Following up on the success of today’s Royal Foundation forum, the Duchess of Cambridge was out and about for a snowy evening in London at the National Portrait Gallery. Of all of Kate’s patronages, the NPG is probably my favorite. There are few things I enjoy more than starting with the Plantagenets in their historical exhibit and working my way towards the Georgians. Thus, I always get a kick out of seeing Kate turn up on their behalf and tonight was no exception.
Today was a big day: for the first time since her engagement was announced, Meghan Markle joined Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for a working event. (In this case, I don’t count Christmas.) We’ve become accustomed to seeing William, Kate and Harry undertake engagements as a threesome, but until this afternoon had yet to see how the chemistry would adjust to incorporate Harry’s fiancée. By all appearances, she fits in well! She showed little sign of nerves and displayed an easy relationship with her future in-laws, particularly Kate.
Today’s engagements on behalf of Nursing Now 2020 and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have been on the books for a while now, but it wasn’t until this morning that Kensington Palace announced that the Duchess of Cambridge would formally become patron of each. It’s a big deal when members of the Royal Family officially take on new patronages in general, but especially when it’s one of the younger set (at least in my opinion). The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have both candidly expressed that their approach to monarchy is quality over quantity, thus when either they or Kate take on a new cause or project it’s a safe bet that it means something to them personally.
The House of Stuarts brought about a lot of firsts, though they’re rarely given credit for it. Indeed, stuck between the Tudors and the forebears of today’s Royal Family, they’re an in-between group of monarchs that have always failed to inspire quite as much interest as their peers. And that’s a shame, because they were certainly as dysfunctional and dramatic as those that came before and after. Even more, they were just as politically significant to the evolution of Great Britain.
Since announcing their engagement on November 27, 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have undertaken a series of public engagements to introduce the bride-to-be to the UK. So far, they’ve turned up in Nottingham, Cardiff and Edinburgh, as well as two engagements in London. Averaging around two to three appearances per month, it’s likely that the two will continue at the same pace until the big day in May.
But the excitement of the events, the newness of Meghan and the breathless media coverage made me both nostalgic and curious about this time seven years ago when it was the Duchess of Cambridge – then Kate Middleton – who was preparing for her future role. It’s been just long enough that I wanted to take a look back and see what’s changed and what hasn’t.
Dispiriting news came out yesterday that a letter containing racist language and white powder was sent to Meghan Markle at St. James’s Palace in London. The mail was received on February 12 and police have confirmed that while the powder was identified as “harmless,” they are treating the incident as a racially-motivated hate crime.
We’ve discussed before the strange tradition of strife between sovereign and heir that George I brought with him to Britain when the House of Hanover was established in 1714. It’s a pattern that has carried through subsequent generations in some form or another, though mercifully today it looks quite different than it did in centuries past. As of when the future George V began his family with Mary of Teck in the 1890s, family dynamics were certainly not as political or dire as they were when George II was waging war against his father as Prince of Wales or his son as king, but they also weren’t particularly warm and fuzzy. Indeed, George and Mary were tough parents and the patterns set out in the formative years of their children, two of whom would become kings, dictated how the monarchy unfolded through the 20th century.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were once again outside of London today, taking on a series of engagements in Sunderland. If there’s one thing I’m going to remember from this pregnancy, besides a never-ending supply of Goat dresses and coats, it’s going to be the number of times these two made it around the country. It’s a fun change of pace and one that I hope they keep up once Kate returns from maternity leave later this year.
This was a moment I never knew I needed: Queen Elizabeth joined Anna Wintour in the front row at a London Fashion Week show. The only thing that might have added to this was if she turned up flanked by the Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan Markle, but there’s always next year.
Her appearance was unannounced, but made quite the impact. She viewed a millinery exhibit curated by Stephen Jones and then took her place in the front row next to U.S. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Ms. Wintour to watch the Richard Quinn runway show.
Say what you will about the Duchess of Cambridge lately, but this has been a very dramatic winter of fashion. Between the floral Erdems, fur and the controversial green Jenny Packham last night, I have a feeling Kate is looking forward to the days when she can don her skinnies and a Breton-striped top in peace and call it a day. Everything else aside, it’s worth noting that Kate has been turning up at event after event, including a number of evening engagements requiring formal wear, with a smile on her face at seven months pregnant. That’s no mean feat.