The Duchess of Cambridge returned to public engagements today by making a visit to RAF Brize Norton, an airbase northwest of London.
A video of the Duchess arriving via People’s Simon Perry.
The Duchess of Cambridge has arrived at RAF Brize Norton where she’s set to hear about the humanitarian evacuation undertaken by the RAF of thousands of people from Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/uF3r4UiIjH
— Simon Perry (@SPerryPeoplemag) September 15, 2021
A salute for the Duchess. More from the BBC:
Catherine visited RAF Brize Norton and spoke to those involved in Operation Pitting, which saw more than 15,000 people, including about 2,200 children, airlifted out of Kabul during August.
More than 850 people arrived at the RAF base in Oxfordshire last month.
An RAF Globemaster just before departure from the Kabul airport in late August.
Below, arrivals at the RAF base.
More from Rebecca English’s Daily Mail story.
Brize Norton’s full fleet of RAF transport aircraft flew around the clock to support the evacuation, including a record flight for an RAF C17 Globemaster which carried 439 passengers out of Kabul.
Below, RAF personnel with evacuees at the Kabul airport.
Kensington Palace noted in a news release this was the largest humanitarian aid operation in more than 70 years.
RAF personnel worked alongside the Royal Navy and Army during the operation. They were also assisted by local authorities and aid organizations in Afghanistan and the UK during the process. Below, Royal Navy personnel handing out water at the Kabul airport.
Helping get an infant settled after arriving in the UK.
Below, members of the 16 Air Assault Brigade as they landed at RAF Brize Norton on August 29. These were some of the final British Armed Forces to return from Afghanistan.
Today the Duchess met RAF aircrews and medics who worked on the airlift in Afghanistan.
Inside one of the RAF’s massive Globemaster aircraft.
From The Telegraph’s coverage:
Wing Commander Bailey recalled the struggle of “emotions and challenges of crews landing on an airfield that was being overrun by people” and shared the toll that the operation took on those involved. He described how the Duchess was interested in discussions “about people,” adding she wanted to know about “the experience down the back of the plane, trying to picture what 460 people was like down there, what state they were in. How did they feel, talking about children, which seemed to connect to her. Being able to tap into the right thing is an art.”
She also spent time with civilians and volunteers who worked on creating a repatriation center. More on Kate’s conversations from this People story:
Wing commander Calvin Bailey, officer commanding 70 Squadron, said she has wanted to hear the young air men and women’s stories — something that will help them cope with the after effects of the harrowing mission they lived through.
“They want to tell their story. They want to say, ‘This is hard. I did this. This is what I feel proud about.’ And she gave that to them today,” Wing Commander Bailey told PEOPLE at RAF Brize Norton. “They were just so important. And so for us there’s a lot of necessary catharsis. We need to share our stories and we need to get them out. And that’s what the media allows us to kind of do — because it means, for them, their parents will see them on the news tonight and hear their stories. It was priceless.”
One more quote from Simon Perry’s People piece.
And Loadmaster Sergeant Mark Curtis, who was in charge of the evacuees on the plane, added of today’s event: “To meet the Duchess and for her to be so interested in and engaged with our stories was brilliant. We’re serving our Queen, our country, the royal family. And obviously to have that level of the ‘boss’ coming along and patting you on your back for the hard work was amazing.”
And from The Telegraph’s story by Hannah Furness.
Corporal Guy Watts, whose job involved making sure the flights remained safe, told the Duchess of the anxiety on the faces of the Afghans they rescued.
Watts, who did seven flights to Kabul, told the Duchess: “None of them had seen a military jet before. The adrenaline was really pumping as we were getting them on. Then as soon as we were in the air and got to altitude, they just collapsed.”
She asked him: “Did they know what the plan was? You must have been asked loads of questions, like, ‘What’s happening next?’”
Many readers will recall Kate’s work with UK charity Little Village, a baby bank providing necessities to families across the UK. The organization has been heavily involved in collecting donations for the refugees. More than 2000 of the evacuees are children.
We learn more from this Times of London story.
Each support pack contains a set of pyjamas, two pairs of trousers, two tops, one jumper, two pairs of underpants and socks, a vest and a coat for each child, as well as nappies, a toiletries pack, an activity pack and some toys.
Emma Gibbs, 41, who works for Little Village, said: “Some of our volunteers have been moved to tears by kids bringing in their treasured toys — one boy brought in his favourite cricket bat and said he wanted an Afghan kid to have it.”
Below, stuffed animals and a ‘Welcome to England’ message donated to Little Village.
The Duchess signing a commemoration of her visit (I think).
Now for our look at what Kate wore for today’s engagement.
She was in a Reiss blazer we’ve not previously seen. The Larsson style (£285) is a double-breasted design made of a textured wool/acrylic blend.
The double-breasted style features a ticket pocket above the patch pockets, peak lapels, and a single back vent.
The jacket is available at Bloomingdale’s ($540), in limited sizes at JohnLewis, and also at Fenwick. Beneath the blazer, she wore her ‘Binky Blouse’ (£440/$590) by Goat fashion. We first saw her wearing the blouse back in 2016.
The piece is 100% silk, with a round neck and full sleeves. (The label is now called Jane Atelier.) It looked like the Duchess repeated the UFO navy trousers seen at the Pride of Britain Awards last November (center). Initially, I thought they were the Jigsaw pair (right photo) worn several times, but today’s don’t look more like the UFO pair when seeing pictures side by side.
She carried a new (to us) handbag, the Mini Holly style ($343) by Tusting, a British label.
Made in England, the bag is a 1950s-inspired design measuring roughly 9″ x 5″. It is made of leather and comes with a detachable strap. Many thanks to the eagle-eyed Emily for the jacket and bag IDs, along with Middleton Maven and Kate’s Closet for noting the Binky blouse.
The Duchess brought back her Emmy London Josie pumps in navy suede with a chunky heel.
And she wore her Gold Disc Circle earrings ($81) by All the Falling Stars.
For those who may not have heard the news, the Duchess’s brother married fiancée Alizee Thevenet this past weekend. The groom shared the news this photo this weekend on his Instagram account. Below, the image shared on Instagram.
And the caption accompanying the photo.
Rebecca English of The Daily Mail reported the entire Cambridge family attended the wedding in the south of France.
It is wonderful to be back posting! One quick request on today’s post: please refrain from any political comments related to the Afghanistan operation. We’ll leave you with one more photo from today’s engagement.