Friday, 23 October 2015

Kate's lace looks familiar

It was certainly unusual for her. Kate of Cambridge surprised plenty of people by choosing a high necked burgundy lace dress as she accompanied the President of China and his wife on an engagement celebrating creative industry as part of the State Visit this week.

@UKTI via Flickr

But Kate's not the first royal lady this year to give us a bit of burgundy lace. And her choice looks rather familiar alongside some of the others chosen in 2015. First there was Queen Letizia who chose a cocktail dress with flared skirt for one of her engagements in France during the State Visit she paid this summer with her husband.

Letizia's look was a little more dramatic, perhaps because of the evening setting, and added a thirties effect with hair and make up from the decade that fashion adored this year.

But the queen of burgundy lace dresses this year belonged to Queen Maxima who picked a stunner of a full length frock for the marriage of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia in Sweden this summer.

If it hadn't been for Crown Princess Mary of Denmark turning up in a princess dress to beat all others, Maxima would have walked the fashion win in Stockholm. But she does totally win when it comes to royals in burgundy lace.

That's not to say it wasn't great seeing Kate try something different. We're do used to the duchess appearing in smart High Street dresses and nude heels that a burst of burgundy caught everyone on the hop -in a good way.

As did the high neck and lace effect - a real departure for Kate and one that would be good to see again.


The duchess proved that this particular shade and style has a regal touch that adds a whole layer of royal glamour to any engagement. So don't be surprised to see more royal ladies try this look - we could get very used to burgundy lace.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

How to make a State Banquet

All eyes might be on the tiaras but if you're going to have a white tie and diamonds dinner then someone needs to do some cooking. And one of the best parts of day one of the State Visit to China was watching preparations for the big event unfold. Thanks to social media, we got a real insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes for this showpiece of the royal season.

The Queen checks the table settings for the State Banquet for the President of China held at Buckingham Palace on October 20th 2015
(photo British Monarchy Instagram)

The build up began in the afternoon when images of the cooks getting to work in the kitchens were shared on the British Monarchy Instagram page. While the guests viewed items from the Royal Collection, the cooks got to grips with the menu for the Royal Banquet and we got a glimpse of a terrine that promised at least two of the five a day veggie recommendation.

It'll be ready in an hour....dinner is prepared at Buckingham Palace for the State Banquet
(British Monarchy Instagram)

Never mind Kate's dress, one of the most eye catching bits of the Banquet was the stunning set of floral arrangements and thanks to Instagram we got a close up of the clematis that featured in the flowers.

Mauve over for the stunning set of flowers on show at Buckingham Palace

But preparations are all very well, the end product has to make the cut. And there was a chance to see the Queen making her last minute inspections of the State Banquet thanks to Twitter.

Once the ballroom had passed muster there was some last minute polishing to be done...


And while the guests were mingling ahead of their meal, we got a glimpse of the menu - trout, venison and chocolate and mango - plus details of the wine list.


And then it was tiara time...

Kate's great State debut

It's one of the most talked about State Visits in years and it got even more headlines last night as it became the one where Kate made her great State debut.

The Duchess of Cambridge walks into dinner at Buckingham Palace
October 20th 2015

The Duchess of Cambridge took her seat at the top table for the first time as the Queen held a State Banquet for the President of China, Xi Jinping, and his wife at Buckingham Palace on the first full day of their visit to Britain.  And while all the talk beforehand had been about which tiara Kate would wear, once she had arrived there was plenty more to talk about.


Owing to the absence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Camebridges found themselves in pride of place with Kate on one side of President Xi and her grandmother-in-law on the other.


And another absence also caught the eye. It had been widely reported earlier this year that the Duchess of Cambridge had been given the Royal Family Order, a gift of the Queen, following the birth of Princess Charlotte. The only way to know for sure that someone is a recipient is to see them wearing it but there was no sign of the honour at the State Banquet indicating that the gift hasn't yet happened.


Kate chose red, a nod to the guests of honour, and relied on one of her favourite designers, Jenny Packham, to make sure she hit all the right notes on her big State debut. The dress had cap sleeves, a flowing skirt and quite a lot of little sparkles all over the top.


But it was the big sparkle on the top of her head that had really got people talking. It was just the third time Kate has been seen in public wearing a tiara and for this diamond moment she picked a cracking set of diamonds - the Lotus Flower Tiara, also known as the Papyrus, and made up of gems given to the Queen Mother by her husband, George VI, before they ever thought they would be king and consort.


William came too, no one really noticed, but his Duchess showed that she has royal life down pat now. Kate looked great but there was no outshining either the Queen or the guest of honour, Madame Peng Liyuan, who both dazzled at the dinner.

And so another royal first is achieved for the duchess who one day will sit at the very centre of the table as a queen. Kate's great State debut is done.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Nicolas' christening - the official portraits

The thing about royal babies in Sweden is that you have to stay up to date. It's all very well seeing the official christening photos of Prince Nicolas and thinking, can't wait to write about those on the blog later. You have to do it otherwise you find that another happy royal couple announce happy royal news and everything goes crazy. Just as everyone was going aah over some rather bright baptism pictures for Nicolas, his godfather announced he was getting a new cousin. But now that surprise is abating, a bit, it's time to look at little Nicolas first big royal portraits. And they're rather nice.

Prince Nicolas of Sweden on his christening day, October 11th 2015, in the arms of his father, Chris O'Neill and photographed alongside his mother, Princess Madeleine, and sister, Princess Leonore

There's no blue for a boy here. These royal photos have definitely gone green as Nicolas poses for his snaps in front of one of the brightest walls ever seen in royal portraits. And it all looks rather lovely. There's the picture everyone wanted to see of Sweden's youngest prince - for now - with his family and then an equally momentous one of him with his grandparents.

Prince Nicolas Paul Gustaf of Sweden on his christening day
October 11th 2015, Stockholm

No christening would be complete without a photo from the godparents - Camridges take note here please in case we get number three - and Nicolas stays calm and collected for his pose alongside his six sponsors.

Prince Nicolas of Sweden with his parents and godparents

But perhaps the most special of the four photos released is the one showing Nicolas with his uncle and aunts. For the future of the Swedish Royal Family is there for all to see. Crown Princess Victoria's baby bump is on one side while Prince Carl Philip, who was about to share the news that he has a child on the way too, is next to her with a smile that tells his secret. 

One photo, a royal family's future - Madeleine, Victoria and Carl Philip of Sweden smile as they take their dynasty's destiny into a new generation

One christening, lots of happy endings but the star of the show was Nicolas. 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

A royal baby for Sweden, Part Two

It's becoming a regular occurrence. For the second time in two months the Swedish Royal Household has announced that it is getting ready to welcome a new member. Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia are expecting their first baby in April next year.

And baby will be three - the mummy and daddy to be who announced their happy news today

The pregnancy news comes, of course, just weeks after Crown Princess Victoria confirmed she is expecting her second child - that happy event is due in March 2016. And now we know that just after we've got over the excitement of that arrival, we will be doing it all over again for grandchild number five for Carl XVI Gustaf and Silvia.

Victoria, Daniel and Estelle will be welcoming the newest member of their family in March 2016

The new baby will be fifth in line to the throne from birth unless they arrive just before Auntie Victoria's child in which case they will start as fourth and move down one place once their cousin arrives.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and his heir, Victoria

Carl Philip was once heir to the throne, very briefly, but lost his position when the laws changed just after his arrival and preference was given to the first born regardless of gender. In another world, his child would be in line for a crown while their cousin would be standing in the wings. But times change and even if these two royal babies are boys they will both make way for the a girl born before them.

Rewind a month and the beginnings of a baby bump are there for all to see except we were all starting at Victoria's tummy and missed it

But on days like this, quirks of history don't matter. The Swedish Royal Family is a happy bunch and have just celebrated the christening of Prince Nicolas, the three month old brother of Princess Leonore. So far Princess Madeleine's son is the only boy in the new generation of royals but all that may change soon as Sweden gets ready for a royal baby boom.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Leonor and Sofia steal the show on Spain's National Day

They laughed, they smiled, they gestured, they looked excited. We don't get to see Leonor and Sofia of Spain that often but they made sure their latest appearance stuck in the memory. The future queen of Spain and her sister were charming and cheeky as they took part in celebrations for their country's national day. And suddenly their beleagured royal family has two new stars with sparkling futures.

King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor and the Infanta Sofia
Spain's National Day Parade, Madrid, October 12th 2015

The two girls seemed to have the times of their lives as they settled into the royal box to watch the big parade that marks this day in Spain every year. They briefly came close to losing the spotlight when a regimental goat trotted on to the scene but they were both so entranced by him that they soon reinstated themselves as protagonists. It was fascinating to see these two young royals who haven't had that much chance to take part in engagements so clearly enjoying themselves and finding their feet as public figures. Their confidence and calm demeanour implied there were no nerves here for the young heiress and her own next in line.

The girls, wearing autumnal shades, looked relaxed throughout the whole morning with Sofia reacting to many of the sights with giggles and gestures. Leonor chatted happily with her sister and mum while dad did the serious saluting.

But it was as a duo, two sisters with a shared destiny, that Leonor and Sofia came into their own on National Day 2015. The looks, the giggles, the chatter was what caught everyone's attention as their father took control of this big event for the second time as a king.

 The girls skipped the reception at the Palacio Real which every year sees their parents attempting a world record for the most hands ever shaken at a royal event. It didn't matter that they weren't there or that their mum took off her coat to show off a new frock. The stars of the show had already been decided - National Day in Spain in 2015 was all about Leonor and Sofia.

And there will be a new post about Letizia's outfit later.

Monday, 12 October 2015

The Royal Wardrobe: the christening of Nicolas of Sweden

There's nothing like a royal christening for a bit of understated glamour. A royal wedding means style pressure - while all eyes might be on the bride, they'll be taking  a sneaky peak at the guests as well to see who nailed glitz without scene stealing. But a christening is different. Baby's mum always looks so happy that being anything less than lovely is an impossibility, the grandparents always look so proud that the same rule applies and everyone else looks like they've put on a hat for an afternoon out which is something that needs to happen more.

Madeleine of Sweden with her husband, Chris O'Neill, and their son, Nicolas, on the day of his christening, Stockholm, October 11th 2015

The christening of Nicolas of Sweden was no exception. His mummy had learned from experience and made sure the head and shoulders looked fabulous as baby would be covering everything else up while his maternal granny and his queen to be aunt went blue for a boy and his newest auntie, whose wedding he almost gatecrashed arriving just 48 hours after she'd said 'I do', chose a perfectly pitched pink for the occasion. It was all rather autumnal and striking - here's the Royal Wardrobe at the christening of Nicolas of Sweden.


 The first thing everyone noticed about Nicolas' mum, Madeleine, was her rather striking fascinator. The ruffles and roses were in a very deep fuchsia which picked out the trim in the mixed pattern coat she had chosen.


 The coat itself was a heavy satin and on another occasion might have looked odd but for the christening it worked. Madeleine's pick was mostly gold with a scattered pattern of different colours mixed throughout - the modern blue for a boy at her hips and the traditional pink for a boy at the base. A winner.


Nicolas' maternal grandmother, Queen Silvia, had no difficulty telling everyone what colour she thought went with a boy. For the christening of her first grandson she picked baby blue, head to toe.


 There was a shift dress in pale baby blue underneath a coat in darker baby blue topped with a hat in the same hue. Blue for a boy, another winner.


 Nicolas' other granny, Eva O'Neill, might have been walking a step behind his other grandparents because of protocol but she was keeping up in the blue for a boy stakes choosing a very on trend pastel cape style coat, topped with a darker fascinator.


 And auntie Victoria also went for blue but added a regal touch by hitting the royal shade of the colour.


There was also a very noticeable baby bump - number two is due in March - and a very sixties style hat.


Meanwhile, the newest princess in Europe went for a pink that was almost a red as she attended a royal christening as a royal for the very first time. Sofia of Sweden showed off a slim fitting dress with skater style skirt and statement neckline.


And she broke out of the royal ranks by opting for a contrasting fascinator in palest pink complete with a rather striking veil.


But everyone knows that these days there are two scene stealers at every Swedish royal event and they worked their magic again at Nicolas' christening. First of all, his big sister Leonore looked super cute in a super sweet pale grey dress.


And big cousin, Estelle, wore white and gave us plenty of charm. Just what we expect from this little princess - Nicolas is in for a lot of fun as he grows up in this royal family.