On Saturday night, the Royal Family congregated at Royal Albert Hall for this year’s Festival of Remembrance, the prelude to Sunday’s formal ceremony. Like Trooping the Colour, it’s an event that nearly always draws the entire family, so high is its significance on the royal calendar.
For our purposes, it also brought about a reunion when the awkwardness is seemingly high between the various royal households. Various news articles have gone back and forth on the extent to which the Duke of Sussex tipped off his grandmother, the Queen, or his father, the Prince of Wales, before the release of his press statement last month, as well as whether or not Charles and the Duke of Cambridge are angry and/or worried about Harry’s behavior.
I’m of the opinion that Harry likely did give the Queen a head’s up because I trust Katie Nicholl’s reporting, however whether HRH was given the complete picture is anyone’s guess. As for Charles and William, I think it’s a safe assumption they’re not big fans of either the statement or the documentary that followed, but highly debatable whether Frogmore Cottage is actively feuding with Kensington Palace and Clarence House at this point.
Regardless, all eyes were peeled for signs of tension between the one-time Fab Four, and all eyes are going to have to keep waiting because everyone was on their professional game this weekend. As well it should be given the occasion.
Instead, the festival prompted some discussion as to why Harry and Meghan were placed to the side, while William and Kate were seated front and center near the Queen. I understand that the optics may well indicate the Sussexes are being punished by exile, but in fact, Harry and Meghan are sitting in the same spot they did in 2017 and 2018. So, nothing new to see here.
I’ve seen some responses that the BRF is following the order of precedence for seating, but that’s not strictly true here. As a reminder, the order of precedence is different than the line of succession. So, for example, while Charles is first in the line of succession, if he’s in the same room as both of his parents, he comes in third in the order of precedence. Likewise, the Queen’s younger children – the Princess Royal, the Duke of York, and the Earl of Wessex – come after William and Harry in the succession, but before them in the order of precedence as the sovereign’s children (as opposed to her grandchildren).
Once upon a time, this order proved useful; in 2019, yes, it’s a bit outdated. But it does serve the purpose of ensuring that personality and popularity don’t dictate prominence. Usually. For this particular event, the center box with the Queen has fluctuated over the years, but it’s generally filled with the Queen, her children, William and Kate (now that they attend this event), and the Queen’s cousins, the Dukes and Duchesses of Kent and Gloucester (depending on their respective attendance).
This year there was a marked change, but it wasn’t Harry and Meghan. The Queen’s wayward second son, Prince Andrew, was seated on the right box, not the center box, so a bit of a (well-deserved) demotion. Granted, given the Queen’s public support of him this summer, I’m not inclined to believe this speaks to actual punishment, but it may well be a concession to the negative attention he’s generated in recent months.
I have a feeling that the center box is mostly filled with those in the family with whom the Queen is closest. Her children, obviously, and her cousins, who are her peers in age. William and Kate are given prime seating given their future roles, so that the optics are the Queen flanked by the next two kings. Harry and Meghan, by default, are bumped over one.
Anyway, that’s enough of that. To quickly cover off on fashion, Kate wore a dress that caused some consternation because it 1) has yet to be identified and 2) looked alternately navy and black depending on the lighting. It’s silhouette prompted some speculation that it was Jenny Packham, but the label denied it was theirs, so as of right now it’s still a UFO. As for the color, I went back and forth on this, but I do think it’s a very dark navy paired with black accessories.
The Duchess styled the dress with Jimmy Choo heels, an Alexander McQueen clutch, and a sparkly headband from Zara. It wasn’t the most exciting look in the world, but I thought it worked, looked elegant, and the headband did add just enough pizzazz to a simple garment. So, win by me.
As for Meghan, she went in rather a different direction. She chose a black tea dress by Erdem, a label highly favored by several Windsor women, including Kate and Meghan herself well before her marriage. The wide neckline, the luxe fabric, the length – I really wanted to like this. Under different circumstances, I might like this. But for whatever reason, it was not flattering.
I’m not sure what the issue was exactly because the silhouette should be accommodating to Meghan’s fuller figure post-baby and she’s worn similar looks with success before. I think it may well have just been an issue of tailoring – that the dress just wasn’t hitting or cinching the right spots. It’s all about tailoring, my friends! Particularly when you’re on the shorter side.
It was a good effort and I hope that she repeats it down the line, but I’m calling this a miss for the time being…and with great reluctance.
I’ll follow up tomorrow with Remembrance Sunday and thank you for bearing with me on the delays this week 🙂