The Duchess made two unannounced engagements today. She started the day in casual pieces for a visit to Northern Ireland.
NOTE: Per a reader request, anyone with a snake phobia should be advised there is coverage of the Duchess with a snake in the post.
Here you see Baroness Carrickfergus, as Kate is styled in Northern Ireland, being greeted by First Minister Arlene Foster at Belfast City Airport.
The Mirror reports that “The Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Northern Ireland at midday today, meeting young children and livestock, during a guided tour of the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards, near Belfast.”
The Ark Open Farm was opened “back in 1990 as one of the first open farms in Northern Ireland specialising in rare breeds of farm animals. Over the years we have added to our collection as well as developing our facilities to include indoor & outdoor play areas, quad & tractor rides and a really cool fairy-tale forest.”
Children from two different nursery schools were at the farm today.
Kate spent time with the children.
She met some very interesting animals.
Including a guinea pig.
And a reptile named Sophie.
More from a Daily Mirror story:
Kate was left amazed as she held the pale yellow reptile named Sophie at the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards, confessing it was the first time she had picked one up.
Holding out her arms, the duchess remarked: “Are you sure it’s OK? Oh my goodness. No way,” before adding: “Is there a way to hold her? Wow, look at that.”
She asked a youngster next to her: “Do you want to touch the snake?”
Kate added: “She’s got the most amazing skin. This is the first time I’ve ever held a snake like that. How cool is that?”
I believe this photo was taken after Kate bonded with Sophie.
The trip is part of Kate’s Early Years work.
The Duchess was continuing her promotion of the 5 Big Questions survey about early childhood.
A refresher on the survey via this Hello! story:
The Duchess launched a landmark online survey last month, ‘5 Big Questions on the Under Fives,’ which aims to spark a UK-wide conversation on raising the next generation and will run until 21 February. Kate has already visited Birmingham, Cardiff, Woking and London to carry out engagements in connection with the launch.
Kate spoke with parents, grandparents, caregivers, and others about the study and her Early Years work.
Hannah Furness reports in The Telegraph that Kate “spoke to mothers and fathers about their thoughts on raising the next generation. “There’s a huge amount of pressure on parents feeling like they have to do this by themselves, but really it’s everyone,” she said.” Below, the Duchess unveils a plaque marking her visit and the farm’s 30th anniversary.
The Duchess then traveled to Aberdeen, Scotland, where she is styled as the Countess of Strathearn.
She spent time at a Social Bite Café, which provides assistance to those struggling with homelessness.
Social Bite operates a number of cafés. The organization may sound familiar to some readers; the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited the Edinburgh café in February 2018. Here is a quick video of Kate’s arrival at the cafe.
The Duchess of Cambridge, or The Countess of Strathearn as she’s known in Scotland, is visiting a cafe in Aberdeen as part of her UK-wide tour to promote her survey on the early years. pic.twitter.com/EnppQB6H8H
— Rachel Bell (@rachelbellABDN) February 12, 2020
More about Social Bite from the organization’s website:
Today our Social Bite Academy enables the employment of people affected by homelessness (32 in 2018) and also supports homeless people to volunteer (45 in 2018).
We distribute more than 140,000 items of healthy free food via our cafes each year and our weekly Social Supper events connect 400 vulnerable people every week with food, support and opportunities. We also have a restaurant, Vesta Restaurant & Bar, formerly called ‘Home’ which opened in 2016 and which provides weekly sit down meals for 40 people experiencing homelessness and food poverty, as well as training opportunities for our supported employees.
Below, Kate with Social Bite co-founder Alice Thompson.
From Hannah Furness’s piece in The Telegraph:
The duchess asked Social Bite co-founder Alice Thompson: “Have you found examples of how an individual’s childhood has affected them, leading them to where they are now?
“You obviously see a lot of issues close up, people who come into the cafe to perhaps reach out and you help them.
“It’s a really big thing to be able to do that and understand everyone’s story and the journey they are on.”
Ms Thompson said: “Oh absolutely, it’s such a massive factor in what we see in our work and we see so many of the same patterns emerging all the time.”
Kate spoke to staff and customers about their experiences of homelessness and how tough times in their early years shaped their lives, as well as the stigma they have faced.
In conversation, she said: “This isn’t about a second chance, it’s about finding a first chance.”
She added: “Sometimes it’s the simple things, like the idea of listening to people.
“It’s the kindness of communities like this that really make a difference.”
She was clearly engaged by the conversation.
Kate speaking with a gentleman named Richard Bradley Anderson and an unidentified woman who looks like a café employee.
After speaking with people about the Early Years project and 5 Big Questions survey Kate spent a little time in the kitchen.
She helped Matt Thomas make chicken wraps, a popular item at the café.
More from The Daily Record:
Staff member Matt Thomas, 49, who was homeless five years ago but now works in the cafe full-time and has a permanent home, showed her how to make a chicken wrap, joking: “You can come back and help me tomorrow.”
They spoke about how Social Bite helped him and others who find themselves homeless.
Mr Thomas said: “She made you feel very much at ease very quickly. She’s very interested in you as a person and finding out what your experience is.
Kate joined everyone for a group photo.
Now for our look at what Kate wore for today’s engagements, starting with the Northern Ireland ensemble.
The Duchess brought back her ‘Defence’ jacket by Barbour. The waxed jacket is lined in tartan cotton, has four front tab pockets, shoulder epaulets, a corduroy-lined stand collar, and front zipper.
Barbour has released an updated version of the Defence Jacket; it is now available for preordering at Saks ($450) with an expected March 1st shipping date.
In some photos, you can see that Kate wore her Seeland ‘Hawker’ quilted jacket (€79.95, roughly $87 at today’s exchange rates) beneath her Barbour. There were questions about this on FB; both pieces are lightweight and would not provide much warmth.
The lightweight jacket is 100% nylon lined in nylon; it folds easily into a small, packable size.
The piece is also machine washable. We show it at Pure Collection’s US site, but it is also offered at John Lewis (£125). Kate’s Our thanks to Bojanana and Kate’s Royal Closet for this ID! (I added some quick repliKates here.)
For the Aberdeen engagement, Kate switched out her Barbour and Seeland jackets for a piece we’ve seen before, the ‘Delaney’ coat by Reiss. The Delaney was first worn for a December 2013 engagement at the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice. It is from the label’s AW 2013 collection.
From our description of the garment: “The Delaney showcases that fit and flare silhouette Kate is so fond of, in the clean, tailored lines she likes. The piece is constructed with multiple gores, elbow darts, and that little extra something, a flourish we frequently see with the Duchess: in this case, it is the triangular point of interest in the center back. There are also slit pockets on the front. Reiss describes the color as cool grey, and the garment is a mix of wool and polyamide with a rayon lining.”
Kate accessorized with her Penelope Chilvers Tassel Boots ($475) in the Conker Brown colorway.
The boots are cut close to the ankle, have a scalloped detail at the zip panel and a leather tassel on the zipper pull, as well as a Goodyear Welted Commando rubber sole. They are on sale in brown for 20% off in at John Lewis (£379, about $490), and at Country Attire.
With thanks to an anonymous commenter for the tip, there is a story in today’s Telegraph titled, “Why the Duchess of Cambridge has had these boots in her wardrobe for 16 years”. From that piece:
For the most part, fashion is a fickle environment. What is cool and of-the-moment one season looks dated the next, leaving us on a perpetual treadmill of buying ever more ‘stuff’ in an effort to feel au courant.
That’s why it’s worth paying attention to the Duchess of Cambridge, a rare woman in the public eye who is celebrated for her style, yet invests carefully, buying wardrobe staples that she knows she can wear year after year.
And according to Chilvers, Kate has never replaced her original conker brown pair, making the cost-per-wear of the £475 boots very low indeed.
Below, the Duchess wearing the boots in 2004.
The story answers a question many of us have about boot care, at least as it pertains to these boots.
Given the pristine condition of Kate’s boots, she likely follows the brand’s care instructions to the letter. The leather should be treated with the brand’s Leather Feed every three months, as well as a leather-protecting spray. She’ll probably use boot trees so that they keep their shape while not in use, and store them in a dust bag too.
If interested in a repliKate, the Mark Todd Tall Masterton Boots (price varies $147 to $247) are a good stand-in, offered at Amazon and through Fruugo. For those with wider calves, Jenny posted on Facebook about the Really Wild Wider Fitting Spanish Boots ($345).
The Duchess wore her hair down today.
But we were still able to see a new (to us) pair of earrings, Catherine Zoraida’s Gold Fern Drop style ($213/£165).
The earrings are 18ct gold-plated silver; they are also offered in rose gold and silver. Our thanks to Jenny on the Facebook page and Kate’s Royal Closet for the earring ID.
The Royal Family Channel has 3+ minutes coverage of Kate’s arrival for the farm visit.
The RFC also has video of the farm visit itself, including Kate’s newest friend, Sophie the snake.
And the Royal Family Channel also brings us coverage of the Aberdeen visit at Social Bite.
Kensington Palace posted a 1-minute piece on Twitter.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) February 12, 2020
The Telegraph has a report on the Aberdeen visit that runs about 3:30.
- Northern Ireland stories: Belfast Live’s live blog coverage is here; a Belfast Telegraph piece is here; The Mirror’s story about the N. Ireland visit is here; The Daily Mail’s piece is here; an Express article is here; People’s story about Kate and Sophie the snake is here; a Town & Country article is here; a Sky News piece is here; The Evening Standard’s story and gallery may be seen here
- Scotland stories: The Daily Record story is here; The Daily Mail’s coverage is here; The National’s article is here; a BBC story is here; Simon Perry’s story for People is here
- Coverage of both locations: The Telegraph’s piece by Hannah Furness is here; a Hello! piece is here