Sunday, 21 October 2018

Meghan in Chic LBD for Private Invictus Games Foundation Reception

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex concluded day six of their royal visit to Australia with an Invictus Games Foundation garden party at Government House, Sydney. There's a couple of images available on the Mail Online.

The private event was embargoed until yesterday. It appears it was very much a chance for Harry and Meghan to meet and thank supporters of the Games Foundation. There was no official media there, but a couple of guests shared snaps from the reception. The appearance follows news the Duchess may amend her exhausting schedule over the next couple of days. Due to a tiring late night, Meghan missed a cycling event. She rejoined her husband for a luncheon reception with the Prime Minister and an afternoon of sailing before returning to Admiralty House for a quick change for the garden party.

MP David Elliott shared an overview of the party.

Guests enjoyed musical entertainment.

Government House is the vice-regal residence of the Governor of New South Wales, Australia, located on Conservatorium Road in Sydney alongside the Royal Botanic Gardens, overlooking Sydney Harbour, just south of the Sydney Opera House.

The Duchess wore a chic LBD for the event. Due to the lack of photos, we haven't had a very good look at the dress. The eagle-eyed Perth Fashion suggests it's possibly a bespoke Givenchy piece incorporating elements from several styles.

It appears Meghan wore her Aquazzura Deneuve pumps in a soft nude pink.

And carried her Jimmy Choo J Box clutch.

Catch up on the earlier Invictus activities of the day by clicking here.

In other news, with chat firmly focusing on Baby Sussex, Harry revealed he's hoping for a girl. The Mirror reports:

'Prince Harry has revealed he is hoping for a baby girl when wife Meghan gives birth in the spring.
During a cycling race in Sydney today, a wellwisher called out to the Duke: “Congratulations, I hope it’s a girl” to which Harry laughed and replied: “So do I!”
It is the first time the Prince, 34, has revealed his feelings about the sex of the child he is expecting with the Duchess.'

A look at the Fraser Island schedule for Monday, 22 October. It is thought the Duchess will not attend all events due to the difficult terrain:

  • On, Monday 22nd October, Harry and Meghan will travel to Queensland’s Fraser Island, or K’gari as it is known by the Traditional Owners the Butchulla people, as part of the dedication of the site to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy (QCC).
  • In pristine rainforest, Their Royal Highnesses will be met upon arrival by the Traditional Owners of K'gari, the Butchulla People and the Premier of Queensland. The Duke and Duchess will take part in a traditional Welcome to Country Smoking Ceremony and unveil a plaque for the dedication of the Forests of K’gari to the QCC. Traditional Owners from Bulburin National Park, the second QCC dedication site in Queensland, will also be present. Fraser Island rainforest is home to the Island’s satinay trees which, known for their hardiness in water, were used to build the London docks in the 1930s.
  • The Duke and Duchess will then visit one of Fraser Island’s iconic lakes to meet with local elders and national park rangers to learn about the Island’s natural beauty, rich history, biodiversity and cultural significance. From here, Their Royal Highnesses will travel to the beach to learn about the history in the Island’s logging trade, as well as its use as a training base for the Australian Z Special Unit during World War II. Their Royal Highnesses will then travel to Kingfisher Bay by boat, where the visit will conclude with a walk along the picturesque Kingfisher Bay Jetty.

This post will be updated should more photos and details emerge.

The Sussexes Go Sailing, Attend Invictus Reception & Meghan To Reduce Events

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended events in support of the Invictus Games today.

Due to exhaustion, Meghan missed this morning's cycling event. The Telegraph's Hannah Furness reports:

'The Duchess of Sussex pulled out of an Invictus Games medal presentation on Sunday morning as the realities of being pregnant during a gruelling royal tour caught up with her. She has already disclosed how she had been trying to overcome jetlag by practising yoga at 4.30am, as she deals with a rigorous programme of engagements which has included flights between cities on several days.
A source said the Duke and Duchess took the decision to modify their schedule over the next few days to ensure the continued health of mother and baby. They will consider how much of the Fraser Island programme the Duchess will be able to do. There are concerns over the terrain of the sand island, where journeys involve a bumpy car ride which often leaves tourists feeling unwell even without the extra element of pregnancy. 
A source said the Duchess was not currently unwell but was simply resting. "After a busy programme,  The Duke and Duchess have decided to cut back The Duchess's schedule slightly for the next couple of days, ahead of the final week and a half of the tour," a palace aide said. Saturday's opening ceremony overran by at least an hour, finishing around 10.30pm thanks to a thunderstorm.'

A Palace aide told reporters: "Meghan wants to do everything, but Harry is encouraging her to pace herself. We want to make sure she gets enough rest at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day." The couple have been keeping a grueling schedule since the tour began on Tuesday. The itinerary has involved long hours and tiring travel. It's hard to believe we're only through a third of the programme. Meghan has an admirable work ethic; I've often heard reporters discussing how much she hates to let anyone down - often spending much longer on walkabouts than scheduled and making every effort to speak to as many people as she can at receptions. The number one priority is mother and baby and I think it a wise decision to hit the brakes a little over the next couple of days and to assess how she's feeling regularly. The terrain in Fraser Island is particularly difficult and it might be best to keep events there to a minimum tomorrow.

Prince Harry presenting a medal to British gold medalist Michael Swain at the cycling event this morning. He told a group of medalists Meghan was resting. "Pregnancy takes its toll".

Afterwards, he was reunited with Meghan for a reception hosted by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with competitors and representatives from the community gathered in the city’s central parkland, The Domain.

The Mail reports: "The Duke walked over and immediately gave her a kiss before taking her hand and walking into the restaurant together"

The reception was held at the Pavilion restaurant. One of Sydney's landmark locations, the Pavilion is a stylish venue with an emphasis on exceptional cuisine, fine wine and excellent service. Seated on the edge of Sydney's Royal Botanic and Domain Gardens, directly opposite the Art Gallery of NSW, the Pavilion is an easy five minute walk from the city centre. The Pavilion serves breakfast, light meals and the perfect city escape lunch, whilst the kiosk has a tempting selection of sandwiches, salads and wonderful coffee.

The couple met with a group of Kookabura Kids.

The Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation supports kids living in families affected by mental illness. The program provides recreational, educational camps and other activities, giving kids a break, in a fun, positive and safe environment. Kids have the opportunity to meet other kids in similar families and develop new friendships.

More from The Mail:

'Meghan chatted to children from the Kookaburra Kids Foundation, who gave the couple two stuffed kookaburra plush toys as presents for their upcoming baby. 'Harry asked us which of our parents are in the military so we put our hands up,' Lincoln, eight, said as he stood with his brothers Lachlan, 10, and six-year-old Charlie. 'I said our mum's in the military. I don't know what she does but she is a major.' 
Studio 10 host and Kookaburra Kids ambassador Jessica Rowe was just as excited to meet the royal couple as the children with families affected by mental health issues the charity supports. 'They are wonderful. I just said "hello your Royal Highness" to Meghan,' she said. 'I said it is such an honour to meet you, you are such a role model for women and she said thank you.'

They posed for photos.

The couple joined the Prime Minister and his family for lunch.

A lengthy video.

In the afternoon, Harry and Meghan travelled by boat to watch the Invictus sailing.

The couple were all smiles for the event at Farm Cove.

Harry and Meghan cheered as the Australian team won gold.

They congratulated Denmark on achieving second place.

9 News shared a screenshot of the pair returning to their Sydney base, Admiralty House afterwards.

A video from the afternoon of sailing.

In other news, Roya Nikkhah revealed it's unlikely Baby Sussex will have a title. The always informative reporter also revealed the couple will postpone their plans to visit the US early next year:

'The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not seek any official royal role for their first child. They hope he or she will grow up to have what Harry has described as “a relatively normal life”, according to a source who knows the couple.
“That word ‘normal’ looms very large for Harry and Meghan when it comes to their child’s future,” the source added. The couple, who are taking Australia by storm on their first overseas tour, will become parents next year. Their baby will be seventh in line to the throne but there are no plans to give it a royal title.
Harry and Meghan are understood to have considered emulating the approach of the Princess Royal and “follow the Zara and Peter Phillips route”, the source said. Princess Anne turned down royal titles for her children, who built independent careers with significantly reduced exposure to public scrutiny. His desire to shield his children also coincides with his father’s wish for a “slimmed-down” monarchy that focuses on the direct line of succession to the throne.
Meghan, 37, who is thought to be about four months pregnant, will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements until the birth, and will announce her first patronages in the new year. But the couple will postpone a visit to America scheduled for the first half of next year.'

Meghan opted for a smart casual look with a crisp blazer, black turtleneck, black jeans and chic accessories.

The Duchess sported the L'Agence Brea Pinstriped Blazer (with thanks to Heaven). 

The style is tailored from a white linen and cotton-blend with black pinstripes and has lightly padded shoulders. The £510 blazer is on sale at Revolve Clothing and ShopBop. It's also available at Net-A-Porter, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.  

It appears the Duchess wore her Outland Denim Harriet Jeans.

Meghan wore her Aquazzura Deneuve Pumps. Made in Italy, the stiletto heels are described as "A pert bow perched at the back ties together the chic detailing of a pointy-toe pump featuring side cutouts and a super slim stiletto." They are also available in cabaret pink at Nordstrom.

Meghan carried her Avalon Zip Top Crossbody Bag by Australian accessorised brand Oroton. The Duchess debuted the piece for a CHOGM reception in April.

A closer look at Meghan's earrings.

Susan from What Meghan Wore believes they are the Natalie Marie Diamond Sun Studs. From looking at close ups, I think she's spot on.

On the boat, Meghan opted for more comfortable footwear in the form of the Veja V-10 Leather Sneakers. Veja is a French company with a strong focus on transparency, fair trade and social and environmental responsibility. It collaborates incredibly closely with the factory that produces its sneakers to ensure the best work practices.

Meghan wore her Krewe Gravier sunglasses.

In other news, snaps of Prince Harry wearing a pair of budgie smugglers have emerged. Yep, budgie smugglers :)

The Mirror reports:

'They were gifted to Harry when a disabled sports presenter and two members of the Australian Invictus Games team visited him at Admiralty House, the Governor General’s residence where the couple are staying in Sydney. Dylan Alcott, a host on ABC’s daily round-up of the games, had a private talk with Harry along with team members Matt Model and co-captain Nicole Bradley.
Mr Alcott, who is a triple Paralympic gold medallist in wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball, said: “We gave him a gift. One of the athletes, Matt, gave him a pair of budgie smugglers. And he put them on, over his jeans. It looks awesome. “He said, ‘Shall I put them on?’ We said, ‘One hundred per cent.’ So he put them on… Good on him.” Mr Alcott, who was talking at a reception hosted by the prime minister Scott Morrison at a restaurant in Sydney’s Botanical Gardens, added: “I just met the duchess, and he [Harry] said he [Dylan] is the one to blame for the photo. I said, ‘Hey, sorry!’”
Talking about the budgie smugglers, he added: “I think it did wonders for him. It looked good. He should make it official! I reckon the duchess will love them. But who knows? Maybe not.” He went on: “I met the duchess before, at Wimbledon - I’m the number one wheelchair tennis player in the world. I said, ‘We actually met at Wimbledon.’ She said ‘I remember meeting you at Wimbledon.’ I was pretty happy with that. I felt pretty chuffed that she remembered.”

Harry and Meghan attended a private evening reception after the event. A post on the event will be ready shortly. 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Let the Games Begin: "We Have Been So Happy to Share Our Personal Joy"

The forecourt of the Sydney Opera House played host to the moving and inspiring Invictus Sydney Opening Ceremony.

Before the ceremony, Harry and Meghan were guests at a pre-awards reception at Bennelong restaurant.

Despite a thunderstorm delaying the event by over an hour, it did nothing to deter spirits as competitors, volunteers and supporters arrived full of enthusiasm and excitement. Invictus is Harry's brainchild, and both he and Meghan were undoubtedly relieved conditions improved, allowing the evening's itinerary to go ahead as scheduled. Harry told Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian: "I was a bit worried. Thankfully it looks like the sky is clearing now."

'Political figures, Invictus ambassadors and even royalty had gathered to meet the couple. Jordan’s Princess Dina Mired and Prince Mired bin Ra’ad were among guests who had broken into small groups to meet the Sussexes during their short visit. 
Invictus friends and family ambassador Leesa Kwok, 32, gifted the duchess a small knitted yellow flower when they met. "This is so beautiful," she remarked. Kwok, whose husband Jamie Tanner is competing for Australia in the wheelchair rugby and tennis events, told Meghan how 8,500 of the hand-knitted were made especially for the games by a group of elderly war widows from Aged Care (where she works with as an RSL LifeCare Manager). "Meghan was really touched by the story and said the flower was really pretty," said Kwok. "I had actually met them both last year in Toronto and gave one of the flowers and he asked ‘Can I have another one for my gran?’ so it was lovely to share a third one with his wife. "The flowers are made as a show of support to the friends, family and close supporters - it’s something for them to wear and show their pride. 
"Meghan was interested to hear the backstory. She has this amazing ability to connect and make you feel like you’re the only person in the room. "We also spoke about the impact that Invictus Games has had not just on the lives of those competing but the friends and families who stick by during difficult times. "When I was telling Meghan she stopped and said, ‘Hold on, I want my husband to hear this too’. They’re both so lovely, so caring."

The Duke and Duchess mingling with guests.

The word 'Invictus' is Latin for ‘unconquered’ and embodies the fighting spirit of wounded, injured and ill servicemen and women. They have been tested and challenged, but they have not been overcome. They have proven that by embracing each other and the support of family and friends, they can reclaim their future. They are Invictus. Most of us will never know the horrors of combat. Horrors so great that many servicemen and women suffer life-changing injuries, both visible and invisible, while serving their countries, while serving us. How do these men and women find the motivation to move on and not be defined by their injuries? How can we challenge perceptions and send a positive message about life beyond disability to an international audience? Prince Harry not only asked but answered these questions.

During a trip to the Warrior Games in the United States in 2013, the Duke of Sussex saw the positive impact sport could have on the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded, injured and ill servicemen and women. He vowed to take the idea and launch a similar event in the UK. The Invictus Games Foundation was established, and in 2014 London hosted the inaugural Invictus Games, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with more than 400 competitors from 13 nations.The second Invictus Games took place in May 2016 in Orlando, Florida, and built on the excitement of the London Games with more than 500 competitors from 15 nations. The Games then moved to Toronto in September 2017. The games have been an astounding success, and Harry's determination and dedication has been nothing short of inspirational. They are a testament to his belief in those who served.

The Sydney Games will see 500 competitors from 18 nations compete in 11 medal sports and participate in golf and wheelchair tennis. The Games will recognise and thank families and friends for their role and the challenges they share in supporting our wounded warriors. Sydney will host more than 1000 accompanying family and friends who’ll be in the stands cheering.

Traditional Aboriginal performances and welcome ceremonies took place, including a presentation of a traditional message stick to Invictus trustee Dave Henson.

After a thank you to all the amazing volunteers that will be helping out during the Games - the Invictus Games flag was carried in by representatives of the four host nations since 2014.

The Invictus flag.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailed the Duke and Duchess: "How good is Prince Harry? And we love you too, Meghan."

The appearance takes me back to the Invictus opening ceremony in Toronto last year. Engagement speculation was rife at the time with rumours of a possible joint engagement for the couple swirling. To the delight of many, Meghan was in the crowd cheering on her prince. It was an enormously exciting time.

Just over a year later, Meghan has returned to the Invictus Games, and is by Harry's side as his wife and expecting their first child. When we look back on all the milestones, from the engagement and wedding to the impressive role Meghan has carved out for herself within the Royal family, the past twelve months have been amazing to see.

From a private rehearsal with Meghan to a crowd of thousands in the space of a couple of hours.

It's a very special day for the Sydney Opera House. Not only is the iconic performing arts centre hosting the opening ceremony, it's celebrating its 45th birthday. Her Majesty officially opened the venue on this day in 1973, saying: "The human spirit must sometimes take wings or sails, and create something that is not just utilitarian or commonplace." It seems fitting for the Monarch's grandson to be there to mark the anniversary, launching another year of the hugely successful games. It underscores the continuity of the Royal family and the importance of fostering relationships with Commonwealth countries.

Harry began his speech with a reference to the anniversary:

'Hello Sydney. Hello Australia. And hello Invictus. On this day in 1973, my grandmother, the Queen stood in front of this Opera House and declared it open. Forty-five years later, to the day, it is my honour to be standing in front of this iconic symbol of Australia’s place in the modern world at the start of the fourth Invictus Games.'

Over the past eighteen months we've discussed Harry's dedication to Invictus. The Prince delivered one of the most impressive royal speeches I've heard to date. Not only is he following in the footsteps of senior Royal members by forging a legacy for his work with veterans, he's developed into a confident statesman representing the Queen and Britain abroad with aplomb. "Many of you will have heard me explain the genesis of these Games before. From my life-changing flight back from the battlefields of Afghanistan, to the example of America’s Warrior Games, Invictus was inspired by the experiences I had alongside our servicemen and women from many nations."

Harry continued:

'These Games were created for our men and women in uniform; designed around their talents and their needs; and built not just for them, but also for the friends and families that have supported their recoveries and had their lives changed forever. Over the last four years though, the Invictus Games have become about much more than the thousands of competitors who have taken part. Invictus has become about the example of service and dedication our competitors have provided to the world. Our Invictus family has turned these games into a symbol of strength, honour and optimism for a new generation. 
In a few weeks time we will honour the memory of the generation that fought the First World War - including the sacrifices of the ANZACS whose ethos and heroic actions helped forge the character of this great country. So much has rightly been made of my grandmother’s generation who endured the horrors of the Second World War and then rebuilt a world order around freedom and tolerance. The legendary bravery and resilience of the Aussie digger - to this day - commands respect and admiration. And the efforts of your soldiers to defend this nation and support your allies in theatres from the Kokoda Trail, Vietnam and Korea, to Iraq and Afghanistan, have been outstanding. 
The values that define this country’s services - courage, endurance, mateship, sacrifice - are an example to all. But if we’re being honest, we know that in many nations, the place of our men and women in uniform became too often undervalued in the decades after the Second World War. The sacrifice and character of our troops never changed, but society’s recognition of them too often wavered. But that has changed. A new generation - the Invictus generation - is defining what it means to serve. And we are all taking notice. The Invictus generation has chosen to serve their countries in conflicts that are complex and dangerous and far too often this dedication goes unrecognised. 
They have reminded us all what selfless duty really looks like. With the help of medical science, the Invictus generation has not only survived injuries that in past conflicts would have been fatal, but has also chosen to fight back from the darkest of places to be here tonight. They have shown us the true meaning of resilience. When they have been open about their hidden emotional and mental wounds, the Invictus generation has shown us that in today’s world being tough means being honest about how we feel - both inside and out. 
When they have taken to the tracks, fields and pools in London, Orlando, and Toronto, the Invictus generation has exemplified sportsmanship, bravery and world class athleticism. They have shown us all that the most difficult challenges can be overcome. When the families and friends of our competitors have lifted them up, overseen their recoveries, and cheered them across the finish lines, the Invictus generation has redefined what shared sacrifice means. They have reminded us all of our duties to each other - to support our mates, to serve our communities, and to respect those closest to us and those whose stories we will never know. And when all of us have watched the Games on TV or in the stands, we too have become part of the Invictus generation. 
We have learned to reject pessimism and cynicism. We have allowed ourselves to be inspired. And we have shared in moments of hope, joy, and triumph that have served as an antidote to the narrative of division and despair we too often allow to define our era. So when all of you compete over the next week, remember that you do so, not just for yourselves; not just for your families; not just for your nations. You are competing with different flags on your chest, but you are competing together for one Invictus generation. 
You are the unconquered generation. You are the optimistic generation. You are the new generation of service and you are the role models to us all. And you are going to put on one hell of a show over the next week.'

Harry closed closed a personal note, sharing his gratitude for the rapturous welcome he and Meghan have received in Australia: "Now before I close, I want to say something directly to our hosts, the people of Australia. First of all, thank you for the welcome you have given Meghan and I over the last few days. I have been so proud to be able to introduce my wife to you and we have been so happy to be able to celebrate the personal joy of our newest addition with you all."

An overview.

Daphne Dunne in the audience :)

Fusing ancient and modernist influences, and situated on a site sacred to the Gadigal people for thousands of years, the sculptural elegance of the Sydney Opera House has made it one of the symbols of twentieth century architecture - a building that, to quote US architect Frank Gehry, "changed the image of an entire country". The perfect venue for the ceremony.

Meghan was elegant in British brands for the evening.

The Duchess selected a Gillian Anderson (Yes, The X Files's Dana Scully) for up-and-coming, home-grown brand Winser London. The £395 Wool Swing Coat is designed with a soft construction in a double-faced specialist handcrafted wool fabric. When worn open the coat lays straight with a lovely swing detail in the back. Gillian added her signature pink piping details at the back of the neck loop and inside the pocket opening. The coat is dark navy with an indigo hue.

The Gillian Anderson collection advertised on Fenwick Bond Street.

Kim Winser OBE set up Winser London in 2013, with a highly-respected career in fashion retail spanning leading roles at Marks & Spencer, Pringle of Scotland, Aquascutum, and as adviser to Natalie Massenet at Net-a-Porter. Winser London identified an important gap in the market early on in the trend for truly luxurious quality women’s clothes at sensible prices. Clothes that are modern, stylish and cleverly cut to flatter for women of all ages and different figures. Cut from exclusively designed, high-quality fabrics and knitted from luxurious yarns that will last, in carefully chosen colours that stand the test of time and are easy to co-ordinate. Fans of the brand include Emma Watson and Annie Lennox.

It turns out the brand has royal connections too. Founder Kim supports various charities including working with Prince Charles and the Prince's Trust. Kim was asked to sit on the Good Work Commission for the government alongside selected other FT100 business people. She works with students at Central Saint Martin's and Heriot-Watt University, and is a regular contributor to Forbes. Kim was awarded a doctorate by Heriot-Watt University in 2002 for her work in the British textile industry, and an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen for her services to the British fashion and retail industry in 2006. Despite Kim's business success, her mother's words have kept her grounded and utterly down-to-earth: "My mother advised me to always 'just be myself'. Those few words have stayed with me and have kept me on a solid path throughout my career – and my own advice to myself has been 'to give more than I take in life'. I hope we will always deliver this to our customers through Winser London too."

It appears Meghan wore her Stella McCartney Blue Cape Dress. The stretch cady cape sleeved dress in midnight tone features a high neckline and concealed zip at back. It has been sold out for some time. Meghan first wore the piece for the Queen's Birthday Party at Royal Albert Hall in April.

The Duchess is wearing her Stuart Weitzman Legend pumps in haze beige.

The talented Elizabeth from Meghan's Fashion believes Meghan's dazzling earrings are the Birks Cushion Cut Sapphire and Double Diamond Halo Drop earrings.

And her Birks Flex Wrap bracelet in white gold.

Meghan completed the look with her navy Dior clutch and Ecksand stacking rings including the Emerald Secret Heart Stackable Ring.

It's been another fascinating day with no moment wasted for the Sussexes. Click here to read our post on Harry and Meghan's first engagement this morning, unveiling an Anzac Memorial. Afterwards, they travelled by boat to Cockatoo Island for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge.

Tomorrow's Schedule - Sunday, 21 October:

  • Harry and Meghan will watch some elements of the Invictus Games cycling and sailing.
  • They will attend a lunchtime reception hosted by the Prime Minister, with Invictus Games competitors and representatives from the community in the city’s central parkland, the Domain.
This tour just keeps getting better and better!