I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been waiting to see exactly this appearance, but suffice to say, I am pleased. The Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex made their first public outing together at Wimbledon today without their respective husbands and it was all smiles, tennis and summer fashion. For those still wondering if these two women secretly hate one another, I think the photos from this afternoon will certainly help put that to bed. For the rest of us, it’s evidence of a new chapter for the House of Windsor.
On that note – and before we get to the tennis and the fashion – it’s worth noting that the House of Windsor has been extremely male-dominated for its entire duration despite having the Queen at its helm for the last 66 years. With the exception of George VI, who had two daughters, each monarch has had mostly sons, which has provided a plethora of princes and dukes, but less women. That certainly changed somewhat when the Queen, the Queen Mother and the Countess of Snowdon (Princess Margaret) were in their heyday, but the stars of the next generation – the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of York – ended up divorcing their spouses and their narrative was always a bit separate from that of the Royal Family.
What is exciting about Kate and Meghan is that they appear uniquely positioned to marry happy personal lives with their public responsibilities, take advantage of their relative youth and the natural interest in them and use it to bolster and evolve the role of the BRF. Compared to other European monarchies, the BRF can certainly appear formal and a little old-fashioned, but to be fair, there has been little by way of “new blood” in a long time. Yes, their clothes are fun (sometimes) and Kate’s children are adorable (all of the time), but what is actually interesting about this chapter in the Windsor story is what comes next with the Royal Foundation, the Invictus Games, Kate’s work with maternal mental health and what issues Meghan decides to jump on.
With the dust settling from Meghan’s wedding and Kate beginning to re-emerge from maternity leave, everything has just a little bit of that shiny back-to-school feel.
But anyway, today. As discussed, Kate has attended Wimbledon every year since her wedding, with the exception of 2013 when she just weeks away from giving birth to Prince George and her doctors wouldn’t let her – it was almost certain that we’d see her at some point this year. Well, that and she’s a patron. As for Meghan, she’s attended Wimbledon in the past, prior to her relationship with Harry, but the real reason everyone thought she’d turn up is because tennis champ Serena Williams is a close friend of hers.
Arriving at the All England Club, the women met junior players ahead of the games. In the past year, Kate has specifically worked with her athletic and tennis-based charities to encourage young people to take on sports, with a particular focus on tennis.
They then settled in the Royal Box and watched a match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, in which the former came out the victor. They came in for the last two hours of what was apparently a five-hour marathon. Kate will watch Djokovic play in the next (and last) round tomorrow when she attends again with William.
Next up was Serena Williams, playing against the German Angelique Kerber. Kerber ended up winning the round, which must have been a bit of a rain cloud for Meghan at least.
Fashion-wise, I thought they both looked great and very on-brand for themselves. Kate chose a summery dress by favorite designer Jenny Packham that was almost too on-theme. Midi-length, the dress features a black and white print that comes close to resembling little tennis balls. It also features gatherings at the shoulder and hip that add a touch of a flounce and Kate certainly likes her ruffles.
She rounded out the look with nude Gianvito Rossi heels and a new handbag by Dolce & Gabbana.
Meghan, on the other hand, looked equally as appropriate, but also very “her.” She paired a blue and white striped Ralph Lauren shirt with a pair of wide-legged white pants from the same label. I’ve not seen an ID on her shoes, but she carried an Altuzzara handbag and had a fedora from Maison Michel Virginie on hand.
I love this quote from a piece from The Telegraph that sums it up well:
I doubt that the Duchesses discussed their outfits beforehand, and they certainly didn’t look a matching pair. But why should they? Both looked elegant and appropriate, in line with what is expected of a Duchess. Both have shown a keen interest in fashion, and have sparked fashion trends and caused business to boom for the brands they wear. It just so happens that their taste in clothes isn’t the same – and wouldn’t it be boring if it was?
The article also noted that the last time Meghan attended Wimbledon was in 2016, the year she started dating Harry. She was apparently there as a guest of a Ralph Lauren PR rep, one of a handful of mutual friends believed to be responsible for setting the couple up. In other words, today’s choice of Ralph could well have been a nod to that connection. Je ne sais pas.
Anywho, as noted, tomorrow we’ll see Kate and William attend, so we’ll reconvene back here. And then on Tuesday there will be another engagement from Harry and Meghan. We’ll find some time for a little history, too, I promise 🙂