getting vaccinated to protect themselves and their unborn baby, and supported campaigns from both the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care.

RCOG President, Eddie Morris said:

“We are delighted to announce the much anticipated official opening of our new building by HRH The Princess Royal and our Patron The Duchess of Cambridge.

“These new headquarters mark an exciting chapter for us as they become home to a collection of women’s healthcare organisations that are dedicated to providing, and advocating for, women’s healthcare. It has been a long held ambition for the College that our new headquarters would foster collaboration across the sector, and we are excited to see the opportunities working under one roof brings.

“Today has provided us with an opportunity to showcase the fantastic work we are doing jointly with RCM to improve maternity services and gynaecological care for women from all backgrounds across the world. Work that is crucial to supporting women throughout their life.”

The duo received lovely flowers upon departure.

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A wave goodbye from Kate.

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The Duchess was elegant in a Self-Portrait skirt suit today.

The Cream Belted Lace Detail Jacket is cut from heavy crepe and adorned with lace motifs. It comes in a slim-fit silhouette with a slim-fit detachable belt (with thanks to Gabi).

A closer look at the lace detailing.

We saw the Duchess in a similar chic jacket/chiffon midi dress combination at a Hold Still reception last September. The piece is available in limited sizing at Net-A-Porter.

Kate opted for pearl jewellery today -- her Annoushka drops.


And her Monica Vinader Nura necklace.

Kate carried her Emmy London Natasha clutch.


A closer look at Kate's beige suede pumps.


A lovely engagement, I think you'll agree.

44 comments:

  1. I looooove it! It's business appropriate, but just has that something special for a royal. And another pair of beige suedes for me to drool over!

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    1. I agree azaluckyj! Love this look, especially the tone on tone embroidery, it takes it up a notch as does the very neutral beige suede shoes, very nice!!

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  2. Lovely to see the two ladies together! I do like Catherine’s suit, bit think the skirt’s too long.

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    1. I agree. The whole look is lovely but would have looked smarter with a shorter hem. Just below the knee would have been great. Love the trumpet shape though.

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    2. A midi skirt really needs length and sweep to make an impact. I think a just-below-the-knee length would have been a bit boring, especially with this neutral color and tailored jacket. This longer, movemented skirt adds some visual interest and drama.

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  3. Nice to see the Duchess and the Princess Royal teaming up for an engagement. We don't hear as much about the Princess Royal's activities as we should, considering how hard-working she is. She's done much for children's health issues.

    I've said here before that I am not a huge fan of Self-Portrait clothing, but I did consider this belted jacket for myself I decided against it only because the pale beige shade would wash me out, whereas the Duchess, with her more vivid coloring, can wear it well. (As a well-known columnist once commented, "I can't wear beige because I AM beige!" I like this look because it can be dressed up or down and work for both a professional situation and an informal evening engagement. Very nice.

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  4. This is exciting to have Anne and Catherine take part in an important joint event. I noticed the Princess Royal was listed followed by the Duchess (the blue above). Could someone with knowledge of royal protocol explain this to me? Thanks!

    I was hoping to be "wowed" by Kate's fashion. She can wear a gown (like the green on the recent tour) or a casual pair of jeans, puffer jacket and boots (I think it was climbing? last autumn) and I am really impressed.

    Kate seems to go through fashion phases. Some I like better than others. The wide leg trousers and long skirts the last year are not my favorite looks on Kate.

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    1. The Princess Royal is a blood princess, daughter of a monarch and thus royal by birth. The Duchess is a princess by marriage to the grandson of a monarch. When they are together without Prince William's being present, Anne outranks Catherine. William's presence changes things, but here, Anne is very much the ranking royal.

      Then there is the fact that Anne is simply the elder of the two women. Aside from royal protocol, giving her precedence is partly a matter of common courtesy to a senior lady.

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    2. I am not a royal expert by any means, but doesn’t Anne outrank Kate since William is not present? Wouldn’t that also account for Anne being addressed first & walking ahead of Kate?

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    3. Kate is so respectful of these things. If you look at the video you can see her starting to walk slowly to let Anne greet their host first.

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  5. It is so nice to see these two Royal Ladies doing an event together. Dss Kate's outfit looked great on her and super color. The Pss Royal looked great as well. It is not about the fashion's it is about the event and the people it will help.

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  6. I think this is a nice look and would love to see it again with the black pants like the model. My favorite part was seeing Kate & Anne together! :) Sue

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    1. Agree Sue! I can see Kate wearing this separately with black pants, it would be a very stylish and versatile look. Hoping we can see more of Anne and Kate together, think that this is a very nice pairing on many levels.

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  7. Thank you both. I had forgotten it depends on if William is present.

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  8. I am really puzzled why Kate would wear such sky-high heels on an engagement when she knows she's walking side by side with the much shorter Princess Royal Anne. It just doesn't seem very tactful to wear shoes that would make you tower over a more senior royal. I like the two-piece outfit and it would have gone perfectly with some lower chunky heels or loafers.

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    1. That's odd...I had just the opposite thought. I was surprised to see how close in height she and Anne looked when walking in together. I always thought Anne was shorter than Kate. Kate even has on--as you said--higher heels, and they still don't look that much different in height.

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  9. I also think Anne looks quite smart in her coat dress and scarf. Kate was wise to avoid any ruffles or gathers in her outfit today, they both look tailored and polished, but with their own individual clothing personalities.

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  10. I've asked this before, but what is going on with her style? Why is she dressing 20 years older than her age? This is not a good hemline for Kate. I'm sorry. It's too long. The color is lovely and the suede pumps are gorgeous, but the jacket and skirt do not pair well together. I think if the skirt had been a knee length pencil skirt it would be more modern and equally professional.

    I'd like to point out that Anne's hemline was shorter than Kate's. I just want Kate to knock it out of the park and she hasn't been for a long time. I'm always rooting for her but I just don't understand what's happening with her style lately.

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    1. I’m not sure Catherine would feel comfortable in a short skirt while attending a function with the Princess Royal. Her outfit was very professional and not at all aging.

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    2. I don’t think a “short” skirt would be appropriate, either. But one around the knee would be better for a tailored outfit like this, I think. I like the longer hemlines for lighter-weight fabrics or for a dress.

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    3. if you look at the latest photograph of Beatrix in Sweden with Sophia, you'll see them both wearing midi dresses. That seems to be a very fashionable length at the moment. Catherine is choosing longer hemlines as she gets older but still wears a knee length outfit now and then. Its a matter of personal preference now days!

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    4. Anon 16:28, I was going to post the very same thing! Both Beatrix and Sophia looked beautiful in their dresses. Kate's outfit is on trend and very business stylish, yet feminine.

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  11. How marvellous to see the Duchess with the always impressive Princess Royal, who I have much admiration for. The Duchess looks lovely in this subtle outfit, the lace embroidery is superbly done, wonderful craftmanship. The pearl necklace and earrings look splendid. Her beige accessories are the perfect finishing touch. The Princess Royal looked beautiful, so elegant. I love the addition of the pashmina scarf. I hope we get to see more of both Royal ladies on future engagements together.

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    1. Zora from Prague28 April 2022 at 08:13

      I quite agree, Ava! Well said.

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  12. Very nice to see Anne and Kate at a joint engagement and I was interested to read that it was Anne who broke the tradition of Royalty giving birth in the palace. This is a very lovely suit and Kate wears it beautifully I also like the choice of accessories. I reiterate a comment from a previous post on Kates hair.... her hair is not as glorious as in the past and the photo of her in the blue outfit shows this it’s shorter and wavier than today’s look, I would like to see about 3 inches lopped off the length of her hair.

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  13. it is so nice to see the Princess Royal featured here. She is so hardworking and lovely. Kate looks nice and I love the Monica Vinader jewelry line. Thanks Charlotte

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  14. I do love an all too rare joint engagement with other royals. I’m a huge admirer of Princess Anne who has been a such a hard worker for the RF for so long without fuss or fanfare. Loved Kate’s look today, very seasonal and business like.

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  15. It’s great to see Anne and Kate out together. Anne is a steady and diligent worker, even though she hasn’t always gotten the recognition. Her quiet and earnest approach is admirable and I would love to see them together more.
    Fashion wise this outfit is a big miss for me. The colour is not the most flatter and I don’t like either, the jacket nor the skirt. I do like skirt suit ensembles but this one just doesn’t work. The lace detail is especially off putting. It looks completely random.
    I am happy though to see a clutch and not one of those mini handbags.

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  16. I would like to take a moment and express my gratitude to Charlotte for this blog! As Duchess Sophie is now on a tour on behalf of the Queen, I have been trying to find photos and write-ups on what they are doing and the causes they are supporting, and nothing, zip, zilch, nada. It made me realize how very wonderful this blog has been in its presentation, its content, its tone, and its access. Charlotte has created a beautiful place for this community and it is greatly appreciated. I have been a fan of Kate for a very long time, but this blog has been an incredible source of information about the charities and causes the royals support, and the work they do that I would not have truly know about if not for this blog. It has been eye opening and in watching how Kate has evolved has taught me some lessons on how to approach projects; thoughtfully, with sincerity, and carefully because I think I have learned that 'slow and steady' can win the race if you don't make it about you. Princess Anne and the Duchess of Wessex are integral parts of the royal family as has been the work they do, nice to see Princess Anne highlighted in a joint venture with Kate, brings to light what she has been, and is still doing on behalf of the monarchy. May not be expressing myself clearly, but wanted to say thank you Charlotte, this blog has been a welcome adventure and learning experience.

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    1. Thank you Anonymous, I truly appreciate your words of encouragement and support. Covering the charitable aspect has been the most enjoyable part for me. I think the Order of Splendor blog is sorely missed in royal watching. The author had a unique talent and covered all royal ladies. I so enjoy writing The Royal Digest, but I don't want to start it again, unless I can commit the time required. I'm thinking we'll see a lot more general coverage over the Jubilee and I'll certainly include all attendees at various events here.

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    2. Charlotte, any info on why The Royal order of sartorial splendour stopped?

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    3. Well said! I believe you expressed what many of us think. Thank you Charlotte.

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    4. I do miss order of splendor blog too it was lovely to see what other royal ladies were wearing at all the functions they attend. Charlotte your efforts a sincerely appreciated it must be so time consuming so a big thank you from me! Sue in WA

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    5. Anon,

      I don't know why the blog stopped. I cannot imagine how time consuming it was. The writer was just fantastic. It's eleven years today since I decided to start this blog (Happy Anniversary William & Kate) and the consensus time and time again among other bloggers, royal writers, fans, etc. is the impact the toxic atmosphere online in recent years has had. The once safe space for escapism is now a battleground. There are several factors at play here in my opinion. It's going to be 20 years before the Cambridge children take over as the 'young royals' and having said that, I wouldn't be at all surprised if George is the only one with an official role. The Cambridge/Sussex fallout is the dominating story now and will continue to be for years.

      We saw with William and Kate's tours, and now again with the Wessex tour, just a taste of what's to come when the Queen dies. I personally won't be surprised to see reparations a defining topic of the next reign. Certainly from this point on, the style of tours we've seen before are going to become largely something of the past.

      Early reports from sources close to Kensington Palace suggest William will be an entirely different PoW to his father, and it's highly unlikely we'll see the same level of engagements. We'll see an increase for W&K this year due to the jubilee. However, with a possible Windsor move in the offing, I'm not anticipating a huge increase in visibility when they become P/PoW. Richard Palmer was told Kate will likely remain at this level for the next decade. We're going to have four core members C&C/W&K and the process of streamlining will be a key part of plans. So I think ultimately the monarchy as we know it will be very different in a few years.

      Charlotte

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    6. I agree Charlotte - things have changed and the average person is no longer as ready to accept old fashioned protocol and customs like bowing and curtseying to ones so-called betters. They are already on the way out in many Commonwealth countries but still seems to be required in UK. Charles and Camilla are still mostly sticking to the old rules but the younger Royals are adapting more to the times. I think wearing decorations and lots of expensive jewels is better restricted to very formal occasions as they inevitably emphasize Royalty's privileged position. Similarly having to use titles like HRH, Sir and Ma'am make it difficult to have a normal conversation. It is noticeable that tiaras are seen very rarely these days and the Cambridges and their cousins mostly dress informally minus hats, gloves and ties except when attending formal events. By the way I agree completely with Prince Harry that giving hosts your photograph is an embarrassing relic of the old style Royal visit.

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    7. Charlotte, Can you (or others) explain how reparations would work? How do they determine which countries would receive them? Does it go to individuals or a whole country? And does the government pay them?

      Thank you very much for all the work you do in this blog. I know others have expressed the same sentiments, but I have learned so much about wonderful places and organizations through this blog! :) Sue

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    8. Thanks Charlotte, I just thought you might have info on why it stopped. I really enjoyed it because of the jewellery coverage and history of the pieces. Happy Anniversary to you Charlotte. 11 years. 👌. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication. Good use of the word toxic. Glad to say that I stay well clear of it. I have to agree with you, the changes have already started. Seeing Charles giving out the coins for Easter and William leading the family for Easter just felt so different and a bit sad. It breaks my heart to think of what she's had to put up with over the last few years as a Mother and Grandmother. Regarding Cambridge /Sussex unfortunately I think you are right. The whole situation is just terrible and really sad. Their Mother would be heartbroken over her boy's falling out. New pics of the Queen today and she's looking good. Hopefully she is well enough to attend all the events she wants to coming up. S. ☺

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  17. Both ladies look beautiful today. A good joint engagement for them. I think this was a very public endorsement by the Princess Royal. A remarkable woman but we all know, she's not someone who is told what to do. 😂 😂. Pearls really suit the Duchess. I hope she gets to wear or refashion some of the pearls in the Royal vaults. S. ☺

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  18. I've been thinking about Kate's outfit. She looked pretty perfect at the Hold Still reception. Here, the beautiful top has an odd disconnect with the skirt, and the skirt just goes on for so long. If the bottom of the skirt was a bit longer or the waist lower, I think it would have been smoother. But the clothes are just gorgeous. I think Kate likes her hair this length -- I think it would be glorious quite a bit shorter, but she deserves to have her hair just as she wishes, so we're out of luck! :)

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  19. I like Anne but she has a history of "not wanting to do stunts" which is unfortunate as she refuses to do some things which are part of local culture. For example here in New Zealand she would not hongi (press noses) with our indigenous people. She has never to my knowledge ever hugged anyone or sat down with children on their level and really chatted with them. She regards royal tours as part of her work for the Queen, is always well briefed and does more than her share, but that surely doesn't preclude a bit of common humanity. As one who helped organise royal tours in the past, I know she can be very rude to anyone who unwittingly infringes her expectations.

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  20. Happy Anniversary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!

    Border Terrier lover :-)

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  21. How great to see the Duchess with the always impressive Princess Royal, they both compassion woman with such importance of a Waman

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  22. Wonderful post and engagement, both lovely. Thank you!

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  23. Oh what a lovely engagement with The Princess Royal and Duchess Catherine. A power duo for sure! Princess Anne, in my opinion, doesn't receive the attention and recognition she deserves for her decades of service to HMTQ. The two of them are similar in intellect, awareness, and dedication to serving the Queen. The Princess Royal looks marvelous, loving the color of her coat and scarf. She knows what she likes and goes with it. She is a lovely person, inside and out. In my opinion she has excellent taste in style. All her, no one else and that's why she always looks so polished and comfortable and each event.
    How wonderful that they mutually dedicated this fabulous building that serves each of their patronages. Duchess Catherine and Princess Anne work beautifully together, and appear from past photos to get along famously. They laugh together! That's everything.
    There aren't enough adjectives to describe Catherine's style today. Runway gorgeous. She must be a photographer's dream. Her suit is fabulous, the entire look is to die for. She truly knows what she likes and is comfortable wearing and it is easy on the eyes to say the very least. I've followed her for years, and she is most definitely coming into her own regarding style. It's wonderful to witness her style evolution, and how it has matured through the years. She is now a WOMAN, who knows what works for her, and what she enjoys. Her height and long legs are a credit to her sartorial choices and she is aware of that. This suit is fantastic. What a gorgeous figure she cuts with the heels and the flow of the skirt. If she is using a stylist, whomever he/she is deserves kudos for this one. Catherine is astounding in her sartorial looks and I commend her for the evolution and growth she has shown in her choices. What a gorgeous woman to watch! Queen.......

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