Friday, 22 June 2018

Commonwealth Engagements Confirmed: Another Outing with the Queen & Celebrating Youth!

The Duchess of Sussex will team up with the Queen again on Tuesday 26 June, when she and Harry join the monarch for a reception at Buckingham Palace to present awards to the Queen's Young Leaders for 2018.

The Queen's Young Leaders programme was launched in recognition of Her Majesty's lifetime of service to the Commonwealth. It is now in its fourth and final year, and celebrates the achievements of exciting young change-makers from across the Commonwealth. This year's cohort, from across thirty-eight countries, are working to improve the lives of people across a diverse range of issues, including supporting people living with mental health problems, access to education, promoting gender equality, food scarcity and climate change. Guests at the reception will include former prime minister Sir John Major and David Beckham OBE. Below, a video from the 2017 awards ceremony which was hosted by Her Majesty and Prince Harry.

The appearance follows the Queen and Meghan's hugely successful day of engagements in Chester. Below, the Chester Chronicle souvenir special.

In April, Prince Harry was appointed a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador by the Queen, and the couple plan to focus plenty of attention on Commonwealth countries in the coming years. It comes as it's been revealed the Sussexes have a number of trips overseas planned, with the Foreign Office keen to deploy them abroad to strengthen ties as Brexit unfolds.

The Mail Online reports:

'Both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will work both in the UK and abroad to highlight the value of the Commonwealth, and are understood to be planning a number of foreign tours to member states.
The Commonwealth will take on an increasingly important role as regards trade and diplomacy when Britain exits the EU.'

It's a fascinating programme which I look forward to writing about in detail for Tuesday's engagement. As it's an evening event, we can expect to see Meghan in a sophisticated dress or perhaps a trouser suit. A Roland Mouret number, such as Meghan's Barwick dress, would be a fabulous choice; his designs marry professional sophistication with feminine cuts and silhouettes perfectly.

Meghan and Harry will attend the 'Your Commonwealth' Youth Challenge reception on Thursday, 5th July at Marlborough House in London, marking the culmination of the Commonwealth Secretariat's Youth Leadership workshop.

More from the official press release:

'The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will meet young leaders from across the Commonwealth at a reception hosted by the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, marking the culmination of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Leadership Workshop at Marlborough House in London.
The event marks an opportunity for the Duke, who was appointed by Her Majesty The Queen as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador earlier this year, to learn more about how the Commonwealth Youth Forum is supporting inspiring young people to shape the future. The Duke and Duchess will also meet youth representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga ahead of their tour this autumn.
The Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) provides an opportunity for the young people of the Commonwealth to build cross-cultural connections and networks, debate the challenges facing its young people, agree youth-led initiatives to influence decision makers and ensure young people have a voice in its future. The Youth Leadership Workshop brings together the newly elected Commonwealth Youth Council Executive and leaders of the Commonwealth Youth Networks, with the aim of empowering these young leaders to think about the future, and their role in shaping it.'

The Palace also confirmed Prince Louis will be christened at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace on Monday, 9 July. We can expect to see Meghan and Harry there :)

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Duchess of Sussex Makes a Stylish Debut at Royal Ascot!

It's that time of year again... Britain's most valuable race meeting, a fashion spectacular, a highlight on the social calendar, and a week filled with sightings of the Royal family. We can only be talking about Royal Ascot! To coincide with the opening day of this year's meet, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined the Queen and other members of the Royal family for the quintessential racing extravaganza.

The Duchess made a stylish arrival.

It's another royal milestone for Meghan who attended her first Trooping the Colour, spent a day of engagements with Her Majesty, and accompanied Harry to the wedding of Diana's niece Celia McCorquodale all in the past two weeks. The Queen simply adores Royal Ascot, owing to her great love of horses since childhood, and looks forward to it immensely every year. It is said she loves to see as many members of the family as possible in attendance every year. I suspect during Her Majesty's overnight train journey to Chester with Meghan last week, conversation may have turned to Ascot on more than one occasion. It's a wonderful opportunity for the Duchess to experience another royal tradition which will become a regular fixture on her summer schedule.

Harry and Meghan travelled in the royal carriage procession.

They were joined by the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

There's a sweet moment in the video below - Sophie gets something in her eye and Meghan quickly puts her hand on her shoulder.

Her Majesty arriving with Princess Anne. It's a very exciting time for the family with the delightful news Zara Tindall gave birth to a baby girl yesterday.

More from Royal Ascot: "The Royal Meeting’s spectacular heritage, unlike any other, has made the event anticipated and revered the world over. From the arrival of the Royal Procession at 2pm sharp to the communal singing around the Bandstand, with six top-class races between, each of the five days is unforgettable."

The carriage list.

The Duchess assisted the Queen's racing advisor, John Warren when his binoculars slipped off his shoulder. John's granddaughter Zalie Warren is Harry's goddaughter, the two-year-old was a bridesmaid at the Royal wedding.

It's always a treat to see photos of the royals together during Ascot.

Meghan and Camilla chatting.

Embed from Getty Images

The Queen looked incredibly pleased as she greeted Harry and Meghan.

A lovely shot of the newlyweds.

Royal Ascot is the centrepiece of Ascot's year and dates back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne.

Over 300,000 people make the annual visit to Berkshire during Royal Ascot week, making this Europe’s best-attended race meeting.

Day One of Royal Ascot is widely acknowledged to be amongst the best racing days anywhere in the world with three Group One races; the Queen Anne Stakes, the King’s Stand Stakes and the St James’s Palace Stakes

Below, Her Majesty The Queen watches on as her horse Choirboy wins the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot, 17th June 1953.

Indeed, sculptures on the racecourse included none other than The Queen herself.

There are three enclosures attended by guests on Royal Ascot week. The Royal Enclosure is the most prestigious of the three, with visits by the Queen and Royal family members. Access to the Royal Enclosure is restricted, with high security on the day. First-time applicants must apply to the Royal Enclosure Office and gain membership from someone who has attended the enclosure for at least four years.

It offers idyllic gardens leading on to the pre-parade ring and restaurants offering everything from a fine dining experience to seafood.

A new restaurant in the Royal Enclsoure opened it's doors this year - the aptly named Balmoral. The Balmoral evokes the spirit of a convivial Highland summer gathering combining great traditions with elegant informality. Lunch is a celebration of the best of British ingredients including Scottish seafood, Royal Estate beef, locally sourced cheese and an array of delightful treats.

Refreshing beverages.

 And of course afternoon tea.

Royal Ascot is synonymous with fantastic style, in fact it's become a major fashion event in its own right.

For ladies in the Royal enclosure, the following dress code applies:

  • Dresses and skirts should fall just above the knee or longer.
  • Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater.
  • Trouser suits and jumpsuits are welcome.
  • Headpieces must have a solid base of four inches or more.

The 2018 Ascot style guide notes "Our dress code is traditional, woven into the very fabric of our history. It was Beau Brummell, perhaps Britain’s first fashion icon, who at the turn of the 19th century dictated the dress for men in the Royal Enclosure. His sense of style is still reflected in Royal Ascot fashions today. In 2017, Royal Ascot successfully welcomed the jumpsuit as an acceptable item of clothing for the Royal Enclosure. Ascot continues to recognise key trends in the ever-evolving world of fashion. Additions to the official dress code in 2018 makes socks a requirement for gentlemen and specific necklines detailed as acceptable, or not, across all Enclosures."

Before day one concluded, the Duke and Duchess presented the final winner’s trophy of the day.

The couple congratulated jockey Frankie Detorri who won the St James's Stakes.

Several readers asked if Meghan wore a name tag - it was on her clutch.

A nice video from the trophy presentation.

A reader named Tiara kindly sent me a link to a piece Meghan wrote for her defunct lifestyle website The Tig, where Meghan revealed she has "a love for all things Brit" and wrote about the Kentucky Derby. I thought it fitting to share the quote today. 

'The Kentucky Derby, a deep rooted tradition I have long wanted to take part in. I see myself wearing a massive hat (ceremoniously so), sipping a mint julep, and tumbling into the Southern revelry of it all; (I do have a soft spot for the pomp and circumstance, if I’m being honest). - Meghan'

It appears the Duchess had a wonderful time at Royal Ascot!

The Duchess looked stunning in a monochrome ensemble for her Ascot debut. Meghan's bespoke Givenchy white dress features an asymmetric midi hemline. It's another outstanding look from Clare Waight Keller. It would certainly appear we'll see Meghan turning to the talented designer for important royal events.

A closer look at the lace detailing.

Meghan accessorised with a black Givenchy belt and clutch (with thanks to What Meghan Wore).

Meghan's black and white Philip Treacy hat was the perfect choice for the occasion.

The milliner shared confirmation via Instagram.

The Duchess accessorised with the Birks Pétale Large Yellow Gold and Diamond Stud Earrings (with thanks to Meghan Maven and What Meghan Wore).

Several of you noted the look is reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. The late actress was Hubert de Givenchy's greatest muse. Over fifty years later, Meghan is championing the same fashion house.


Also today, Kensington Palace confirmed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will undertake a two day visit to Dublin on 10 & 11 July. The Palace added: "This visit is at the request of Her Majesty's Government. The Duke and Duchess are looking forward to learning more about Ireland's history and experiencing its rich culture, as well as meeting the people who are shaping the country's future." It will be the couple's first official overseas trip since the Royal wedding. Omid Scobie understands the itinerary will include a visit to Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse and a meeting with President Michael D Higgins at his official residence Áras an Uachtaráin. We should see more details released within the next week or two. 

The couple are expected to visit the Netherlands in late July. French media outlets are also reporting Harry and Meghan will visit France on 8 August for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Amiens, in Amiens Cathedral. 

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Meghan in Oscar de la Renta for the Wedding of Diana's Niece!

Exactly one month after their own wedding, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended the nuptials of Harry's cousin Celia McCorquodale and George Woodhouse at St Andrew and St Mary's Church in Stoke Rochford, Lincolnshire yesterday. The couple were all smiles as they arrived holding hands and mingled with relatives. There's a selection of photos available on the Mail Online.

Celia McCorquodale is the younger daughter of the Princess of Wales’ sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale. The Express reports: "The bride attended Meghan and Harry’s glittering wedding at St George’s Chapel in Windsor exactly four weeks ago and returned the favour by inviting her cousin and his new wife to her own celebrations."

The Mail Online reports:

'Bride Celia, daughter of Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Diana's eldest sister, looked radiant in a white princess-style dress with lace detailing. She wore the Spencer tiara, which was worn by Princess Diana when she married Prince Charles in 1981.
The Spencer clan turned out in force for the traditional church service, with D&G model Lady Kitty Spencer and Diana's siblings Earl Spencer and Lady Jane Fellowes among the congregation. 
The pair were warmly greeted by the Spencer family, with Prince Harry's cousin, Louis Spencer, 24, who was recently dubbed Britain's most eligible bachelor, giving him a bear hug and kissing Meghan on the cheek.'

An arrival video.

St Andrew and St Mary’s Church is a Grade I listed Church of England parish church dedicated to Saint Andrew and Saint Mary, in the parish of Easton and the village of Stoke Rochford, Lincolnshire, England. The church is significant for its association with, and memorials to, the Easton Hall Cholmeley and the Stoke Rochford Hall Turnor families.

A look inside.

The east arcade between the chancel and south chapel.

As noted above, the radiant bride wore the Spencer tiara - a family heirloom that was worn by Diana and her sisters on their wedding days.

Made by Garrard, it features an elaborate design of stylized flowers and scrolling foliage.

'Though this piece was once said to date from the 18th century, it actually seems to be a combination of pieces of varying ages and from different jewellers that has gone through several changes over time. The center element was a wedding gift from Lady Sarah Spencer to Cynthia, Viscountess Althorp (Diana’s grandmother), in 1919. This piece was remounted by the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company at some point, and Garrard was asked to create four matching pieces in 1937 to add on. The oldest bits are at the ends; these are said to have come from a tiara once belonging to Frances, Viscountess Montagu and left to Lady Sarah Spencer in 1875. The full current appearance apparently dates from around 1935.'

Although the Queen had loaned Diana the Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara, she found it headache inducing and heavy to wear. She continued to borrow the Spencer tiara from her father and later her brother. It was nice to see it again at the wedding - it's the first time it's been publicly worn since Diana died.

A video of the bride arriving.

The Duchess selected the Oscar de la Renta Long Sleeve Cocktail Dress for the wedding (with thanks to Innominate93). 

Made in Italy, the dress features a wrap silhouette, a ruffled high/low hemline, and a cinched waistline. It's currently available at Moda Operandi. The blue and white toile print piece has proved a divisive choice thus far. I think the issue is, it appears to be at least a size too big and swamps Meghan's figure. If the waistline were cinched in, it would create a completely different look with the flowing skirt. It is a beautiful print though and I'm very excited to see Meghan in Oscar de la Renta!

The dress is from the Resort 2019 Collection.

The Telegraph writes:

'Meghan is a woman who knows her fashion audiences. Wearing spotless, figure-hugging white Givenchy couture on her first solo engagement with the Queen this week provided a wow-factor that the crowds of Runcorn will likely have never seen.
But today, she’s trying to embed herself in Harry’s crowd, maybe cement relations with her new British girl friends. This was a dress for them. If she’d pulled one of her razor-sharp, bodycon power dresses from her cupboard (the type that we might associate with her Suits character Rachel Zane) she wouldn’t have looked so approachable.
She’s also trying not to outdo another bride. Celia McCorquodale, a niece of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, was marrying George Woodhouse, less than a month after her cousin Harry married Meghan in one of the most high profile weddings ever. This was McCorquodale’s moment - indeed she looked incredible, and wore the Spencer tiara, the same as Diana did for her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981.
Meghan’s choice yesterday was easy on the eye, and not overpowering in any way. Judging by the numerous pictures of her air-kissing with the Spencers, its softness was also entirely successful.'

You might recall, Meghan's mother Doria Ragland wore Oscar de la Renta for the Royal wedding. It turns out Meghan contacted the brand directly. I expect we'll see the Duchess in more pieces from the fashion powerhouse throughout the year.

More from Vogue:

'Back in January, Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia received a call from Meghan Markle about a wedding day look for her mother Doria Ragland. “She knew she wanted a pistachio or melon look for her mom,” Garcia remembered. The house of Oscar de la Renta has surely dressed many mothers-of-the-bride over the decades, Hillary Clinton included, but royal weddings are another thing entirely. It was a huge coup for the duo, and if it hasn’t immediately resulted in a boost in sales, as Meghan’s own choices do, it has at least raised the designers’ profiles. “I got a lot of new followers,” Kim said.'

Speaking of the Royal wedding, it very much appears Meghan wore her gorgeous Aquazurra shoes from the reception.

The shoes are made in silky satin, with nude mesh, with soles painted in baby blue.

With many thanks to Perth Fashion and What Meghan Wore, it turns out Meghan's fascinator is the £29.50 Pillbox Bow Fascinator by Marks & Spencer. The straw piece is described as a "classic pillbox style fascinator is a timeless design that will never date. This gorgeous headpiece features a swirling bow design sure to lift any special occasion outfit. Whether pairing with a floral dress or accenting a sleek tailored suit, this fascinator will be the perfect finishing touch to your look."

Meghan wore the £45 Marks & Spencer Autograph Wool Blend Round Neck Bell Sleeve Jumper during a visit to Birxton in January. She's obviously a fan of the affordable British retailer.

Meghan completed the look with a Carolina Herrera clutch (with thanks to Meghan's Mirror reader Jessica) She wore her hair in an elegant updo. It was a lovely surprise to see Harry and Meghan at the wedding, it's always nice to see the young royals spending time with their Spencer cousins. It was also a great opportunity for Meghan to meet extended members of Diana's family. 

Royal Ascot starts on Tuesday, we do expect to see the Duke and Duchess at some point during the week :)