Trooping the Colour is always one of the biggest events on the royal calendar each year. This was especially the case this year thanks to it being the Duchess of Sussex’s inaugural appearance and a rare public appearance from the Duchess of Cambridge, who is still on maternity leave. Even with expectations high, I thought both women nailed it on the sartorial front.
Let’s start at the beginning: today’s ceremony marks the sovereign’s birthday (despite the Queen’s actual birthday being in April) and is a military display put on by regiments of British and Commonwealth armies. Each year, the Royal Family processes in a public parade in which some members are participating and others merely attending – this may be fairly obvious, but those participating are in uniform and on horseback, and those who are not ride in carriages.
After the procession, the family overlooks the parade grounds from Wellington’s former office, while the Queen makes her formal inspection of the troops. From there, the family convenes with the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a RAF flypast. It is at this point that the children join the adults – as such, it is one of the most dependable views the public gets of Prince George and Princess Charlotte each year. Prince Louis is still too young to join, of course, and he likely won’t until next year or the year after that. George made his debut in 2015, just shy of his second birthday, while Charlotte made hers in 2016, shortly after her first.
So, today: the most notable difference now that the Duke of Sussex is married is that he was in his own carriage with Meghan. In previous years he has joined Kate and the Duchess of Cornwall, and to be honest I thought it was going to end up a carriage of four. But no, the newlyweds were given their own and it was a nice nod, even if unintentional, to their star power so close on the heels of their wedding.
Meghan wore a bespoke, off-the-shoulder Carolina Herrera dress in pale pink and a hat by Philip Treacy. Her hair was down and not completely straightened, which actually made this a bit of a different look for the new duchess. I loved it – she looked beautiful, and while she certainly looks more “royal” than she did before her wedding, the bare shoulders are most definitely classic Meghan. I’m having a hard time picturing any other royal woman wearing this particular ensemble for Trooping, but she pulls it off in my book.
Camilla and Kate were together in a carriage for what is now the eighth year in a row – and that feels fitting given that they are both future queen consorts. (A third carriage carried Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the Countess of Wessex and Lady Louise). Camilla wore a pale blue silk dress by Bruce Oldfield, on whom she relies quite a bit. Actually, both women were dressed similarly today. Kate wore a pale blue bespoke Alexander McQueen dress, which, if you follow her fashion regularly, you know is a label she pulls out for these headliner events.
I don’t love the shoulders, but will admit they do give what is otherwise a very simple dress a bit more regal flair. The cut and pleated skirt also give some breathing room to Kate as she recovers from pregnancy. This is a new hat, as well, and it was designed by Juliette Botterill. It’s a statement, to be sure, but it’s my favorite part of this look and the simplicity of the dress helps it stand out without looking too fussy or busy.
Both Kate and Meghan delivered, in my opinion, and my favorite moment of the day was this smile shared between both women on the balcony.
Which brings us to, well, the balcony: You may notice that Harry and Meghan are standing slightly behind William, Kate and their children, and this is not an accident. There are two reasons for this – one is that it allows William and Kate to tend to their children, who are obviously up front so that they can see. The second is that William and Kate are a future king and queen and these images are not just for the photos that run today, but for the history books. Harry and Meghan are close by and near the Queen, but they aren’t in the forefront.
As for another “spare” to the heir, Charlotte made her presence known, as she is wont to do.
Perhaps it was the noise or the heat, but At one point the little Princess was in tears and required a quick pick up from Kate, who was quickly able to console her daughter and return her to her spot for the rest of the show. [Update: A reader kindly informed me that there’s a clip out there of Charlotte taking a slightly slip from the step-stool she’s standing on. Mystery solved!]
As for George, he was pretty chill this year, though he appears to have been making enough noise that his second cousin, Savannah Phillips, (daughter of Peter Phillips and granddaughter of the Princess Royal), appeared to cover his mouth. The other young blonde girl in blue with them is Savannah’s younger sister, Isla.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to this wonderful look of pride from the Queen as she watched the Prince of Wales, William and Princess Anne on horseback.
And I also want to give acknowledgment of the visible camaraderie between the family members as they assembled on the balcony, joking and laughing as they took their place. There’s always so much focus on perceived tension and palace intrigue, but we are given amble evidence on a regular basis that these people do clearly enjoy one another. At least some of the time!
N.B., Meghan’s curtsy is definitely growing in confidence and fluidity:
And so that is another Trooping wrapped, my friends! Luckily, June has a few more banner events in it and we’ll likely see at least some assortment of the family for the Order of the Garter ceremony and Ascot in a couple weeks. Until then, we’ll return to history and we’ll certainly cover Meghan’s upcoming engagements with the Queen on Thursday.