Two main things stood out for me in Catherine’s 2019. We noticed a significant development of confidence in her style, and we saw again that she is the Children´s Princess. Towards the year-end, a third theme began to emerge when we also had a glimpse of a busy private work schedule undertaken by the Duchess.
After attending the first Sunday Church Service with Her Majesty the Queen in Sandringham on January 6, the Duchess of Cambridge started her year with a visit to the King Henry’s Community Garden in north London. I really enjoy these casual, nature-based engagements with kids.
Catherine is so relaxed, happy and engaged with the little ones. During these visits, she often talks about Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis and we get little insights into their life at Kensington Palace or Amner Hall.
In addition to visits to Dundee and the Royal Opera House in January, both repeat outfits, it was also announced that HRH would design and build a garden at the 2019 RHS Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, which later became a huge success in spring with visitors queuing for hours and a lot of fun for both little and big visitors. The garden was based on Catherine´s passion for nature. HRH is convinced, that the outdoors has a big impact on physical and mental health.
February was a busy month for the Duchess of Cambridge. Highlights here were the beautiful one-shoulder white Alexander McQueen gown worn for the BAFTAs and a gorgeous pale green Missoni dress during the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge´s visit to Northern Island.
In March this year, TRH visited Blackpool, where Catherine repeated her lovely blue wide-lapel Sportmax coat. On March 12 HRH visited the Henry Fawcett Children’s Centre in Lambeth. This was also the first time where some royal watchers began to recognize a significant and confident change in her wardrobe when she wore a beautiful soft Gucci bow-blouse and wide-leg, tailored trousers from Jigsaw.
In March the Shamrock Ceremony with the Irish Guards also took place, and Catherine visited the Foundling Museum having been announced as their new patron, and wearing a Catherine Walker number. Talking about the patronage, the Duchess of Cambridge said:
“I have always believed in the power of art, not only to unlock that creativity, but also to bring us joy, and to inspire, challenge and positively change our lives.”
Maybe you know that HRH graduated in 2005 from the University of St Andrews with a 2:1 in History of Art.
On April 21 HRH brought back a fan favourite for the Easter Service in Windsor. The lovely pale blue Alexander McQueen coat with low funnel neck, debuted in Australia 2014, is also one of my own personal favourite looks of 2019.
The Duchess of Cambridge herself received a huge honour from Her Majesty the Queen on her eighth wedding anniversary. She was appointed the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order for services to the Monarch: this is the highest rank of the order.
In addition to her pink tailored Alexander McQueen coat for the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, the month of May was given over to the unveiling of the Back to Nature Garden during the Chelsea Flower Show. The details had been kept under wraps for months, so everyone was incredibly excited.
In the event, Kensington Palace released the most adorable videos and pictures from the Cambridges’ visit to Chelsea. It was the sweetest surprise to see Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis explore the garden and its settings, which included a treehouse, waterfall, stepping stones and a hollow log for children to play on. HRH hoped it would inspire families “to get outside” and “enjoy nature”.
June had some big highlights too, from her white, lace-ruffled Alexander McQueen gown for the State Dinner, to the soft yellow peplum dress for Trooping the Color. The Duchess of Cambridge also joined Queen Letizia of Spain and Dutch Queen Maxima for the Order of Garter Service at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, wearing white Catherine Walker with smart dark piping. For the famous Royal Ascot week, Catherine wore a lacy blue Elie Saab midi dress, which became a favourite for many royal watchers in 2019.
Concluding June, it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge was the new royal patron of the Royal Photographic Society and HRH took part in photography workshops with young people from Action for Children, one of her patronages.
The month of July is always dominated by Wimbledon. This year Catherine attended on three separate days, wearing a white Suzannah shirt dress, dark green Dolce and Gabbana repeat, and a pale blue Emilia Wickstead for the final. On a more private level, the Cambridges´ also attended a polo match where the most adorable pictures of the children emerged. Prince Louis became the star of the day, wearing Catherine´s pair of glasses and running around.
Despite being a holiday month, August included a special family engagement. Back from holidays in Mustique, the Cambridge family and Catherine´s parents attended the King’s Cup in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Who doesn´t remember Princess Charlotte being the funniest and Kate’s special award: a wooden spoon?
September started with a family affair, the first day at school with Prince George and Princess Charlotte. After RHS Back to Nature Garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival in July, Catherine unveiled the third and final version of the Back to Nature Garden at RHS Wisley, wearing a floral Wickstead midi. It was an amazing day for a lot of families from her patronages.
During this event, HRH was accompanied by Mary Berry (an ambassador for RHS) from “The Great British Bake Off” tv show for filming a sequence, which aired in December during “A Merry Berry Christmas.”
On September 19 HRH visited the Sunshine House Children and Young People’s Development Centre. On this occasion, she wore another lovely blouse/trousers combination. It seemed she was developing her style from midi dresses and jeans to wearing trousers for dressed-down occasions – which I absolutely love.
She made this year her year of trousers, especially culottes, and the looks became more confident. September ended with the naming ceremony of the RSS Sir David Attenborough, a new polar research vessel in Birkenhead, where HRH repeated an air-force blue, belted Alexander McQueen coat dress.
Starting with TRH visit to Aga Khan Center on the second of the month, October was when their successful Royal tour Pakistan took place. Just before that, William, Catherine, George and Charlotte had attended a football match (privately) and Catherine visited the Natural History Museum, debuting another pair of culottes as the change in her style continued.
On their five-day trip in Pakistan, the Duchess of Cambridge also demonstrated an expert balance between local designers, such as Maheen Khan, and her go-to British labels, like Catherine Walker or Jenny Packham.
The month of November started with a smart royal blue Emilia Wickstead dress for the launch of the National Emergencies Trust. At this point, it began to look clear that 2020 will be a huge year for Catherine.
Daily Mirror royal editor Russell Myers (@rjmyers) posted that the Duchess “has visited the BBC Children’s and Education team at Old Broadcasting House this afternoon ahead of #AntiBullyingWeek next week. It was a private engagement, but I understand something very interesting is in the pipeline.”
HRH, Royal Patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, visited the charity’s new hospice “The Nook,” wearing a repeat fuchsia Oscar de la Renta suit, to open the building officially and to meet children and families being supported by EACH. The Duchess is EACH royal patron, it was one of her first patronages in 2012. The new facility opened this autumn after five years of fundraising, planning, and construction.
Catherine showed a “really strong interest…in how you can support mothers and fathers in the earliest months of life of a child and during pregnancy in order to make sure that brain architecture was well supported. And real compassion about the challenges of that and desire to understand the experiences of the families that some of the people around the table work with.” (People Magazine, S. Perry, September 19, 2019)
The Christmas season started with news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had joined Mary Berry for a new BBC Christmas special. TRH along with Mary Berry served a festive feast to thank the staff and volunteers from charities who spend their Christmas helping others.
Mary Berry said something during the film, which has stayed in my mind. She discussed her impressions of Kate & William, and the work that they do:
“They don’t just arrive and shake a few hands make a few smiles and a speech, they want to get involved, and they want to see what they can do. And it isn’t just one visit, they come back again and ask for the results and they remember who they spoke to last time. I think that’s remarkable.”
On December 3 HRH attended the NATO Reception at Buckingham Palace wearing a lovely bright green tailored Alexander McQueen dress, and one day later she visited the Peterley Manor Farm because the Duchess had been announced as the new patron of Family Action.
To mark that, she spent time with people who use the charity, which provides practical help to families and carers. In casual jacket and jeans, she helped the children pick out Christmas trees, made food for Santa’s reindeer and spent time working on Christmas crafts. Her Majesty the Queen, who took the patronage over from Queen Mary in 1953, has passed the patronage to the Duchess of Cambridge having held the role for over 65 years.
The last tiara event of the year was the diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace on December 11. This was the largest reception ever held at Buckingham Palace with 950 guests. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a superb, sleek, navy velvet evening gown by Alexander McQueen, the Lover’s Knot Tiara and the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, on loan from Her Majesty. The necklace was a wedding gift for Princess Elizabeth and Catherine first wore it to a 2014 National Portrait Gallery engagement.
On Wednesday, December 18, the annual Christmas lunch for members of the royal family took place at Buckingham Palace. As every year, we saw the cutest car arrival pictures from the little Cambridges´, with Prince Louis at his best. It was a red tartan Emilia Wickstead dress for Catherine.
Having wondered why Prince William and Prince George arrived in a separate car earlier in the morning, we got an answer a few days later. On Saturday 21 the most heartwarming pictures were published by Queen Elizabeth II, who was joined by her heirs Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George for a celebration of The Royal British Legion’s ‘Together at Christmas’ Initiative in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace. The pictures were taken just before the Queen’s Christmas lunch.
Some weeks ago, we saw the Cambridge’ Christmas card photo, taken at Amner Hall. It was shared on Twitter by Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, CBE, Commandant of the Air Cadets, HRH is Royal Patron of the Cadets. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a lovely blue Boden dress and the three little ones look adorable!
Sadly, this picture hasn’t been released officially, but Kensington Palace posted another black-and-white photo by the Duchess of Cambridge. It shows Prince William, Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte and Prince George at the family’s estate in Norfolk, taken earlier this year after they went swimming.
On December 25, the annual Christmas Church services in Sandringham took place and HRH wore Catherine Walker and Michael Kors for this last family outing of 2019.
With the crowds close to the path, it must have been a very exciting first walk for Princess Charlotte, who received a toy pink flamingo from a visitor. We were able to see Prince George and Princess Charlotte hugging some well-wishers and the little Princess refusing to give her flowers up to the security woman who was with the Duchess of Cambridge. What a lovely end of the year!
But … it wasn´t the end! It was reported that we could expect some news from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge over the holiday break. There was a meeting at Kensington Palace right before Christmas, where the press got a glimpse into what is coming up next in 2020 for the royal couple.
In November the court Circular said the Duchess of Cambridge visited the Kingston Hospital Maternity Unit in London for two days, spending time with nurses and midwives. This was in relation to her beloved project “Early Years Intervention”, that we are expecting to come out early 2020. With January 1, 2020, marking the beginning of the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, the Duchess of Cambridge wrote an open letter to all midwives across the country. The Palace also released some photographs from the visit, when HRH wore a Michael Kors print dress. Catherine not only spent time at the hospital, but she also accompanied community midwives on home visits, which left HRH “truly touched by the trust that people placed in me, sharing their experiences and voicing their fears openly.”
With 126 engagements in total (Sunday Times) the Duchess of Cambridge made a huge step in being more present in 2019. This new year will be a big one for Kate. She is going to be really focused on her“Early Years Intervention” project, something in which she has been involved for a long time. And there will be two big overseas tours for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, probably in spring and autumn. I can´t wait to find out where TRH will go!
On a more personal note, to be honest, I had often thought “she could do more,” the month of April, for instance, was pretty empty of public engagements. Yes, we had the Easter break and maybe she needed time to prepare for the Chelsea Flower Show, and maybe she wanted to spend as much time as possible with her children. But with Prince George and Princess Charlotte attending school in the morning, I didn’t think it wouldn´t be a big deal to leave Prince Louis for some short engagements or visits. Of course, it’s a matter of opinion how long an engagement should be, but in my opinion 30-60min visits could make a difference.
But, in autumn 2019, something changed. There was a huge amount of unannounced engagements for Catherine in the Court Circular and she attended many meetings for her “Early Years” campaign, which all stayed private. Also, she completed this two-day private work experience in the hospital maternity department. So, I realized we never know what is going on behind the scenes, whether it is work on “A Merry Berry Christmas”, preparations for a new campaign, the RHS Flower Show, or some private “off” time.
I have to admit that I am less critical now. We also learned this year that Nanny Maria is having some holidays too, perhaps leaving Catherine with more child care on her hands. At the moment, she has time to spend that with her little ones, but we don´t know how long this will be possible.
There will be a point when Catherine will be Princess of Wales, and with that, a new chapter begins.
Happy New Year!
Christin // PackhamGown