Tuesday, 17 January 2017

William, Kate and Harry Outline Hopes for "Mental Health Marathon"

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry spoke at a briefing at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Carlton House Terrace today to outline the next phase of their mental health campaign, Heads Together, as efforts intensify to create millions of conversations on the topic in 2017.

Ahead of the royal arrival the Palace said: "Heads Together wants to use the privilege of being Charity of the Year for the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon to tackle stigma and change the conversation on mental health. With fewer than 100 days to the London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April, Their Royal Highnesses will open up the Heads Together campaign to organisations to become supporters that can help get the country talking about mental health in 2017."

The royals were greeted upon arrival.

Heads Together has very much been a project the young royals are extremely passionate about. There were several reports of late suggesting the initiative was actually Kate's brainchild and, along with William and Harry, the trio felt it was a subject they could really put their stamp on. I've noted before one of the advantages of being second-in-line is the ability to devote one's attention to a cause such as this and other areas of interest. The stigma attached to mental health remains all too often, and the fear of judgement can stop those most in need getting help. Ultimately, this campaign is about getting people to talk and open up.

Today's engagement brought together Heads Together charity partners and supporters with leaders from the UK, ranging from media and technology to business and the voluntary sector. It was an opportunity for the royals and other speakers to preview some of the themes and initiatives people can expect to see in the months ahead. The main goal of the campaign in the run up to the marathon will be to show people how important it is to just start a conversation with a friend, family member, colleague, or a professional when dealing with a mental health challenge.

Below, the Duchess chatting with news presenter Sian Williams.

The royals met London Marathon, Heads Together runners and posed for photos.

The Mirror reports Kate was sceptical when she heard of William's plans to run a marathon in Kenya one day. More from The Mirror:

'Good Morning Britain presenter Sean Fletcher, who is running the 26.2 mile course for charity Young Minds after his 13-year-old son was recently diagnosed with OCD, said: "I chatted to Prince William and he has promised that he will run a marathon in Kenya sometime. "Then I spoke to Kate and she said 'I'll believe it when I see it'." The presenter added: "This is all very new to me, I'm learning very fast because of my son's situation.'

Kate adjusted Jon Salmon's headband before photos were taken.

The trio gave speeches outlining their vision for the campaign in 2017. William said "Mental health matters to each and every one of us. It matters just as much as our physical health. It's no exaggeration to say that conversations – simple conversations – can be life-changing. It is our ambition to make the Virgin Money London Marathon the Mental Health Marathon – to help change the conversation on mental health."

The Duchess added "We have heard time and time again in the course of our work how talking can help heal the hidden challenges we can’t deal with alone, So the question that William, Harry and I have asked ourselves is how we can get more people to start talking".

Prince Harry said "We can all help each other. You don't need any qualifications to help your mate, simply to listen to what they have to say. At the heart of this campaign is our hope that no-one should be afraid to ask for help, and no-one should worry about knowing how to help."

The full speeches from the Heads Together website:

Prince William -

'Thank you Sir Keith. And thank you to everyone here today for being enthusiastic about Heads Together. We launched the campaign last year and are extremely proud to support the life-changing work of our eight Charity Partners. We are also very grateful for the support of our Founding Partners. Mental health matters to each and every one of us. It matters just as much as our physical health.   The crews I have worked with, whether RAF Search and Rescue or Air Ambulance, must take their mental health as seriously as they do their physical health or else they would not cope – and, actually, that is true for everybody at some time or another in their life. There are times when, whoever we are, it is hard to cope with challenges – and when that happens being open and honest and asking for help is life-changing.
Talking to someone else is a positive and confident step to take – but for too long it has been a case of ‘Keep Quiet and Carry On’. As a result, too many people have suffered in silence for too long, and the effects of this can be devastating.
The three of us are really optimistic that things are changing.  We believe that 2017 can mark a tipping point for mental health – a moment when more and more people no longer feel they have to bear the weight alone for fear of judgment.
It is no exaggeration to say that conversations – simple conversations – can be life-changing: in a workplace, in your kitchen at home, with a friend, family member or colleague.  And that’s what Catherine, Harry and I want to do – we want more people to be having those conversations. It is our ambition to make this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon the Mental Health Marathon – a major opportunity to help change the conversation on mental health, and to get people talking.  And for that, we really need your help. '

The Duchess of Cambridge - 

'As William has said we have heard time and time again in the course of our work how talking can help heal the hidden challenges we can’t deal with alone.  We have seen that two heads are better than one when dealing with a mental health problem.
Yet, the challenge that so many people have is not knowing how to take that first step of reaching out to another person for help.  Admitting that they are not coping.  Fear, or reticence, or a sense of not wanting to burden another, means that people suffer in silence – allowing the problem to grow larger and larger unchecked.
William, Harry and I have been very privileged to witness in the course of our work countless examples of simple conversations that have changed lives, which were the first step on a path to recovery.  Just last week at the Anna Freud Centre, I heard from one mother how talking to a support worker was – in her words – like medicine.  Simply by having someone there to have a conversation with helped her immensely.
So the question that William, Harry and I have asked ourselves is how we can get more people to start talking.  How do we encourage people to take the first step. What Heads Together is proposing is that in the weeks leading up to the Marathon, our campaign will showcase people from all walks of life, talking about the life-changing conversations that have helped them with their mental health challenges.
We hope that these real-life examples will serve as encouragement to others to do the same. If we succeed with this, we will have taken a powerful step in normalizing mental health as an issue in our society, thinking about it as we do our own physical health. Harry will explain more in a moment about what you can do to help us with this challenge. But first I would like to introduce Jon, who is running for Heads Together in the Marathon; and Steve, who will tell you the story of how a conversation made such a big difference to their mental health.
Jon and Steve … thank you. '

Prince Harry - 

'Thank you, Jon and Steve, for sharing your conversation and the impact that it’s had on your lives; and thank you Jon for running for Heads Together. I’m reliably informed that you’ll run it in under four hours! Good luck with your training!
Over 500 people will be running for Heads Together, leading from the front (well perhaps not right at the front!), raising funds for the vital services provided by our Charity Partners. These runners will also be leading by example by starting conversations on mental health with their families, friends and colleagues.
It has been unbelievably encouraging to see that attitudes towards mental health across the country are beginning to change. In the past, the phrase ‘mental health’ would be translated to mental illness. But thankfully that is changing! As a result of family, school or work pressures, everyone’s lives are lived at a frightening pace and these stresses can often seem overwhelming.
Some will ignore the signs of stress, others will insist they’re ok after losing a loved one. Some will be afraid to ask for help, others won’t have anyone to turn to. One thing is certain, we are all wired differently. We all have mental health; and we’ll say it again and again and again, if you want to be fit, healthy and set yourself up for success then your mental fitness is absolutely as important as your physical fitness. Everyone would get help for a broken leg, so why not seek help for an issue that could hamper you and others around you.
The truth is we can all help each other. You don’t need any qualifications to help your mate out, simply to listen to what they have to say. At the heart of this campaign is our hope that no-one should be afraid to ask for help, and no-one should worry about knowing how to help. That initial conversation could be the cure, before it has a chance to manifest itself.
The BBC have announced today that they are running a season on mental health to coincide with the Marathon, which is fantastic news. But every single one of you in this room can help too. You are all role models and highly respected people in your industries – the way you talk about mental health will have a profound effect on millions of people, whether you’re speaking from personal experience or encouraging those around you to do the same. So please could I encourage you all to have a conversation with the Heads Together team, who are here today, and share your ideas. We need as many people as possible – famous or not – who can help showcase what it’s like to have a conversation with a friend, family or stranger. All your ideas are welcome. '

Rebecca English shared a video of Kate's portion.

It was hoped the young royals would announce plans to participate in the marathon. Richard Palmer reports security fears meant this could not be realised:

"The royal trio would have liked to compete but it was ruled out on the grounds that policing the 26-mile course through the capital would be a security nightmare. However, William, Kate and Harry will be cheering from the sidelines and plan to use the event on April 23 to promote their campaign to get Britain talking about mental health problems and how to overcome them."

Musician and singer Professor Green spoke eloquently to the press as he left. The artist made a very moving documentary, Suicide and Me, focusing on the suicide of his estranged father. It's a topic close to his heart and it's very encouraging to see high-profile figures getting involved and sharing their stories and views.

A lovely photo of William, Kate and Harry leaving the briefing.

I must say, I immediately loved the look of Kate's Erdem dress today. It is such a versatile and chic piece which could take the Duchess from a lunchtime briefing to an evening reception. Kate wore the designer's Evita Dress in Black Lily Collage.

Made in Portugal, the £1,050 dress is described: "Transitioning as effortlessly between seasons as it does from day to evening, the Evita Dress possesses an innate elegance. Vibrant lilies in yellow, green and blue boldly punctuate a light weight, textured black matelass√© background; intensely gathered around the waist, neckline and down the sleeves, delicate sprigs fall freely on the skirt, adding free spirited appeal to the formality of the demure silhouette."


A closer look at the beautiful floral print - Erdem's signature.


The Duchess teamed the dress with her popular Tod's Fringed Leather Pumps. Kate debuted the sold out £267 shoes during the Canada tour. They feature an almond toe, fringed detailing and a metal buckle.

Kate carried her Mulberry clutch.

And completed the look with her $190 Oscar de la Renta Hammered Gold-Plated, Faux Pearl Earrings.

Oscar de la Renta

A look at the earrings on Kate today.

And how amazing did Kate's hair look today?

You can view a video from the briefing here with lovely footage from the speeches and others involved in the campaign.

A fantastic look for Kate today and great to see efforts for Heads Together continuing. I know some were disappointed we didn't hear more today, however, it was great to see all three talking, including Kate's reference to Anna Freud Centre reflecting on a conversation she had just last week. It's also excellent to see figures from the media and sports world getting behind them. My one peeve with the day: when the royals arrived and exited the car they were within very close proximity of several respected royal reporters and didn't greet them. Richard Palmer reported: "William noticeably blanked us all from two feet away. Charming." While Emily Andrews added: "Said hello and Wills ignored... Oh dear." I thought it quite poor behaviour given the support the media has shown for Heads Together and entirely unnecessary to put a dampener on a positive event for their campaign. We're never going to see the royals having conversations with the press at engagements (although, a quick informal chat with reporters on the initiative would have really amped up the event), but when one is in a situation where they are greeted upon arrival, it's costs nothing to be polite - especially considering today was all about spreading the word on their ambitions for Heads Together. The relationship between the Royal family and the media needs to be fostered and a little gesture such as "hello" goes a long way...

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Vote for Kate's Best Dress of 2016, a Move to London for the Cambridges & Calendar Updates!

Hello, I hope you're having a splendid weekend!

We're back with our next poll asking you to vote for Kate's Best Dress of 2016 and calendar updates, but first we have some very interesting news to share. As you all know, William's contract with the East Anglian Air Ambulance comes to its end later this spring; the Prince and the Duchess are said to have been grappling with a decision on whether he should renew his contract or if the time had come to take on a full-time role within the Royal family. It seems the couple have firmly reached their decision, as the incredibly reliable Roya Nikkhah exclusively reports in The Sunday Times: "The Duke of Cambridge is to end his career as a Norfolk-based helicopter pilot this year and move his family to London to take on full-time royal duties."

The Sunday Times

The Sunday Times article noted the Cambridges will make Kensington Palace their full-time home in the autumn when Prince George starts school, whilst Princess Charlotte is expected to attend a London nursery. The decision has followed "months of discussion within the Royal family who are said to be very supportive". Apparently, William even explored the option of Kate and the children remaining at Anmer Hall during the week before eventually deciding they didn't want to spend too much of it apart. This is particularly interesting as it would appear the possibility of raising George and Charlotte in Norfolk for the forseeable future was very much in consideration - so much so that being apart during the week was on the table. The privacy and normality they have enjoyed in Norfolk was clearly a major factor.

More from the article:

'A royal source said there had been "no pressure from above" to increase William’s workload but "he knew there would come a point where this would be his life for ever more. He has always been a lot less reluctant than people think to take on more work and this phase of his life. The duke and duchess are a strong team and believe in their family and supporting each other," the royal source said. "They will always put their family first, while juggling family commitments with their work.
While royal aides insist William is ready to commit to official life, friends say the duke will miss the normality and privacy he has enjoyed while living and working away from the royal spotlight. One friend said: "I know he has really loved living in Norfolk and being just one of the lads at work. He loves the banter.” A royal source added: “He will really miss the flying. He does love it."

William is reported to have ultimately decided to extend his contract by just a few months before the move in the autumn. This makes sense to me - we've heard very little regarding the possibility of a tour, overseas trips or plans in general (apart from the Heads Together initiative) for William and Kate in 2017. With a move ahead, there will be a huge amount of planning going into carving out an expansive role for the future king. Areas of focus are said to include mental health, bullying and homelessness. How will Kate's role change? I think, naturally we're going to see Kate's role grow substantially as William's does, with a much heavier portfolio of engagements, causes and likely patronages. Her primary focus will continue to be the children of course, but I would anticipate a considerable change moving forward. I recently wrote I thought the time was right for such a move; with the Queen and Prince Philip still incredibly active in their duties this will give William and Kate an opportunity to transition into full-time royal life. With their public profile and global popularity, the sky's the limit in terms of what they can achieve, and 2017 looks to be a definitive year in their lives as royals. A royal source told The Sunday Times: "This is a natural evolution of the new generation of the Royal family."

Tying in with Roya's report, Camilla Tominey wrote an interesting article in the The Sunday Express regarding plans for George's choice of school.

It had been assumed the three-year-old royal, who starts reception in September, would attend Wetherby School in Notting Hill, where Princes William and Harry were both pupils. But the Sunday Express has learned that George is more likely to be enrolled at the brand new Wetherby Kensington, a five-minute walk from the Cambridges’ London home. 
As well as being close, Wetherby Kensington will be much smaller, initially opening with just two reception classes for boys aged four and five. A source said: “The Duke and Duchess like the idea of George enrolling at the new smaller school because it is much more discreet than the original Wetherby. 
“A few of the pupils at that school in Notting Hill are the children of celebrities so it has always attracted quite a lot of paparazzi. Although the children cannot be photographed, there is still a market for pictures of famous parents on the school run. The new school off Gloucester Road is preferable because it is much more intimate and less likely to attract photographers. Plus, it is just around the corner from Kensington Palace.” 

It's going to be a big year for the Cambridges. What are your thoughts on the news?


Also tonight, we have news of upcoming engagements added to Kate's calendar. On Tuesday, 17 January William, Kate and Harry will speak at a briefing to outline the next phase of Heads Together as the campaign intensifies its efforts to create millions of conversations around mental health in 2017. The royals and other speakers will preview some of the themes and initiatives people can expect to see in the months ahead. I'm looking forward to this and hearing plans to continue efforts.

Kensington Palace

The following Tuesday, 24 January Kate will visit East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) in Quidenham, as it continues fundraising for a new purpose-built hospice in Norfolk. The Duchess helped to launch the Nook Appeal in 2014, and will be updated on the progress of the £10m appeal by staff, supporters and families at the hospice.


It's looking very much like we'll see William, Kate and Harry participate in a television programme in April in support of Heads Together. It's all very hush-hush at present with little known. Early details from People's article:

'The royal trio are set to take part in a documentary for the BBC leading up to the London Marathon in April, according to reports Friday. The royals are working with presenter Nick Knowles, who told The Sun, “I’m working on a mental health documentary with the young royals, which should come out around the time of the marathon. I can’t tell you anymore.” Knowles also worked with William and Harry on the day that they helped renovate homes for injured or sick Armed Forces members on the BBC show DIYSOS in September 2015.'

We'll keep you up to date as official news becomes available on the programme. It's a great way to expand the conversation as Heads Together amps up its efforts - especially if the young royals have given interviews speaking candidly on their feelings regarding the topic.


As part of Party Pieces 30th anniversary celebrations, Carole Middleton shared a look back on the history of the successful company with a lovely photo taken in 1989. You'll notice a 7-year-old Kate on the far right with (I believe) Pippa and James behind their mum. In the accompanying piece Carole wrote: "From the small beginnings in my garden shed, we now employ more than 40 people and are able to send out 4,000 orders a week in busy times. It is still very much a family business today, and over the years all my children have played a huge part in it from modelling for the catalogue to developing new categories for the brand. James established our personalised cakes, Catherine started the 1st birthday side of the business, and Pippa developed the Party Pieces blog. They grew up with me working and appreciate the demands of a busy business and a working mum, and although now they are not involved day to day in the business, I still value their ideas and opinions."

Click here to read the full piece.


Continuing on with our polls, are you ready to vote for Kate's Best Dress of 2016? There is an abundance of options to choose from, and myriad hues and designers. From bespoke designer creations to L.K. Bennett favourites, Kate covered quite a bit of sartorial ground last year. As with our Coat and Gown Polls (click here if you haven't voted already), looks from the India/Bhutan and Canada tour have been omitted as post-tour polls were already held to determine your favourites from Kate's tour wardrobes.

In March, William and Kate carried out engagements focused on suicide prevention in London. The Duchess wore her green Erdem Allie coat, but unlike many such events when we don't see the dress underneath, on this occasion Kate removed the outer layer to reveal the eye-catching Jonathan Saunders Swallow Print Dress. From the designer's diffusion line in collaboration with department store Debenhams, the £60 dress was actually part of a 2012 collection described: "This black day dress from Edition by Jonathan Saunders features a button fastening along the centre front, pleats along the lower part of its skirt and a sash at the waist. It is styled in sheer chiffon with printed white birds."

Kate mastered understated sophistication in the L.K.Bennett Addison Dress when the young royals hosted the Obamas at Kensington Palace in April. The £325 dress features a jewel-toned print, transparent sleeves and ankle-grazing length. It's described: "Ideal for events both formal and casual, timeless in its style and fashion forward in its execution." Kate added her own navy belt to the look.

The Duchess brought back her Roksanda Ilincic Peridot Dress for an Anna Freud Centre luncheon in May. The blue-grey dress first made an appearance in Los Angeles in 2011 and again for a GREAT luncheon in 2012. It is draped to one side with cap sleeves and a pleated skirt. It originally retailed for £815.

For a visit to the National Portrait Gallery to view photos from her British Vogue photoshoot, Kate wore her pink McQueen Wool Cashmere Peplum Dress.

The Duchess brought back the cream ruffled McQueen dress she wore for George's christening. I was surprised both looks Kate wore for her children's christenings make another appearance (the McQueen coatdress Kate wore at Charlotte's christening was chosen for Trooping). I had thought they were tucked away safely somewhere for future exhibitions. The bespoke piece is based upon designs from the Spring/Summer 2012 Collection. The leaf crepe garment with wave ruffle panel, rounded padded shoulders and silk lining.

Kate was vibrant in a colour-block Roksanda dress for the Patron's Lunch in June. The combination of blue, coral and pastel-pink made the dress a very nice choice for the celebratory event.

The Duke and Duchess visited the American Embassy in central London to sign a book of condolences for the victims of the Orlando nightclub attack. Kate teamed her black Ralph Lauren jacket with the Tory Burch Sophia Dress. The garment features a leafy monochrome print, short sleeves and a pleat-flared skirt.

Kate channelled Eliza Doolittle for her debut at Ascot last summer. Attired in a white lace Dolce & Gabbana Midi Length Dress; it was a winning look for HRH. The swishy skirt, nipped in waist and intricate lace detail made this memorable for me!

We saw Kate experiment with her style quite a bit in 2016, something that was very much evident when she arrived at the Natural History Museum wearing the Off-the-Shoulder, Mesh-Paneled Dress by Brazilian designer Barbara Casasola. The $2,210 midi dress is cut from figure-sculpting, stretch-jersey and panelled with sheer mesh inserts for a sporty feel. Made in Italy, it was designed to create a flattering, feminine silhouette. A fantastic look for the Duchess and a new designer with excellent future potential.

Roksanda made her third appearance of the year at Wimbledon when Kate chose her white and yellow colour-block dress by the designer. Affectionately known as the "Banana Dress" (when Kate first wore it in Australia (William told her she looked like a banana), it was suggested Kate may have chosen it for Wimbledon as the colours are the same as a tennis ball. A nice bright choice for the day.

Much to our surprise, the Cambridges brought Prince George along to the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Airford in July. Kate selected her striking Stella McCartney Ridley Dress for the occasion. Since 2012, the electric blue dress had had multiple public wears - and is certainly a contender for the most seen dress on Kate.

Kate was regal in a stunning bespoke lace Jenny Packham dress for Somme 100 events in France. The knee-length frock is crafted from beige lace over black underlay and features a peter pan collar, three-quarter length sleeves and peplum detail. The lace was supplied by French lacemaker Sophie Hallette.

For her second visit to Wimbledon, the Duchess selected a new dress by her go-to label McQueen featuring the season's popular 'Obsession' print. The jewel neckline and A-line silhouette dress was adorned with butterflies, skulls and lipstick.

We saw the return of reader favourite the L.K.Bennett Lasa poppy print dress in August when William and Kate carried out a day of engagements in Luton.

For a visit to the YoungMinds helpline service, Kate opted for the feminine and floaty L.K.Bennett Eugenia Dress - a vibrant red summery dress.

For the Cambridges' trip to Cornwall, Kate was pretty in pink in the Lela Rose Double Faced Twill Elbow Sleeve Dress with body contouring seams with band at waist, a fit-and-flare silhouette with soft pleated skirt and a back zip. The blush dress is from the Resort 2016 Collection.

We saw another brand debut when Kate wore the Altuzarra Aimee Button-Front Dress for a Heads Together engagement.

Kate was in Kate Spade for a special Heads Together event marking World Mental Health Day in October. The Encore Rose Chiffon Dress received mixed reviews on the day. The 100% silk collared dress includes long sleeves, a bow tie neck, left chest pocket, side seam pockets and Kate's favourite fit-and-flare style.

Kate was in a McQueen Floral Print Dress for a Team GB reception at Buckingham Palace. Upon first look, I felt certain it was a Beulah London design and was surprised to learn it was in fact a Sarah Burton creation.

For a children's party at the Natural History Museum, Kate was stylish in L.K.Bennett's Cersei Dress. Crafted from a luxe chiffon with textured velvet print, this style boasts a high neck and long sleeves for a sleek silhouette. The silk dress comes in an evergreen print.

That evening, Kate impressed fans and critics alike in the black Preen Finella Dress. We had seen HRH opt for the red version of the dress in Canada, and she obviously liked it so much she purchased it again. I love the 1950s silhouette, the draped bodice and voluminous box-pleated skirt (for fans of the dress it is reduced from $1,370 to $548 at the moment on Boutique1).

The Duchess was festive in Vanessa Seward for a volunteer Christmas party in December. The Cai Floral-Print Jacquard Dress was a seasonal choice with a combination of red and green.

What a variety we've seen in 2016! There really is so much to choose from! A few cursory observations: Kate very much embraced the midi-dress trend last year - this is evident across her choice of brands. One might suggest the Duchess is perhaps seeking to broaden her list of 'go-to' designers and enjoying pieces from designers she may not have considered in previous years. As always, staples such as prints, florals and lace featured heavily. I am very excited to see which dress wins the title of 'Best Dress of 2016'. Do please share your selections in the comments section; I'm leaning towards the Jenny P. worn in France...

Kate's Best Dress of 2016
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We'll see you Tuesday! :)