Ahead of Armistice Day, the Duchess of Cambridge Catherine paid a surprise visit to the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth, South London to view letters relating to the three brothers of her great-grandmother, all of whom fought and died in the First World War and learn more about her family’s participation in World War I. The visit also marked the Centenary of the End of World War I.
The letters are part of the Imperial War Museum’s Documents Archive, which provides a means to research, reflect and remember the extraordinary contribution and sacrifice made by so many families during the First World War.
Upon arrival at the Imperial War Museum, Catherine was welcomed by the Director-General of the museum Diane Lees and was taken to show the ‘Poppies: Weeping Window’ artwork by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper.
The Duchess first saw the piece in its original form when it was displayed at the Tower of London in 2014 as part of the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation where 888,246 poppies were displayed, representing each life lost at the Front during the World War I. Since then the amazing artwork has travelled throughout the UK before finally residing at the Imperial War Museum permanently.
The Duchess took a short tour of the First World War Galleries and learns more about what her relatives would have experienced during their time on the front line.
Francis Martineau Lupton, The Duchess’s great-great-grandfather, had five children. His three sons Francis, Maurice and Lionel were all killed in action while serving during the First World War. The two youngest brothers, Captain Maurice Lupton and Lieutenant Lionel M Lupton went to France within 3 days of each other in 1915.
The eldest Lupton brother, Major Francis A Lupton fought with the 8th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment in 1917. Sadly, each of the brothers was killed in action over a period of three years: Maurice in 1915, Lionel in 1916 and Francis in 1917.
Their sister Olive Christiana Middleton, nee Lupton, who worked as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment, is the Duchess of Cambridge’s great-grandmother. She married Lieutenant Richard Noel Middleton, who also corresponded with the family during the war. Olive and Noel Middleton were parents of Peter Middleton, Duchess’ grandfather and father of Michael Middleton (Catherine’s father).
During the visit, The Duchess was shown Olive’s registration card. Olive and her younger sister Anne were both VAD nurses with the Red Cross during the war. The Duchess of Cambridge’s great-grandmother Olive Middleton helped the sick and wounded as a British Red Cross volunteer during World War I.
The Duchess of Cambridge was shown documents relating to her relatives’ experiences of life on the Front by IWM’s Head of Documents, Anthony Richards. Catherine was shown letters and documents relating to Francis, Lionel and Maurice from World War One. The Duchess looked fascinated as she learned more about her family history while examining documents during the visit
The items shown included a field service postcard from Lionel dated 16 July 1916, where he notes that “I am quite well”. Sadly, Lionel was killed in action on the same day, aged just 24.
The telegram from Noel Middleton to the family, informs that Francis’ body had been found and the circumstances of his death: “Bad News Francis Body Found Near Taylor’s Killed Instantaneously Bomb Saw Norman Yesterday And Grave In Churchyard”
Among the Lupton Brothers’ letters, was a letter of condolence on behalf of King George V to Duchess’ great-great Grandfather Francis Martineau Lupton, from the Keeper of the Privy Purse at Buckingham Palace stating,
The King realises that this is the third beloved son you have given to your Country’s cause
The eldest brother, Major Francis Lupton, served with the 8th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment and was killed by a bomb on 19 February 1917 aged 31. Francis’s brother, Lieutenant Lionel Lupton, the youngest of the three, had been killed in action only a year earlier aged 24. Lionel had served 28th Brigade Royal Field Artillery, spending significant time in the Front Line trenches in France. Captain Maurice Lupton served with the 7th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment and also spent time in the trenches, occasionally meeting with his younger brother, Lionel. Maurice was the first family casualty of the war and was killed by a sniper in 1915 aged 28.
During the visit, she met with historians, curators and the fellow descendant of a First World War soldier. Charlotte Czyzyk, Project Manager of Lives of WWI, explains the IWM’s digital memorial of those who lived during the First World War. The project includes the details of Duchess’ relatives.
It must have been an emotional and proud moment for Duchess to look at those historic items and knowing how her family has served the nation.
For the visit, Duchess chose to bring back one of her iconic looks. She wore a blue shift bespoke dress from her trusty designer Jenny Packham.
We first saw the dress in September 2016, when Catherine arrived with William, George and Charlotte in British Columbia, Canada to start their 10-days long Canada tour.
The knee-length wool-crepe dress features a peter-pan collar, slightly puffed shoulders with three quarter slightly flared sleeves and self-belted waistline.
A closer look at the dress.
She was carrying Mulberry Amberley Nude Blush Leather Clutch (thanks to Middleton Maven on Twitter for Id). The clutch is described on Mulberry as, “A new addition to the equestrian-inspired Amberley family, this Clutch bag features the distinctive Rider’s Lock. The chain strap can be fully detached. It has an optimised interior for its small size, with the main compartment, zipped pocket and credit card slots. The £495 clutch in the nude is not available any more but currently retailing in Cobalt Blue, Black and Maroon (oxblood) on Mulberry, Italist and Nordstrom.
Catherine finished her look with her diamond and sapphire earrings and Cartier Ballon Bleu watch.
The £29.99 poppy is described as,
“Women played a huge role in the First World War. They served as nurses in the field hospitals, and here at home. They worked in factories, making munitions. They worked on the land. And they were recognised afterwards with the right to vote.
100 years on, The Royal British Legion has created this special brooch dedicated to the memory of the courageous women who served and lost their lives as a direct result of the First World War.
The brooch is beautifully packaged in a floral design box. Each brooch comes with a certificate commemorating the life of a woman who lost her life as a direct result of the First World War. These names are recognised by CWGC as women serving in the auxiliary units during the First World War. Designed exclusively for the Centenary year, this stunning brooch adds a vintage feel to the classic two petal enamel poppy. Plated with a gold-tone and hand finished with brilliant baguette crystals, this charming brooch is the perfect way to support The Royal British Legion.”
Next, we will see Duchess on November 08, when she and Duke of Cambridge will attend the Tusk Trust Conservation awards.