Wednesday, 22 November 2017

UPDATED: Duchess Kate Takes the Wheel During 'Away Day' in Birmingham

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoyed an 'away day' in Birmingham carrying out several engagements in the area.

Royal 'away days' tend to offer an interesting and varied itinerary and today was no exception. It also provides a nice opportunity for royalists in the area to see and meet members of the Royal family. Richard Palmer recently reported we would see the Duchess carrying out more engagements outside of the London area in the coming weeks; today's visit is reportedly the first of several we'll see. William and Kate first visited Birmingham months after the royal wedding in 2011 to visit riot-torn communities.

An arrival video from Victoria Murphy.

William and Kate kicked off the day at Jaguar Land Rover's Solihull Manufacturing Plant. Jaguar Land Rover have had a special relationship with the Royal family going back decades. William and Kate both drive a Land Rover as do numerous members of the Royal family and the Middletons. It has been reported Her Majesty has a no fewer than 30 in total.

William and Kate viewed footage from The Patron's Lunch where the royals travelled in open-topped Land Rover's.

The Duke and Duchess were given an overview of JLR and the Solihull site before heading to the Vehicle Assembly area, to view the assembly line and hear about the manufacturing process, meeting staff and apprentices along the way.

Next, the Cambridges visited the Jaguar Land Rover Experience Centre, where they met Mountain Rescue volunteers participating in a vehicle familiarisation exercise.

Kate was eager to get behind the wheel for a demonstration.

And they're off.

William took a spin.

The Experience Centre offers a behind-the-scenes look at Solihull’s new state-of-the-art production facility demonstrating what it takes to bring to life some of the most technologically advanced cars in the world. A £1.5 billion investment has transformed the location into one of the most advanced car manufacturing facilities in the world. The all-new Aluminium-intensive architecture body shop and final assembly cover an area equivalent to twenty-two football pitches. It's interesting to see the design and development process from this... a motor fit for James Bond. Fans of the franchise will recognise this beauty from Spectre.

Afterwards, the royals met some of JLR's volunteers, who support projects focusing on regeneration, education, young people, charity work and the environment, and they will meet schoolchildren from Topcliffe Primary School, Castle Vale – winners of the Jaguar Primary School Challenge which saw their wining model car race on a track.

Something tells me the itinerary for today was a dream come true for William. First, fast cars at Jaguar, then a visit to the Aston Villa Football Club. An avid fan since his teens, the Prince is a huge supporter of the club and has previously discussed taking George to a match in the future.

In 2015, William chatted to Gary Lineker recalling his memories of choosing which club to support:

"I got into football big time, and was looking around for clubs," he said. "All my school friends were either Manchester United or Chelsea fans, and I didn't want to follow the run-of-the-mill teams. I wanted to have a team that would give me more of an emotional rollercoaster, which looking back, was a bad idea! Aston Villa have always had a great history. 
I’ve got friends of mine who support Aston Villa, and one of the first FA Cup games I went to was Bolton v Aston Villa, back in 2000. It was a semi-final, after which, sadly, Villa then went on to lose against Chelsea. But it was fantastic; I sat with all the fans, I had my red beanie on, and I was sat with all the Brummie fans and had a great time. It was just the atmosphere, the camaraderie, and I really felt that there was something I could connect with."

The royals have been heavily involved in supporting and seeing the progress of the Coach Core programme this year. It was designed by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to take young people aged 16 – 24 with limited opportunities, and train them to be sports coaches and positive role models and mentors in their communities.

The visit was planned around learning more about the progress of the programme in Birmingham.

William and Kate met with a group of employers to discuss the positive impact of Coach Core and hear about the progression of the apprentices. .

The Duke and Duchess then joined a training session underway on the pitch, with Coach Core apprentices and tutors working with local schoolchildren.

Kate was in her element chatting with a young tennis player.

William enjoying a chat with the group.

Quotes from the Mail Online:

'As William chatted to the coaches, Kate, who is expecting her third child in April, spoke to youngsters including 10-year-old pupil Sidrah Batul.The schoolgirl said: 'She was asking me if I enjoyed it and I said I was having a lot of fun. She's so kind and pretty. The Duchess also spoke to coach Jevaughni Robinson, 20, who described her as a 'pleasure to meet'. He added: 'She called me a 'harsh coach' because I was blind-folding the kids, and then getting them to throw the beanbags at the targets.' Afterwards, 10-year-old Iman Shazad presented flowers to the Duchess. The youngster told Kate she had made her and daughter Charlotte, Princess of Cambridge, a card to take away. Iman said: 'It's amazing to meet her, I feel like she's special to me. Meeting her in real life - it's like my dream has come true.'

A brief video from Kensington Palace.

Back to the Mail Online:

Keith Wyness, club chief executive, also spoke with the Duke and then turned to Kate to quip: 'Welcome back to the home of one of your husband's other passions. The Duchess, smiling, replied: 'Yes, he's been very excited by it. William, who is President of the Football Association, laughed and said: 'It'll be interesting to see if she's been listening to any of my conversations about football', causing Kate to joke 'I knew I should have.'

As yours truly knows nothing about football, I'm reliably informed by my other half the man in the photo with William is Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce.

William and Kate received a commemorative framed picture collage showing all royal visits to Villa Park down the years. We can safely assume William was delighted, take a look at his expression :)

Finally, the Cambridges wrapped up the day at Acme Whistles, creators of the first police whistle and the original Acme Thunderer.

"Brace yourselves please"

William joked "“Don’t show that to George - we’ll never get any peace."

Established in 1870, this family-owned business has developed and patented over forty whistle designs during its 147-year history and currently exports to 119 countries worldwide. Today, their modern whistles are used in major sporting events globally and by police forces, including the Metropolitan Police.

They toured the workshop seeing the production process, including the presswork, plating, moulding, welding and polishing of the 115,000 whistles that are made and tested every week.

The Express reports talk quickly turned to Lupo:

'During the tour the Duke and Duchess, who have a cocker spaniel called Lupo, were shown dog whistles, which cannot be heard by humans. Clearly knowledgable on the subject, Kate said: “There are different pitches for different dogs, aren’t there?” Chief executive Simon Topman, who runs the business with his wife Debbie, told William: “Yes, your grandmother would use something that is great for her labradors and retrievers but wouldn’t be for your spaniel. William, 35, who knows his whistles or had been checked before the visit, told him: "No, we use a 212."

William and Kate signed the visitors book.

Afterwards, the Duke and Duchess joined members of staff and apprentices at a short reception before unveiling a plaque to mark their visit.

The Duchess has been very much relying on GOAT as a go-to label for stylish and comfortable pieces for official duties during her third pregnancy. Today, we saw the return of the brand's Washington Coat, first worn in New York in 2014 when Kate was expecting Princess Charlotte. Today, Kate teamed the piece with a black turtleneck and jeans.

The heavy-weight, black crepe coat features a classic swing coat shape and contrast nude tabs on the cuff and back and decorative contrast enamel buttons.


Last week, we saw the return of Kate's GOAT Redgrave coat for a visit to Hornsey Road Children's Centre and earlier this month she debuted the brands plum Eloise Tunic Dress for Place2Be's School Leaders Forum.

A reader from Kate Middleton Style identified Kate's new boots as the Russell & Bromley Hi Ride Mid Heel Riding Boots. The £325 pair are described as "Having drawn inspiration from equestrian heritage and contemporary design, Hi Ride is a must-have. The supple black suede has been designed on a figure-hugging riding boot last and lifted with a mid block heel."

Kate accessorised with her Kiki McDonough Lauren Leaf earrings.

Kiki McDonough

Kate accessorised with her black suede Mulberry clutch.

The second stop of the day required a change of clothes.

Kate changed into her Mini Duvet Quilted Down Ski Jacket by Perfect Moment. The $450 jacket is cut from mid-weight durable Airtastic EX shell, it's padded with insulating down, has a protective high neck and is finished with soft ribbed cuffs to lock in warmth. It features distinctive navy elbow patches. It's described as "Perfect Moment's vivid red quilted ski jacket is inspired by the energy of Greenland's Northern Lights - it will also make you easy to spot in whiteout conditions."

Perfect Moment

And her £90 New Balance x SB Sneakers.


We also have news of an unannounced duty for Kate yesterday.

Gert's Royal Twitter Feed

See you on Friday for the Royal Variety Performance, we'll also have our annual Black Friday post before then :)

Monday, 20 November 2017

The Duchess in the Queen's Pearl Choker for Her Majesty and Prince Philip's 70th Anniversary Dinner!

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh marked their landmark 70th wedding anniversary surrounded by family and friends at a special dinner held in the State Apartments at Windsor Castle this evening. It's a wonderful opportunity for the Royal family to gather and mark the momentous occasion with Her Majesty and Philip's dearest friends.

We hadn't anticipated arrival photos, so a special word of thanks to the indefatigable James Whatling.

William, Kate and Harry were also snapped a little earlier leaving KP. As you can see the Duchess was wearing a black jacket.

William, Kate and Harry were all smiles as they arrived.

Embed from Getty Images

Unlike previous milestone anniversaries, the couple elected to celebrate this one privately, however, four wonderful new portraits were taken.

Photographed at the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, Her Majesty wore a cream dress by Angela Kelly, which she also wore at the Diamond Wedding Anniversary Service of Thanksgiving. She accessorised with a special piece - the yellow gold ruby and diamond scarab brooch - which was a personal gift from Prince Philip to the Queen in 1966. The images were taken by renowned photographer Matt Holyoak. He said: "I feel very honoured and privileged to have been asked to contribute to this very special occasion. My vision for the image was to capture an intimate and natural portrait of the Queen and Duke to celebrate their landmark anniversary. The Queen and the Duke were very happy and relaxed which made it a pleasure. I feel the images showcase their strength and unity."

The couple posed against a platinum-textured backdrop, in recognition of the special milestone. The image below is my favourite of the four; it captures a very sweet moment and a very loving expression from Philip.

Her Majesty had a rather special gift in mind for her husband to mark the milestone. She appointed the Duke of Edinburgh to be a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO). Awards in the Royal Victorian Order are made personally by the Queen for services to the Sovereign. The gesture has been seen as formal recognition of his decades of support, both in public and private. The Telegraph revealed: "The appointment makes him the first UK  citizen awarded four order of chivalry breast stars since Lord Mountbatten of Burma, the Duke's uncle and mentor who was instrumental in encouraging the early courtship of the young Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. It is thought that the Duke is now the only living person to have the four: GCVO,  Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (KG), a Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle (KT) and a Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE)."

Seventy years ago today the couple said 'I do' at Westminster Abbey.

This photograph, taken from above, shows Princess Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey with her father King George VI, on her wedding day. Her bridesmaids lean in to adjust her veil.

Princess Elizabeth and Philip were photographed at Buckingham Palace following their marriage in Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947. Norman Hartnell designed the wedding dress, which was decorated with 10,000 pearls sent from America. The tiara was ‘something borrowed’ from the Princess’ mother, Queen Elizabeth, and the pearl necklaces were a wedding present from her parents.

A selection of special moments they have shared together over the decades.

A number of excellent articles have been written including a piece by Allison Pearson for the Telegraph: "He was her one act of rebellion, she his one act of conformity."

'Three score years and ten is our lease on this Earth, according to the Bible. What does it mean to be married for that long, to spend a whole lifetime together? In the shag’n’go era of Love Island and Tinder, a dating app that “facilitates communication between mutually interested users” (be still my beating heart!) the 70th wedding anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip feels like a magnificent achievement, almost defiant in its patient and tender longevity. 
Some things never change. The official portrait to mark the most successful marriage in Royal history shows ninety-one-year-old Elizabeth smiling warmly at the camera, as she always does. Her husband, still ramrod straight at 96, gives that unmistakable flinty-eyed Philip look which hisses, “Get on with it, man!”

From the Express a list of seventy facts and stories: The Queen and Prince Philip wedding anniversary: 70 years of love and laughter:

A deep love for each other and a shared sense of humour have sustained the pair, now aged 91 and 96, through good times and bad. Phil Dampier discovers 70 touching and amusing stories about the most famous couple in the world.
1 Elizabeth and Philip, both greatgreat-grandchildren of Queen Victoria and therefore cousins, first met in 1934 at a family wedding when she was eight.
2 Philip captured her heart in 1939 when he was asked to look after Elizabeth and sister Margaret on a visit by their parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.
3 Handsome blond-haired Philip, then 18, sealed their friendship over ginger biscuits and lemonade and impressed the 13-year-old princess by vaulting over a tennis net. 

If you would like to send good wishes to the couple on this special day, click here to leave an online message. A selection will be chosen and shown to the Queen and Prince Philip.

Royal Family

The Duchess chose her DVF Zarita gown for the family affair. Kate first wore it for the Royal Variety Performance in 2014 when she was expecting Charlotte, and sported it again for a friend's wedding weeks later. The gown made a stylish return for the Anna Freud Gala dinner earlier this month. It's a classic piece and appears to be a very comfortable choice for Kate at this stage in her pregnancy.

The black dress is fitted through the bodice, waist and thigh, and the piece opens to a sweeping fluted hem. The delicate gown, crafted from sheer lace features a v-back and is fitted with a slim band around the waist that flatters the silhouette.

The shorter version remains on sale at Nordstrom Rack and Matches.

Nordstrom Rack

As previously noted, for those seeking a Repli-Kate for the party season, the Adrianna Pappell Scalloped Lace Gown remains available at Dillard's. It features the same scalloped v-back and floor sweeping hem as Kate's.


The eagle-eyed Kate J from What Kate Wore suggests Kate's coat is the Alexander McQueen Long Textured Coat. From what we can see, I believe this is correct. The $4,450 piece is described as "Crafted in Italy from a soft cashmere, wool and mohair blend, this long textured coat from Alexander McQueen features a wide lapel, a concealed front button placket, two front pockets, an exposed seam detail, long sleeves with turn up cuffs and a straight hem." It's available at FarFetch.


The talking point of Kate's look tonight was not her gown; the Duchess accessorised with a new elegant piece of jewellery on loan from the Queen (with thanks to the lovely Sara).

The Four Row Japanese Pearl Choker was commissioned by the Queen from a set of the "finest cultured pearls presented to her by the Japanese government". Her Majesty's Jewel Vault notes: "The necklace includes four rows of pearls with a central diamond clasp in a curved shape, each side including three rows of diamonds that join at the top and bottom with marquise diamonds. She made her first state visit to Japan in 1975; the choker was in use by at least 1982. The Garrard book posits that it was inspired by the Queen's new daughter-in-law at the time, and she did notably loan the piece to the new Princess of Wales during a state visit from the Netherlands in 1982. It is only occasionally used by the Queen, in whose collection it still remains."

Her Majesty's Jewel Vault

A video from the 1982 banquet (you'll also see the Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara sparkling in all its glory).

Kate also wore Princess Diana's Collingwood Pearl earrings - they are fast becoming a staple in her jewellery collection. 

I do so enjoy seeing glimpses of Royal family celebrations and it was wonderful to see the arrival photo tonight. Perhaps, if we're lucky, an official photograph will be released. Seventy years of marriage is quite simply incredible and a love story spanning seven decades! Wishing them a very Happy Anniversary, I hope it is a splendid evening filled with enjoyment and laughter, they deserve it!


Before we leave you, we have news of a new engagement added to Kate's Calendar. On Wednesday, 29 November, the Duchess of Cambridge will visit Robin Hood Primary School to celebrate their work with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Campaign for School Gardening. During the visit, the Duchess will get a briefing on the RHS nation-wide campaign and hear about the benefits of learning outside from Robin Hood Primary School. Her Royal Highness will then join children in activities in the outdoor learning area and sensory garden, and celebrate the 34,000 schools and groups now engaged in gardening through the campaign. Robin Hood Primary School has developed a whole-school, progressive outdoor learning curriculum with support from the RHS.

We'll see you on Wednesday when William and Kate visit Birmingham! :)

Kate's Favourites