The Duchess brought back a much-loved Jenny Packham dress for a visit to the Imperial War Museum. (More about the poppies cascading down the side of the museum at the end of the post.)
Below, you see her being welcomed to the museum by Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Lambeth, Rosi Presscott. (Lambeth is the London borough where the museum is located.)
We are just days away from the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Below, London on November 11, 1918.
Visitors to the museum had quite a surprise when the Duchess passed their way.
She chatted briefly with a few of the patrons.
Just days ahead of the centenary of the Armistice, the duchess was at the Imperial War Museum yesterday – at her own request. Only a month ago, the museum received a bundle of letters which had passed through various branches of her family until a relative decided to entrust them to the IWM.
Before seeing the family-related documents Kate toured the museum.
She spoke with curators and historians and saw some of the First World War galleries.
Kate wanted to see documents related to her three great-great uncles: Lionel, Maurice and Francis Lupton.
From Patrick Sawyer’s piece for The Telegraph:
As if to emphasise how the war devastated so many households across the British Isles the Duchess of Cambridge on Wednesday heard in detail for the first time how three of her great-great-uncles met the same tragic fate which befell millions of young men between 1914-1918.
The Duchess’s great-great-grandfather had five children. His three sons Francis, Maurice and Lionel were all killed in action while serving during the First World War.
Until today Kate had not seen pictures of her great-great uncles.
Here is a standard issue field postcard filled out by Lionel Lupton, the youngest of the three boys.
He was killed in the Battle of the Somme the same day that he wrote the card.
Kate looking at photos and papers with the museum’s Head of Documents, Anthony Richards.
Among the ephemera, the stark notification that Major Francis Lupton, the oldest of the three Lupton brothers, had been killed.
From The Daily Mail’s piece:
The stark brevity of it stunned the duchess.
‘Hardly any words. It’s so bland,’ she sighed. ‘How sad.’
Back to The Telegraph article:
In recognition that the family had suffered a particularly terrible blow in losing three of its sons, the Keeper of the Privy Purse wrote on behalf of King George V to their parents, Harriett and Francis Lupton, from Buckingham Palace.
The letter, an unusual honour even at a time when so many families were suffering multiple casualties, stated: “I am commanded by the King to convey to you His Majesty’s deep feeling of sympathy with you in the fresh bereavement which has befallen you by the death in battle of your gallant son Major F.A. Lupton.
The Duchess also looked at documents related to her great-grandmother, Olive Christiana Middleton née Lupton. This is her registration card for the VAD, the Voluntary Aid Detachment of nurses with the Red Cross.
Olive and her younger sister Anne were both VAD nurses.
Kate found lighter moments in reading the correspondence.
From The Daily Mail’s article:
Despite the sombre nature of the visit, the duchess and her hosts were keen to touch on some of the lighter moments contained in the letters. In one of them, Maurice wrote about a soldier adopting a magpie as a pet. In another, he wrote home requesting a consignment of vegetable seeds.
‘A very Middleton thing,’ the duchess noted brightly. ‘My grandmother loved gardening. I’ve got a lot to live up to.’ Results have been mixed in the Kensington Palace vegetable patch, by all accounts. ‘You shouldn’t see my cauliflowers,’ the duchess added.
The Mail’s story has the full text of this letter, bios of Kate’s three great-great uncles, and more.
The Telegraph reports that the museum’s head of documents, Anthony Richards, says the Duchess was ‘deeply touched’ by seeing the original documents.
“It was the combination of seeing the actual letters and the portrait photographs of them. It sort of brings it home to you,” he said.
“She had heard about the letters before, and had read the content, but she was handling the letters themselves and she found that a very special moment. It is making that connection with the relatives who served and lost their lives.”
During her visit, Kate also learned about Lives of WWI, a digital memorial to those who served during the First World War. It is a remarkable undertaking.
From the website:
More than 7.6 million men and women from across Britain and the Commonwealth contributed to the First World War – help ensure that they are not forgotten and that their stories are properly told and saved for future generations.
The project is “…creating a Life Story for every man and woman who made a contribution during the First World War, whether they died during the war or survived the conflict. We are asking you to ‘Remember’ them.”
The Duchess leaving the museum.
Kate spent time looking at the Weeping Window display of poppies at the museum.
If they look familiar, they are. They are from the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London in 2014.
Each poppy represents the memory of every British or Colonial life lost at the front during the First World War. (Our primary 2014 post on the installation is here.)
Displays at the Imperial War Museum London and IWM North in Manchester will be up until mid-November.
Now to what Kate wore. Many immediately recognized the blue Jenny Packham dress worn for the Cambridge family’s arrival in Canada in September 2016.
The dress was a favorite for many Kate fashion followers. It is a classic sheath with peaked shoulders, subtly flared bracelet-length sleeves, a self-belt, and that wonderful collar detail with lapels front and back, and a vee dip at the back.
This is a new one for the Duchess. The bag is called both a clutch and a wallet by different retailers; on the Mulberry site, it is referred to as a “clutch,” so we’ll go with that term. It measures roughly 9″ x 5″ x 1, has multiple credit card slots, interior zippered pocket, and a detachable chain. The brown is no longer available. Our thanks to the UFO No More ID whizzes for sharing info on the piece.
It is similar in size and shape to Kate’s long-carried Bayswater clutches.
It could be an ideal replacement for her other Bayswater clutches. It is available in multiple colors and finishes, including Oxblood and Black Cross-Grained Leather, as well as a Cobalt Smooth Calf.
We saw Kate’s trusty Gianvito Rossi Praline Suede Pumps($675).
Kate had on her sapphire/diamond earrings and her Cartier Ballon Bleu watch.
Kate’s poppy is apt for the day’s engagement, the Women of the First World War style (£29.99, about $38 at today’s exchange rates).
Also today, a very quick update to Kate’s Calendar.
- Thursday, November 8: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend the Tusk Conservation Awards at Banqueting House in London. William has been patron of Tusk since 2005. Kate and William will attend a reception with award nominees, Tusk supporters and sponsors before the awards. William will present three awards and also deliver brief remarks. The awards will be live streamed on the Tusk Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tusk.org).
- Visit the Imperial War Museum website here; its Facebook page is here; the Instagram page is here, and Twitter feed is here;
- The IWM World War One Centenary Twitter feed is here; the Lives of the First World War site is here;
- The Daily Mail‘s coverage is here; The Daily Telegraph story is here; the Palace’s account of Kate’s visit may be read by clicking here
This Daily Mail video offers roughly 2-minutes of the Duchess looking at the poppies.
This video from ITN’s Royal Family Channel is about 1:30 of Kate at the Museum and the other :30 is a promo for the channel.