Skip to Content

It’s Understated Elegance for Festival of Remembrance

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended tonight’s Festival of Remembrance at Royal Albert Hall.

The Royal British Legion puts on the annual event. The Queen has been the Legion’s patron for more than 66 years. Below, HM as she arrived for the Festival tonight. 

The annual event pays tribute to the Armed Forces and remembers all victims of war and conflict. Below, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall arrive. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they are welcomed. 

Sophie, Countess of Wessex. (Prince Edward is right behind her but not visible in this photo.)

Princess Anne and Sir Timothy Laurence (he is seen on the right). Sir Tim just retired after 8+ years of service as Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester. 

And the Duke of Kent. 

Also attending this evening’s performance (l to r), the Duke of York, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner, Carrie Symonds. 

Another look at the Duke and Duchess. 

HM and Prince Charles.  

The royal box. 

And a wide view. 

More about the event via the Royal Albert Hall website:

The Festival of Remembrance, held in honour of those who have given their lives in the service of their country, has been marked at the Royal Albert Hall annually since 1923.

This year the program’s theme was the 75th anniversary “of the great battles of 1944 and the collaboration and friendship of the British, Commonwealth and Allied armies who fought them.” The best-known of these battles is D-Day.

Below, personnel from RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) Mounts Bay entering the hall. RAF Mounts Bay delivered essential aid to people in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian. 

Here you see members of the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) team from RFA Mounts Bay at Great Abaco Island, the Bahamas in September.

Next to enter the hall, the Band of the Royal Marines. 

The Royal Hospital Chelsea Choir performed The Old Brigade as other Chelsea pensioners entered the hall. 

Some of the Pensioners. 

The Royal Family watching the program. 

This year’s Festival also featured 44 veterans who served in 1944 during WWII.

The veterans represented battles and campaigns fought in 1944 from Arnhem to Warsaw. 

Each veteran was joined by an active-duty member of the military.  

The veterans received a standing ovation. 

Kate and William. 

Another high point of the program: 99-year-old Colonel Gail Halverson. The Colonel was known as the “Berlin Candy Dropper” because he would drop candy from his plane to German children on the ground during the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and 1949. The woman to his right is Vera Mitschirch, one of the children who received candy. The two had never met until tonight.  

More from The Telegraph.

And lo and behold there was the 99-year-old Halvorsen himself, frail but upright in front of the tremendous Bach Choir and Triservice Bands of the Royal Marines, the Guards Division and the Royal Air Force.

In his touching address he declared “without providing something for someone in need, the soul dies.”

Some might be surprised to hear that sentiment from a military man. But seated in that hall, surrounded by constant small evidences of solicitude – younger servicemen discreetly helping frail veterans – it didn’t seem surprising at all.

Giving service to something greater than oneself is the credo of all the men and women honoured there today.

Musical numbers included Jeff Goldblum performing the Irving Berlin classic Let’s Face the Music and Dance from his new album.

James Blunt performed his song, Monsters as “…a tribute to the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen who have fought and continue to fight for our country” per The Army in London.  

A thank you to Catherine for her comment reminding me about James Blunt’s military service. He trained at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst (as did both William and Harry), served six years in the Army, including time in Kosovo, and left the service as a Captain.

And Leona Lewis sang Bridge over Troubled Water as the flags of the Commonwealth were carried into the hall in preparation for the muster. 

The Muster was started by the Royal Navy, the senior service at the Festival. They were followed by the British Army, the Royal Air Force, Careers at Sea and the Commonwealth Flags and Royal British Legion Civilian Services.

RBL President Lt General James Bashall delivers the exhortation. 

And the Last Post is played. 
Poppies silently fall to the floor as a two-minute silence is observed.

The national anthem is then sung followed by three cheers for HM.

A quick video.


Another view of HM.

A fun note shared on Twitter by the Royal Marines School of Music: photos of Musician Eleanor Bateman backstage with some of tonight’s performers.

Here you see Ms. Bateman with members of the Royal Hospital Chelsea Choir. 

It looks like this was another terrific Festival of Remembrance. Hopefully, it will be available on YouTube before too long. Below, one more view of the Duchess as she arrived for tonight’s performance. 


Because not everyone is familiar with the poppy as a symbol of remembrance I wanted to share some background via the Royal British Legion.

Shortly after losing a friend in Ypres in 1915, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battle-scarred fields to write his now famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields‘.

The poem inspired American War Secretary, Moina Michael, who bought poppies to sell to her friends to raise money for Servicemen in need after the First World War.

This was adopted by The (Royal) British Legion in 1921 who ordered 9 million of these poppies and sold them on 11 November that year in the first ever Poppy Appeal.

Below, poppies displayed at Westminster Abbey in 2016 honoring the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. 

Here is the full text of In Flanders Fields.

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.

Most of the poppies I have linked to that we have seen Kate wear over the years are from the Royal British Legion Poppy Shop. With thanks to RC for their comment on a previous post, here is the URL to the US Poppy Shop site.

In the USA National Poppy Day is officially celebrated in May but some of us wear poppies for other occasions, including Memorial Day and Veterans Day.


Now for our look at what Kate wore. 

The Duchess was in a new dress that has not yet been identified. It features a bateau neckline, princess seams, long sleeves, a length that hits just below the knee and a velvet band at the waist. (I digitally lightened the photo below to better show the material.) 

Some believe it is a Jenny Packham dress because of its similarities to the Jenny Packham design worn for a state reception in New Zealand in April 2014. The always on top of things Jane at From Berkshire to Buckingham and Paige on the WKW Facebook page both shared this suggestion. You can see the similarities between the two dresses. This bears additional research but Jane and Paige may well be on the right track. 

UPDATE NOV 10: Heaven reports her contact at Jenny Packham says the dress is not one of their designs.

Kate carried a new handbag that looks like it is by Alexander McQueen. Below, left and right, photos of the Mini Crystal-Embellished Clutch Bag as shown at Matches Fashion

The piece seen above is definitely not Kate’s bag, but the clasp looks identical. The body of the bag is similar to other clutches by the brand Kate has carried, much like this Beetle Box Clutch ($2890), but the clasp is not the same. Thank you to Gabi for her tip on the McQueen clasp, and to those emailing and Allana for commenting about the Beetle Clasp bag!

Her shoes look like the same Jimmy Choo style worn to this event last year, the Romy 100 Black Velvet ($895), a made-to-order style. Many thanks to Emma for her heads-up on the shoes. 

The Duchess wore her hair down this evening, held back by a new headband.  

It looks like she was wearing the Sparkly Padded Headband by Zara ($29.90).

Thanks go to WKW Facebook friend Kristen Canizaro for her fab ID of the headband. More on the look from The Telegraph’s fashion coverage:

Kate transformed the look from pared-back to glamorous by debuting a new £17.99 padded rhinestone headband from Zara. The addition of pearl and diamond earrings which she has on long-term loan from the Queen exemplifies her modern, bold approach to royal style, styling high street everywoman buys with unique family heirlooms.

Kate’s earrings are the diamond/pearl drop pair seen previously, on loan from HM. 

The brooch worn with Kate’s poppies could be a piece we have seen before.

I’m thinking of the one that features oak leaves and four “acorns” as shown below. It is difficult to tell without better closeups of the piece.

Kate wore three poppies as she has on many previous occasions.  Some believe each represents a family member who served in the military. HM generally wears five, as she did tonight (below). 

Hello reports “It’s believed that the Queen wears one flower for each branch of service – the navy, the army, the air force, civil defense and women.”

One conversation that often comes up this time of year involves the correct or proper way to wear a poppy. Here is information via the Royal British Legion.

There is no ‘correct’ way to wear a poppy.

It’s a matter of personal choice whether someone chooses to wear a poppy and how they choose to wear it.

The best way to wear a poppy is simply with pride.

For details on what the Duchess of Sussex wore, see the post on What Meghan Wore.

We’ll see you tomorrow morning for Remembrance Sunday events.


This Daily Telegraph video runs about 1:35.

Here is James Blunt’s performance of Monsters in its entirety.

Here is a 2017 Royal British Legion video about the poem, In Flanders Field.

With thanks to Heather for her comment about Col. Gail Halvorsen coming to her school, here is a video about the Candy Bomber.



Pin It

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Friday 15th of November 2019

I really like the simplicity of this outfit. It has a bit of a 60's vibe for me...I guess it's the cut of the dress with the headband and hairstyle. I like it.

I would also like to call out how The Queen has worn her poppies the last two days. I love how she has paired it with her bow pin...very cool! Thanks for the closeup in this post!

sue d

Monday 25th of November 2019

I love the look. Thank you Susan for all the background on Remembrance Sunday and so on.


Thursday 14th of November 2019

The Zara headband appears to have already sold out, however (or have the exact same headband :)


Wednesday 13th of November 2019

Love this entire look! It’s nice to see Kate in actual dresses instead of just coat dresses. I’m always apprehensive about combining navy and black but in this case it works perfectly. I think the hair and accessories work too. I would totally wear that headband!

Camilla and Meghan’s dresses don’t work for me.

Sophie won the night for me. The hair, accessories and dress were just perfect. We need a What Sophie Wore site. Interesting to see Prince Andrew and Prince Edward walking in together behind Sophie.

Susan—I hope you are healing well. Thanks as always for including details of the event as well as photos of all family members. Always nice to see the extended family together in one place.


Tuesday 12th of November 2019

The dress and belt are gorgeous and Kate looks amazing, but that headband! Why?? It ruins the whole look for me. Headbands like that just seem so very juvenile. Such a gorgeous dress though.


Monday 11th of November 2019

The midnight blue dress is sexy as hell with the velvet belt and headband i want to see her hair in this style more because she just looks so chic yet playful and leona lewis looked gorgeous too.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.