Today, the Duchess of Cambridge visited a children’s hospice in Norfolk as part of her patronage of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH). Before walking into today’s engagement, Kate chatted with onlookers that had lined up outside, at which point she was handed a “portrait” of her drawn by a young girl, which included the note, “Princess Kate, it’s an honour to meet you.”
Inside, Kate met with the hospice’s leadership, as well as families with children receiving treatment there. According to reporter Victoria Murphy of the Daily Mirror, in a conversation with one family, Kate stated, “I’m a mum and I can’t imagine what you’ve been through.”
The hospice, opened in 1991, has since outgrown its facilities and is appealing to open a new space, The Nook, in Norfolk. Kate helped to launch that appeal in November 2014 and part of her visit today included an update on fundraising efforts to raise the £10 million needed.
See the below video of a member of EACH speaking to the Duchess’s contribution to the endeavor, as well as Kate’s aside that making her first speech on their behalf back in 2012 was “terrifying.” While Kate has slowly but surely begun to make speeches on a more regular basis – and shown significant improvement in the last five and a half years – it’s been well-documented that she has a fear of public speaking.
And in another quote that was picked up by multiple reporters covering today’s engagement (though I’ll stick with Murphy), when asked by a child in attendance what it’s like being a princess was, Kate responded that she was “well looked after” by her husband:
Which is fine – indeed, it speaks well of her marriage with William. But it’s moments like this that you wish Kate would say something meaningful – or say something that indicates she wants and is in the process of building a profile and a career that is independent of her identity as William’s wife or George and Charlotte’s mother. The Cambridge family is happy and adorable, yes, but there are times when Kate’s existence feels decidedly retro. And it’s times like this, when her family is not the only the first thing that she uses to define herself, but the only thing she uses.
That said, one thing that I think Kate does very well in her work – and it’s something often glossed over or disregarded by her critics – is that she does seem to take her engagements seriously. She also shines in engagements based on activities, particularly with children. Where I think she sometimes falters is in making small talk, particularly when she knows she is being recorded or her words are being taken down – and if you think about chatting with strangers at a work event, and those words then being blasted around the Internet for global dissection, well I think you might be a bit uneasy under those circumstances too. To be comfortable you likely need years of experience or a personality at ease in that situation. My point being, I don’t think it’s some professional flaw of Kate’s that she sometimes stumbles in her remarks during these engagements.
It is also to her credit that the members of patronages with whom she works on a regular basis are complimentary of her work and, perhaps even more important, the results she brings in by raising the profile of these charities. But it’s not only the patronages, which have a vested interest in maintaining a positive relationship with Kate, but the individuals she meets during her engagements that usually sing her praises. One parent that Kate met today told the Daily Mail:
“She was very compassionate. She gave us a hug and said thank you for doing this. I think she was really trying to put herself in our situation. In the space of six months we had to watch [Finnbar] go from being a healthy five-year-old, going to school, to watch him become so unwell […] She’s obviously very in tune with what EACH does and palliative care in particular she seems to be interested in […] At the end I said thank you to [the Duchess] for doing what she does and being a figurehead because it draws a lot of attention to the charity. She just said, ‘I do what little I can’ kind of thing.”
Anyway, the fashion: Kate wore an emerald green Hobbs skirt suit today over a Gerard Darel blouse and black Gianvito Rossi suede heels. Kate’s in the middle of a bit of a Hobbs resurgence, a designer that has been in her closet since 2012, however over the last year she has repeatedly turned to the label by way of her green “Persephone” trench coat and the brown “Celeste” coat, most recently seen when she left church with her family in Berkshire on Christmas Day.
I love the suit, which actually surprises me because Kate has a few similar green items in her closet that I emphatically dislike. And at first glance this morning, I thought she was wearing one of them and was disappointed. A closer inspection, however, revealed the “Sinead” jacket and skirt combination, of which I’m a fan. Do I think the jacket would be better if it didn’t contain a zipper kept zipped up to Kate’s chin? Yes, but in the interest of it not being either item pictured below, I’ll take it.
Notably, Kate chose to wear the Gerard Darel blouse under her jacket, perhaps to soften the severity of its neckline. Kate is a long-time fan of the Peter Pan collar, as seen below on a small selection of several occurrences:
With the exception of the 2013 event when Kate was pregnant, I actually don’t really care for the Peter Pan collar. I think the looks from Normandy and Belgium would both have been significantly more striking had they been removed. I feel the same way about today, however had she not worn the blouse (which I like fine on its own because of the black bow detail, see below) then the look would be altogether too similar to the Erdem and Catherine Walker coat dresses. So, solution: Throw those two out. Keep the Hobbs. Problem solved.
The next engagement on the books for Kate will be a Place2Be event scheduled for Monday, February 6 alongside William.