Monday, 19 February 2018

Should Kate have worn black to the BAFTAs?

Should Kate have worn black to the Baftas? That's the royal question on everyone's mind today after the Duchess of Cambridge chose green for the British film industry's biggest night of the year. Ordinarily, that wouldn't raise an eyebrow but in a year when wearing black has become a public statement of solidarity with the Time's Up movement, all kinds of shade are being thrown on colour choice.

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For what it's worth, I say yes. Kate should have been in black and I think it's an own goal not to have chosen the colour. The argument for the duchess not following the unofficial dress code was that royals don't get involved with politics. Well, gender equality is hardly a political issue. Royals stay out of politics to avoid having an undue influence on party issues. But gender equality and ending harassment of all kinds aren't party issues. They are what we all want, the default setting of society, how things should be. That's all.

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Politics are a royal no no, too, because statements might cause controversy and cast the monarchy in a bad light. Given the criticism Kate has taken in some quarters for not wearing black, that aim seems to have been well and truly failed. And, anyway, sometimes controversy is a good thing. OK, it might make some people sit up and listen if the duchess makes a public statement by wearing black but when what they're debating is making society the equal place, free of fear and intimidation, that we all want it to be then what's not to like?

Besides, being purely Machiavellian about it, Kate's missed an open goal here. Plenty have said she would be damned if she did and damned if she didn't, so why not take the damning for making a statement that can only bring benefits with it? In the Instagram age, a photo of the Cambridges has a lot of power. The apparent compromise of adding a black belt only makes the decision not to go all out even more bizarre. There's no halfway house here and if it's 50/50 on a thumbs up then why not set the pace and make sure your clothes do the talking in a positive way?

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William's not off the hook here either. The Duke of Cambridge made a statement in his written forward to the Baftas' programme about the great work going on in the film industry to end harassment but said nothing on the bigger platform he was given with his speech at the end of the awards ceremony. If you're brave enough to write it down then be brave enough to say it out loud. It wasn't a stellar night for the Cambridges and reaction might well have been a bit of a surprise for a couple used to praise. Monarchy and royalty has always been about image and sometimes taking a risk is the only way to show understanding.

Photo credit: Kensington Palace Instagram

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