The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge once again attended the BAFTA awards on Sunday night. William has long served as the BAFTA president, and while he has attended the annual ceremony here and there over the years, it wasn’t until 2017 that it became a mainstay on the couple’s calendar. As such, it’s a fun event where we know we’re going to get a black tie ensemble, and the royal pair always hit the red carpet last, taking their seats in the theatre just before the show begins.
This is also obviously an event that puts William and Kate at the intersection of royalty and celebrity; and as anyone who has ever watched an awards show know, they can also become irreverent and occasionally political. In 2018, at the height of the Me Too movement, attendees were encouraged to wear black in solidarity, putting Kate in an awkward position as it could be argued the movement is inherently political. I personally don’t believe that it is political, and had hoped she would wear black, but in the end she opted for a dark green gown with black sash. A few people pointed out green was the color of suffragettes back in the day, and thus she could have been subtly signalling her support, but who knows.
This year, female attendees were encouraged to re-wear a gown to to highlight awareness of sustainability efforts. Over the last couple weeks, I’ve seen particularly keen royal watchers posting pictures of which gowns they’d most like to see get a recycle, but I don’t think anyone guessed Kate would pick what she did. More on that below.
William also used the evening as an opportunity to chime in on the organization’s – and the industry’s – diversity efforts, or lack thereof. In his capacity as president, he noted that the vast majority of this year’s nominees were white, stating:
“Both here in the UK and in many other countries around the world, we are lucky to have incredible film-makers, actors, producers and technicians, men and women of all backgrounds and ethnicities enriching our lives through film.
“Yet in 2020, and not for the first time in the last few years, we find ourselves talking again about the need to do more about diversity in the sector and in the awards process. That simply cannot be right in this day and age.”
You watch the full speech here:
I don’t disagree, and in fact I’m glad William used his position to say what he did. I’m also glad that Kate followed along with this year’s trend and re-wore an older gown. What I still take issue with, however, is why highlighting environmental concerns and diversity efforts are considered “safely political,” but supporting a movement criticizing the sexual harassment of women in the workplace is inherently riskier. I’m not sure that it is.
The headline moment from Sunday night, however, came when Australian actress Margot Robbie came on stage to accept an award on behalf of her Once Upon a Time in Hollywood co-star Brad Pitt’s behalf. She read a brief statement from him that he intended to call the award “Harry,” and he was looking forward to bringing him back to the States, a clear reference to the recent Sussexit drama.
You can see how this went down in the video clip above. Much is being made of how awkward this moment was, and how William and Kate looked strained, but I think people are overreacting a tad. My sense in watching the clip is that William and Kate are surprised, but still genuinely amused by the joke. And honestly, I think the the point of the joke is less that it’s inherently hilarious, so much as it’s a bit of an off-color thing to say in front of the Cambridges and their laughter acknowledges that.
At another point
American Australian actress Rebel Wilson nodded to William and Kate’s presence by pretending to confuse them with Harry and the Duke of York (Prince Andrew). Based on the clip I saw (which I’m not going to embed because it’s a bit rude, but you can see it here if you’re so inclined) we don’t see the Cambridges’ immediate reactions, but you see them clapping along a bit bemused later. Again, I don’t think they were offended, so much as they knew the Andrew reference put them on slightly more dangerous ground, so they were more muted.
After the ceremony, William and Kate mingled with the category winners. Kensington Palace specifically highlighted on their Twitter feed that this included the cast and crew of 1917.
Finally, the fashion. Kate recycled a white and gold Alexander McQueen gown that she first debuted during the 2012 Southeast Asia tour. This has always been a divisive gown, but what makes its re-appearance surprising is that it was such a specific look for the trip. The gown is embroidered with Hibiscus flowers, the national flower of Malaysia, and Kate wore it during a state dinner honoring the Cambridges’ visit.
I was not a fan when Kate debuted this look, and it’s still not my favorite. A lot of people took issue with the bodice, but that actually doesn’t really bother me. For me, the gold embroidery just looks cheap. I recognize that it’s not, but it’s just not my preferred aesthetic, and so while it was on theme for that particular dinner in 2012 I would have been fine with not seeing it again.
That said, I actually do like it more this round than I did, so perhaps the joke’s on me. I think Kate’s up-do on Sunday night helped, and I also think the slight alterations made to the sleeves helped make the gown more elegant. It’s still not my favorite, but watching it in motion did inspire slightly more appreciation.
There have been some odds and ends in other royal news, so I may capture those in a royal roundup today or later this week. We’re also due to see William and Kate again on Tuesday. On February 11, there will be rather a more significant engagement when we see the Cambridges join the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for a visit to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Stanford Hall. I don’t think we’ve ever seen this particular foursome appear together without the rest of the extended family (or as separate pairs, etc.), so that should be fun!