Kate brought back a Catherine Walker design for today’s Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey.
Commonwealth Day is the annual celebration of the achievements of Commonwealth nations working together, and the accomplishments growing out of that work. The day was bright but brisk; you can see the Commonwealth flag flying atop the Abbey.
— Westminster Abbey (@wabbey) March 11, 2019
More about the Commonwealth from a CBC story:
This year is the 70th anniversary of the London Declaration, in which leaders of the Commonwealth nations agreed to be “free and equal members of the Commonwealth of Nations, freely co-operating in the pursuit of peace, liberty and progress,” with the British monarch as its head.
This year’s theme is “A Connected Commonwealth.” The program for the service notes that “The theme encourages collaboration to protect natural resources and the environment – particularly, with the adoption in 2018 of the Commonwealth Blue Charter, of the ocean which connects so many member countries.”
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. On the right, the Very Reverend Dr. John Hall, Dean of Westminster.
HM and Prince Andrew as they arrived for the service.
Below, flag bearers from the 53 Commonwealth countries just before the service.
From HM’s annual Commonwealth message:
Today, many millions of people around the world are drawn together because of the collective values shared by the Commonwealth.
We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result of the links that we share, and thanks to the networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw.
We experience this as people of all backgrounds continue to find new ways of expressing through action the value of belonging in a connected Commonwealth.
Another view of HM, this one from royal photographer Mark Stewart. I thought she looked wonderful, resplendent in her purple ensemble.
Inside, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they await HM’s arrival.
The service was conducted by Reverend Hall. Among the more than 2000 attending today’s service: Prime Minister Theresa May, former PM John Major, ambassadors and dignitaries, senior political figures, and more than 800 school children and young people.
There was a rich mix of performers, starting with the Dhol Foundation drummers, playing two-headed drums that are common in Punjab province in India.
Clean Bandit, a British group featuring Grace Chatto and two brothers, Luke and Jack Patterson sang their hit, Symphony. (I’m still searching for a photo of the group performing.)
They were followed by Lewis Pugh, a British-South African endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans, who gave the reflection. More from the program: “Over 30 years he has pioneered swims in the most vulnerable ecosystems on earth to campaign for their protection.”
The Hereford Times reports Mr. Pugh “…urged the Commonwealth to lead the world in ocean conservation, and combat the threat posed by the “perfect storm” of climate change, over-fishing and plastic pollution.”
Prime Minister Theresa May read from 1 Corinthians 12: 14-26.
Members of the royal family during the service.
Renowned Australian didgeridoo player William Barton played Kalkadungu’s Journey. From today’s program: “William’s unique talent has also been featured at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2018 opening ceremonies of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the Sydney Invictus Games. With his prodigious musicality and the quiet conviction of his Kalkadungu heritage, he has vastly expanded the horizons of the didgeridoo.”
Alfie Boe sang his hit, Run. It is a piece the tenor performed to great acclaim at a 2015 VE Day concert in 2015. The program notes, “Alfie’s exceptional voice has made him Britain’s biggest-selling tenor, who has triumphed on theatre stages and in concert halls around the world.”
This was followed by a variety of prayers delivered by clergy from a mix of different faiths. This is the largest interfaith service held in the UK. The B Positive choir with Lurine Cato sang “Rise Up.”
A video of the choir.
— B Positive Choir 🎙 (@bpositivechoir) March 11, 2019
The service concluded with the Dean’s blessing; below, the procession after the service.
HM speaking with members of Clean Bandit.
The Duchess chatted with members of the group.
The Duke and Duchess as they exit the Abbey.
Kate with one of the children who presented the royals with flowers after the service.
I think the little one is showing Kate badges or awards for things she has accomplished (see inset photo lower left).
A side note about Dr. Hall: after thirteen years at Westminster Abbey this is probably the last time we will see him leading the service. The Reverend is slated to retire on All Saints Day this year, the first of November. He is seen below right with HM as they exited the Abbey this afternoon.
We turn now to what Kate wore for today’s service.
The Duchess was in the Catherine Walker Russian Greatcoat first worn when the Cambridges arrived in Wellington, New Zealand in April 2014. It is described as a sharply tailored military-style greatcoat with a high collar, full skirt and gleaming buttons.
This is a graphic I made back in 2014.
Kate wore her Emmy London Rebecca suede heels ($540), a classic point-toe pump with a 4.5″ heel.
The Duchess carried what appears to be a new bag, the Natasha Clutch ($445) in ‘cinder grey’ suede with gold leather trim on the flap edge. It measures about 4.7″ tall x 8″ long; it is roughly 2″ deep. (Kate carries an almost identical color, ‘steel grey,’ but that piece doesn’t have the piping at the flap edge.)
Kate was sporting a new chapeau with a jaunty bow.
We have not yet verified the designer.
Her hair was in an elaborate updo.
It was a lovely way to show off a new pair of earrings (new to us, at least).
They feature 13 stones, including five marquise-cut and eight round stones. After many searches at the jeweler’s whose work we often see the Duchess wearing, we’ve not found a match. My guess is they are on loan from HM, but we will continue looking.
I will be updating a little more but wanted to get this much of the post published.
The BBC has posted the entire service on YouTube.
The Foreign Office has put together a video it shared on Twitter.
🌎 53 countries
👩 a third of the world’s population
🌊 tackling global issues
— Foreign Office 🇬🇧 (@foreignoffice) March 11, 2019
- Read more about the Commonwealth on the official Royal Family website here; read about today’s service on the Westminster Abbey site; view the Order of Service by clicking here
- Visit The Commonwealth website here; the organization’s Facebook page is here and its Twitter feed is here
- Learn more about the Royal Commonwealth Society on the group’s website here, or its Facebook page here; you may also follow the Society’s Twitter feed here
- a Daily Mirror story is here; a BBC piece is here;
- a PopSugar gallery is here; The Telegraph’s gallery is here; Us magazine’s gallery is here