Friday, 4 September 2015

Engagement Announcement for Kate, A Trip to Balmoral & More

Hello hello!

We're back with news we've all been anxiously waiting for - the announcement of a new appearance for the Duchess of Cambridge. :)

On Thursday, 17 September, the Duchess will visit the Anna Freud Centre in North London. The visit will offer Kate a first hand opportunity to see how the charity is working to lead change in children's and young people's mental health care.

More from the official press release:

'Her Royal Highness will visit the site of the Anna Freud Centre's planned Community Campus and its Family School, both located near Kings Cross. The visit reflects the Duchess's interest in child mental health issues and the importance of early intervention and working with the whole family to provide children with in-school mental health services.'

Kate will then visit the centre's family school, which provides alternative education for children with serious emotional and behavioural issues and their families. The Duchess will have the opportunity to see and participate in a range of activities that are part of the usual Family School day, including the 'SmartGym' programme that combines technology and sports psychology. It aims to build resilience, develop emotional skills and improve academic performance in children with emotional and behavioural problems.

Anna Freud Centre

The Anna Freud Centre is focused entirely on reducing the burden  of mental health difficulties carried by children and young people. They propose a "radical change" in the way services are offered - putting the child and their families at the centre of their own care and focusing on their needs and strengths.

Anna Freud Centre

Back to the press release:

'The charity is creating a new Community Campus, where experts in mental health, neuroscience and education will work together with children and families on developing new treatments and approaches. During the visit, the Duchess will learn about the AFC's development plan for the Campus, including its research and training programmes, which helps train over 3,000 professionals in this field each year.' 

Of course, it will be wonderful to see Kate out and about again and the choice of engagement is an excellent one. Given the fact we haven't seen the Duchess in quite a while, there will be sizeable press interest, and a portion of this media attention will be directed toward the Anna Freud Centre. As patron of Place2Be, Kate has an interest in supporting children's mental health organisations, and it's an area I would love to see her expanding on in the coming months.


In other news, it's expected the Cambridges will visit Her Majesty's Scottish estate Balmoral in the coming days. There's reports William and Kate will join The Queen for dinner on 9 September, a landmark day for the Queen when she becomes the longest reigning monarch surpassing her great-great grandmother.

'PEOPLE understands that the 4-month-old Charlotte is set for her first trip to Scotland in the coming days, as she and parents Prince William and Princess Kate head to Queen Elizabeth's highlands estate, Balmoral. 
 That means they will likely be on hand to celebrate with the Queen as she passes her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria's record-breaking milestone as Britain's longest-reigning monarch on September 9.  It's expected that William and Kate, both 33, will join the Queen, 89, for dinner at the historic castle that evening. '

There is a chance we may see photos of the Cambridges arriving/departing from church on Sunday. When they visited in September 2013, photos of the royals arriving at Crathie Kirk, a small Church of Scotland parish church in the village of Crathie emerged.

It's worth mentioning there's speculation in the Scottish press the Duke and Duchess may make a surprise appearance at the Braemar Gathering on Saturday. The event is seen as the biggest event in the Highlands calendar and will mark its 200th anniversary tomorrow. More from Press and Journal:

'The Braemar Gathering is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, and organisers are expecting thousands of people to turn out for a day of traditional heavy, light and athletic competitions. Pipers and Highland dancers will also show off their talents to the crowd, which normally includes the Queen – who is the patron of the games – and some other members of the Royal family.
 And with rumours earlier this week that Prince William and Kate will be visiting Balmoral to celebrate the Queen becoming the nation’s longest-reining monarch next week, hopes are rising that the couple will be in the royal box at Saturday’s event.
A spokeswoman for Kensington Palace said the duke and duchess did not have any official engagements planned for Saturday, adding she could not comment on any unofficial events they might attend if in Aberdeenshire.'

It would certainly be a nice surprise if William and Kate do turn up! With thanks to Royal Focus and What Kate Wore for the tip!


Royal tour stories have been doing the rounds in recent weeks. There's long been talk speculating the Cambridges will undertake a tour in spring 2016, most likely in the Caribbean. Despite initial reports Prince George and Princess Charlotte would be accompanying their parents, it now appears that is very much not the case.

Hello! quotes a senior Palace official in their piece who hasn't ruled out the possibility of overseas visits in spring and autumn.

'It was a one-off to take George to Australia and New Zealand last year and it is looking highly unlikely they will take their children with them on their next tour,” the Palace aide told HELLO! magazine.
 We are looking at either spring or autumn, but have not ruled out the possibility of them doing both.'

Obviously any trips are still in the early stages of planning, however, should the rumoured spring 2016 tour go ahead - and William and Kate do make an overseas trip in the autumn - one imagines the latter would be something similar in scale to their visit to New York last December.

Their last royal tour - to Autralia and New Zealand - took place in April 2014. If they have decided not to take the children we'll probably see a shorter tour with more engagements on each day. We're also likely to see more evening/gala appearances this time. Due to Prince George's schedule, William and Kate were eager to be back with him early in the evenings meaning, apart from a couple of evening receptions, the tour had a largely informal itinerary.

We should hear more details and snippets of information in the coming months.


We have a couple of news updates on items the Duchess has worn. Kate's much-loved Issa engagement dress - now renamed the 'Phylis' - is back in stock in UK sizes 8-14 at Harvey Nichols retailing for £575.

Harvey Nichols

The striking dress is available in 'chalk' at Shopbop. It is described as a "timeless ISSA dress styled with a plunging neckline and self-belt. Hidden side zip. Long sleeves. Unlined".


Net-A-Porter stock the dress in black-and-white silk-blend jersey, and as of writing it's available in several sizes.


Finally, the Dune London 'Karley' Wedges - the replacement version of Kate's popular Imperia style - are currently on sale at Nordstrom reduced from $98 to $59. The slingback espadrilles come in black, cream, bronze and navy.


We hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, 31 August 2015

A Royal Family Order for the Duchess?

Good evening, dear readers,

To round off the weekend we're discussing a topic familiar to many of our readers and perhaps something new for others - Royal Family Orders. A Mail on Sunday article reports Her Majesty is planning to give the Duchess of Cambridge the Royal Family Order of Elizabeth II - the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a female member of the Royal family.

More from the article:

'The Queen plans to celebrate her milestone next month – when she becomes the longest-reigning Monarch – by honouring the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate will receive the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.
 The 33-year-old Duchess is the only senior member not to wear a family honour. A source said: ‘It is an honour reserved for first division female Royals.’ Sophie Wessex has one, as does the Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Anne. Kate is expected to wear hers to a State dinner when the Chinese president Xi Jinping visits the UK in October.'

This is an interesting story indeed, because traditionally there is no formal Palace announcement regarding this honour. The media and public tend to only become aware a royal has been given one when they are photographed wearing it. It is possible a Mail Online journalist has obtained an exclusive on this, however, I'm more inclined to think there's an expectation Kate will be wearing the honour (and a tiara) at the state banquet in October.

It's important to note a number of our knowledgeable readers mentioned the possibility of the Duchess debuting the order at the banquet once rumours began to circulate the Cambridges would be in attendance.

Let's take at look the history of the order, along with recipients and occasions when it is worn. A Royal Family Order is an order awarded by the Sovereign of the United Kingdom to female members of the Royal family as they typically do not wear the commemorative medals as men do. The order is a personal memento rather than a state decoration. The badge of the order consists of a portrait of the Sovereign set in diamonds, which is suspended from a ribbon. The ribbon of each Royal Family Order changes with each monarch.

Royal Family Orders originated in Britain during George IV's reign. His order was rather ornate in appearance, and the frame that surrounded his portrait was of diamond oak leaves and acorns. The badge was suspended from a white silk bow. Below we see an image of the order which originally belonged to George IV's sister Charlotte, Queen of W├╝rttemberg, circa 1820 - 1830. Charlotte willed it to Princess Victoria, later Queen Victoria, who left it to the Crown.

The Royal Collection

After George IV, each succeeding sovereign with the exception of William IV and Edward VIII, has issued their own Royal Family Order. A slight variation came with the reign of Queen Victoria. When Victoria came to the throne the order was not issued until after her marriage. In 1862 she created the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert. It consisted of a cameo portrait of Victoria and Albert; no other Royal Family Order has depicted both the sovereign and their consort since. Theoretically speaking Charles could choose to depict Camilla in his, or William could choose to depict Kate.

Royal Collection

More than one Royal Family Order can be worn. In this case, they are worn layered with the most recent on top. For example, the Queen wears the Family Orders of her father King George VI which features a rose pink sash, and her grandfather King George V, a pale blue sash.

The Royal Family Orders are worn pinned to the left shoulder at formal evening occasions when other orders and decorations are worn. If a sash is worn also over the left shoulder, the order is often pinned to the sash. Below we Her Majesty wearing them for a state banquet for the President of Singapore at Buckingham Palace.

A stunning image of the Queen decked out in full regalia and Royal Family Orders actually graces the cover of Hello! Canada at present.

Hello! Canada

For Her Majesty's Royal Family Order she chose a Dorothy Wilding portrait from 1952.


Does the Queen's dazzling necklace look familiar? You may recall she loaned it to the Duchess for The Portrait Gala in February 2014. The Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace was given to Her Majesty in 1947 by the Nizam, then ruler of a state in India.

The Queen is depicted wearing the George IV State Diadem, ribbon and star of the Order of the Garter. It is set in a diamond frame topped by a Tudor crown and set on a chartreuse yellow silk ribbon bow. Her cypher adorns the reverse side.

Her Majesty's Jewel Vault

Below we see the late Queen Mother wearing the Royal Family Orders of her daughter Elizabeth II and husband King George VI. The Queen's choice of a yellow ribbon is a striking one; it very much stands out in photographs and portraits.


According to Wikipedia, the Queen has awarded the Order to the following recipients:


  • Queen Mary, wife of King George V and grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, sister of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Diana, Princess of Wales, daughter-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Princess Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood, aunt of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, aunt of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, aunt of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, first cousin twice removed and grandaunt of Queen Elizabeth II


  • Princess Anne, Princess Royal, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, daughter-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Sophie, Countess of Wessex, daughter-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, cousin of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, cousin-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Katharine, Duchess of Kent, cousin-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II

When and how does the Queen decide to award the honour? As it is given at HM's pleasure we will never specifically know the criteria. It would seem it is awarded to senior members of the Royal family who undertake royal engagements. The late Diana, Princess of Wales received hers quite early on - reportedly within a year of her marriage. She wore it several times during the royal tour of Australia in 1983.

AP /UK in Australia

The Earl and Countess of Wessex regularly represent the Queen at royal weddings across Europe, meaning we see Sophie wearing hers with some frequency. The Countess received the Order in 2004, roughly five years after her wedding.

The Duchess of Cornwall was first seen wearing hers in 2007 two years after her wedding to Charles and has sported it on many state occasions since. Below we see her wearing it at the State Opening of Parliament in May.

Interestingly, the Queen never awarded the honour to Sarah, Duchess of York. None of her granddaughters have been given it either. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie carry out engagements occasionally, however, neither are working royals and Zara Tindall doesn't have a title or carry out engagements on behalf of Her Majesty.

Is it possible Kate has had the order for some time now? The only function William and Kate have attended since the royal wedding where the order would have been worn was the Annual Diplomatic Reception in December 2013, but the Duchess didn't have it then. It may have been given to her any time since, but it's also possible she doesn't have it yet.

I'm inclined to think there's a very good chance we'll see it at the state banquet. It's yet to be confirmed, but it certainly looks most likely William and Kate will be in attendance. If so, it will be the most regal event, sartorially speaking, Kate has attended. Gown, tiara, jewels, Royal Family Order... It should be one to remember!