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The Duchess Brings Back Alexander McQueen Design for Remembrance Sunday

This morning’s National Service of Remembrance got underway at 11 am in London.

You may recall that last year’s service was socially distanced.

This year’s events were ‘back to normal’ in most regards.

The missing element today: Her Majesty The Queen, seen below at least year’s service.

Buckingham Palace previously said the 95-year-old monarch had ‘firm intentions’ of attending after being advised by doctors to rest for two weeks following a night in the hospital. Here is the statement released by the Palace this morning. More from the BBC’s Johnny Dymond

This is a blow. A blow to those gathered here on Whitehall on a grey November morning, a blow to the many who had hoped to see the Queen after a fortnight of rest, and without doubt a blow to the Queen herself – Remembrance Sunday is when she, who has devoted her life to service, pays her tribute to those who served.

 It looks as if a car ride from Windsor and a period of standing in the cold watching the ceremony were just impossible given her back sprain.

And from The Telegraph’s story.  

The monarch is head of the Armed Forces and attaches great importance to the poignant service and to commemorating the sacrifices made by fallen servicemen and women. The Queen has previously missed the Cenotaph service four times because she has been overseas on tours – in 1961, 1968, 1983 and 1999, and twice before the births of her two younger children. 

The Queen hopes to continue her planned schedule of light duties next week. 

Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Edward as they head to the Cenotaph for today’s service.

In this view, you can see Princess Anne as well.

More from Simon Perry’s People article

…the royals had emerged from the Foreign Office onto Whitehall, to stand in tribute for the two-minute silence that was prefaced by a ringing of the Big Ben bell at the Houses of Parliament, a stone’s throw away, and ended by the sound of a gun salute from nearby Horseguards Parade.

The Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Countess of Wessex watch the morning’s events.

The scene in Whitehall. 

The Mirror reported, “As the clock struck 11 and the nation fell silent, Charles looked sombre as he observed the two-minute silence before laying the Queen’s wreath and one for himself.”

The Prince laying a wreath at the foot of the monument.

The Queen’s wreath.

This was the first time in 69 years there was no wreath laid for Prince Philip.  Below, Prince William places a wreath.

Princess Anne salutes after she placed her wreath. 

Prince Edward. 

Also watching from a balcony, the Duke of Kent and his sister, Princess Alexandra.  Both are cousins of the Queen. They were on the balcony where HM usually stands; I imagine the last-minute change of plans prompted changes in where people stood to watch the service.

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence were also on the balcony of the Foreign and Commonwealth building in Whitehall this morning, seen on the far left.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour Party Leader Sir Keir Starmer before they placed their wreaths.

Among those attending this morning, former prime ministers Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Sir John Major, Theresa May (not shown).

The Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge. 

Prince Charles, Princess Anne, and Prince William during today’s service. Today is Prince Charles’ 73rd birthday.

The Duchess of Cambridge and Countess of Wessex. 

People reports, “representatives of neighboring counties and the 54 nations of the Commonwealth and the leaders of the various branches of the military also laid wreaths.” This is what it looks like after all of the wreaths are laid at the Cenotaph.

More than 700 Armed Forces personnel took part in today’s service.

The service wrapped up with God Save the Queen, with many reporters noting it was a particularly loud version of the song likely due to HM’s absence.

After the formal service ended, veterans took part in the traditional march past the memorial.

I think these are former cavalry personnel. 

Today’s service commemorates servicemen and women killed in all conflicts since the First World War, per the Royal British Legion.

An estimated 10,000 veterans took part in today’s march.

Another view.

Chelsea Pensioners in their distinctive red coats. 

The number of World War II veterans continues to dwindle. 

This is 98-year-old Joe Cattini. 

He landed in Normandy on D-Day 1944. 

Mr. Cattini is also in this group shot of Second World War veterans. 

These gentlemen also look like they served in the Second World War.

The veterans gather at Horse Guards Parade before the march. 

Veterans of the Trucial Oman Scouts, an elite desert force, formed in 1951.

I wish I could share the different regiments, but sadly I know almost none.

This year it was Prince Williams’s turn to take the salute as the veterans marched past. On the left, Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence; I believe that is Lt. General James Bashall CB, CBE, President of the Royal British Legion on the right.

Now we turn to what Kate wore for today’s service.

She was in a design by Alexander McQueen, first worn for the 2018 Remembrance Sunday service.

The military-influenced design is done in black wool with a contrasting stand collar, epaulets, neckline darts and topstitching, and silver embossed buttons.  It combines elements from many McQueen styles, including the two shown below. You see the body of the jacket and waistband’s similarity to those on the Military Jacket, while the collar and epaulets are like those seen on the Military Jacket with Lace Inserts shown on the right.

The Duchess wore a new hat that may look familiar.

It is the Tiffany Drop Brim hat (£275, about $370 at today’s exchange rates) by Lock and Company.  Also called the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” hat, the Duchess owns this design in blue.  Here you see the Duchess wearing it at two different engagements.

We saw the Duchess wearing a new poppy, the Crystal Flower Brooch (£19.99) from the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Shop.   Thank you to Katie for this ID.  There is always speculation about the number of poppies worn by the Duchess and any significance attached to that number. Here is a theory many have suggested as detailed in this Grazia story

Some theories suggest each poppy stands for a different branch of the military. Others say that it’s just easier to see a large clump of flowers than a singular one. And a third theory speculates that she might wear the poppy trio to honor her great-grandmother’s three brothers who died during World War I.

The Queen usually wears five poppies. More from Danielle Stacey’s Hello story

While Buckingham Palace has never confirmed the reason for the monarch’s preference, it is thought that Her Majesty’s five poppies represent each service in the war: the Army, the Navy, the RAF, the Civil Defence and women.

The Duchess wore the Collingwood earrings we saw last night at the Festival of Remembrance (post here); they belonged to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. 

The Duchess also wore a pair of gloves that Carly from Kate Middleton Style suggests is the Cornelia James Emilie. See note below.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 20: Carly reports that Cornelia James says the Duchess was not wearing their Gloves, so these will go in the UFO (Unidentified Fashion Object) File.

For those interested in what the other royal women wore, UFO No More reports the Countess of Wessex was in a Prada wool jacket she first wore in 2014, a Jane Taylor hat, and the Returning Home poppy from the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Shop. I do not have any information on the Duchess of Cornwall’s ensemble.    

UPDATE NOVEMBER 16: With thanks to those messaging, emailing, and commenting, it looks like the Duchess also carried her Alexander McQueen black Wicca bag. 

We’ll close with one more photo of the Duchess at the service.


A very quick video with Victoria Cross recipient Colour Sergeant Johnson Beharry.  

This video offers the full service. 

Here are 40+ minutes of coverage via the Royal Family Channel

 Sky News offers 9 minutes of video from the service. 


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Sunday 21st of November 2021

I know this is a fashion blog (and great at it!), but the pictures I found the most compelling were the shots of the veterans--as it should be. A beautifully rounded post; thank you for your coverage.

....PS--anyone else think Kate's eyebrows were a wee bit strong? Maybe it's the distance she needs to be seen and the shadow from the much-maligned hat, but for me, it was veering into Joan Crawford territory.


Friday 19th of November 2021

I love the intricate detailing of the coat. Her HRH looks somber yet elegant - an entirely appropriate look for the occasion. Having read the above comments it seems that there is quite a debate regarding her hat! Personally I prefer her 2018 hat.


Thursday 18th of November 2021

Kate's hat is not pretty. Camilla's overall presentation is the most effective in my opinion. Otherwise, the detailed coverage of this event was very informative!


Wednesday 17th of November 2021

I think Kate needs to leave the wide big hats to Camilla. Camilla's hat stole the show for me as far I'm concerned and while I don't like wearing hats on myself I would love to raid that woman's hat closet. She has the best hats. I loved the Gothic-y and witchy vibe of her hat, for lack of a better word (obviously I do not think Camilla is a witch, just to clarify).

As far as Kate's outfit, it was okay. This isn't my favorite coat of hers, I dislike the white collar and find it very suffocating to look at. It would look so much better with a black collar. As for the hat, I don't like this hat paired with the coat, they do not go together at all. The navy one looked better for whatever reason. The coat looked way better with the smaller fascinator, I just think the heavy military look and this wide brimmed hat are too much together.


Wednesday 17th of November 2021

This is my full message. Trust this makes more sense:

I so look forward to reading your blog, but I hardly have the time to think through and write a comment. However, just needed to take a quick moment to say thank you for all the hard work put in to give such an informative and well balanced post.

And while I’m at it, I also want to say that I love this outfit, white collar, wide-brimmed hat and all (Umm … maybe not the bun to the side). While I did like it when the DoC wore it in 2018, I still like this revamped look too.

Also, for all the pictures I have seen of the Royal Family at Remembrance Sunday, they had always worn full-black. So I was pleasantly surprised to see the white and red in the DoC’s attire. The repeat lets me know that it is approved of ?

I am also appreciative of who the DoC is. In spite of all the challenges, pressure and criticism, she’s fitted into a role seamlessly, and has stood tall throughout.

Wishing HM a speedy recovery and good health in the days ahead.

Thank you again for your lovely work.

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