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Kate’s Calendar Getting Crowded & About Those Poppies

Two more engagements have been added to Kate’s Calendar.

  • Wednesday, November 12: In her role as Patron of SportsAid Kate will attend a workshop at the Human Performance Lab. She will watch athletes being measured in a variety of ways, including strength and power tests, cognitive assessments, and more.
  • Wednesday, November 19: Kate will attend the Place2Be Wellbeing in Schools Awards in the Kensington Palace State apartments. The Duchess is the organization’s Patron, there is more information about the awards here.

You can always see the updated list of engagements on our calendar of engagements.

A reminder that Kate and William have two engagements in Wales tomorrow (the 8th). The first is at the Pembroke Oil refinery, where the couple will view a display of the facility’s history in the community. They will also meet workers and members of community groups supported by the refinery and view a performance by the Young Actors Studio. Because it doesn’t appear they will be touring any outside operations, I don’t think we will have another ‘hardhat moment,’ it’s more likely Kate will be in one of her standard daywear dresses and a coat.

The second engagement is the rugby match between Wales and Australia at Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Weather in both locations is expected to be in the low 50s, with an 80% chance of rain. The stadium has a retractable roof so weather shouldn’t impact the match in any way. For those planning their Saturdays, the match begins at 14:30 local time, 9:30am ET. Cardiff is about two hours by car from Pembroke (a chopper ride between the two cities will be much shorter), so if backtiming from the 2:30 match start it is obvious the Pembroke engagement will be in the morning; my guesstimate is 10am-ish.

This is not Kate’s first visit to Millenium Stadium. She attended a rugby match there in November 2012 and the Welsh team also played on that occasion. The team’s primary color is red; fittingly the Duchess wore her red LK Bennett ‘Ami’ coat and carried a red Gucci clutch.

Michael Steele - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Michael Steele – WPA Pool/Getty Images

At that time Kate was in the first trimester of her pregnancy with Prince George, not dissimilar to her current situation. A closer look at Kate’s bag.

PA Wire

PA Wire

Look for Kate to be wearing red again, and for both the Duke and Duchess to be wearing poppies. With Remembrance Sunday this weekend, and Armistice Day next Tuesday, we will be seeing many poppies.

We also expect Kate to view Remembrance Sunday ceremonies. The official service at the Cenotaph begins at 11am local time, 6am ET. The BBC’s coverage starts at 1025am. In past years it has been shown on BBC America although I don’t know if that is the plan this year.

Clarence House has started its rolling blog covering Remembrance activities through next Tuesday. Click here to go that site.

The British Monarchy

The British Monarchy

NOTE: Your trusty correspondent is out of town Saturday and will be attempting her first post via the iPad. To mangle actress Bette Davis’s quote in All About Eve, it could be a bumpy ride.


The poppy conversation is a convenient segue to our other topic today, an update on the art installation at the Tower of London honoring the Centenary of World War I, now simply referred to by many as the ‘Tower poppies‘. This is a fairly long portion of today’s post, and while somewhat related to what Kate wore, it is a more general update on the memorial and growing debate about its immediate future. Readers more interested specifically in fashion may want to depart until tomorrow’s post. Some of the background material will be repetitive for some, it seemed a good idea to share the basics one more time.

The installation’s formal name is “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.” Here is how it looked when we visited on October 16th.

Tower Poppies Cascading Shot KVK Photo

The KVK Group

There will ultimately be 888,246 poppies filling the Tower’s renowned dry moat, each representing a British or Colonial fatality from the First World War. Almost all have been planted now.

Many will remember that Kate, William and Harry paid a visit to the Tower in early August, when each ‘planted’ one of the handmade poppies. Kate wore her ‘Detroit’ dress by LK Bennett.



Another photo we took on the the 16th, shortly before the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrived to view the installation. Looking at the poppies in person one realizes on a visceral level just how many men and women lost their lives in the “Great War.” It is a staggering realization.

The KVK Group

The KVK Group

The idea for the project came from ceramic artist Paul Cummins; all 800,000+ poppies were made by hand at his studio. He collaborated with theatrical set designer Tom Piper,and the duo worked with Historic Royal Palaces, who manages the Tower of London. Below, another view from our visit October 16.

The KVK Group

The KVK Group

What you can’t see very well in our photos is the group of royal photographers and correspondents who were covering HM’s visit to the Tower that day. Below, a very long shot of the media, where one would find our friend RegalEyes, along with Rebecca English, Richard Palmer, Victoria Murphy, Emily Andrews and many other royal photographers and correspondents awaiting the Queen’s arrival.

The KVK Group

The KVK Group

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrived to see the installation midday. It was clear in photos the couple were impressed by the sight.

Robin Nunn/Nunn Syndication/Polaris

Robin Nunn/Nunn Syndication/Polaris

They were almost lost among the poppies, the Queen’s vivid blue coat helping distinguish her among the red.

©Andrew Parsons/i-Images/Polaris

©Andrew Parsons/i-Images/Polaris

This recent aerial view gives you an idea of the scale of the installation as it looks now.

Tower of London Facebook Page

Tower of London Facebook Page

Every night an Honour Roll is read of 180 names of those who lost their lives. More from The Daily Telegraph:

To see the moat is one thing. To be at the Tower at dusk, when the sun is setting and lights flickering on along the Thames, is something else. From a small grassy mound amid the poppies, the names of a few hundred soldiers who died in the Great War – submitted by relatives or veterans’ organisations – are read out and then Last Post is played.

Readers will recall the poppies were actually for sale, with a portion of proceeds being donated to 6 different military-related charities. It didn’t take long for them to be sold; all were spoken for by mid-October.

Many of the volunteers who helped plant the poppies came from the charities receiving funds from the poppy sales. More from the Help for Heroes Facebook page:

‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ left tears in our eyes and pride in our hearts today as our wounded, injured and sick joined the world’s largest act of remembrance. Veterans of old joined our wounded at the Tower of London and planted poppies for the fallen.

Together, we must remember those who have fallen. Together, we must care for those left behind, for life.

It is an experience with a message and appeal that crosses all generations. When William, Kate and Harry visited about 150,000 poppies had been planted in the moat.

Andrew Parsons/i-Images/Polaris

Andrew Parsons/i-Images/Polaris

The 888,246th poppy will be planted next Tuesday, November 11th, Armistice Day. A special ceremony starts at 10:30am, ending at 11am with a moment of silence.

The installation’s success has surpassed all expectations: it is now a phenomenon in London. So much so that crowd control has been a challenge, with lines of those waiting to see the poppies often stretching all the way back over the Tower Bridge, sometimes even spilling into the street. 

At one point in late October when schools were on break, Historic Royal Palaces suggested people delay their visit to the Tower if possible.

Historic Royal Palaces Twitter

Historic Royal Palaces Twitter

The installation is to end on Tuesday, November 12th, when volunteers will start taking down the poppies; each of the 800,000+ poppies must be carefully plucked from its place in the moat, then washed and safely packed for shipment.

At least that was the plan. But now there is a push to leave the poppies up for a while longer so more people can see them; one e-petition asking they stay up has garnered 23000 signatures. And the movement to extend the installation’s run is garnering significant political support: Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy PM Nick Clegg and London Mayor Boris Johnson are among those pushing for an extension. More from The Daily Mail:

…politicians and military charities continue to be at loggerheads over whether the memorial should remain in place for longer than originally planned. Mayor of London Boris Johnson was holding crunch talks today with Michael Day, chief executive of the Historic Royal Palaces which runs the Tower.  Mr Johnson said the huge popularity of the exhibition meant he wanted to explore if it could be extended past its planned end date of Armistice Day.

Prime Minister David Cameron, his deputy Nick Clegg, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Ukip leader Nigel Farage also want to see the tribute extended.  They are all calling for the closure to be delayed to give more people chance to see it, with many travelling from across Britain to catch a glimpse.

The Evening Standard is also pushing for the installation’s run to be extended. The paper quoted a spokesperson for Historic Royal Palaces in its story.
A spokesman said an extension is “unlikely” and that the transient nature of the exhibition was part of the artists’ intention to illustrate the frailty of lives lost in the war.

There is also the issue of those who bought poppies. HRP feels it has an obligation to get the poppies shipped to their new owners. The poppies are so popular there are worries about people profiteering by selling them at inflated prices. The issue has even prompted eBay to announce it will not allow the poppies to be resold on its site. From today’s Daily Mail story:

An eBay spokesman said: ‘We are not permitting resale of the limited edition Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red ceramic poppies on eBay.

‘Any listings attempting to sell these items will be cancelled before any sale takes place.

‘Our marketplace is not an appropriate venue for the limited edition ceramic poppies in view of the significance of each individual poppy as a memorial to an individual British military fatality.’

Worries about the poppies being damaged if left out in the elements much longer is another concern facing memorial organizers. Simply managing the logistics of installing and now removing the ceramic flowers is an enormous task, changing plans for the removal of the installations would be, at the very least, onerous.

In a move allowing the memorial to be visible longer during these remaining days, Historic Royal Palaces announced today that the installation will be lit earlier in the morning and later at night.


The project has attracted such notoriety there are countless news stories in print, videos one can watch, interactive features and more. The Huffington Post has a wonderful piece showing before and after photos, with a slider allowing you to go back and forth between the pictures to grasp the full impact of the installation.

This piece by Mark Phillips of CBS News is excellent. We have posted several more links below in our Linkage section to additional stories and videos.


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Sunday 9th of November 2014

Thank you for your commentary and pictures. I missed out on purchasing a poppy (damn procrastination!) so will just have to look at the pictures. I think the most powerful images are those taken from above, the poppies look just like blood seeping into the soil. A very fitting tribute to those who never came home. Not just the British, but Australians, Canadians, Indian and others from across the British Empire.

Lest we forget.

Suzy Q

Saturday 8th of November 2014

I have been completely captivated by this amazing exhibit. So moving. I also purchased a poppy months ago and am eagerly anticipating its receipt. However, I wouldn't mind the exhibit staying intact for a week or so longer.

Thank you for the coverage of this installation.

Melanie from California

Saturday 8th of November 2014

Thank you for this post, Susan. It is beautiful, honorable and respectful. It means a lot.


Saturday 8th of November 2014

The entire purpose of the exhibit was to honor the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI. The war went on for four long years, and there will be many, many other remembrances. This was always meant to be the kickoff.

The poppies are ceramic, and aren't able to withstand bitter cold and snow. So, if the exhibit were to stay up, a number of poppies would be ruined, and the charity would lose thousands of dollars in donations.

Those of us who purchased poppies were promised that they would be removed, cleaned and shipped to us after 11 November. I'm already thinking of how I will frame and display my poppy. I would never, EVER think of selling it on eBay.

But here is one thought: each year, the 9/11 anniversary is marked with the twin blue beacons in the sky. Perhaps a light artist can figure out a way to flood the moat with red, in commemoration of the exhibit.


Friday 7th of November 2014

The poppy installation is beautiful and a wonderful memorial. It's too bad they can't leave them up.

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