Surprise! The Duchess of Cambridge made an appearance at Ascot today alongside her husband, the Duke of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Zara Tindall, among others. It was such a family affair that even Michael and Carole Middleton were seen in the Royal enclosure. But the true star of the show was the Queen herself, who has been attending the event annually alongside her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, since the ’50s. True to form, she was there today, rocking a lime green coat and hat, handbag and gloves properly in place.
Ascot is like a cross between Trooping the Colour and Wimbledon in the sense that you’re likely to see members of the Royal Family, but you’re not exactly sure who and who’s to say when or why. I reference Wimbledon for the surprise aspect of it, but Trooping might be more apt in the sense that you’re guaranteed to get a few Windsors mingling and, frankly, that’s always more interesting than seeing them solo because #familydynamics.
Today’s excursion was particularly well-timed for my purposes, coming so close on the heels of yesterday’s post on Edward and Sophie, which touched on their relationship with William and Kate towards the end. I theorized that while perfectly friendly, they weren’t particularly close, so imagine my surprise when I see photos of Sophie tripping into an open carriage and almost falling on to Kate, their mutual looks of shock and amusement captured in some fabulous candid shots. Anyway, my conclusion remains unchanged – I believe Sophie and Kate are generally fond of one another, but as two couples, it doesn’t extend much past that.
More interesting to me was the fact that Charles had Beatrice and Eugenie sitting in a carriage with Camilla and him. In light of the news stories from last year that Andrew and Beatrice were up in arms about Charles’s exclusion of them from RF planning, I think there may have been a hint of PR in this line up, showing that all’s well in Windsor land and Charles gets along fine with his nieces.
I was equally as intrigued to see Beatrice and Kate standing close to one another at various points, though they weren’t really engaged in conversation. While Kate and Eugenie have been seen greeting each other warmly and appearing affectionate – not to mention, Eugenie also lives at Kensington Palace – you don’t see quite the same familiarity between Kate and Beatrice. As with Sophie, rumor has it the divide has more to do with William – that he’s not a particularly big fan of his cousin and Kate has respected that line. Could be. More likely it’s not that dramatic – while William might not be overly fond of Beatrice, he and Kate also don’t have much in common with her at this point. She’s in her 20s, single and living in NYC, while William and Kate are in their mid-30s, married and raising small children. I think it’s okay if there’s not too much to talk about at this point.
Per usual, Kate and Zara looked thrilled to see one another and, by all accounts, Zara is the one cousin with whom William and Prince Harry are equally as close. Kate and Zara both got married the same year and were pregnant with their first children the same year, so it stands to reason they have a fair bit in common – not to mention they’ve known each other for about 15 years.
Charles and Camilla took a turn handing out trophies to riders:
As did William and Kate:
Now, back to Kate. This is the second year in a row that she and William have attended Ascot, which is both surprising and really not at all surprising. Given the couple’s enthusiasm for athletics and competition, the event is right up their alley. However, given that they’re not two to go out of their way to attend public events unless necessary, I hadn’t been shocked that Ascot wasn’t a cornerstone of their spring/summer calendar. Last year was their Ascot debut, though they have attended a handful of other racing events in the past, most notably the Epson Derby back in 2011.
Last year, in the midst of her fascination with Dolce & Gabbana, lace and midi-length dresses, Kate found a dress that hit all three:
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the dress and I can totally see why Kate chose it, something about it just slightly missed the mark for me and I’m not sure why.
Today’s dress, an Alexander McQueen showcasing even more white lace, felt like last year’s dress slightly edgier, grown up sister and I’m a fan. The tailoring offered a structure that made the dress feel both professional and formal, while the lace maintained that slightly bucolic look that I think Kate prefers. It’s soft without being sloppy, feminine without being fussy. Total win.
I’d also like to give an honorable mention to Beatrice who wore a floral number by British designer Claire Mischevani. Beatrice is one of the more fashion-forward members of the RF and, as such, it can be a little hit or miss. Today was a hit and if Kate took home the gold, Beatrice gets the silver.
Camilla gets the bronze for whoever is keeping track, though I’ve not seen who the designer is.
There still aren’t any engagements on the books for Kate in the near future, but given tomorrow’s the state opening of Parliament and the Queen is due to give a speech, I would imagine it’s very possible nothing will be announced until the dust has settled from that. I’m planning to cover the speech and event here tomorrow, so check back then.
The pictures of Zara interacting with her grandfather were some of today’s sweetest:
The Princess Royal also popped up: