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Kate in Royal Blue Amid a Sea of Red Poppies, The Royal Legion’s Centenary Poppy Campaign

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.Andrew Parsons/i-Images/Polaris

The exhibit is part of the World War I Centenary observances.

Andrew Parsons/i-Images/Polaris

Andrew Parsons/i-Images/Polaris

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.

Andrew Parsons/i-Images/Polaris

Andrew Parsons/i-Images/Polaris

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.Andrew Parsons/i-Images/Polaris

The 888,246 poppies have been handmade at the studios of artist Paul Cummins.  The view from above as photographed from London’s Metropolitan Police helicopter:

Metropolitan Police Twitter (@MPSintheSky)

Metropolitan Police Twitter (@MPSintheSky)

You can actually buy one of the ceramic poppies.

Historic Royal Palaces

Historic Royal Palaces

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 Royal British Legion has added a number of World War Centenary items to its product mix, including new cufflinks made of shell parts that have been recycled from World War I battlefields.

Royal British Legion Poppy Shop

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.

Royal British Legion Poppy Shop

Royal British Legion Poppy Shop

The new First World War Centenary Brooch incorporates words from the classic Laurence Binyon poem, For the Fallen. 

Royal British Legion Poppy Shop

Royal British Legion Poppy Shop

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.

LK Bennett

LK Bennett

The Duchess was in a new pair of Jimmy Choo heels, the ‘Georgia’ style in navy suede.

Jimmy Choo 'Georgia'

Jimmy Choo ‘Georgia’

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

The shoe is also available in Blush Leather ($625) at Jimmy Choo, as well as Black Patent Leather ($499) at multi-brand retailer Net-a-Porter.

Kate accessorized with her Stuart Weitzman for Russell & Bromley ‘Muse’ clutch.

Russell & Bromley

Russell & Bromley

There was also a new piece of jewelry today, a necklace by Mappin and Webb.

i-Iamges, Polaris/Mappin & Webb

i-Iamges, Polaris/Mappin & Webb

Jewelry whiz Anna of My Small Obsessions identified the piece as the Mini White Gold and Diamond Pendant, it is from the jeweler’s new Empress collection.



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Monday 11th of August 2014

Similarly to Blue-27, the new shoes in a new style lifted my spirits as well :) The dress and shoe combo is perfectly suitable to the event and Kate's youth.


Sunday 10th of August 2014

Thank you for posting the poem. The poppy is not used as a memorial symbol in the US, and I've always wondered about it.

Trisha Watson@shopvhop

Friday 8th of August 2014

i loved her dress such a beautiful dress.

Penny Garnett

Thursday 7th of August 2014

What an awesome sight! - those poppies in the moat. Catherine looks wonderful in this royal blue dress, not at all dull or "matronly". Do think though, that she should vary her hairstyle more - she looks stunning with those long shiney locks partially tied back or in an "up-do". Hair "to die for doll"!!


Thursday 7th of August 2014

The blue of the dress is a perfect contrast to the sea of red poppies. The aerial shot of the poppies looked to me like a spreading blood stain - another appropriate and moving aspect of this superb work of art.

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