Thursday, 14 December 2017

Duchess Kate in Petal Print McQueen for Kensington Palace Staff Party

Hello again dear readers,

The festive season is filled with evenings out and of course staff Christmas parties; the royals are no exception when it comes to this. Last night, William and Kate were photographed leaving exclusive  Notting Hill dinner venue Beach Blanket Babylon after a night celebrating the Kensington Palace annual staff dinner.

The Mail Online reports Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Prince Charles were also there. The article contains several photos of the Cambridges departing; it can be viewed here.

'The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were joined by Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle, with Prince Charles also believed to have made an appearance. 
As they were driven by their minder to Kensington Palace, under two miles away, Kate bowed her head while Prince William looked out of the rain-splattered window. The Duchess of Cambridge appeared to be wearing a black skirt with a red, floral pattern while the Duke opted for an emerald jumper over a white buttoned shirt. Both were wearing heavy black coats to shield them from the elements as they made their way to their Range Rover estate. 
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reportedly left much earlier, according to a source. '

The Mail reports the royals hired out Beach Blanket Babylon's upstairs ballroom for around 60 guests at an estimated £110 per head.

The Rococo-style Beach Blanket Babylon, or BBB as it’s affectionately known, was established in Notting Hill in 1990. BBB Notting Hill occupies an old Georgian Mansion house in the heart of the Royal borough and describes itself as "an institution of the London restaurant, bar and club scene". Made up of various intimate spaces, the restaurant serves seasonal, modern European cuisine, accompanied by an impressive selection of world wines.

The Christmas menu includes Champagne of course. Guests enjoyed a feast of seasonal dishes including caviar, yuzu glazed smoked salmon, buckwheat blinis and wasabi créme fraiche for starters. Options for the main were Dover sole, bubble & squeak patty and corn fed goose. Golden Christmas pudding and chocolate fondant were on the menu for dessert.

The canapés menu.

The bar is ideal for cocktails in front of an open fire.

Whilst we only saw car departure photos of the Duchess, it did not deter the eagle-eyed Middleton Maven from identifying her dress.

Kate wore a black coat and it very much looks like her dress is the Alexander McQueen Petal Print Oversized Mini Dress. The $2,045 garment is described as "oversized mini dress in 100% silk crepe de chine in an all-over petal print. Featuring soft gathering on shoulder, three-quarter length sleeve with ruffled cuff and an asymmetrical ruffle detail on the hem. Finished with keyhole button fastening at the back of the neck". It is currently available on the McQueen website.

Alexander McQueen

A closer look at the petal print.

If you're just joining us, William, Kate and Harry joined the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at St Paul's Cathedral for the incredibly moving Grenfell Tower National Memorial Service. You can view the post here.

The festivities are well and truly underway for the Royal family. We can expect to see arrival photos from the Queen's pre-Christmas luncheon next week (thought to be Tuesday or Wednesday). Perhaps a Christmas photo of Prince George and Princess Charlotte might be in the offing too. :)

The Royals Attend Grenfell Tower National Memorial Service

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry joined the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at St Paul's Cathedral for the Grenfell Tower National Memorial Service.

The royals were greeted upon arrival.

Grenfell Tower survivors and families of the bereaved made the request to hold the service. The Cathedral and the Bishop of Kensington worked closely with residents to create an order of service to focus on remembering those who lost their lives, to provide messages of support for the bereaved, and to offer strength and hope for the future for those affected.

The service was designed to remember those who died, to show solidarity with the bereaved and survivors, and to give thanks for everyone who assisted on the ground at the time of the tragedy and since, including emergency services, the recovery team, community response, public support, and volunteers. One of the primary aims, and the reason for televising the service, was to enable the nation to stand together with those directly affected by the Grenfell Tower fire and together express hopes for the future.

An arrival video from the BBC.

William, Kate and Harry before the service began.

Kate met with members of the clergy.

The royals take their seats.

St Paul's Cathedral was chosen to host the service because of its national focus, which will ensure "that we remember what happened and consider why such a tragedy must never happen again".

Ahead of the service, Shahin Sadafi, Chair of Grenfell United, said:

"December 14th will be a special day for our community. We are coming together to remember the loved ones we lost in the fire, to unite as a community and to start to build hope for the future. We hope we can come together as a nation and show our support to the bereaved families, survivors of the tower and the affected community."

The Bishop of Kensington, the Rt Rev Dr Graham Tomlin noted the importance of the Royal family's presence:

"I am sure that the presence of the Royal Family will be a reassurance and support to those at the heart of this service. My hope and prayer is that the occasion will help us remember those who lost their lives, bring comfort and strength to the bereaved, support those who survived, and offer hope for the future."

Six months on from the Grenfell Tower disaster, the horrors the blaze inflicted have cast a shadow on the fractured community as residents and support workers struggle to come to terms with the terrible tragedy. The fire claimed 71 lives with occupants of 23 of the 129 flats losing their lives; a truly shocking statistic. The dreadful events highlighted the social divisions in the area; despite it's proximity to Kensington and Chelsea, the Grenfell Tower is located in not only one of the most deprived areas of London, but of the country. 2017 has been a year filled with tragedies; the image of the Tower burning remains ingrained in my mind; one can only imagine what those on the scene endured that day.

The following morning, the smoke plume was still visible.

This poster released after the fire showing people missing and believed dead remains incredibly emotive.

Volunteers and local organisations rallied around to help in any way possible. Below, we see locals organising public donations.

The blackened shell looms over North Kensington still.

Representatives from support services and mental health organisations attended the service today. They are very much mindful of how painful the Christmas season will be for families who have lost loved ones and those still trying to come to terms with the events of that day. The Central and North West London NHS Trust has seen almost 2,000 people since the blaze for PTSD and other related concerns. 

Robyn Doran, chief operating officer of CNWL, told the Press Association: 

"Anniversaries are always difficult. And also key events such as Christmas and all other festive events in terms of different communities, because they’re a time that families come together, and we all know that from our own experiences of grief.
So actually it will be the first birthdays, the first Christmas, things such as the memorial service. Most of us don’t have to go through a memorial service and it’s really important that we have a memorial service but it will trigger things for people. And not all families have had the funerals yet, so that will also bring up things. So we’re expecting that it will trigger more emotions for people and it’s really important we’re there."

Days after the disaster the Queen and Prince William visited devastated survivors. William described the fire as "one of the most terrible things I have ever seen". The Royal family paid a number of visits, meeting families and organisations who have been there every step of the way. The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry established Support4Grenfell, an emotional support hub in North Kensington to provide additional mental health resources for the community affected by the fire. The partnership of charities offers a range of support, counselling and advice for children, young people, parents and families. On Tuesday, Kate visited the Rugby Portobello Trust who played a pivotal role in the aftermath, establishing a New Homes Team to support residents in their new accommodation.

The thoughtfully curated service included a specially-commissioned banner incorporating the 'Grenfell Heart' which was displayed during the service.

Music was performed from a variety of traditions including the Ebony Steel Band, the Portobello Road Salvation Army Band, oud player Rihab Azar, an Islamic girls choir from the Al Sadiq and Al Zahra schools, and the St Paul's Cathedral Choir. A pre-recorded sound montage of anonymous, real voices of the Grenfell community reflected the range of different emotions felt.

"Our hope is the name of Grenfell will not just be known as a symbol of sorrow, grief and injustice but a symbol of the time we learnt a new and better way to listen and to love" - The Bishop of Kensington.

Prime Minister Theresa May was in attendance along with well known faces including Adele and Carey Mulligan.

The congregation bowed their heads for a moments silence.

Before the end of the service, the royals walked from the dome to the western end of the Cathedral where they met bereaved families.

The Duchess met survivors.

William with those who lost loved ones.

The Mail Online reports:

Claire Mendy was one of those who met the Duke of Cambridge as the service drew to a close.
She said William had asked to be invited to the service, and that she had asked him if he would consider becoming a patron of her new group, Humanity 4 Grenfell.
She said: 'He's shown a lot of concern - I can see the compassion and the empathy he has. It's his borough and he feels it.' 

Prince Harry also heard devastating stories from the fire.

Kate chose a navy ensemble for the service.

Perth Fashion identified Kate's coat as the Carolina Herrera Double Breasted Double-Faced Wool Coat. The navy coat features distinctive gold buttons, a pleated skirt, raised collar and two flap pockets.

Carolina Herrera

The Duchess wore a new navy hat.

Kate carried her L.K. Bennett Frome Clutch.

L.K. Bennett

And accessorised with her sapphire and diamond earrings.

It very much looks like Kate wore her Jimmy Choo Georgia shoes.

Jimmy Choo

Kate completed the look with a pair of navy bow gloves. I emailed the team at Cornelia James who confirmed they do not appear to be one of their styles. The bow detail is different to previous navy pairs we've seen the Duchess wear.

At the end of the service, families carried photos of loved ones and white roses as they made their way outside. Below, a heartbreaking photo of the family of Mohammad Alhajali, the first Grenfell Tower victim to be identified. Mr Alhajali, described by friends as "amazing, kind, charitable and full of passion for his family,” was studying civil engineering at the University of West London.

It was an incredibly touching service. It is so important for survivors to know they are not forgotten. We will never forget this terrible tragedy.

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