The Princess of Wales visited the Ukrainian Community Centre in Reading today, about 45 minutes northwest of Windsor Castle.
She was greeted with a traditional Ukrainian welcome of bread and salt.
The center is part of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, an organization founded in 1946 by Ukrainians who emigrated at the end of World War Two. The group has been helping Ukrainians arriving in the UK since Russia’s February invasion of the country. More about today’s visit from The Daily Mail’s coverage.
During her visit, Kate heard from the centre’s volunteers about how they have adapted their services in recent months, and how this has helped displaced families as they settle into life in the UK.
Her visit today comes as it was revealed The Royal Foundation of The Prince and Princess of Wales convened a roundtable last week to offer support the First Lady’s mental health strategy, which was announced in August to address the impact the ongoing conflict is having upon the mental wellbeing of Ukrainians.
Here is additional information on the support for First Lady Olena Zelenska’s mental health initiative from Victoria Murphy’s Town and Country piece.
Areas discussed at the roundtable, which brought together experts from across the UK as well as representatives from Ukraine, included reducing stigma around mental health challenges and how the strategy can learn from how specific groups such as children and veterans have previously been helped.
Below, the Princess and Ms. Zelenska at Buckingham Palace just ahead of the reception hosted by King Charles the night before HM’s funeral.
Today the Princess spoke with volunteers and families displaced by the war. From The Evening Standard’s story
Galina Bolebrukh, 39, who arrived in the UK with her mother Iryne and three-year-old son Renat, wept as she told the princess how she fled Ukraine with her family and a few clothes.
Kate placed her hand and on her own heart and said “I wish we could do more” and later told the mother, whose husband remained in Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion: “Everything you’ve experienced is so understandable.”
Rebecca English shared a video of the Princess speaking with Ms. Bolebrukh.
She apologised as she wiped away a tear, and Kate replied: “It’s understandable everything you have experienced.”
The Princess touched her heart and said: “I wish we could do more. pic.twitter.com/qUQ8p2iwXy
— Rebecca English (@RE_DailyMail) November 17, 2022
The situation in Ukraine remains perilous as Russia continues its wave of missile and drone strikes across the country. Below, an image from Independence Square in Kyiv today; the Ukrainian flags symbolize Ukrainian soldiers killed in the war.
This was the scene in Kherson yesterday as people received supplies from a volunteer aid truck offering food and medical supplies. Ukrainian forces took control of Kherson last week.
Below, a woman in Bucha mourns during a funeral for a Ukrainian serviceman yesterday.
Returning to today’s engagement, here you see the Princess taking part in an art class.
Stephanie Petit has more in her People story.
Combining her interest in both art and the wellbeing of young people, Kate joined children taking part in an art session. Delivered on a monthly basis, the workshops provide a way for the children to have fun, build friendships and express their emotions and experiences through a creative outlet.
A quick video.
— Roya Nikkhah (@RoyaNikkhah) November 17, 2022
Below, five-year-old Zlata Yeromenko sits on the Princess’s lap.
The little girl made a picture for the Princess that said, “Kate, I love you,” according to reporters at the engagement.
Valentine Low has more about the Princess’s conversations today in his article for The Times.
She sympathised with a group of women, telling them: “It’s still all going on and you have loved ones and family in Ukraine, they still see the horrors of war every day.”
Afterwards Bolebrukh, who left Ukraine in February and arrived in Reading in May, said: “I told her how horrible and difficult it was. We had to make a decision very quickly. We only took some shirts and trousers and left.
“It was very easy talking to her, she has a big heart. She tried to make me feel better and said everything was all right and said here we can get a job and live because we can’t go back to Ukraine.”
The Princess chatting with another group at today’s visit.
Just before she left the center, a young man presented the Princess with a lovely posey.
After the visit, Kensington Palace posted that it is “…fantastic that The Royal Foundation has been able to help support First Lady Olena Zalenska’s mental health strategy in recent weeks and will continue to do so moving forwards.” A video from the engagement was also posted.
The inspirational work of the Reading Ukrainian Community Centre is non-stop, and it’s changing lives!
Providing practical advice on employment and housing, delivering educational classes for children and building social connections, the centre is at the heart of the community. pic.twitter.com/tn1Vrk846L
— The Prince and Princess of Wales (@KensingtonRoyal) November 17, 2022
We turn now to look at what Kate wore for today’s engagement.
The dress is a navy and yellow print, a nod to the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Made of 100% polyester, the midi-length dress comes with a slip and features a classic shirtwaist silhouette with a button-front, fitted waist defined by Petersham ribbon, pleated skirt, softly rounded collar, and sheer sleeves. Thank you to Innominate and Carly at Kate Middleton Style for this ID.
The dress is available for purchase at LK Bennett; it also available through the LK Bennett Borrowed program, the brand’s clothing rental service. You can also find the Tallis at Fenwick (£279, about $330 at today’s exchange rates), at John Lewis (£279), and at Brown Thomas (€420, about $495).
The style has also been worn by ITV presenter Holly Willoughby, seen in this November Instagram post by Ms. Willoughby.
The Princess accessorized with her Jaeger ‘Kate’ handbag, a quilted leather style with goldtone hardware and chain.
She wore a pair of navy pumps that may have been her Rupert Sanderson style. I haven’t seen clear enough photos to be sure.
Also today, we have details about the involvement of the Prince and Princess of Wales in next week’s state visit as King Charles and the Queen Consort welcome President Ramaphosa and First Lady Tshepo Motsepe of South Africa. It is the first state visit since before the pandemic and the first hosted by King Charles. We know we will see the Prince and Princess at two events associated with the visit.
- Tuesday, November 22: On behalf of the King, the Prince and Princess of Wales will greet President Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa at his London Hotel and travel with him to Horse Guards Parade for a ceremonial welcome. Afterward, the President will join the King and Queen Consort, and the Prince and Princess of Wales, for a carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace.
- Tuesday, November 22: In the evening the King, accompanied by the Queen Consort and members of the Royal Family, will give a state banquet at Buckingham Palace for the President; the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to attend the dinner.
As to what we can expect for Tuesday’s welcome, here are images from October 2014, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed the President of Singapore and his wife, Mrs. Tony Tan Keng Yam, to the United Kingdom.
An image from the 2014 carriage ride.
For anyone wondering about Tuesday night’s dinner, it will be a full white-tie event, which means we can expect tiaras and other statement jewelry, as well as royal orders. I have a quick glance back at the state dinner ensembles worn by the Princess, beginning with the June 2019 United States banquet, when the Duchess of Cambridge wore an Alexander McQueen gown and the Lover’s Knot tiara.
It was another Alexander McQueen gown and the Lover’s Knot tiara for the Netherlands state dinner in October 2018.
At the Spain state dinner in July 2017, the Duchess wore a Marchesa gown and the Lover’s Knot tiara.
The Duchess chose a bespoke Jenny Packham gown and the Lotus Flower tiara for the China State Dinner in October 2015.
A site update: the missing September posts, including all those covering the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, are finally back on the site. After six weeks of very challenging circumstances for all of you, as well as myself and the Consort, we are 99% back to normal.
There were a few hiccups along the way, including some comments that vanished, but almost everything is at is should be on the site.
The Royal Family Channel offers more than 3:30 of coverage from today’s visit in this video.
This Daily Mail video runs just about one minute.