At the beginning of the pandemic, it was suggested that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would step forward to become the royal family’s most prominent representatives during the crisis.
Indeed, we have seen them adopt many personas in recent months and the Duchess's clothing has reflected these; encouraging the nation to capture this unique moment through a photography project with the National Portrait Gallery, she wore optimistic yellow, visiting families at a children’s hospice, she was cheering in bright florals, urging Brits to get back to the shops by visiting a garden centre, Kate wore her gardening best gilet and skinny jeans and to meet Sir David Attenborough (and to underscore her family’s commitment to the environment) she wore a dress by a designer famed for her sustainable principles.
One genre of dressing which has been missing from the Duchess’s wardrobe, though, is her official, diplomatic uniform - the pieces she wears to meet dignitaries and carry out the duties which are central to assisting The Queen in her role as head of state. With travel and social distancing restrictions in place, there has been no need for such looks.
But on Wednesday, Kate and William held an audience at Buckingham Palace with the President of Ukraine. It was the first official meeting which has been held at the Queen’s official London residence since lockdown and it hailed a return to polished, thoughtful ‘fashion flattery’ for Kate.
She opted for a new pale blue dress for the meeting, a shade similar to that seen representing the sky on Ukraine’s yellow and blue flag. The Duchess paired her new frock with her favourite ‘praline’ Gianvito Rossi suede heels and what appeared to be a new set of sapphire jewellery which is thought to have been created from pieces in Princess Diana’s collection to match the Garrard engagement ring which William gave to Kate ten years ago this month.
By wearing precious jewellery with family heirloom significance, Kate emphasised her role as a future queen - a contrast to the relatable, affordable pieces she has been wearing lately.
With the Queen isolating at Windsor Castle, it fell to the Cambridges to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelenska, who also opted for a plain, tailored dress in white.
Kate has a selection of these types of dresses in her clothing arsenal already, and often chooses them for diplomatic engagements when they are useful for sending a serious yet impactful message; a splash of red in Canada or a dash of green for an Ireland-related engagement.
The designer of Kate's dress is not yet known - although she often turns to her inner circle of favourites such as Alexander McQueen, Catherine Walker and co. or Jenny Packham and co. for such designs) but that is part of the intention; the focus remains firmly on the diplomatic colour choice.
It’s a style strategy which she has adopted from The Queen, who has made block colours into a signature look. These are often chosen with meaning, too, like the ‘scrubs blue’ dress she chose to address the nation at the height of the first wave of Covid-19 deaths.
With the Cambridges expected to take on more royal duties as The Queen steps back, we can expect to see more of these official, workwear looks; a functional regal uniform which speaks to Kate’s place as the wife and mother of future kings.