Tuesday, 10 May 2022

A Poignant Manchester Memorial Opening for the Cambridges

It was a moving afternoon in Manchester as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived for the official opening of the Glade of Light memorial. The memorial commemorates those who tragically lost their lives or were affected by the devastating attack at Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017.

The Duke and Duchess travelled from London following a change of schedule. One of the most significant events on the royal calendar for the monarch is the State Opening of Parliament. Yesterday, Her Majesty was advised by her medical team, due to ongoing mobility issues, it would not be possible to attend. It meant the Prince of Wales took the lead and read his mother's speech. It has been certainly felt in recent months we are very much steering into de facto regency territory, and a situation is developing whereby Charles is both Prince of Wales and unofficial head of state, carrying out a great deal of duties the monarch typically would. Charles was joined by Camilla and, for the first time, William.

It opens up myriad questions about the Jubilee and whether the Queen will be able to participate in as many events as hoped. I suspect, behind the scenes, the focus is merely on celebrating the milestone Jubilee weekend, but suggestions Her Majesty may somehow bounce back are wide of the mark and frankly rather unfair. The Queen is 96 and has selflessly given her life to duty. We will all celebrate her Platinum Jubilee with an outpouring of love, admiration and the quiet acknowledgement it will be the last of its kind. Afterwards, though, I do personally hope conversations are had and a more realistic view taken on the reality moving forward.

In Manchester, the Duke and Duchess were welcomed upon arrival. They attended a service alongside the memorial and took a short walk around the memorial garden where the Duchess laid flowers.

I, along with so many others, vividly remember the shock and disbelief when the Manchester Arena bombing was reported. As a large gathering of mostly young people and families dispersed after an Ariana Grande concert, a homemade bomb was detonated. 22 people lost their lives and over 1,000 were injured -- many of these young children. It was the deadliest attack in the UK since the 2005 London bombings and sparked fear across the country. Mancunians were left utterly heartbroken not only by the fact such a cruel attack happened, but so callously targeted a venue filled with children. 

With inspiring courage, the community rallied together and this memorial is a testament to the fact they will never forget those who didn't make it home after the concert that night.

The Glade of Light was designed to be "a living memorial, a tranquil garden space for remembrance and reflection. Its peaceful surroundings are intended as the setting for commemorative events in the city relating to the attack". A white marble ‘halo’ ring stands at the heart of the memorial.  The most thoughtful aspect: 'memory capsules' commemorating each victim have been included in the memorial and are situated within the stone centrepiece.

The family of Nell Jones placed a 'pen portrait' of the beloved 14-year-old in the time capsule.

The Manchester Evening News reports:

'Jayne Jones, Nell's mum, said: "You put a brave face on it, you have to do and you do cope with it. I don’t know how you cope with it but you do.

"But it is hard and you do think what she’d be doing now."

Ms Jones said the family had placed objects important to Nell in a capsule at the memorial to victims of the bombing, which is being officially opened today.

"We’ve put her pen portrait in that was used at the inquiry," she said. "It encapsulated Nell – that covered everything that Nell did and how Nell was.

"And we've just got photographs in of the family… It's part of Manchester's history isn't it?”

Over the past six months, the site has very sadly been vandalized, leading to £10,000 worth of damage. Despite this, the organizing committee were undeterred and delighted to officially open it today.

During a poignant speech, Prince William said: "As someone who lives with his own grief, I also know that what often matters most to the bereaved is that those we have lost are not forgotten. There is comfort in remembering. In acknowledging that, while taken horribly soon, they lived. They changed our lives. They were loved, and they are loved. It is why memorials such as the Glade of Light are so important. Why Catherine and I so wanted to be amongst you today.

"When the people of Manchester gathered to pay respect to the victims just days after the atrocity, you told the world that your music would not be silenced. Instead, you raised your voices together and you sang a song of love that was written by some of this city’s most famous sons. On that day you told each other that you would not look back in anger. And you showed the world the true heart of this extraordinary place. So, when we come to this memorial let’s look back with love for those we lost. Let’s look back with love for the people who cared for and protected this community. And let’s look back with love for the ongoing strength of the great city of Manchester."

The Manchester Survivors Choir perform a moving rendition of Beyonce's 'Halo'.

Writing in the book of condolences, William stated: "Manchester's strength and togetherness is an example to the world. My thoughts are with all those affected." The Cambridges privately met with families inside.

Joanne Roney OBE, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, said: "We are honoured to be joined by their Royal Highnesses for the official opening of the Glade of Light. As we approach the fifth anniversary of the 22 May 2017 attack, the Glade of Light is a potent symbol of how Manchester will continue to hold those who lost their lives, and everyone who was affected by those terrible events, in our hearts. We will never forget them."

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Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig added: “The Glade of Light memorial is a permanent fixture in the heart of our city. While we remember those affected every single day, as we approach the fifth anniversary it will be particularly poignant as we come together to mark its official opening.”

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Below, the flowers laid by Cllr Bev Craig and the Duchess.

The Duchess was delighted to receive beautiful flowers from seven-year-old Scout Archie Williams.

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Kate was given a 'We Choose Love' wristband by the family of Olivia-Paige Campbell Hardy. Olivia died in the bombings aged just 15. Kate was wearing it as she left the Cathedral. 

Liv's Trust supports young people interested in music, dance and the arts - Olivia's passions. 

The Duchess chose her timeless Michael Kors coatdress for the engagement, an ideal choice for the occasion. It's elegant, understated and has been worn on several occasions.

The indigo twill jacquard swing coat features a full skirt and front flap pockets.

Kate debuted the piece on ANZAC Day -- the final day of the Australia tour in 2014, and sported it again in 2016 for the official opening of the Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace.

Kate last wore it in 2017 for a service of dedication on Horse Guards Parade before unveiling the new Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial on Victoria Embankment Garden.

The fashion choice of note today was Kate's thoughtful pair of Bee earrings. The Bee has long been synonymous with Manchester. Over 150 years in fact. From symbolizing workers during the Industrial revolution, to representing the sense of community following tragedy. We saw the symbol time and time again signify strength amidst unbearable tragedy after the bombing.

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More from Visit Manchester:

'The bee is the symbol of Manchester and this city of industry is rightly proud of its link with the hard-working insect. In 1842, the early city fathers had to decide on a coat of arms that would tell the world who we were. It was a Victorian branding exercise. They included a globe with seven bees to show how we worked and traded across the seven seas. The Manchester bee was born of industry.

Manchester’s bee is a worker bee, reflecting a city made by the workers; made by the people, not a city that has grown from royal patronage or easy natural resources. Mancunians have worked hard to make this place thrive.

The standard bee on our street furniture has been around since the 1970s but most of our bees are 19th century creations. Bee-spotting is a good way to spend time in the city. When you’re strolling the streets, look up, look around and you’ll see them everywhere.

On the coat of arms on the exterior of Manchester Town Hall - which is currently undertaking a large refurbishment to lovingly return it to its 1868 splendour - you will find the busy worker bees proudly displayed. You’ll see lots of references to cotton on the building, and cotton was the industry that made Manchester rich, the city’s equivalent of honey.

More bees can be found at Spring Gardens, Hotel Gotham and Zizzi in King Street has a fine traditional beehive in the window that you can view whilst walking past. There is Beehive mill in Ancoats, and St Ann’s Square has oversized 1980s bees opposite the Royal Exchange. Stroll down to the Kimpton Clocktower on Oxford Road and look way up, at the clock face where bees tell the quarter hours. The ancient-and-modern University of Manchester also has three large bee symbols on its coat of arms.

Manchester claimed the bee because she is an industrious little grafter, individually insignificant but collectively a superorganism. Together we are stronger. And bees are amazing; jaw-droppingly stunning.'

The earrings were specially created by Mayfair-based jeweller Vania Leles. On Instagram, Vania said: "I am so incredibly honoured to have designed this special pair of earrings for the Duchess of Cambridge featuring our iconic Nile hoop earrings, honeycomb and bee crafted in yellow gold with diamonds, blue sapphire and enamel." The brand's jewels are made in Italy and ethically sourced in Africa.

Laura on Twitter (Japanese Ginger) suggested a fabulous way to both support a Manchester business and source affordable Repli-Kate's by sharing a selection of bee earrings from the Manchester Shop, which is available on Etsy.

Kate also accessorised with her £160 Astley Clarke Stilla lapis pendant. It remains available on the website in several colours.

It looks like Kate wore her navy suede Rupert Sanderson Malory pumps.

And completed the look with a new bag by PolĂ©ne Paris - the Mini No 7 (with thanks to Heaven). 

I've updated the Kate's Calendar page with a number of upcoming engagements. Here's a brief overview of the busy week ahead and plans for the Queen's Jubilee:

11 & 12 May - The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will spend two days in Scotland to see how the Wheatley Group are helping the homeless and disadvantaged. They will also spend time in Kennishead and visit the University of Glasgow. Additional engagements are embargoed at present.

13 May - As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will record a Mental Health Minute message broadcast to over 20 million people across 500 radio stations.

15 May - The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will join members of the Royal family for the Royal Windsor Horse Show Jubilee Pageant. It's believed George, Charlotte, Louis and many of the Queen's great-grandchildren will make a special appearance, travelling via horse-drawn carriage. 'A Gallop Through History' will be televised live on ITV at 8.15 pm.

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee Weekend

Thursday, 2 June - Trooping the Colour.

Friday, 3 June - A Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen’s reign will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral at 11.30 am. Great Paul, the largest church bell in the country, will be rung for the Service.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will undertake a visit to Wales at some point over the weekend to celebrate the Jubilee weekend. The following events are unconfirmed for the Cambridges, however I think it extremely likely we'll see the following:

Saturday, 4 June - Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by Members of the Royal family, will attend the Derby at Epsom Downs. That evening, the Royal family will be out in force for a glittering evening of entertainment -- Platinum Party at the Palace. The celebration will see famous faces from the world of entertainment brought together to perform for a night of musical tributes to celebrate the Jubilee. 22,000 people will attend the event including 10,000 allocated in a public ballot and 5,000 tickets for key workers. It will be televised live on the BBC.

Sunday, 5 June - The Jubilee Big Lunches will take place all over the UK and further afield. Over ten million people across the UK are expected to join the celebrations to share friendship, food and fun at Big Jubilee Lunches as part of this nationwide act of community friendship.

That afternoon at 2.30 pm, events will culminate with the Platinum Jubilee Pageant. Buckingham Palace said: ​"The Gold State Carriage, led by The Sovereign’s Escort, will lead the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, embracing the latest in digital technology to evoke the excitement and majesty of her journey to be crowned 70 years ago. The Pageant will bring to life iconic moments from The Queen’s reign as well as showcasing our changing society over the past 70 years. 10,000 people are involved, including the military, over 6,000 volunteers, performers, key workers and 2,500 members of the general public."

There may be a large family appearance or additional balcony appearance afterwards.

I'll see you tomorrow for engagements in Scotland!


  1. Obviously a somber event, but Kate looks just perfect. I love her hair like this, and the coatdress is very pretty. It is extremely flattering, too. A very nice look.

    1. I think it's a coat and that she's probably wearing a simple dress underneath. It opens very high on the leg to be a coatdress.

  2. Among the Duchess's many coats and coatdresses, I've always particularly liked this one, largely because I find the herringbone fabric very appealing. And, somehow, the cut just works better in my view than those of her Catherine Walker coats. I'm not sure why.

    In any case, I'm delighted to see this piece again, but I'm still lamenting the Duchess's hair. It's looked limp of late, and I think that's because she's wearing it so long. I know I keep complaining about this, but, please, Kate! Get a haircut!

    1. Addendum: now that I'm getting a much closer look at the fabric, I see that it's not a herringbone weave, which makes me laugh, because I had this coat closely copied (as a coatdress, not a coat, though) in a herringbone tweed. I still love it, whatever the nature of the fabric.

  3. The bag is the Polene Paris Numero Sept Mini in Navy

  4. Great speech from William and a nice, understated outfit from Kate. I particularly like the thoughtful touch of the location specific earrings. Very much in the tradition of the Queen who can always be relied upon to select meaningful and appropriate jewellery.

    Manchester is my native city so I appreciate this appearance from the Cambridges especially as being both respectful and sincere.

  5. William's speech brought a tear to my eye. I've always liked this coat and the bee earrings are a nice touch.

  6. Thoughtful, sincere, and heartfelt in many aspects!

  7. I have sent a letter to The Queen

  8. A very busy day for the DoC, first the opening of Parliament, with the PoW and the DoC and then a very somber day with his wife at a joint event in Manchester, to remember, the very sad outcome , that changed the lives of so many. I like Kate's coatdress , she always looks great.

  9. What a moving event. Williams speech was excellent. Love Catherines look today and especially like the earrings and new purse. Ali

    1. I agree with everything you wrote. Beautiful speech and loved her whole outfit! Thanks Charlotte! Sue

  10. Lovely, appropriate, royal. William’s remarks were affecting. The memorial is beautiful.

    Charlotte, your comments on the twilight of the Second Elizabethan Age touched me very much as well. Her father was monarch when I was born but she’s the only ruler I remember, like most of the world.
    Such a dignified and essentially private woman probably resists a wheelchair in public, but it could be one more act of service to others.
    Long may she rule.
    Karen in Virginia

    1. Yes I wonder too why a wheelchair is not an option for HM if it is a mobility issue. But of course it is her choice and understandably if she prefers to walk and it isn’t possible for her for certain occasions then we must respect this.

  11. Such a moving day for all the families involved and what a beautiful park for the memorial. Did I notice forget me not flowers in the bouquet that Kate laid? Kate looks lovely in this dress and I like the small amount of curl in her hair today. Looking forward to the next month of events.

  12. hmm love the coat ever since she wore A very hectic day for the DoC, first the opening of Parliament, with the PoW and the DoC love the visit

  13. It is sad, but inevitable, to consider the world without Elizabeth II. She has selflessly given her life to service to her country. Along with Prince Philip, they were an unbeatable duo. One without the other was difficult to imagine, now it is reality.
    Thank you for an insightful post dear Charlotte.

  14. I have always loved this coat dress. The accessories work in well.

  15. The flowers she got included sweet William and forget me nots as Kate’s wedding bouquet. Such a thoughtful gesture by the scouts.

  16. Zora from Prague11 May 2022 at 07:44

    Thank you for a beautiful post, Charlotte. So important that the Cambridges were there and that William was a bit personal in his speech. I noticed that Kate's bouquet and the other bouquet were the shades of blue&yellow together - it might have been a reminder that while paying tribute to those who lost their lives in Manchester, we don't forget the atrocities going on in Ukraine.
    I loved the bit about the symbolism of bees; Kate's earrings are really beautiful and thoughtful!

  17. Thank you Charlotte for the very moving post. A very sombre day for William , with the gravitas of opening parliament and then the memorial for those who died too soon in horrible circumstances. So many lives changed for ever.
    Sad that the Queen was not in parliament today, however she has had a difficult year with lots of sadness and upset and then Covid on top of it all. It is a testament to her strength that she has withstood it all. I am quite happy for her to continue her role seeing people at Windsor and maintaining her virtual presence with Prince Charles doing the more physically demanding roles in her stead. We are getting used to seeing Prince Charles in some of his mother's roles which in my opinion will contribute greatly to seamless transition when the time comes. More importantly the letters patent need to be amended with either additional or replacement counsellors of state.
    Catherine was elegantly and appropriately dressed as befits the occasion. I like the grey herringbone coat and thought the earnings were a nice touch. It seems that Catherine might become as well known for her earnings as the Queen is for her brooches.

  18. What a moving speech from William. It made me cry but I know it is also full of hope and support. I am glad they could go to Manchester. Their presence means a lot.
    Kate is classic and beautiful. Great choice. I loooove the earrings, very thoughtful. Thank you Charlotte for the recap... Lots of events and news are coming.. Can't wait!


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