Tuesday, 12 February 2019

The Duchess is Radiant in Cream for Natural History Museum Gala

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped out this evening for a gala performance of 'The Wider Earth' in support of The Queen's Commonwealth Trust and The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy.

The Duke and Duchess arriving at the Natural History Museum.

The appearance marks one of several productions Harry and Meghan have attended in aid of charitable causes close to their hearts. We've often discussed the importance of Commonwealth work not only abroad, but the value of efforts at home promoting initiatives and supporting fundraising efforts. Harry is President of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust, which uses its network, platform and experience, together with the collaborative input of like-minded foundations and supporters, to enable young leaders to realise their dreams and hopes for the future.

The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy is a unique network of forest conservation initiatives that marks Her Majesty's service to the Commonwealth and conserves indigenous forests across the globe. It will create a physical and lasting legacy of The Queen’s leadership of the Commonwealth. This means a great deal to Her Majesty who said she has been "especially touched" by the project.

During their recent tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, Harry and Meghan unveiled six dedications to The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.

The Mirror reports:

'The pair are well acquainted with the venue in Kensington, London, as it is where they are said to have enjoyed an after-hours date .
In March 2017, Harry reportedly booked out the entire museum one Sunday and slipped in after it had closed to take Meghan for a private tour.
A source said at the time: "Meg had always wanted to go so Harry arranged a private visit. It's quite romantic after dark as all the exhibits, including the dinosaurs, are all still lit up. And of course, they had it to themselves."

Once inside, Harry and Meghan received their tickets for the gala from Sue the tortoise :)

They were delighted to meet a group of children from Urbanwise London. The charity specialises in offering outdoor learning opportunities for children and delivers environmental education sessions for schools.

They met with representatives from the museum and viewed Darwin treasures on display.

Meghan chatting with a group before the show. She appeared impressed by a photo one young lady showed her.

'The Wider Earth' is a critically acclaimed theatrical production about the young Charles Darwin’s daring voyage on HMS Beagle to the far side of the world.

The production features a cast of just seven, outstanding puppetry, an original score and cinematic animations to bring to life uncharted landscapes. Reviews have praised 'The Wider Earth', calling it "An engrossing spectacle. Visually terrific.", "Like a puppet version of Blue Planet" and "A great day out for all the family".

It's the first production staged at the Natural History Museum in over a century.

A preview.

Harry and Meghan enjoyed a closer look at The Wider Earth puppets with creators Nicholas Pain and David Morton.

Tonight's performance celebrates the 210th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. The English naturalist is best known for his work on the science of evolution. Darwin first theorised that all species of life have descended from common ancestors in his 1859 book On The Origins Of Species. His groundbreaking work is considered one of the major foundational blocks in science.

While on HMS Beagle, Darwin proposed a theory of how coral reefs and atolls formed. Darwin suggested that atolls originally grew around extinct volcanoes which then sank into the sea, leaving the reef an isolated circle. Several of his specimens are now preserved at the Natural History Museum, including the Porites coral collected from the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean.

Indeed, the Natural History Museum's Library holds the world's largest concentration of Darwin works. It has 478 editions of On the Origin of Species in 38 languages including a rare first edition from 1859.

A video from the night.

The Duchess looked radiant in a cream ensemble with olive green accessories tonight. The tailoring and styling of the look combined with Meghan's updo made for a very retro, sleek, sophisticated look. It's one of her best maternity looks for me thus far. Readers will recognise Meghan's coat as the Amanda Wakeley Sculpted Coat she wore for the Commonwealth Day Service last March.

The $1,190 piece is described as "A pristinely cut coat will pull your entire seasonal wardrobe together, and none come more elegant than our sculpted tailoring Crombie coat." It's available in limited sizing at Orchard Mile.

Meghan's cream Calvin Klein roll neck dress appears to be a custom piece based on the Resort 2019 style shown below.

The Duchess accessories with her Vanessa Tugendhaft Precious clover earrings.

And Meghan completed the look with her green suede Ralph Lauren clutch and matching pumps. Michelle from Perth Fashion notes the pumps are also Ralph Lauren.

She wore both pieces for Prince Louis' christening.

A closer look at Meghan's hairstyle.

Bethan Holt offered her take on the look in her piece for The Telegraph:

'It's been one of those weeks for the Duchess of Sussex.  A heartfelt letter which she sent to her father following his failure to attend her wedding has been released for the world to pore over, impressive calligraphy and all. Before that, a group  of her closest friends decided to speak with People magazine to “stand up against the global bullying we are seeing and speak the truth about our friend”. And then on Monday night, George Clooney- Hollywood star and friend of the Sussexes- joined the fracas,  saying that Meghan was being “pursued, vilified and chased” in the same way as her late mother-in-law, Diana, Princess of Wales. 
Against that rather fraught backdrop, Meghan could have been forgiven for not overthinking her look for a gala performance of The Wider Earth at the Natural History Museum. Instead, she used her style choices to depict a statement of power and peace.
Her outfit was an uncannily excellent iteration of a trend which has unfurled of late amongst some of the world's most photographed women. I'm calling it 'woke white', white, of course, being the shade of the suffragette movement and peace.' 

I expect we'll hear the itinerary for Harry and Meghan's Morocco trip shortly.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

"Please Stop Lying. Please Stop Creating Pain": Thomas Markle Releases Private Letter from Meghan

Following the release of a People exclusive earlier this week, featuring interviews with five of Meghan's closest friends, one topic in particular received much commentary on social media: Thomas Markle. One friend revealed the Duchess penned a letter to her father after the wedding and in return he requested a photo op. The friend told the publication: "He knows how to get in touch with her. Her telephone number hasn’t changed. He’s never called; he’s never texted. It’s super painful, because Meg was always so dutiful. I think she will always feel genuinely devastated by what he’s done. And at the same time, because she’s a daughter, she has a lot of sympathy for him."

If we've learned anything about Thomas Markle, it would only be a matter of time until we saw another "exclusive" with a tabloid. Lo and behold, Mr Markle indeed spoke to the Daily Mail yet again. The surprise came with the content of the interview. Or rather the content of the deeply private letter referenced in People. In the heartbreaking letter, Meghan tells her father his behaviour has "broken her heart into a million pieces".

More from Meghan's letter in the Mail on Sunday:

'Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces - not simply because you have manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted pain, but by making the choice to not tell the truth as you are puppeteered in this. Something I will never understand. You've told the press that you called me to say you weren't coming to the wedding - that didn't happen because you never called.'

Meghan expresses her hurt at claims by her father she didn't support him financially and references her ongoing support including an email in which he asked her for assistance: "I'm sorry but please if you could help me more not as a bargaining chip for my loyalty." Meghan's anguish at the events surrounding Mr Markle's heart attack were "horrifying". She reveals her pain at his refusal to speak to her. She continues to plead with him to "please stop lying. Please stop creating so much pain. Please stop exploiting my relationship with my husband". Addressing the outrageous behaviour of Samantha Markle, she said "You watched me silently suffer at the hands of her vicious lies, I crumbled inside".

In response Markle wrote back to Meghan requesting a photo op:

"I wish we could get together and take a photo for the whole word to see. If you and Harry don't like it? Fake it for one photo."

You can read the content of the letter in its entirety on the Mail on Sunday.

Royal reporter Omid Scobie tweeted.

Meanwhile, royal historian Marlene Koenig notes there could be legal ramifications.

And wise words from Victoria Arbiter.

I grappled with the decision as to whether or not to post about this. It feels like an incomprehensible violation of privacy. We've discussed the Markle saga several times over the past nine months and this felt like an apt closure to that discussion. His actions and the humiliation and hurt he has subjected his daughter to are now in black and white, in Meghan's own words, for the world to see. I cannot comprehend how any father would do this to their daughter. I recently wrote that I felt Meghan had been through a trying time, but the extent of it is quite shocking. The only positive outcome to stem from this is the fact it should finally bring the matter to its end. The antics of the Markle family will not feature on this blog again. Surely, following countless accusations against Meghan, Mr Markle's choice to publish this letter finally tells the true story of the 'Markle Debacle'.

Friday, 8 February 2019

The Sussexes to Visit Morocco Later This Month!

We're back sooner than expected with news the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will visit Morocco from the 23rd-25th February at the request of Her Majesty's government. Kensington Palace confirmed the news this morning via Twitter.

Normally, news of overseas trips for members of the Royal family are reported months in advance. We often see Palace sources give confirmation to trusted outlets. This trip appeared to come very much to the surprise of the press pack and indeed royal followers who were very interested to hear the Duchess will be undertaking a visit abroad close to her eighth month of pregnancy. Much like Meghan's work with the Hubb and private visits to her patronages, the Sussexes have managed to keep much of their efforts and plans under the radar. It's certainly an exciting development. I understand they will arrive in Morocco on the evening of Saturday, 23rd and carry out engagements over the Sunday and Monday before returning to London.

It's been less than nine months since the royal wedding and already we've seen Harry and Meghan deployed to Dublin - an important diplomatic visit given the challenges Brexit poses regarding trade between the neighbouring countries. In October, they carried out a full scale tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. And later this month, ahead of the arrival of Baby Sussex, it's Morocco. It's interesting to see their roles as ambassadors for Britain developing apace; the fact the Queen and Buckingham Palace have entrusted Meghan with several visits abroad so early on is a testament to Her Majesty's confidence in her. We recently chatted about Meghan meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. We're starting to see the stateswoman she will develop into emerge.

The Telegraph reports:

'A royal aide said the couple were following official NHS guidance which advises that women can fly until they are 37 weeks pregnant, adding: "The Duchess feels well and able to fly. Most airlines permit women to fly up until approximately the last month of their pregnancy.
 "We announced the baby is due in the spring and this visit is in February." They will fly on a commercial airline but Kensington Palace declined to comment on whether a doctor will accompany them.'

What type of engagements can we expect to see during the trip to the North African country? It is thought they will visit popular tourist attractions, potentially meet with Morocco’s ruler King Mohammed VI and prime minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani. Causes close to their hearts such as young people and education for girls will also feature. Simon Perry reports:

They have been asked to go by the British government. “It will build on the close relationship between the U.K. and Morocco,” a spokesperson at their office at Kensington Palace says. “The Duke and Duchess are looking forward to the visit which will highlight the vital roles that girls’ education and youth empowerment are playing in, and shaping, modern Morocco.”

Hannah Furness shared a link to a very interesting piece written by Michelle Obama in 2016 on the global girls' education crisis following visits to Morocco and Liberia.

'Rihab Boutadghart lives in a remote part of Morocco near the Sahara Desert. While Morocco has made huge strides in education, and nearly all girls there attend elementary school, girls in rural areas often live far from the nearest middle and high schools, so many of them drop out of school by the time they turn twelve. Right now, only 14 percent of girls in rural Morocco attend high school.
But Rihab, who proudly describes herself as a "feminist," is determined to finish her education. She dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and being the CEO of a major company, and she recently appeared on Moroccan TV urging girls to work hard and follow their passions.'

One organisation I could see Meghan eager to work with is Education for All Morocco. The organisation supports girls from very rural communities to continue their education beyond primary school. They are often prohibited by the costs associated with travelling to the nearest secondary school, often a number of kilometres away in larger towns. In some rural areas, up to 83% of women are illiterate - a shocking figure. They believe "Educate a Girl, Educate the Next Generation".

More from the British Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly.

We expect to hear the full itinerary over the next week or so.


Also, a quick update on the women of Hubb community kitchen. They received a special commendation at the AndrĂ© Simon Awards at the Goring Hotel for Together - Our Community Cookbook. Omid Scobie revealed the bestselling book is continuing to sell well. Meera Sodha, this year’s food-book assessor, told the Bookseller: "Together touched the core of my soul. These women came together after the Grenfell tragedy to cook for family and friends. Their stories are ones that are never usually heard and their food – beautiful and delicious home cooking – is not ordinarily seen. It’s a rare and beautiful book which shows the power of cooking and eating together as a way to connect, share, love – and in this case, grieve and heal."

And today, the women were visited by a team of designers from Stella McCartney to discuss how they could lend their services to support future projects by the Hubb team. It's brilliant to see their growth and plans for the future taking shape.

Together remains available at a variety of booksellers including Amazon.

Hope you all have a great weekend!