Kate Dusts off Her Barbour for London School Visit

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The Duchess of Cambridge visited the Robin Hood Primary School in London today, which is celebrating 10 years of a program in coordination with the Royal Horticultural Society’s Campaign for School Gardening. The idea behind the initiative is to teach children how to garden and encourage time and educational pursuits outside, which have been proven to benefit students. The highlight of the engagement, however, was without a doubt when Kate was shown a homemade caterpillar house dubbed “Bug-ingham Palace” and she burst out laughing.

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From royal reporter Victoria Murphy:

“Lucky bugs to have such a cool place to sleep,” she is reported to have said.

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Sally Spires, a member of the school staff, told reporters:

“She was incredibly warm and interested and understood the idea of using outdoor learning to promote the development and mental health of young children. She clearly enjoys it herself and said how much she enjoys getting her children out in the garden with their toys and dinosaurs.”

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The Duchess gave a short “speech” in honor of the school’s anniversary, noting her own passion for gardening and her desire to pass that interest on to Prince George and Princess Charlotte. A few people have made comments online about the fact Kate is discreetly holding small note cards in one of her hands, asking why she needs them for short remarks to children. I’m going to defend Kate here, because I’m not sure how many times we have to do this. She’s not a natural public speaker and it’s been well-established now that she gets very, very nervous before having to deliver remarks – it has nothing to do with a lack of preparation or commitment, but rather a skill that she (like thousands upon thousands of other people) has to actively work at. And these weren’t remarks “in front of children” – these were remarks in front of staff and, oh yes, reporters who are recording and capturing every millisecond to be beamed around the globe. I don’t personally have a fear of public speaking, but I’ve also never had to do what Kate does – on behalf of the woman she represents when she does it – so let’s go ahead and call comparing her situation to our own professional experiences apples and oranges, ok?

A (sideways) video was reported by royal reporter Rebecca English below:

Kate kept things practical with a pair of black skinny jeans – likely the same ones she wore in Birmingham last week – and a black Temperley turtleneck sweater. These were capped off with her tried and true Penelope Chilvers brown leather boots, which she’s been wearing since her University days, and a black Barbour jacket.

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I loved her look today. Indeed, I’ve got a longer version of her coat on the back of my chair as we speak, so I should! Sometimes Kate’s outfits for casual, outdoors and/or athletic engagements miss the mark with royal watchers for veering too dramatically in the “dressed down” direction, but I thought this struck the right balance. She’s hanging out with primary school children in the woods – that calls for jeans and worn-in footwear!

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All in all, lovely – Kate always shines when she’s interacting with children, even if the soundbites aren’t always the most compelling. (I mean, I’d share the convos had today about whether the kids had worn their coats or liked strawberries, but…)

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Kate’s husband, on the other hand, arrived in Finland today for a two-day visit in honor of the country’s centenary celebrations. This was meant to be a part of a larger tour in Scandinavia with Kate in which Sweden and Norway were also visited, but it was broken up after the announcement of the Cambridges’ third baby. Postponing Finland didn’t make sense given the anniversary, but the rest of the planned tour has been pushed to “early 2018.” I’ll pull together a brief highlights post on William’s visit tomorrow, even if only for us to imagine how much more fun it would have been if Kate had been able to join him!

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As of right now there are no further engagements on the books for Kate. She’s been doing about two engagements per week in November, so we’ll see if we get an appearance next week. In the days of yore, I would have said we were due a week off or a decampment to Anmer, but now that she’s based in London full-time I don’t yet have a sense for what a “normal” schedule feels like. With the Christmas holiday fast approaching, I would imagine it’s too soon for a full week off and KP will be looking to keep her diary full before the break, but we shall see.

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