Monday, 27 February 2017

The Duchess in Erdem for UK-India Year of Culture Reception

The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William joined other members of the Royal family for a reception hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace tonight, kicking off 'UK-India Year of Culture' a year of events to celebrate cultural ties between the two countries and help build closer relations.

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A year long-programme to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and UK cultural ties has been announced... The Year of Culture 2017 will see an exciting festival of events celebrating the vibrant cultural history of the two countries. Top UK institutions will partner with their Indian counterparts to strengthen cultural and economic ties between the two nations, and showcase British creativity on the global stage.

Below, Kate meets chef Vikas Khanna, who features on MasterChef India.

William and Kate view a shawl given to Her Majesty by Mahatma Gandhi.

More from The Daily Mail's Rebecca English:

'As part of the reception, a number of priceless artefacts from the Royal Collection were put on display in the palace Picture Gallery. Among them was a shawl woven by Gandhi on his loom as a wedding present for Princess Elizabeth in 1947. The shawl has the words Jai Hind - Hail India- in the centre and was accompanied by a hand-written note from Gandhi, addressed to Lord Mountbatten, then Viceroy of India, which read: 'The little thing is made out of doubled yarn of my own spinning.... please give the bride and the bridegroom this with my blessing with the wish that they would have a log and happy life of service of man.....Yours sincerely, MK ' Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge spent time admiring the shawl during their tour of the gallery.'

Richard Palmer of The Daily Express added some interesting detail on guests in his article on the engagement:
'Guests at tonight's reception included stars of stage and screen, fashion, food, literature and sport. Among them were Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar and his model/actress wife Neha Kapur, British-Indian actress Ayesha Dharker, Indian cricket legend Kapil Dev, former England footballer Rio Ferdinand, sitar player Anoushka Shankar – daughter of the legendary Ravi Shankar – and her husband, director Joe Wright.
There was also a display from the Royal Collection including items from previous royal visits to India and Indian gifts and manuscripts from the Royal Library.
The Queen’s first state visit to India, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, was in 1961 as the guests of Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India.'
And noted the food arrangements:
'A highlight of the evening was a special Indian-themed menu of canapes prepared by royal chefs working alongside chefs from Veeraswamy, the West End eatery that is Britain's oldest Indian restaurant.
Under the guidance of the Queen's chef Mark Flanagan and Uday from Veeraswamy, the menu featured the best of British and Indian cuisine - from Yorkshire rhubarb Creme Brûlée to Raj puri and even a tandoori prawn cocktail.
The team of 15 palace staff and five from the restaurant made just under 5,000 canapés for the guests.
Uday said: "It has been quite a difficult challenge capturing all the flavours in one small bite but we are happy with what we have achieved."
Mark added: "We have been planning to menu with Uday and the team for six weeks. It really is the best of both cultures."'

Indian sitar player Anoushka Shankar (daughter of Ravi Shankar) attended the reception with her husband British director Joe Wright.

Dancers performing at the reception.

The Daily Mail's Rebecca English shared a video of the performance.

Kate looked very interested as she chatted with guests.

The Queen greets India's High Commissioner to the UK, Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, while Prince Philip chats to guests.

Indian actress Ayesha Dharker brought her own sparkle to the event.

A design by Bangalore and London-based Studio Carrom projected onto Buckingham Palace.

British-Indian actor Kunal Nayyar who stars in The Big Bang Theory and his wife Indian model Neha Kapur.

Rebecca English of The Daily Mail also shared a short video of Kate chatting with guests.

Kate looked wonderful in the long-sleeve, pleated Rhona dress by Erdem, which is sold out (with thanks to Kate's Closet), and originally retailed for £900.

The dress features a round neckline, long semi-sheer sleeves, hidden back zip and is made in the UK.

Neiman Marcus

The Duchess wore the new Oscar de la Renta Platinum Lamé Cabrina pumps (thanks to MiddletonMaven).

Her earrings are by Indian designer Anita Dongre, who created the Gulrukh Tunic Dress worn by the Duchess on the India-Bhutan tour.

What did you think of Kate's outfit tonight? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

UPDATED: "Proud" Kate Carries Out First Engagements as Patron of Action for Children in Wales

The Duchess of Cambridge travelled to Wales to visit two Action for Children projects supporting vulnerable families. Today marks her first engagements with the organisation since becoming its patron in December, following on from Her Majesty The Queen.

Kensington Palace said "The Duchess of Cambridge is incredibly proud to follow The Queen as Patron of Action for Children. The Duchess firmly believes that every child who needs it should be given the best support at the earliest opportunity. She is looking forward to getting to know the people that make Action for Children such a success and meeting the young people they work with."

Upon arrival at the Action for Children centre in Torfaen, the Duchess was introduced to Mayor of Torfaen, Veronica Crick.

Action For Children cares for disadvantaged children from across the UK, from before they are born until they are into their twenties. The organisation helps all types of families, supporting children and carers through fostering or adoption, and intervening early to stop neglect and abuse. The charity also makes life better for children with disabilities. It’s 7,000 staff and volunteers operate over 600 services, improving the lives of 390,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers every year.

More on the history of the organisation and its founder from the charity "Over 147 years ago, Methodist minister, Reverend Thomas Bowman Stephenson took the time to listen to homeless children living under the arches of Waterloo station. Stephenson couldn’t stand by and do nothing. Everything he did was 'In the service of the children'. He listened. And we’ve been listening and taking action ever since. From one family home in Waterloo, the charity quickly grew to become the National Children’s Home (NCH)."

Below we see Fred and George, the first children taken in from the streets, rather than having to face the workhouse in 1869.

There's a very brief but incredibly interesting video on the history of Action for Children available on YouTube.

The Duchess first heard more about MIST (Multi-disciplinary Intervention Service), a child and adolescent mental health project which works specifically with children who are living in care with foster families or birth families. The service works with both the young person and their carers or birth family to address complex mental health needs, intervening where it becomes clear the child is at risk of being placed in residential or institutional care, with the aim of keeping the child in their local area, and having as normal a life as possible. MIST has been running for 12 years.

Kate met service user Craig, 15, from Torfaen has been in care since the age of seven due to some difficult relationships within his birth family. Since being referred to Torfaen MIST 16 months ago, Craig has made great strides working with his young people practitioner, Jordan Jones, and is exploring a return to his birth family when he reaches his 16th birthday. You can read more about his story here.

Kate chatted with MIST Service Manager Jenny, about the stigma attached to mental health and the importance of relationships.

The Duchess met with birth families, foster carers and therapeutic foster carers who shared their experiences.

Kate enjoyed a quick game of pool with some of the service users.

You can view a video of Kate trying her hand at pool here.

More from the Mail Online "The royal also showed off her pool-playing skills during a light-hearted moment after a morning talking to children and young people with complex mental health needs. Kate was welcomed to MIST by service user 15-year-old Craig Davies, who also became her team-mate in the impromptu game of pool. Unfortunately for Craig, who was playing with the Duchess against fellow service user Connor Goodacre, also 15, she missed her shot. Craig said he was initially nervous about meeting Kate but lost his nerves, especially after chatting with her about Prince George and Princess Charlotte. He said they also discussed their pets including Kate's dog Lupo and hamster Marvin and his Jack Russell dog Wilf, adding: 'She was talking about how MIST helps us and stuff with life and school. She was really interested in what we were talking about.' Asked what he thought of Kate's pool skills he pulled a face and said: 'She was dreadful.'"

Cheering on the next participant..

Action for Children said "Staff and families from our Torfaen service loved meeting the Duchess today". There was a very sweet moment when a little girl hugged Kate.

BBC News Wales shared a video of the memorable moment.

Next, Kate visited the Caerphilly Family Intervention Team (FIT) to learn about their work with children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, problems with family relationships and those who have or who are likely to self-harm.

Kate met a group of very excited children. I love photos like these - in many ways they epitomise just how special a royal visit can be. Seeing the smiles on the children's faces is priceless.

The Duchess viewed the team’s family therapy work that helps families understand the reasons behind certain behaviour. It supports them to manage feelings and behaviours using creative techniques that are tailored to meet individual needs.

The project is delivered by Family Support Practitioners who are trained and supervised by a Clinical Psychologist and Systemic Psychotherapist.

Kate brought back her chic burgundy Paule Ka suit today. The Duchess styled the look with her favourite black polo neck sweater.

Readers will no doubt remember The Duchess first wore it in 2012 for a visit to Middle Temple where the Cambridges launched a scholarship for disadvantaged students. It's interesting to note the choice of a French designer so soon after the announcement of the upcoming trip to Paris.

A look at the back of the suit.

It is thought Kate's suit comes from the designers 2011 collection. The double breasted jacket features modified peplum detailing at the waist. Below we see the design in a different colour.

Paule Ka

Paule Ka is a French ready-to-wear brand, created in 1987 by Serge Cajfinger. Born in Lille in 1955, Cajfinger spent his childhood in Brazil; he returned to France in 1968. In 1974, he opened a multi-brand store in Lille known as Paule Ka. Inspired by the grace and elegance of 50’s and 60’s style icons including Jackie Onassis Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and Princess Grace Kelly, he sought to bring a modern twist to their timeless elegance. The brand's style is geometric and sober, sophisticated yet urban. Today, the brand is a favourite of everyone from Amal Clooney to Jessica Chastain. More styles from the brand would prove an excellent fit for the Duchess should she elect to wear French brands during her trip to Paris.

Kate teamed the suit with her Stuart Weitzman Half N Half boots.

It looks like Kate accessorised with her Kiki McDonough Eternal Citrine Cushion and Diamond Earrings.

The £1200 pair are described as "These teardrop earrings are crafted from the finest 18-karat gold, citrine, and diamonds that create a look you'll love for a lifetime."

Kiki McDonough

I'm definitely a fan of Kate's look today. The tailored suit teamed with the boots is very much reminiscent of her pre-wedding style. I thought the choice of earrings injected a nice pop of colour brightening up the look. What do you think?


27 February - Before we leave you, Kensington Palace announced two new additions to Kate's Calendar. On Monday, 27 February, The Queen accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and other members of the Royal Family, will host a reception to mark the launch of the UK-India Year of Culture 2017. This engagement is a natural one for William and Kate following their tour of India last year. A highlight of the evening will include a special Indian themed menu of canapés prepared by Royal Chefs working alongside chefs from Veeraswamy, the UK's oldest Indian Restaurant. There will also be a display from the Royal Collection including items from previous royal visits to India, and Indian gifts and manuscripts from the Royal Library.

13 May - The Duke & Duchess & Prince Harry will host a tea party at Buckingham Palace for children of those who have died serving in the Armed Forces. More from the Palace "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have arranged the event as a way to acknowledge and honour the fact that a number of young children have had to come to terms with the loss of someone very close to them at a young age, having lost a parent in Armed service to the country. Their Royal Highnesses hope the event will provide an opportunity for these children to broaden their support networks amongst other families with similar experiences." The party takes place exactly one week before Pippa's wedding.