The Duchess was in royal blue for this morning’s visit to the Tower of London with Prince Harry and Prince William. They were at the Tower to see the spectacular “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” art installation.
The exhibit is part of the World War I Centenary observances.
With yesterday’s events in Belgium top of mind it is staggering to think each of the poppies represents a British or Colonial fatality from the War. Hundreds of thousands have been ‘planted,’ by volunteers, but there are thousands more to plant: ultimately 888,246 ceramic poppies will fill the dry moat.
The young royals officially opened the exhibit this morning. The installation is the brainchild of ceramic artist Paul Cummins, who has been working on the project for more than a year. Guidance on the project’s overall look comes from set designer Tom Piper, in tandem with Historic Royal Palaces. More on the remarkable undertaking from Historic Royal Palaces:
… the installation is being created in the Tower’s famous dry moat. It will continue to grow throughout the summer until the moat is filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies, each poppy representing a British or Colonial military fatality during the war.
Historic Royal Palaces is the non-profit that manages several of the UK’s unoccupied properties, including the Tower of London, these photos are via their Facebook page.
You can actually buy one of the ceramic poppies.
Historic Royal Palaces say the site has been somewhat overwhelmed by the response. After initial error messages I tried again and things worked perfectly. The poppies are £25 each + postage and handling. In the US the total was £44.95, roughly $75.
If all are sold as much as £15 million pounds will be raised and it all goes to a good cause. Six good causes actually:
- Help for Heroes – provides assistance to those who have been wounded in battle
- Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO) – is a single point of contact for organizations interacting with the Government, Royal Household, Private Sector & other members of the Armed Forces Community
- Combat Stress – founded after the First World War, it is “the veterans’ mental health charity”
- Coming Home – is the fundraising arm of Haig Housing Trust, it provides “specially adapted and appropriate housing for the hundreds of Service personnel rebuilding their lives following traumatic life changing injuries.”
- Royal British Legion aids the “serving & ex-Service community and their families”
- SSAFA (formerly the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) – “provide(s) practical, emotional and financial support to anyone who is serving or has ever served and their families”
Volunteers from each of the six charities have also helped in poppy planting. We will continue to update the Poppy project throughout the coming months.
The cufflinks seen above are one of several items using Flanders Fields imagery. Some may recall the poem, written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian physician. For those of us not able to immediately remember the piece, here it is:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
100% of the profits from the Poppy Shop go to the Legion, helping Armed Forces personnel currently serving, as well as veterans and their families. A Centenary Poppy Campaign was launched earlier this year with a goal to “cover the UK with poppies during the centenary period in commemoration of all those who lost their lives in the First World War.” You can even buy your own poppy seeds to plant.
The new First World War Centenary Brooch incorporates words from the classic Laurence Binyon poem, For the Fallen.
As many times as we use this particular poem here on the site, especially the Ode to Remembrance portion, I did a quick look for background about the poet and his poem. From The Daily Mail:
He wrote For the Fallen while working at the British Museum and did not go to the Western Front until 1916 when he went as a Red Cross orderly.
After the Armistice, Binyon returned to the British Museum printed books department where he was in charge of Oriental prints and paintings.
And more from a column in The Conversation:
On an autumn day in 1914 Laurence Binyon sat on a cliff in North Cornwall…less than seven weeks after the outbreak of war, but British casualties were mounting. Long lists of the dead and wounded were appearing in British newspapers. With the British Expeditionary Force in retreat from Mons, promises of a speedy end to war were fading fast.
Against this backdrop Binyon… sat to compose a poem that Rudyard Kipling would one day praise as “the most beautiful expression of sorrow in the English language”.
The fourth stanza that so many of us grew up memorizing.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn;
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.
As many readers will have quickly recognized, Kate was in her ‘Detroit’ dress by LK Bennett. The frock has been reissued: it is available in limited sizing on the US/Canada website ($395); the size selection looks more robust on the UK/INTL (£225) site.
The Duchess was in a new pair of Jimmy Choo heels, the ‘Georgia’ style in navy suede.
The most striking design element in the new shoes for many of us chatting on Twitter: the thicker heel. Not only is the heel wider than what we often see the Duchess wearing, it is about 1″ shorter than Kate’s usual height, measuring only 3.5″ (90mm). Both features make eminent good sense if one is going to be walking on grass as Kate was today. More from the product description:
These column shaped heels are a stylish alternative to super skinny stilettos. The rounded toe shape works in perfect harmony with the chunkier heel which will keep you comfortable on your feet. Heel measures 90mm/3.5
Kate accessorized with her Stuart Weitzman for Russell & Bromley ‘Muse’ clutch.
There was also a new piece of jewelry today, a necklace by Mappin and Webb.
- for a wonderful array of up-to-the-minute tweets, posts and photos showing the installation, use the hashtag #TowerPoppies on Twitter
- The Daily Mirror’s story can be seen here and its background piece from yesterday is here, The Daily Mail’s story is here,
- Watch a wonderful video, “Making the Poppies – The Tower of London Remembers.”
- Visit the Tower of London website here, follow the historic structure’s Facebook page here
- visit the Flanders Fields Museum website by clicking here
- Learn about the history of the poppy as a remembrance symbol at the Great War website, see “Flanders Fields – A Century On” in photographs from yesterday’s Daily Mail story