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The Princess’s St. Patrick’s Day Style Through the Years UPDATED

The Princess’s St. Patrick’s Day Style Through the Years UPDATED

UPDATE MONDAY NIGHT MAR 18: As a rule, I do not publish or publicize “off-duty photos,” but because of the level of concern about the Princess of Wales’s well-being, here is the front page of The Sun. It shows a frame from a video of the Prince and Princess in Windsor on Saturday. The video metadata has been analyzed and shows that it was shot yesterday near the couple’s Windsor home.

If we learn more, I will update this post. 


Happy (early) St. Patrick’s Day to all marking the occasion. While we won’t see the Princess visiting the Irish Guards tomorrow as she continues to recover from surgery, I thought it might be fun to look back at the different ensembles she has worn for the annual St. Patrick’s Day shamrock ceremony and parade.

First, a bit of history on the shamrock tradition via this 2023 piece by the British Army.

On 14 March 1900, Natal Army Orders issued an instruction: “Her Majesty, the Queen, is pleased to order that in future, upon St Patrick’s Day, all ranks of her Irish regiments shall wear, as a distinction, a sprig of shamrock in their head dress to commemorate the gallantry of her Irish soldiers during the recent battles in South Africa.”

123 years later the presentation of shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day remains a proud British Army tradition for all ranks within the Irish regiments, including the Regimental mascots. No matter where in the world they serve they will receive the shamrock on 17 March. 

For her first official visit to the Irish Guards Shamrock Ceremony in 2012, the Duchess chose an Emilia Wickstead design.

The Duchess with shamrocks for the Regiment’s mascot, Conmael, an Irish Wolfhound.

The Emilia Wickstead style fit-and-flare style was similar to a design from the designer’s A/W 2010 collection.

She accented the deep green of her coatdress with a rich brown ‘Betty Boop’ hat by Lock and Company.

She also wore the Cartier Shamrock Brooch owned by the Irish Guards and loaned to royal women taking part in ceremonial duties. The Queen Mother and Princess Anne have previously worn it. Here is a closer look at it, as well as her Kiki McDonough earrings and Emmy London ‘Valerie’ heels worn to the event.

This was not the first the Duchess was seen wearing the brooch; she was seen wearing it in June 2011 for a visit to the Irish Guards on Armed Forces Day.

Below, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother wearing the brooch as she arrived at the Guards Chapel at Wellington Barracks in 2000 for a Service To Commemorate The Irish Guards.  
Embed from Getty Images
Here is Princess Anne wearing the shamrock brooch for St. Patrick’s Day 2009.

When expecting Prince George at 2013’s ceremony, the Duchess brought back that 2012 Emilia Wickstead design.

The Duchess presented the unit’s new mascot, Domhnall (pronounced Donal), with his first shamrocks. (I’m including a photo of the Duchess/Princess with the mascot from each year.)

As you can see, the garment was altered, and the Duchess added a turtleneck underneath it.

Her hat was also a repeat: John Lock’s ‘Fairy Tale’ style, first worn when visiting Leicester in March 2012.

The Episode’ Angel’ heels, emerald and diamond earrings, and her Cornelia James Imogen gloves were also seen on previous engagements.

 For the 2014 shamrock ceremony, the Duchess chose a coat by Hobbs London

The Duchess with Domhnall and his handler, Drummer David Steed.

It was the first of several times we saw the ‘Persephone’ coat, a double-breasted style made of a rayon/wool blend. The garment featured all classic trench elements: epaulets, storm flaps, and double-breasted styling. Kate elected not to use the self-belt that came with the coat, instead wearing a textured leather belt.

The Duchess repeated a Gina Foster hat seen on Christmas Day 2013, the ‘Maribel’ style. She wore her Kiki McDonough green amethyst earrings and ‘Valerie’ pumps by Emmy London; she carried her Emmy ‘Natasha’ clutch

The Duchess’s first appearance in a color other than green for this event was at the 2015 Shamrock Ceremony

Domhnall receives his shamrocks from the Duchess. 

She was expecting Princess Charlotte and opted for a chestnut brown Catherine Walker coat in double wool crepe. It had a modified portrait collar, princess seams, and box pleats.

The Duchess accessorized with a repeat of the ‘Betty Boop’ hat by Lock & Co., Emmy London’s ‘Valerie’ pumps and ‘Natasha’ clutch in chocolate brown, the ‘Imogen’ gloves by Cornelia James, and her Kiki McDonough Citrine Drop earrings.

The Duchess did not attend the 2016 ceremony. She chose another Catherine Walker coat for St. Patrick’s Day 2017.

Our 2017 photo of the Duchess and the Regiment’s mascot.

The double-breasted Catherine Walker design featured a fit-and-flare silhouette with velvet trim at the collar, cuffs, and pocket flaps. Her shiny goldtone buttons referenced the buttons on the uniforms worn by the Guards.

The Duchess wore a Sylvia Fletcher for Lock & Co. hat first noted on Christmas Day 2015, the Emmy’ Rebecca’ heels, and her Monica Vinader ‘Siren’ Earrings; she also carried a clutch by Etui

At the 2018 ceremony, the Duchess was expecting Prince Louis, and she recycled a Catherine Walker coat. 

The Duchess and Domhnall.

This Catherine Walker design had an off-center front closure, princess seams, and attached faux fur collar and cuffs.

It was first worn in Stockholm in January 2018.

Kate also had on Gina Foster’s ‘Meribel’ Felt Beret Hat with Bow, her oft-worn Tod’s suede pumps, her Cornelia James’ Alice’ gloves, and Kiki McDonough earrings initially seen on the 2016 India tour. The special edition green tourmalines, green amethysts, and diamond earrings were said to have been a gift celebrating Princess Charlotte’s birth.

We saw a new Alexander McQueen coat at the 2019 ceremony

The Duchess with Domhnall and David Murray, the wolfhound’s handler. 

The Alexander McQueen piece looked like it was modeled on a military coat the brand offered. It had a high collar, concealed front placket, darts at the neck and shoulders, raised shoulders, and a military-style peplum.

The Duchess’s buttons had a Celtic theme (below left), as opposed to the buttons on the original jacket (r).

You can see the similarities between the green coat and the Alexander McQueen jacket worn for Remembrance Sunday 2018

The Duchess accessorized with a hat that remains UFO (although some of us think it could be by Lock & Co.), her Jenny Packham’ Roxy’ clutch, Gianvito Rossi’ Piper 85′ suede pumps, the same Kiki McDonough earrings worn last year, and the Cartier shamrock brooch. 

We did not see the Princess on St. Patrick’s Day in 2020 and 2021: the Irish Guards were deployed in Iraq and South Sudan in 2020, and the following year, the COVID pandemic impacted the ceremony. In 2022, the Princess returned on St. Patrick’s Day, wearing a coat by Laura Green London

The Duchess with the Regiment’s new mascot, Turlough Mór, also known as Séamus.

The Laura Green London piece is described as “speckled hunting green military wool perfectly complemented with a khaki green silk satin lining. The Emilia is finished with a structured dagger collar with epaulets held down with navy leather buttons and a matching wool buckle belt.”

The Princess wore Lock and Company’s ‘Mayfair’ pillbox hat, the Emmy London ‘Rebecca’ pumps, the shamrock brooch, and the UFO emerald and diamond earrings.

The Princess was in a vibrant teal Catherine Walker design for last year’s shamrock ceremony. It was the first time the Princess attended the parade as Colonel of the Regiment. 

The Princess of Wales, Seamus, and Drummer Adam Walsh, the canine’s handler.

The deep teal style showcased a slim silhouette with princess seams, a Mandarin collar, angled pleats at the upper bodice, a deep back vent, an attached waistband, and flared cuffs.

The sets of four buttons echo those on the Guards’ uniforms, which are arranged in groups of four.

A refresher on the significance of color comes via this People story.

While the Princess of Wales usually marks the event wearing green, the color most closely associated with the holiday, she made a surprising decision to wear a teal Catherine Walker & Co coat dress with matching accessories for the occasion this year.

While the color choice was certainly unexpected, there’s a clever reason for it. Princess Kate’s ensemble perfectly matched the plumes worn in the bearskin caps by the 1st Battalion Irish Guards. The plume being St. Patrick’s blue was selected because that is the color of the mantle and sash of the Order of St. Patrick.

A closer look at the Jane Taylor ‘Clio’ hat alongside Prince William in one of the Regiment’s bearskin hats seen at ceremonial parade events shows how well the color matched the plume on the hat.

You can see Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in a similar shade on St. Patrick’s Day in 1994.
Embed from Getty Images

The Princess’s accessories last year included Emmy’s Natasha clutch in ‘Lake’ suede, UFO gloves, heels believed to be Gianvito Rossi 105’s in the ‘Persian’ colorway, the Cartier Shamrock Brooch, and the UFO emerald and diamond earrings. 

While the Princess will not be at tomorrow’s shamrock ceremony and parade, the troops will remember her. We learn more from this People article

The Irish Guards will still have the Princess of Wales in their thoughts, a source tells PEOPLE, and wish her well in her recovery. They are planning to send her best wishes and give three cheers to her at the end of their celebratory parade at Mons Barracks in Hampshire this weekend, PEOPLE understands.

A quick note about comments: We had a vigorous discussion on the previous post regarding the Mothering Sunday photo. Thank you to all who remained civil in that dialogue. With this post, we’ll return to comments focusing on what the Princess is wearing or has worn in the past. 

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Friday 29th of March 2024

I consider the Emilia Wickstead look in 2012 to be one of Kate's iconic outfits. She certainly set the bar high for this ceremony on her first outing! Every year when we see the side-by-side of St. Patrick's Day outfits, it stands out to me. Maybe it's because she's beaming in the photos, still new to the royal role but looking confident. The coat is so simple but it suits her so well, and the contrast with the adorable pillbox hat is divine. I even like the coat repeat in 2013 because the updo is so beautiful, and the black turtleneck adds a different contrast – the whole look is different enough to make it seem like it is not the same coat.

Since then I have found the outfits to be mostly forgettable, or I've had some elements to criticize. I had forgotten the 2019 McQueen coat, which I can't find fault with in this post, although I do find the hat a bit fussy compared to the others worn to this event.

I'm looking forward to next year's outfit and quietly hoping it's a repeat of one of the many stunning green coats Kate already owns. This event is so charming every year, I love the photos with the regimental mascot and the pint of Guinness (or, as in 2012, what looks to be whiskey).


Friday 22nd of March 2024

Thanks for the excellent retrospective. A bright spot to my day. I love all of these outfits; each one stands out in its own way. Here's to many more smashing St. Patrick's Day outfits to add to the collection. I'm looking forward to next year already!


Thursday 21st of March 2024

What a delightfully fun post! For me, the 2019 outfit was perfection. The style, cut, color, and length of the coat; the hat; the hair styling...all of it was so lovely and flattering together - it certainly is my favorite look to-date for this event.


Tuesday 19th of March 2024

Dear Admin! I am so thankful that there is a place somewhere where I can only see the official photos. I'm not interested in anyone's private life, because it doesn't belong to me. But I'm very interested in style, dressing, and of course I enjoy looking at these pictures. Thank you very much for your work from Hungary :-)


Tuesday 19th of March 2024

Thank you for such a lovely comment, Réka! 😊

Sue V

Tuesday 19th of March 2024

Like quite a few others, my favourite is last year. Such a lovely pop of colour and still eminently suitable as it matched the plume colour.

I also like the 2019 McQueen and that actually is a really good length, just below the knee, so should also satisfy all those that feel Catherine’s clothes length should be ‘suitable for her age and position’ (ugh.) Also the 2017 Catherine Walker with the velvet collar and cuffs appeals, I am always a sucker for a touch of velvet.

Other than that, I really do so much prefer the shorter length coats as opposed to the excessively long ones Catherine has been wheeling out these past couple of years. Enough of them, I say......

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