The Duchess wore a coat by Alexander McQueen for today’s ceremonies in Belgium commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele. The coat was first worn for the christening of Princess Charlotte.
The Battle, also called the 3rd Battle of Ypres, was one of the bloodiest of the first World War. The conditions were horrific. The worst rains in thirty years turned the battlefields into a sea of mud. From a Telegraph story:
Because of the torrential rain, the British and Canadian troops found themselves fighting not only the Germans but a quagmire of stinking mud that swallowed up men, horses and tanks.
Half a million Allied and German soldiers were killed, wounded or went missing in three months of fighting.
Many drowned in the thick mud, caused by weeks of relentless rain.
One more quote from The Telegraph’s coverage sums up the battle’s results:
After three months, one week and three days of brutal trench warfare, the Allies finally recaptured the village of Passchendaele – but by then around a third of a million British and Allied soldiers had been killed or wounded in some of the most horrific trench warfare of the conflict.
Below, the UK ambassador to Belgium, Alison Rose, accompanies Kate and William as they walk to the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.
Also representing the UK at tonight’s service, Prime Minister Theresa May (l) and Sir Timothy Laurence (r), he is vice-chair of the War Graves Commission.
The Duchess with Queen Mathilde.
In this photo from journalist Peter Decroubele, you see Kate and William greeting military personnel attending the event.
Everyone gathered as the ceremony gets underway.
Prince William delivering remarks.
From The Daily Mirror:
Flanked by the Duchess of Cambridge and Philippe and Mathilde, the King and Queen of the Belgians, he said Britain and Belgium “stand together” to remember those killed during weeks of heavy fighting in the summer and autumn of 1917.
“Today, the Menin Gate records almost 54,000 names of the men who did not return home; the missing with no known grave.
“Members of our families; our regiments; our nations; all sacrificed everything for the lives we live today.”
Below, King Philippe speaking at the service.
The Prime Minister and the Duchess.
As part of the ceremony, more than 54000 poppies fell from the top of the Memorial, one for every name on the Menin Gate.
Here you see the dignitaries as the poppies rain down.
As a choir sings in the background, this video from The Sun’s Jack Royston shows the movement of the poppies as they float through the Memorial.
— Jack Royston (@Jack_Royston) July 30, 2017
The Duchess speaking with Queen Mathilde.
Kate meeting with descendants of those who served during the War.
Following the Last Post ceremony, everyone walked to the Ypres market square for a dramatic presentation commemorating the Battle.
The Duke, Duchess, King and Queen arrive for the second portion of the commemoration.
The Duke and Duchess with The King and Queen of The Belgians arrive in Ypres for a special #Passachendaele100 commemorative event. pic.twitter.com/oxjskNPZLF — Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) July 30, 2017
The Queen and the Duchess.
For tonight’s presentation images were projected on the Cloth Hall building, destroyed in the war.
The view of the stage the dignitaries had.
Among those performing this evening, Dame Helen Mirren.
This is the second time the Duke and Duchess have gone to Belgium. You may remember their visit in August of 2014 when they took part in ceremonies for the centenary of World War I.
We have excellent input on Kate’s choice of a light color today via a comment from K that notes “the Queen herself wore white at the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.” K’s comment also lists other light-color ensembles HM has worn to commemorative events for military battles.
Kate’s hat was first worn for Trooping the Colour 2015.
It is the Marisabell style from John Lock and Company. Designed by Sylvia Fletcher, the piece is crafted of sinamay, a straw frequently used for hats.
The pearl brooch worn today was also seen at Trooping the Colour in 2014.
Here is a better view.
To show the hat and brooch in context, here are photos from Trooping the Colour 2015 (l) and 2014 (r).
UPDATE Oct 13: With thanks to Bianca for pointing out the different colors in the bag carried in Berlin and the one used in Belgium, it looks like Kate owns two versions of the clutch. We’ve not yet been able to find the version online that Kate carried for this event, although there are other bag styles that feature a blend of gold and silver.
UPDATE Oct 17: Once we more we owe Bianca a ‘thank you,’ for she has corresponded with Anne Grand-Clément. They tell her that Kate is “holding the Medium Plain in iron color. This design comes only in Plain color.”
Kate’s shoes remain something of a TBA. Several savvy Kate IDers (UFO No More & Christin/PackhamGown & Evangelina) think the Duchess is wearing the Emmy London Rebecca style in the ‘cinder’ colorway. UPDATE: Emmy has confirmed the shoes is their Rebecca style in ‘steel’ grey.
We’ll see you again tomorrow for the second day of events commemorating the battle. More from the BBC:
“The Tyne Cot Cemetery commemorations will follow a traditional military ceremony of remembrance. Music, readings and veteran testimony will be delivered in the Cemetery. This event will be attended by HRH the Prince of Wales together with TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, TM the King and Queen of the Belgians, dignitaries, Belgium and British military and descendants.
If interested in learning more about the battle, the Ministry of Defence has a two-minute backgrounder.
— Ministry of Defence (@DefenceHQ) July 21, 2017
- Passchendaele 2017 website – home page for comprehensive site on Battle, commemorations & more
- Passchendaele 2017 events – this offers a detailed description of the events Sunday & Monday
- Tyne Cot Cemetery – Commonwealth War Graves page for Tyne Cot Cemetery
- Tyne Cot Memorial – CWGC page for the Memorial to the missing
- BBC – this offers details on the events as well as the BBC schedule of live broadcasts and taped programming
- This blog post from the War Graves Commission offers background and lots of links; The Telegraph’s background piece on the battle is here