Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kate & William Attend Eton Friend Alexander Vaulkhard's Wedding in Batcombe, Dorset

Yesterday, Kate and William were at the wedding of Alexander Vaulkhard and Sarah Nicholson in Batcombe, Dorset. (Early photos available here) Mr. Security was on hand as well, just in case you have been wondering how well he pulls off morning dress... you get one guess on the answer to that. I have a sense his private motto is: "Keeping Wills & Kate Safe; Keeping Harry Humble."  I don't know for sure, I just have this sense...  Back to the lady of the blog! I would say I have no idea what dress she is wearing, except for what appears to be the same sleeve as the dress she wore to Santa Barbara polo.  

Polo 2011

I love almost every element of the dress. Its floaty and feminine and flatters Kate's perfect figure. But I'll tell you, Jenny P--and we love her--must have been a little too far into a bottle of red the night she chose this print. Really. It is dull, and far too old for Kate. This is not fun, this boring. This...has dust on it. And it doesn't get better with age. 

Polo 2011

It seems that Kate likes it, though, because this is the second wedding to which she has worn it. She wore it in 2012 to Emily McCorquodale's wedding. (If you can spell McCorquodale without Googling it, message me and I will give you a prize. I jest, but...) At that time, Kate paired the polo dress with the stunning Catherine Hooker coat that took our breath away at the Order of the Garter. Unfortunately, pairing that luminously beautiful coat with this dress was like asking a chorus member to sing the lead in an opera even though you have Placido Domingo standing by. It doesn't do anyone any favors.

Kate Wearing the Katherine Hooker

That being said, she was still radiantly beautiful on that occasion. I love this picture below. The row of fans snapping away. Harry and William (a smile just perceptible along the side of his face) waiting while Kate walks to join them. You can see she is aware. She sees the hubbub, she feels it, she is even twisting her ring a little, but she has a serene and confident smile on her face. Her presence is commanding. Anyone concerned that the media attention is too much for her need only examine her expression here. Kate the Great, folks. Kate. The. Great. 

It is also possible this dress has subtle magic powers of PDA, since on every occasion we have some sweet little moments between our favorite love-birds. I am forced to approve. What I really am waiting to see is if this wear is THE ONE where she transforms "blah" into "ahhh." That would be cool. 

Basically, while I can't say I love the print, everything else clicks for me. None of this chit chat changes the fact we still have no pictures from yesterday. You can view the first few here, as mentioned earlier, but nothing super hi-res, much to my disappointment. I will update if/when those are available. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

George's Swim Lessons at the Palace

When Prince William said that bath time with George "had become quite painful" many of us assumed he meant the baby prince had an antipathy for water. This weekend is has been revealed that George has been going with his mother to Buckingham Palace regularly for swim lessons in the palace's private pool. Indeed, on the morning of his birthday, that was the royal errand the two were undertaking. (Although, I think it possible he stopped of to say "hi" to great grand-father, too.) So, perhaps George likes the water too much at bath time...

On the way to BP for a Birthday Swim
The pool is in a room that was a conservatory until it was converted to a private pool in 1938, so it has beautiful windows to let in the natural light. Staff are allowed to use the pool, but have to exit if a member of the royal family arrives--unless they are invited to stay. According to Victoria Arbiter, whose father Dickie was press secretary to the Queen, he used to swim very early in the pool before work...before Diana would arrive for her splash time. In the below photo, the glass room on the far left of the photo (BP's right) is the pool. There is another similar, but smaller room that mirrors this one on the far right, but that is the chapel, I believe.

Both of George's parents love water. Prince Charles recently passed the scuba baton to his son when he handed him the presidency of the British Sub-Aqua Club.

William Scuba Diving (via British Monarchy Facebook)
Of course, William and Kate spend more holiday time at beaches and tropical locales than any other genre of vacation destination, and George was barely 6 months old when he took his first overseas vacation to none other than the island paradise of Mustique. The sooner Mr. Georgie learns the ropes in the water, the better. 

The Buckingham Palace pool is the perfect solution to the quandary Kate would be in when finding a place to swim with George. While Kate reportedly joined the Harbour Club (Diana's favorite members only fitness club) in the run-up to her marriage, and took advantage of their indoor pool, she could hardly bring the most popular little prince in the world along to enjoy the water.  Although I am sure all members and guests at the Harbour Club--or any exclusive gym--would be polite and discreet while adult Kate professionally went about exercising or getting in a few laps, it would be hard not to stare a little at cute little George. It is equally hard to imagine that Kate could relax and let her hair down with even the most polite of strangers present. Only an entirely private pool can provide this royal duo with the seclusion they need.

To Kate's clothes....Remember the pink McQuene that Kate wore to Adelaide? I LOVED it, and I think many of you did, too. But, there were complaints that at times the hemline didn't look level.

We had pegged it for McQueen separates, but the always thorough Susan at WKW has just recently discovered that it was in fact a modified dress.  Guess what the major modification was? The hemline!

I am surprised that if Kate had it changed to level, it didn't fall perfectly even. Perhaps it was not modified at all, but I think the length discrepancy is quite marked on the original and not anywhere near as sharp on Kate. The only other possibility I see is that she wanted the length difference as modeled, but wanted it softened, which to my mind would be a mistake. It is hard to say. It remains one of my favorite dresses of the tour, though. I just love it  a million times over.

Don't forget: July 28th and 29th William and Kate (and Uncle Harry) will be in Glasgow, Scotland for the Commonwealth Games!! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Party at the Palace: Prince George's Birthday Party at Apartment 1A

What would George's birthday be if we didn't have a little media stake-out?  It had been reported that the Queen would be the guest of honor at a family birthday party for George at Kensington Palace today. In the morning, however, Kate drove George herself (accompanied by Nanny Maria) to Buckingham Palace to see his great-grandfather Prince Philip. Reports are that the Queen's guards played a "Happy Birthday" tune for the baby prince. Then it was back to KP and by approximately 3pm, guests began to turn up at Kensington Palace. 

First to arrive were the birthday boy's grandparents, Michael and Carole, who arrived at KP in separate cars.

The Middletons were closely followed by Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton. Jamie has been a longtime senior staff member to the Wales princes and only just resigned as principal private secretary in the fall of last year. I believe he remains on once a week to help the transition.  He has been with William since the earliest days of Kate and William's relationship, and is one of George's god-parents. Mr. Lowther-Pinerton was carrying a brightly wrapped present for the little prince. (Below, Kate is pictured greeting Jamie at a polo game in 2006)

Uncle James arrived driving what was described as "an F type Jaguar" with conflicting reports about a female companion. If he was accompanied, presumably it was his girlfriend of some time now, Donna Air, since Pippa arrived later. (James and Donna pictured in September of last year)

Kate's school chum and close friend Emilia Jardine-Paterson (née d'Erlanger) also arrived with her son Leo. Emilia has been tipped as the friend who most influences Kate's fashion. While I believe Kate has a very strong sense of her own style, friends often share similar tastes, so I am happy to imagine that these two share a shopping bond. Mrs. Jardine-Paterson is certainly a beautifully dressed woman. Indeed, this afternoon it almost appeared that she was wearing the printed Beulah that we have seen Kate wear before:

A cheeky neighbor enjoyed his front row view as the guests continued to make their way to the party:

Zara and Mike arrived with their daughter Mia. Mike told reporters that George met Mia at Highgrove when she was about two months old. Mr. George wasn't entirely behaving that afternoon, and apparently was throwing his food around while his infant (second?) cousin slept peacefully away.  Hopefully, everyone stays calm this afternoon.

Pippa arrived not long after and it is assumed that Uncle Harry just wandered over to Apartment 1A from his quarters at the cottage that William and Kate occupied when they were first married. Other guests may have included Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and there were reports of a van Cutsem and other close friends of the Duke and Duchess.

But, the looming question hung in the air...would the Queen be arriving, as Camilla Tominey of the Express had predicted?  A first birthday is a big deal, and she did!

The Queen was driven to KP smiling and waving at the well-wishers, and stayed around 50 minutes to celebrate Georgie's birthday. Former royal chef Darren McGrady described the menu of royal birthday parties of the past to People:
Tiny jelly sandwiches, including one called the jam penny — “just bread, butter and jam cut into little two-inch circles, to resemble the old English penny,” McGrady says — are a staple. So are mini egg mayonnaise sandwiches. “We would cut them into horse shapes or animal shapes. And we would add berries, like fresh strawberries to the table.”
Hard to say what Kate and her mother Carole whipped up for this occasion, but I am sure it sprang from the same delightful mix of elegance and charm showcased in George's whimsical birthday shoot. Perhaps it was butterfly themed?

Where Were You When The Great Kate Wait Concluded? Prince George's Birthday In Review

People often have very vivid memories of dark events, national crises and tragedies. It seems everyone who was alive at the time can remember with absolute clarity where they were when JFK was shot, or for my generation, what we were doing when we realized the United States was under assault on September 11th. But, I don't think we should only remember the dark times. The excitement of July 22nd is still very vivid in my memory, and probably yours, and vidid. As Kate fanatics, we all were a little obsessed with the imminent arrival of the royal prince or princess. The Palace had not released a due date for the Duchess, only hinting at mid-July. So, it was anyone's guess, and the media didn't want to guess wrong. July 1st the cameras and journalists set up camp outside St. Mary's Lindo Wing. I was cockily calm at the start, convinced she was not due that first week, nor that she would come too early.

By the second week, though, the tension began to creep in. Assuming she was due mid July, she could possibly come a little early... Soon, I was sleeping fitfully, my phone by my pillow, starting awake in the middle of the night to scroll through my notifications. As the press continued to swelter in the scorching July sun, I was doubly tense because I was facing a trip to France. The first leg of my holiday was in the south, where I would not necessarily have internet. I prayed that the unknown little royal would either come before I left, or hold off those few days.  As the plane engines churned on the day of departure, and I powered down my phone for the 8 hour flight across the Atlantic to Nice, I said a silent prayer that Kate would hold strong. Not, yet, I prayed, not in the next 8 hours! The phone went black, and we lifted off into the dusky sunset for France...

via Instagram @6nagram

Descending into Nice, I stared out the window at the turquoise blue of the Mederteranean Sea. My sister slumbered peacefully next to me, while I maniacally cluctehd my cell phone wondering if I powered it up with 10  minuets to touchdown if I was endangering the flight. A law-abiding Americana, I subdued the urge and hoped that the British heir hadn't miraculously popped out and been named in the short time it took me to cross to the continent. When we finally landed and I powered up, the news was the same. The Great Kate Wait was still going strong at the Lindo Wing, with not signs of relief for the sweltering press.

I spent four days on the Riverea. Soaking up the sun, the aqua-marine waters, the delightful native French, the local culture...and searching for cell reception. We were well past the 15th--was this child ever going to come? Would we spend eternity tied to the phone watching our favorite reporters and photographers slowly expire from heat exhaustion and sun exposure? By the time I got to Paris, I was at the end of my rope--and from all repots anarchy was close to breaking out in the press pack. The unsung heroes of that July may have been starting to see royal baby mirages by the evening of the 21st... The morning of the 22nd of July dawned much like the preceding ones. I jolted awake with the sun pouring in the window. Paris was sweltering, too, and even at a little after 7am local time, the delicate sunbeams were quickly heating my already warm room to an oven. The crenelated spires of the Sorbonne were visible through my window, but all I wanted was my phone...And at last, the alert was there. Still fresh news: Kate has been spotted by photographers slipping into a back entrance of St. Mary's in the barely lit hours of the dawn. Showing the proper judgement call, the photographers did not snap the laboring princess, and I think that remains one of the beautiful little stories around George's birth.

The waiting wasn't over, though. The day slipped by with no news of a new prince or princess. It wasn't until almost dinner that the Palace announced Kate had delivered a boy several hours before.  George was born at 4:24p.m. at 8lbs 6oz, but William and Kate kept the news private while they phoned close family and simply soaked up time with their son before the frenzy broke loose. Break it did. Outside of Buckingham Palace it was a madhouse as the announcement was placed on the easel:

via Instagram @elanasolomon1

Despite the level 3 heat warning, the euphoria in the capital was palatable, and the press, released from almost a month of burning and boring days, leapt into action. News outlets around the world began airing their pre-redorded specials on royal births of past and recent history, speculation on the baby's name, and even on godparents for the tot were the order of the evening. Remember this guy? What a dude.

The mood was considerably lighter the morning of the 23rd. Now that the baby was born, our interest turned to the next milestone of the event as a whole: the appearance on the steps of the Lindo Wing. When would William and Kate take their baby home? When were we going to see Baby Cambridge for the first time? We had to wait our turn as the first visitors to the hospital were his Middleton grandparents. Mike and Carole arrived by cab and spent about an hour with their new grandson:

The cabbie who picked the Middletons up told her story of pure chance that had her participating in a little slice of history:

It was certainly a popcorn and candy sort of a day. Having stared at an entirely static door for close to a month, these comings and goings were riveting for royal watchers intent on soaking up every second of the well-deserevd excitement. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were next to visit the newest heir to the throne:

The question of the new prince's departure was still in the air, although the palace promised that if they left that night, it would not be before 6pm. At 6pm KP confirmed that the couple would take their son home that evening. I think the wait for the Wills and Kate to walk out that front door was almost worse than the entire saga of the Great Kate Wait. The three did not emerge until a little after 7pm. The culmination of nine months of pregnancy watch, 22 days of sweltering and nerve jangling waiting, and a little over 24 hours of exhausted excitement, the little prince was finally making his iconic world debut--and my gosh was it worth it:

Kate and William spoke briefly to the press before returning inside to bid final farewell to staff, strap Baby Cambridge into his carseat, and take their leave of the Lindo:

The couple returned to Kensington Palace, where a doubtless exuberant Pippa and James waited to meet their first nephew. The Cambridges wasted little time bumming about their London home, and were on the road the next day for two weeks of quiet, rest, and relaxation with the Middletons in Berkshire. The happy snaps we got from those two weeks were the pictures of deep contentment. 

In some ways the Great Kate Wait was absolutely miserable. Stressful, time-consuming, and for those physically waiting outside the hospital it was day after day of scorching ennui. But, despite the discomfort or inconvenience, it was a wait filled with happy anticipation. The tension paid tribute to the historic nature of the event, as well as contributing to the outpouring of joy when the long-waited day finally arrived. I think all the waiting and nervousness made those 48 hours from the morning of the 22nd to the evening of the 23rd all the more memorable. George's birth lifted the British nation and people around the world in common good-will. He has certainly been the gift that keeps giving as the world has been enchanted by the little prince in this first year. 

It is hard to believe that hot July is now a full year ago. Hard also to believe how much everyone's favorite little royal has grown. At the photo-shoot for his first birthday, inquisitive George got to play with butterflies.
He was fascinated to see them fly by, but a little scared when they got a bit too close to him. 
William and Kate released a statement of thanks to well-wishers:
We would like to take this opportunity on George's first birthday to thank everyone over the last year, wherever we have met them, both at home and overseas, for their warm and generous good wishes to George and our family. 
It has been widely reported that William and Kate will throw a family birthday party for Prince George at their freshly renovated Kensington Palace apartment today. The guest of honor is purportedly Her Majesty the Queen. I imagine that Kate will probably use her brand new kitchen to make George a themed birthday cake, as she so fondly remembers her mother doing for her when she was a child. 

Happy Birthday, Prince George! You certainly warm our hearts...smiling or somber! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Birthday Butterflies for Prince George as He Turns 1 Year Old

Well, they are out, kids, and they are awesome! William and Kate released the last two photographs to mark George's birthday, and they are precious. George, still the sober little man that he is, managed to look excited and interested without breaking his decorum. He remained, throughout the published photos, entirely in command of his emotions. Was Napoleon such a child? The Stoics would have welcomed George to their number. I love it. He is so cute. 

Many were crossing their fingers that George would be interacting with a butterfly in at least one shot, and lucky us, they are both butterfly shots! I thought these were really creative and very in keeping with Kate and William's style. We have already gotten a posed shot for the pre-tour photo (but even that was unusual in presentation). Here we do not get anything super formal or staged, but natural shots of the young family in a beautiful environment. Really, really great approach to a first birthday portrait. I do think this is Kate's area of talent and her sensitive touch is certainly being felt in the PR for the Cambridges. Do you know what we do get? Prince William's Frenchman pants! And you all thought he was wearing ratty old jeans. I need to set up a page for this... 

It is not entirely clear if George is bestowing a knighthood on his winged subject, or preparing to snuff out its life as soon as the camera has clicked. This is a birthday post, so thinking positively, let's assume this butterfly went back to his chums as Lord Lepidoptera.

Kate is radiant in both these shots. So, so pretty. This dress seems, however, to have magic powers of evasion. Seriously, we all thought today was the day. The almost mythical Suzannah was finally to be revealed in all its a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. Instead, we barely get more of a peek than we have in the past. I do not overlook the fact this is due partly to angle, and partly to George's bonny and obviously robust health. So, in the end, while fashion thought it would have a coup, Baby George held the spotlight on his special day. Well done, little man, these are the attributes of a monarch. 

Tomorrow, the 22nd, is the actual big day, and I will be posting Jane Barr's Commemorative Edition. If the spirit moves you, stop by and reminisce with me! Until then...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

First Birthday Photo Released of Prince George

You probably remember the Kate sighting at the Natural History Museum on July 2nd. The Cambridges were spotted leaving the Butterfly Exhibit in the company of a photographer and speculation was strong that they were taking some 1st birthday snaps. Our hopes were gratified today when the royal couple released the first of purportedly three photos commemorating the little prince's first birthday. 

Mr. Cutie-Pants undertook his second hardcore photo-shoot with a hair-do that would put Don Draper to shame. Our favorite tot looked his usual serious self, and he seemed to be on a mission. One guess as to whom this little man is determinedly marching... Can't you just see Kate behind the camera encouraging him to walk to mommy. It is the progression of his attitude already on display in Australia. When Kate handed George to William after they landed in Sydney, George started flapping his arms as she walked away. The headline read: "Watch While George Tries to Flap His Way Back to Mummy" It was too precious, and so true. Unable to walk, he still understood that motion was needed to get back to Kate, and did he want to get back to Kate. You can watch the clip here

The exciting news is that on Monday night, in anticipation of his 1st birthday on Tuesday, the couple will release the last two photos, which are reportedly family photos! So, we are getting a Kate shot in just about 48 hours! Better still, as you remember from the candids from the Butterfly exhibit, we will finally get a good look at the green Suzannah tea dress that has been such a coy little number for so many months. One of my readers made the good point that this dress will probably sell out on Tuesday, so if you want it, go get it now

This week we also had some other very awesome photos of the baby prince being walked in a stroller in Hyde Park by Nanny Maria. I saw the snap, but then lost the link. Thankfully, wonderful reader Alex came to my rescue, (Alex, you are da best). If you haven't seen the precious little guy's faces from this outing definitely pop over to the completely incomprehensible Tumblr to enjoy. All photos can be found here. (These photos have yet to surface on an actual news source. Because the royals will now eject a photographer from the royal rota for taking candids, these photos were unlisted--but I have my suspects. ;) Thank you--we love these photos!) George seems to be in good shape to be as expressive and charming as his ridiculously beautiful mother.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Kate Took a Two-Week Cooking Course at Leiths

It has been revealed that the Duchess of Cambridge has been using some of her quiet time to indulge in cooking classes at Leiths in West London. The Telegraph reports:
Rachel Khoo, the television chef, has just let slip that she undertook a two-week basic course at Leiths cookery school with her, and, what’s more, helped her to get through it with flying colours.

“Kate was in my class,” says Khoo, who starred in the BBC Two cookery show The Little Paris Kitchen. “Kate was ill for a few days, so I took notes for her. She was a lovely person, but she kept herself to herself.”

Khoo was reluctant to be drawn on the comments she makes in Woman magazine, but courses at Leiths do not come cheap. A two- week course of the kind that Kate undertook at the school in west London normally costs around £1,600. Her sister, Pippa Middleton, chose by contrast to undertake a cookery course at the Grange in Frome, Somerset.
 Leiths offers professional training, but also courses for "home enthusiasts"which is the category I assume Kate was in:

Kate has enjoyed cooking as a hobby for years, which isn't surprising when you consider her mother's reported domestic perfection, and of course Pippa's similarly inherited interest in cooking and entertaining.

In their engagement interview, (you can see the clip here, the video will start at the cooking discussion) the couple briefly touched on the kitchen. Kate teased William that he liked her for her cooking and his quick response was that her cooking wasn't all that good. Knowing William's humor, that probably means her cooking is quite competent. He went on to reminisce about making meals for Kate early on in an attempt to impress her, and finally admitted that more recently his skills have not been improving, to which Kate pointed out she didn't give him much opportunity to practice.
While on tour in Canada, the royal couple visited the Institut de tourisme et d’hotellerie du Quebec where they interacted with the students and tried some cooking themselves. One student chatted with Kate:
I asked her if she liked to cook at home. She said she likes to cook, but does not do fancy things. She more makes big batches, throws a few ingredients together, trying new things.

Welsh Directory

In a 2012 Vanity Fair article, Katie Nicholl reported that not only does Kate like to cook, she also enjoys making her own sausage and a spot of canning:
In the evenings she indulges her hobby of cooking William’s favorite supper, roast chicken. They are reported to own a sausage-maker, and she has started making homemade pots of fruit jam while her husband is at work. (She gave strawberry jam and plum preserves out as Christmas presents last year.)
At the time, the couple were living a very private and secluded life in Anglesey, and I am sure that gave Kate more time than ever to indulge in more domestic interests.

In 2013, while pregnant with George, Kate supposedly was getting some cooking instruction from her housekeeper, Antonella Freslone.  Antonella had come to Kate's household after 13 years at BP where she cooked fantastic Italian meals. Kate spent some of her gap year studying in Italy and enjoying the local cuisine, so she was sure to have loved having Antonella around to snag some tips. Through her royal status, Kate has been able to meet various talented chefs and cooks at various events. In 2011 she met celebrity chef, Giada de Laurentiis who created the meal the royals enjoyed at the polo match in Santa Barbara. Giada specializes in Italia cooking, as well.

So, that's the scoop. Kate is taking more cooking classes and William just gets luckier and luckier...  I think Kate enjoys cooking, I think she is very health conscious and one of the best ways to eat healthily is to make your own food--that way you know everything that you are consuming, and lastly, I think it is so important to Kate that she hold on to aspects of normal life, and real living. She is anxious to maintain a family lifestyle she recognizes. Food is certainly central to a family life, as you gather around the table to share stories and common time. As Kate raises George and whatever other children she has, I am sure that mealtime will be very special to her and to the development of the future monarch.