Saturday 9 December 2023

The Waleses 2023 Christmas Card

With just a fortnight to go until Christmas, the Waleses released their annual seasonal card tonight. This year, William and Kate chose a black and white portrait of the family, all attired in shirts and jeans, taken by London based photographer Josh Shinner. It's the second consecutive year Kate has chosen a white shirt and jeans for the Christmas card. We were treated to an array of fabulous festive imagery at the carol concert yesterday and I must admit this photo feels quite stark by comparison. It's a beautiful portrait, of course, but not necessarily the autumn/winter shot many of us were hoping for. We've seen a notable shift in Kate's style this year. Not only in terms of an almost complete transition to wearing trouser suits. There's a definite shift in the direction of minimalism overall, aesthetically. I suspect we're seeing that change evolve and impact the choice of family photography released.

King Charles and Queen Camilla chose a Hugo Burnard portrait from the coronation. 

In 2014, William and Kate released adorable photos of Prince George (those cheeks!) taken on the steps of Kensington Palace by Prince Harry's former private secretary, Ed Lane Fox.

In 2015, they released a beautiful portrait taken among the autumn leaves at Kensington Palace. The Palace said the photograph was commissioned for their own use, but the couple decided to make it public because they liked it so much. It was taken by Wiltshire-based photographer Chris Jelf.

In 2016, William and Kate chose a lovely image of the family taken during the Royal Tour of Canada for their Christmas card photo.

2017 saw the most formal photograph we've seen. It was taken at Kensington Palace by Chris Jackson.

It was an autumnal Anmer Hall portrait for 2018. I adore this one. The expressions on the children, the background -- I expect it takes pride of place in their home.

In 2019, the family were coordinated in blue ensembles on a vintage motorbike and sidecar.

In 2020, William and Kate released an outdoorsy casual portrait from Anmer Hall. Against the background of a firewood shed and sitting on hay bales, the family were all smiles with George beside William, a laughing Louis in the middle, and Charlotte on Kate's knee. It's a beautiful family photo. The image was also taken by Matt Porteous.

In 2021, it was a family photo taken in Jordan. The country holds special significance for Kate, as the Middleton family lived in Jordan when Kate was two and Michael was working for British Airways. During a solo visit to Jordan in 2018, William said his wife "loved" her time there. Kate attended an English language nursery before returning to England two years later.

Last year, it was a summery shot taken by Matt Porteous at their Norfolk home Anmer Hall. The fivesome were pictured smiling in denim and shades of blue.

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend.

Friday 8 December 2023

The Princess in Winter White for Annual Westminster Abbey Christmas Carol Service

It was a festive afternoon at Westminster Abbey for the Princess of Wales' annual 'Together at Christmas' carol concert.

The event sees a host of immediate and extended family members and friends join those invited from charities around the country. The focus this year is on highlighting early years and fittingly bookends a year which began with Kate's campaign Shaping Us.

The Princess arrived about half an hour before William and the children and spent time greeting guests.

One of Kate's first ports of call was a chat with several Scouts.

The Mirror reports:

'Kate walked around the Abbey before the concert started speaking to young people who have done inspiring activities. She chatted to four scouts from the 3rd Upton Scout Group in Slough her family visited during the coronation celebration weekend, part of The Big Help Out event, helping to renovate their hut.

The princess told them "It was really inspiring-seriously good job" and high-fived each scout in turn. Kate crouched down to chat to seven-year-old Oscar Burrow, from Lancaster, who when aged six climbed 12 mountains raising more than £40,000 for Derian House Children's Hospice in Chorley, Lancashire.

His mother Kimberley Burrow said afterwards: "She said she'd heard about what he's done and he's doing a fantastic job, and hopes what he's doing will inspire other children to do amazing things."

Kensington Palace said: "Spearheaded by the Princess, and supported by the Royal Foundation, the service is a moment to bring people together at Christmas time and recognise those who have gone above and beyond to help others throughout the year. Linked to Her Royal Highness’ Shaping Us campaign, the service will showcase the hope of new life and why it is so important to build supportive, nurturing worlds around children and the adults in their lives."

A spokesperson continued: "Guests attending the service have been nominated by Lord-Lieutenants across the nation, in addition to charities associated with members of the Royal Family. They will be joined by those working in the early years space which is a key focus area of the Princess of Wales’s work through the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood. It will also consist of those who may have had a challenging year, including children and families, or those who might find the winter period difficult."

The Princess greets Adam Lambert (who reportedly performed a fabulous duet with Beverly Knight singing 'The Christmas Song').

As in previous years, a host of invitations were extended. Members of the royal press rota including the Sunday Times' Roya Nikkhah and the Daily Mail's royal correspondent Rebecca English shared their invitations on social media. In terms of family members there was a significant turnout, though the King and Queen were absent this year, almost certainly due to hectic diary commitments. I haven't seen any photos of James and Alizée Middleton; the couple welcomed their first child, a son named Inigo in October. Below, Michael and Carole Middleton arriving. With many thanks to Royal Fashion Police, it appears Carole is wearing a look by Great Scot Scotland.

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Pippa made it a trifecta of Middleton ladies in trousers in a Saloni London suit (with thanks to Middleton Maven).

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The Duchess of Edinburgh chose a striking lilac Suzannah London coat.

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Princess Beatrice continues to impress with her sartorial choices and has fast become a style favourite of mine. Today, she hit all the right notes in the Beulah London 'Ahana' tartan dress. Beatrice and Edo arrived with Edo's son Christopher Wolfe. Known affectionately as 'Wolfie', it's lovely to observe the wonderful relationship he has with Beatrice.

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Princess Eugenie repeated a black coat from her wardrobe and styled it with a very chic Bordeaux Aspinal of London bag.

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Zara Tindall selected a Claire Mischevani purple coat from her wardrobe. Below, Zara arriving with Peter, Savannah and Isla.

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Lady Frederick Windsor, Sophie Winkleman was striking in red Catherine Walker.

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And like her sister-in-law, Lady Gabriella Kingston was radiant in Catherine Walker.

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The always elegant Duchess of Gloucester.

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From there, Kate returned outside to welcome William and the children.

Before stepping inside, George, Charlotte and Louis had an important job to do: posting their cards in a handmade postbox located outside the Abbey. It offers children the opportunity to reach out to others who may be struggling this year for many reasons. They will be distributed to several charities and hospitals Kate works with, including Evelina London, East Anglia's Children's Hospices, Child Bereavement UK and British Red Cross.

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The royals took their seats as candles were lit.

It was, as always of course, a joy to see Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis accompanying their parents. 

Undoubtedly, all three are looking forward to their Christmas holidays which begin next Friday and enjoying another memorable Sandringham Christmas.

A lovely photo of Kate and Louis.

Westminster Abbey always looks spectacular at this time of year.

I adore seeing all the extra additions and decorations added for the carol concert. This year, there was a focus on sustainability. The Abbey was decked out in eco-conscious pieces. 

A lovely shot of Princess Charlotte beside Edo Mappelli Mozzi and a number of relatives.

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The Wales family departing.

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Another view of the trio.

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Royal Carols: Together at Christmas will air on ITV1 and ITVX at 7:45 pm on Christmas Eve (I very much hope to be able to share a link with our readers outside the UK on Christmas morning. It usually pops up on YouTube). In preparation, Kate filmed a teaser at Westminster Abbey and said: "Join me this Christmas Eve for a special carol service. As we say a heartfelt thank you to all those supporting the very youngest members of our society, during those crucial early years." Kate wore a sold-out Self-Portrait jacket and her Cassandra Goad Cavolfiore earrings.

What can we expect on Christmas Eve? Kensington Palace reveals: "Combining traditional and modern elements to encompass people of all faiths and none, the service will see the world-renowned Westminster Abbey choir perform some of the nation’s most beloved carols, alongside musical performances by guests including Jacob Collier, Freya Ridings and James Bay, and a special duet from Beverley Knight and Adam Lambert. Poignant readings will be delivered by speakers including the Prince of Wales, Micheal Ward, Emma Willis, Roman Kemp, and Jim Broadbent. A specially commissioned poem written by Joseph Coelho, the Children’s Laureate, will also be read by Leonie Elliott."

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More from the Mail Online:

'Presenter Roman Kemp will introduce the special rendition of Last Christmas on Lennon's piano, talking about the role George Michael played in his own life – his mother, Shirlie Kemp, was one of his backing singers - and the story of the piano itself.

A source told the Mail that the instrument had been loaned by his estate who were keen to support this year's service. 

Lennon, who was killed by gunman Mark Chapman in December 1980, bought the piano in 1970 and had it delivered to studios at his home in Tittenhurst Park, Berkshire.

He composed and recorded Imagine on it the following year, and was filmed playing the song on it for the first time to wife Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono band.'

The Princess was decked out in elegant winter white for the service. Kate's beautifully crafted coat is a bespoke creation by Chris Kerr.

 Yahoo reports:
'It’s rare these days for the Princess to introduce a new label to her wardrobe, so it’s especially fascinating to see her wearing a longline coat by Savile Row tailor Chris Kerr whose work is usually with male clients. Kerr has previously created costumes for Downton Abbey and Dr Who and made suits for celebrities as varied as Nick Cave, Keanu Reeves and Paddy McGuiness.'

Kate wore a new pair of Holland Cooper trousers (with thanks to Middleton Maven). The Victoria High Waisted Straight Trousers are available in a variety of colours and sizes.

Kate carried the Strathberry Mosaic Bag in oat. It's available here.

Kate accessorised with her statement Van Cleef & Arpels. The Magic Alhambra earrings retailed for £5,400. The collection is described: "Created in 2006 by Van Cleef & Arpels, the Magic Alhambra jewelry creations gather different-sized Alhambra motifs, coming together in a joyful dance. Inspired by the clover leaf, their asymmetric designs feature different associations of materials."

Kate completed the look with her bisque suede Gianvito Rossi pumps.

On that note, I hope you all have a great weekend and your own Christmas preparations are coming along nicely :)

First Look: Kate in Winter White for 'Together at Christmas'

The Princess of Wales has just arrived at Westminster Abbey for 'Together at Christmas' wearing winter white.

I'll have a full post after the service.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

The Princess Repeats Glittering Look from Jordan Royal Wedding for Diplomatic Reception

Do you all remember the days when we looked forward to the Diplomatic Reception knowing we would see only a mere glimpse of car arrival/departure photos? Thankfully, it all changed in 2018, when the King (then Prince of Wales) reportedly decided it was time to open up the event and permit a photographer to cover it. It is one of only two white-tie events where we see the royal ladies don their tiara and full regalia (the other being State Banquets) so it's certainly one to watch (perhaps even the one to watch) for royal watchers. 

Ahead of the event, a new official portrait of King Charles, Queen Camilla and the Prince and Princess of Wales was released. Taken by Chris Jackson in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace, it echoes an image released from the event in 2016 of the four royals with the late Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh (included later in the post). Queen Camilla styled a white gown with the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara, the Queen Mother's stomacher brooch and diamond earrings. 

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The glittering event got underway shortly after 8.30 p.m. It's quite a late one and most likely scheduled to allow for the varying schedules of those in attendance.

There are over 170 foreign missions accredited to the court of St James's in London (St James's Palace is still the senior palace and official residence of the sovereign). 

Each year, the monarch throws a reception in their honour and members of the Royal family in attendance make a point of meeting with each one.

Guests were welcomed to the palace ballroom, which at 36.6m long, 18m wide and 13.5m high, is the largest multi-purpose room in Buckingham Palace. It was opened in 1856 with a ball to celebrate the end of the Crimean War. The majestic room is used for State banquets (most recently hosting the South Korean banquet last month).

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The Princess meeting guests.

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A quick refresher of Kate's Diplomatic appearances over the years. For her first Diplomatic Reception outing in 2013, Kate wore a bespoke McQueen gown and the late Queen Mother's Lotus Flower tiara. It was a very memorable event as it marked the first white-tie reception the couple had attended and Kate's first tiara appearance since her wedding.

We saw a glimpse of the McQueen gown in 2015 when a brief piece of video was included in the documentary Our Queen at 90. It was a significant night for royal watchers as Kate debuted the much adored Lovers' Knot tiara.

With a finger on the pulse of transition, Buckingham Palace shared a rare portrait from the 2016 event with Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Cambridges. Kate donned her sweeping red Jenny Packham gown. Six years later, and with the passing of the family matriarch and patriarch, there's an added poignancy to seeing it again.

In 2017, Kate chose a beautiful white embellished gown complemented by Diana's earrings and the Queen's stunning diamond collet necklace.

In 2018, it was a princess moment for Kate in a Jenny Packham gown with delicate beading, sheer overlay and a full skirt with the Lovers Knot tiara.

And in 2019, it was velvet Alexander McQueen, the Lovers' Knot, the Queen's commanding Nizam of Hyderabad necklace and the Queen's Diamond Chandelier Drop Demi-Parure earrings.

Last year, following a break due to the pandemic, Kate dazzled in a festive red Jenny Packham gown. Similarly to tonight, Kate wore her hair down and sported the Lotus Flower.

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Tonight, many of us did a double take when we saw Kate's look.

The Princess repeated all elements of the look she wore for the Jordan royal wedding in June beginning with the shimmering pink Jenny Packham gown. 

In the image below, you can see the embellishment on the neckline and tailored silhouette.

After the debut of the Strathmore Rose tiara last month (I do hope we see it again), Kate returned to the Lover's Knot tonight. 

The tiara features elements of the Gothic Revival style. The circle of the Cambridge Lover's Knot is made up of a lower semi-circular band, set with a row of brilliant cut diamonds. Where two adjacent arches meet, a pillar-like structure is formed that rises up and ends in a round diamond, forming a diamond spike. There are nineteen diamond spikes of this nature and the size gradually decreases from the centre towards both ends. We've previously discussed just how heavy Diana found it, sometimes opting to borrow the Spencer family tiara, as she found it headache inducing. It is a substantial piece.

The Princess wore the fabulous Greville Chandelier earrings again. The stunning earrings were a wedding gift to the then Princess Elizabeth from her parents in 1947 (originating from Mrs Greville's bequest). According to the Royal Collection Trust: "Their design incorporates a lexicon of modern diamond cuts, including half-moon, trapeze, square, baguette, baton and emerald."

Below, Queen Elizabeth II wearing the earrings at the White House whilst dancing with President Gerald Ford in 1976.

The ribbon on Kate's Royal Family Order has been folded (you'll notice same with Camilla). I suspect it's in preparation for Charles distributing his order and in an effort to ensure both will look neat together moving forward. Below, a before and after shot of Kate's RFO. 

Once again, Kate used her divine diamond Bentley & Skinner brooch to secure the sash. The piece is described as: "An Art Deco diamond set brooch, of rectangular shape with corners cut away, with an openwork pattern comprising of a central, round brilliant-cut diamond with an estimated weight of 0.35 carat, with a baguette-cut diamond to the top and bottom of the rectangle, total estimated diamond weight 4.5 carats, all mounted in platinum, circa 1920." I have long suspected it may have been a gift from the King.

The Princess donned her GCVO regalia. In April 2019, to coincide with William and Kate's eighth wedding anniversary, the Queen appointed her granddaughter-in-law Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order for services to the Sovereign. The Royal Victorian Order was established in 1896 by Queen Victoria to recognize personal service to the monarch. Like the Royal Family Order, the blue sash with red and white trim and the star of the order will be worn at white-tie occasions throughout Kate's life.

Kate completed the look with her pink satin Prada clutch.

On that note, I'll see you Friday evening for Kate's annual carol concert at Westminster Abbey.

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