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Princess Charlotte's First Birthday Photoshoot

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Norfolk has been a hopping place for a photo shoot recently. Just after her mother unveiled her debut appearance for prestigious fashion magazine Vogue, photos of Charlotte from her 1st Birthday photo shoot were released by Kensington Palace to mark the little princess's birthday tomorrow.

As with previous shoots, this set was snapped at Anmer Hall in Norfolk by the Duchess of Cambridge herself.  Charlotte is featured in four separate photos that capture her at play and in a more serious and thoughtful mood, which seems to be a hallmark of Kate's babies. Charlotte's expression in this photo in particular reminds me of her brother George.

Charlotte is a remarkable mix of Windsor and Middleton. Although she looked thoroughly Windsor on her grandmother's lap in the photo taken by Annie Leibovitz, these portraits reveal a more balanced baby. I see shades of both families. 

Fans are excited to see that another member of the family made it into this photo shoot. Loping about in the background while Charlotte plays is the family's beloved dog Lupo. Kate's spaniel hasn't been seen for a while now, but I think that is simply because we didn't get many polo outings last summer and now the couple have moved from Anglesey, where paparazzi shots were a little more usual, they have more privacy at Anmer. Lupo was supposedly in the original Christmas photo as well, but when the picture was cropped, he was cut. 

As always, Kate has done a beautiful job, but I think this photo set is her best presentation yet. Kate has experimented more with the "props" and the location, photographing Charlotte on chairs, next to chairs, and in variety of moods. The change of scenery is really nice, and this action shot in the garden is an especially fun deviation. At first glance it seems Charlotte is wearing the same little dress, sweater, and bow, but if you look a little more closely you'll see that she is wearing a pink colorway and a blue one! This bodes well for the future--we have many darkling little ensembles to look forward to. 

Charlotte certainly has grown since we first got a glimpse of her on the steps of the Lindo! I was so thrilled that morning when they announced that Kate had had a little princess. I was so ready for little dresses and ribbons and bows, and we have not been disappointed. Although the Cambridges have been careful to keep Charlotte out of the public eye, I hope this year, as she gets a little more ambulatory, we will see more of her, and I suspect we will! If the royals follow the same pattern they did with George, this summer will have fun surprises. 

I am really interested to hear who you think Charlotte resembles! When she was born I thought she was every inch a Middleton/Cambridge, but recent photos of her suggest she heavily favors the Windsors and particularly the Queen, but in today's set I thought we saw a little more Middleton peeking through, although I still think the Windsors have the stronger influence. What are you all seeing?!

Happy Sunday! I will be blogging about Kate's Vogue cover shortly! 

Walk Through the World With Me: William & Kate's 5th Wedding Anniversary

Friday, April 29, 2016

In 1969 Petula Clark and the charming Peter O'Toole appeared in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." One of the many beautiful songs in that film was called Walk Through the World With Me. Watching William and Kate hike to Tiger's Nest earlier this month got me thinking about their hand-holding and today, as we celebrate their 5th anniversary, the lyrics seems especially applicable to William and Kate: Walk through the world with me, and you will see how happy life can be...hand in hand, together for eternity. This duo has covered the globe in the past five years, often hand in hand.

William said that he was torn about asking Kate first or Michael first, but settled on proposing to Kate. The prince famously popped the question to his girlfriend while on vacation in Kenya, but shortly after their return William invited Michael and Carole to Birkhall, Prince Charles' Balmoral Estate. During this intimate shooting weekend away, William asked Michael Middleton for Kate's hand in marriage. Although William claims he was worried Michael would say no, I think it is pretty clear that every single party involved was absolutely thrilled by the secret proposal. Five months after William asked Michael for Kate's hand, in the proverbial sense, Mr. Middleton delivered in a poignant moment at the foot of Westminster Abbey's altar.

The custom of asking the bride's father for her hand is an old one, which increasingly has been left at the wayside, but William maintained the tradition and more than many couples, it seemed particularly appropriate. Once William took Kate's hand that morning, it seems the two haven't let go. 

The morning after the Royal Wedding, the couple strolled across the green lawn of Buckingham Palace. They had spent the night at Buckingham Palace after their private reception and were making their way to a waiting helicopter. Usually reticent with the press, the newlyweds were happy to put their joy on display for all to see.

There were only a few paparazzi shots of the couple's super-secret and jealously guarded honeymoon in the Seychelles, but the one that did emerge pictured the couple hand-in-hand walking the beach. 

The two spent a weekend in Scotland, where their royal romance first began, to attend cousin Zara's wedding. The newlyweds took a break in Holyrood Park in what was to be the first of many vacation walks we would witness. 

Photos of their happy stroll along the pebbled beaches near their Anglesey home remain favorites for many:

In 2012, the pair travelled to Southeast Asia where they were hoisted high into the canopy of the rainforest, holding tightly to one another so as not to drift off.

Sport games are often frustrating for fashionistas because we don't get a great look at the clothes and the overall view of the royals is often partially obstructed. The balance to that drawback is the relaxed nature of the event usually highlights sweet moments, such as this one from the 2012 London Olympics:

It was Christmas in 2013 that the Duke & Duchess first walked hand-in-hand to the Christmas morning service. It was an evolution not in their relationship, as we have seen, but in their comfort level with the press. The necessary discretion of their dating days was starting to fall away.

When the couple flew to another hemisphere in 2014, they were pictured walking the grounds of Government House in Canberra:

Toward the end of that year, in what appeared to be a more contemplative moment, they watched the Commonwealth Games in Scotland together:

Who can forget their stunning moment at the head of the steps of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City?

It was just a few short weeks later they were at Sandringham once again for their family Christmas gathering. That was a special year as it was the first time that the Middletons joined the royals for this major holiday. Kate's family stayed at Anmer Hall and were present at the Sunday morning service.

The couple marked a milestone on May 2, 2015 when they introduced their daughter Charlotte to the waiting press and to the world on the steps of the Lindo Wing:

Most recently, the couple travelled to India and Bhutan, during which they spent several hours hiking to a historic monastery nestled high in the mountains.

Throughout the years, their joy in each other has been readily apparent to even the most jaded observer. Their penchant for hand-holding is a delightful outward symbol of their unity and the strength of what appears to be a remarkable romance. It has been five years since William and Kate joined hands to walk through the world together and it has been a wonderful, wonderful journey thus far.

The two are celebrating privately this year, and having just finished their tour of India and Bhutan, they have a lot of memories to reflect on both from this year and the past five!  

If you haven't seen last years's post Love Is In The Air, be sure to pop over and OD a little on the pictures. I have had this scene from the Royal Wedding on replay most of the day. The ceremony remains as magnificent, soul-moving, and visually arresting as it was at 3am five years ago!

Wishing you all a very Happy Royal Wedding Anniversary Day and a celebration that continues into this weekend! I am having champagne tonight; I hope you do, too. ;) 

[ID Update] Kate, William, and Harry Launch "Heads Together" Mental Health Campaign

Sunday, April 24, 2016

For many months now Kate has been focusing her charitable work on mental health causes. She spent the majority of the fall of 2015 spotlighting charities, a number of which she is not even officially patron, and she moved into 2016 strongly emphasizing this cause. In March of this year, Roya Nikkah reported in the London Times that William, Kate, and Harry would be launching their largest joint-initiative to-date focusing on Mental Health. Kensington Palace has officially kicked off the project this morning as they released a video announcing "Let's Get Our Heads Together."

via Kensington Palace
The Heads Together Campaign has been selected as the 2017 London Marathon Charity of the Year and three royals will partner with numerous other charities already working in the field to end the stigma attached to mental health. According to Roya's report in March, each of the royals will tackle a certain aspect of mental health. Harry will continue to work with veterans and service members, William with young men, and Kate with children.

Not surprisingly, Place2Be is heavily involved. Although Kate's sharp focus on mental health only developed in the last year, through Place2Be, she has been involved with early development, bullying, and mental issue for some years. Place2Be is the ideal charity to take a leadership role with Kate on this project.

This launch is timed to real perfection. William and Kate generated so much excitement and good will while in India and they are aren't letting that momentum die now they are back in the UK. I know many worried that the couple would disappear for a month or so as they have in the past after a big tour, but this seems to show a turning point for the young royals as they haven't skipped a beat since coming back.

Kate turned to her favorite combo of skinnies and Breton top for this video. The top appears to be new and I will have to Google around a bit to put a tag on that. She is wearing her Lauren leaf earrings from Kiki McDonough that are quickly becoming her go-to pieces for casual occasions. 

They are only visible for a hot second, but she is wearing neutral wedges. She has several similar pairs in her closet, but I think these could be new. 

We've seen this combo before, but I still love it and it is sure to spark a number of new Breton top purchases. You know, because the five you already have aren't enough. ;) As soon as I have an ID I will update, but this is a lovely addition to her Breton collection. It is a little more sophisticated than some of her others, because the fabric looks more substantial and the stripes are thicker. I also really like Breton tops where the stripes stop along the shoulders, which gives it a more polished look. This is her best Breton top to-date. Hopefully I will have an ID for you all soon. Carly at Kate Middleton Style IDed the top as a Jaeger piece, which is regrettably sold out right now. There is disagreement on whether this is correct.

This top is in a luxurious cashmere, which would explain why Kate's's has a soft look. I think it could be this Jaeger, although the stripes don't look the exact same width. Time will tell. I'll keep you updated. It is available in an alternate color scheme at Jaeger's outlet here.  [Update] Sometimes Kate really takes us on a bit of joyride, and today was one of those days. But, the sweater was finally IDed at J.Crew Tippi Sweater with Shoulder Buttons.

You can see the buttons just a bit when Kate throws her head back in these two screen shots:

I don't usually do this, because if I bought every item Kate has worn that is still available when IDed, I'd be broke, but...I definitely bought this. You can find the sweater here. It is on final sale! It is always exciting when Kate wears J.Crew.


P.S. speaking of new shoes, Amanda has pulled together a great selection of repliKates of Kate's shoes from India! if you loved her scrappy heels, unusual flats, or new collection of pointy heels, you need to pop over to Amanda's post here

Kate Gives Peek Into Kensington Palace During Obama Dinner Party

Friday, April 22, 2016

William, Kate, and Harry hosted the Obamas at their Kensington Palace home tonight. Certainly, everyone wanted a picture of what Kate was wearing, but we got far more than anyone had hoped. The Cambridges gave us our first proper peek into their London sanctuary, and several sweet snaps of the most popular little prince on the planet in his robe and slippers!  

The royal trio met the President and his wife in the courtyard where they briefly posed for pictures despite the rain. Then the party moved inside, where Prince George (and we think Princess Charlotte) were waiting to meet the American guests.

To me, the most exciting aspect of this event was to see the inside of William and Kate's private home. Having followed many varied reports over the years about Kate's taste in décor, I was expecting a mix of traditional and contemporary, which happily is exactly what it turned out to be. The room is classic and gracious, but also trendy. Absolutely what we'd expect from the Duchess.

I have already heard from several of you expressing surprise at how busy the room is, but really this is a very modern twist and relatively low-key. Certainly, she has a beautiful selection of ornate 17th and 18th century pieces, including the chairs, several of her large side tables, and of course the huge paintings and assorted chinoiserie-style vases. I love all of this. To indulge those of us whose hearts beat faster around furniture, some close ups. The table by the piano: (Notice the snap of the young William at the height of his heartthrob days?)

The side-table by the rocking horse looks like the top folds out, and the inlay detail is exquisite:

The large table on the far side of the room probably has a marble top--it is hard to see with the glow of the lamp--but those usually do. I know what you are thinking, did I just stumble off of Jane's blog and onto the Antiques Roadshow's website? You did not; stick with me.

These are just a  few of the classic pieces Kate has, but they are contrasted with the modern coffee tables, the simple book case at the far end of the room, and a host of other modifying touches. Perhaps because the modern elements are muted, they don't jump out, but if you cast your gaze around the room you will see them. The walls are plain with no elaborate papering, the couches are creamy and understated, and the color palette in the room is neutral, relying on the chairs and pillows to add a bright pop. The glow from the many lamps injects warmth and gold into the environment, but it is a far cry from the more ornate styles of the major British homes featured in lavish magazine spreads. This room has flavors of Downton Abbey, but it is a thoroughly 2016 interpretation.

In some respect, we know the room was obviously staged, and this is just one of many rooms in Apartment 1A, but it is still an authentic tip of the hat to Kate's taste. You know that old story that the French judge you by the contents of your bookshelf? Well, in this case it is interesting to look around at the photos that Kate has chosen to display. On the piano is a trio of framed photographs. I am straining my memory to remember when the photo of Kate was taken. I think she is in her mid-20s, but it is just a bit too fuzzy to make out. It seems to the left is a picture of William seemingly in country apparel, and on the far left that seems to be a picture of four people in a Middle Eastern locale. I could be wrong, but it almost looks like pyramids behind them? This is the most intriguing photo to me. Is this a Middleton family photo? Is it from the time Kate's family spent in Jordan? Or is it a more recent trip the family has taken?

I love that Kate has chosen that picture of William which graced the cover of People when William started at St. Andrews. His tussled locks and big blue eyes had earned him "most eligible bachelor" status and it is cute to think that Kate probably looks at that picture and remembers way back in the day when she was one of many girls peeking at People and now that handsome boy is her prince.

The Cambridges had thoughtfully displayed the toy rocking chair that the President and First Lady sent to George when he was born, as well as a stuffed animal that I think is supposed to be Bo, Obama's dog. They didn't let those objects sit by idly. Prince George joined the party to be introduced to the President. His monogrammed robe and little slippers sent Twitter into an absolute meltdown of excitement. 

Kensington Palace 

This was certainly something of a photoshoot for President Obama and for Prince George. Pictures of the future king meeting the out-going President of the United States will make a few history books. Nevertheless, there were some natural moments, including my favorite moment captured during the course of the evening: Prince George's sweet smile during this quiet exchange with his mother. 

Kate was wearing another dress from L.K. Bennett, continuing her trend toward midi-length dresses in silky silhouettes. This is the Addison and is a lot like the Madison she wore to dinner on a private date with William last year. I don't love it. The print reminds me of the prints that were popular when I was in early high-school. Not all throwbacks are great. 

This was a relatively casual affair, but Kate Ritzed it up a little by wearing her tanzanite and diamond pendants first debuted at the Afghanistan service last year. This set was welcomed by mixed reviews at the time, but I like it very much and I think it worked with this ensemble. The blues matched the colors of her dress and it dressed up the ensemble for an evening that, although ostensibly casual, was certainly a high-profile event.

The verdict is so-so. I just don't really like this dress. I like the silhouette, I like the motion the dress has and the diaphanous sleeves. In so many ways it was a great look for an elegant dinner party with the President. The midi-length in particular was good, since hostesses have the prerogative to wear long for evening parties, so I liked that touch. Regrettably, the print is just killing me. In other respects, it was a huge win. Seeing inside  KP was a thrill for this décor enthusiast (sorry for all those zoom in shots!) and getting to see Prince George in his nighties was too precious! Is this Prince George's first official engagement? I think it might be. 

Kate doens't have anything on her calendar right now, but we should be seeing her soon since these next few months are busy ones for the royals. Although she will doubtless take some time in Norfolk to rest after the tour, she will want to get in some charity work before we move toward mid-summer when royal events begin to slow. She will be marking her 5th wedding anniversary next week, and shortly thereafter celebrating Princess Charlotte's first birthday.