Friday, 25 May 2018

The Duchess of Sussex's Coat of Arms Released!

The Duchess of Sussex has received her very own coat of arms. As expected, the result is incredibly well thought out, encompassing places close to Meghan's heart and her belief in the power of words. The design of the arms was agreed and approved by the Queen and Mr Thomas Woodcock (Garter King of Arms and Senior Herald in England), who is based at the College of Arms in London. Meghan worked closely with the College of Arms throughout the design process to create a coat of arms that was both personal and representative.

The blue background of the shield represents the Pacific ocean off the California coast, while the two golden rays across the shield are symbolic of the sunshine of the Duchess's home state. The three quills represent communication and the power of words.

Beneath the shield on the grass sits a collection of golden poppies, California's state flower, and wintersweet, which grows at Kensington Palace. 

Both the poppies and wintersweet were included on Meghan's wedding veil.

It is customary for supporters of the shield to be assigned to members of the Royal family, and for wives of members of the Royal family to have one of their husband’s supporters and one relating to themselves. The supporter relating to the Duchess of Sussex is a songbird with wings elevated as if flying, and an open beak, which with the quill represents the power of communication. A coronet has also been assigned to the Duchess of Sussex. It is the coronet laid down by a Royal Warrant of 1917 for the sons and daughters of the Heir Apparent. It is composed of two crosses patée, four fleurs-de-lys and two strawberry leaves. The arms of a married woman are shown with those of her husband and the technical term is that they are impaled, meaning placed side by side on the same shield.

Below, Prince Harry's Coat of Arms.

Mr Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms, said:

"The Duchess of Sussex took a great interest in the design. Good heraldic design is nearly always simple and the Arms of The Duchess of Sussex stand well beside the historic beauty of the quartered British Royal Arms. Heraldry as a means of identification has flourished in Europe for almost nine hundred years and is associated with both individual people and great corporate bodies such as cities, universities and for instance the livery companies in the City of London."

More from the Palace:

'The blazon or technical description of the arms is Azure a Feather bendwise Argent quilled between two Bendlets Or all between two like Feathers Argent quilled Or. This follows the heraldic tradition at the College of Arms of giving capital letters to all the heraldic tinctures and to the principal charges. The supporters are blazoned the Lion as borne and used as a supporter by Our Dearly Beloved Grandson His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales Duke of Sussex and A Songbird wings elevated Argent beaked armed and gorged with a Coronet of Our Dearly Beloved Grandson’s Degree Or. The area on which the Supporters stand and on which the shield rests is known as a compartment. The Supporters are therefore Upon a Compartment of grass proper growing therefrom golden poppies and wintersweet both flowering proper.'

People reports:

'The traditional design, customized with colors and symbols, is typically given to the father of the bride just ahead of a royal wedding, but amid the drama surrounding Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, in the lead-up to the royal wedding, the decision has been made to give the coat of arms directly to Meghan herself, which is a total break in royal tradition.
Now that Meghan has received her coat of arms, she and Harry can get their own “conjugal coat of arms,” which will likely be officially unveiled in a couple years. William and Kate’s made its debut in September 2013, just over two years after their April 2011 wedding.'

Meghan's new cipher featured on the letterhead.

The end result makes for one striking coat of arms, and it was fascinating to hear the process and inspirations behind the choices and wonderful to see the power of words and communication included.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Support Prince Charles During First Engagement as a Married Couple!

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex carried out their first official engagement as a married couple this afternoon, attending the Prince of Wales' 70th birthday patronage celebration in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

It's been the most incredible week filled with hype and anticipation leading to Saturday's stunning Windsor wedding. Yesterday, we saw the release of the couple's romantic official wedding portraits and today, just three days after their wedding, Harry and Meghan returned to duties.

A fabulous photo of Meghan with Charles and Camilla.

The couple's decision to support Charles for their first post-wedding engagement is a thoughtful one and has been seen as a wonderful gesture, following the unexpected role Prince Charles played during the Royal wedding. The image of the Prince meeting Meghan at the Quire will remain a vividly memorable moment from the day.

Not only did he step in at the last minute to walk his daughter-in-law down the aisle, he was instrumental in offering advice and helping to select the wedding music. However, it was the unwavering support and kindness he showed Meghan's mother Doria from the moment she arrived in London, that particularly touched Meghan and meant the world to her. During her speech at the wedding reception, the Duchess thanked Charles. The Standard reported: “It was important to her to make a point of thanking him publicly, although, of course, he knows privately how she feels.”

It's clear Meghan already enjoys a very warm relationship with Charles and Camilla.

One of the photographers did a great job capturing this moment between Meghan and Camilla.

Today marked the first of many garden parties the Duchess of Sussex will attend.

Harry delivered a very loving speech. "You have inspired William and I, and looking out here today, it is clear to see that we are not alone". Today marks the one year anniversary of the dreadful tragedy. Harry reflected on the importance of the day during his speech "I would like us to take a moment to remember all those affected by the tragic events at the Manchester Arena a year ago. We are fortunate to have over 250 representatives from the Emergency Services here today."

More from the speech:

'As I was preparing for this afternoon, I looked through the long list of those who had been invited. Pa, I was again struck by the range and diversity of the work which you are involved with.  Currently there are your two major charities, The Prince's Trust and the newly formed – Prince's Foundation – which has brought together your work supporting vulnerable young people in society, the built environment, culture, heritage and education.  These sit alongside your 18 military associations and more than 420 patronages, ranging from music and the arts to rare breeds and plant life.  Although the subjects vary enormously, I know that the way in which you work with each of them does not.
Who amongst you has not known the joy, and perhaps trepidation at receiving a handwritten note in response to some news shared from your organisation, urging you on and asking for more to be done to address this issue or that?  Who has not come away from a meeting with my father, their head spinning with a dozen new ideas which he wants to get underway urgently, having met a group of people or read something that has fired his imagination and started the flow of ideas. 
His enthusiasm and energy are truly infectious; it has certainly inspired William and I to get involved in issues we care passionately about and to do whatever we can to make a difference. In fact, many of the issues William and I now work on are subjects we were introduced to by our father growing up.  His passion and dedication are remarkable and seeing so many of you here today, I cannot fail but to be in awe of the drive he has had for so many years, to contribute to the enrichment of society both in this country and around the world.
But Pa, in my mind, this event sums up your approach to work – I know you really didn’t want today to be about you and would far rather the focus be on the people and organisations represented here. I know that in your mind, you see the opportunity of bringing everyone together as a chance to thank them for all of their amazing work! It is your selfless drive to affect change, whether that is to improve the lives of those who are on the wrong path, to save an important piece of our national heritage or to protect a particular species under threat, which William and I draw inspiration from every day.
So, Pa, while I know that you've asked that today not be about you, you must forgive me if I don’t listen to you – much like when I was younger – and instead, I ask everyone here to say a huge thank you to you, for your incredible work over nearly 50 years. Work that has given self-confidence and opportunity to thousands of young people who might not have had the best start in life; Or to champion causes like climate change long before almost anyone else was talking about it; and above all, for your vision and ability to bring people together to make change happen.
You have inspired William and I, and looking out here today, it is clear to see that we are not alone.  You have created an incredible body of work that has, and will continue to make such a huge difference to so many people's lives both here and around the world.
With that, Ladies and Gentlemen, please can I ask you to join me in wishing The Prince of Wales a very Happy Birthday – 6 months ahead of his 70th! How very Royal!'

There was a funny moment when a bee distracted Harry from giving his speech much to Meghan's amusement :)

Today's event celebrates the Prince of Wales' patronages and military affiliations as well as others involved in charities supported by the Prince.

Over 6,000 people were invited from 386 of the Prince of Wales' patronages and 20 of the Prince's military affiliations were represented. A number of guests from the Police, Fire and Ambulance, Mountain Rescue, and RNLI were present.

The royals posed with guests for official photos.

An overview.

Fittingly, a number of the cadets and emergency services personnel attending were first responders after the bombing at the Manchester Arena on 22nd May 2017.

The Telegraph reports;

'It is understood to have been the first choice of the Prince who wanted to use the garden reception to thank his charities and patronages for their work over the years.
A palace insider said: "He wasn't comfortable with a big event that was just about him. He felt like this would be a much better option."
It is the start of birthday celebrations which is likely to involve a private party for family and friends around the actual date of November 14, and a new official portrait.
The Prince is patron or president of more than 400 organisations, focusing on topics ranging from the environment to youth opportunity, food sustainability, architecture and faith.'

Musical performances included the Band of the Welsh Guards, Eschoir (a Welsh male chorus), the National Youth Pipe Band and a gospel choir.

Guests enjoyed a selection of teas, sandwiches and cakes.

The newlyweds were congratulated on their wedding.

More from the Mail Online:

'Sophie Rogers, 26, gave the Duchess what appears to be her first gift. 'Oh how sweet, thank you,' said the Duchess. 'I was just admiring your necklace, it’s beautiful.' 
Corporal Gregory Gilbert, 2nd Battalion, Irish Regiment of Canada, said meeting Harry and Meghan was 'wonderful' after he and his colleagues flew over especially for the party. Second Lieutenant Reid Killen said: 'It felt like talking to my youngest son, the Duke reminds me very much of him. 'He's always joking around and Harry has the same sense of humour.' His wife Janine Killen said: 'I always thought the royals were from far, far away but they are very down to earth. They can meet anybody anywhere and have the right words to say.'
Major Kirk Langdon said: 'It was excellent meeting the Duke and Duchess, it was everything I thought it would be.' He added: 'We all came over from Canada, 10 of us were asked to come out and celebrate. We will definitely be going to Windsor and all the other sites.' 

A video of the Duke and Duchess chatting with guests, there's also lovely footage of Camilla saying goodbye to them.

The Duke and Duchess are enjoying their first days of married life at Kensington Palace. They are reportedly planning to leave for their honeymoon before the end of the month. When they return, they will undertake several overseas trips along with a schedule of engagements in the UK. We expect to hear news of key areas, campaigns and charities Meghan will support in the coming weeks. In the meantime, she's been formally announced as the fourth Patron of The Royal Foundation.

The Duchess was a picture of elegance in a custom made GOAT Fashion Flavia Silk-Crepe dress (with thanks to innominate).

The £595 dusky pink dress is described as "beautifully fluid and feminine". The fit and flare shaped dress has contrast silk-chiffon décolletage and sleeves and delicate frayed edge trim on the neckline and cuffs. It was a splendid choice for today's event. It's available at GOAT Fashion and Matches.

Goat Fashion is synonymous with understated luxury. It began as the go-to cashmere range for the fashion cognoscenti over a decade ago. The brand has developed into a full ready to wear collection encompassing signature knits, professional dresses and outerwear. Found in over fifty stockists across the UK, Goat is a truly British brand headed up by founder and designer Jane Lewis. The brand has been a firm favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge and a host of celebrities for years.

The dress also comes in black.

Meghan's pink hat is by milliner Philip Treacy.

Tamara Mellon confirmed Meghan wore their Siren Nappa Leather pumps. They retail for $450 and are currently available in most sizes.

Meghan accessorised with the Vanessa Tugendhaft Rose earrings (with thanks to What Meghan Wore).

A closer look at Meghan's bracelet.

Meghan carried her Wilbur & Gussie Oyster Silk Clutch.

A nice close-up of Meghan's engagement and wedding rings.

And a look at Harry's.

The Duchess of Sussex is off to a great start!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Harry and Meghan's Stunning Official Wedding Portraits Released!

Harry and Meghan's official wedding portraits have been released and they are nothing short of perfect! The photo of the newlyweds below was taken on the steps of the East Terrace of Windsor Castle. I think you'll agree it's absolutely breathtaking - the epitome of romance and joy - depicting two people in love. The couple selected well-known fashion photographer Alexi Lubomirski, who took their engagement portraits, to take the photos and he did an outstanding job.

Harry and Meghan with a very happy looking bridal party (I imagine the photographer asked them to say "cheese" moments before this was taken). In the back row: Brian Mulroney, Remi Litt, Rylan Litt, Jasper Dyer, Prince George, Ivy Mulroney and John Mulroney. In the front row it's Zalie Warren, Princess Charlotte and Florence van Cutsem.

The Palace said:

'The images were taken by photographer Alexi Lubomirski in The Green Drawing Room of Windsor Castle, following the carriage procession. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex would like to thank everyone who took part in the celebrations of their wedding on Saturday. They feel so lucky to have been able to share their day with all those gathered in Windsor and also all those who watched the wedding on television across the UK, Commonwealth, and around the world. Their Royal Highnesses are delighted with these official portraits taken by Alexi Lubomirski and are happy to be able to share them today. They would also like to say thank you for all of the generous messages of support they have received.'

A delightful image of Harry and Meghan with the Queen, Prince Philip, Doria Ragland, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Cambridges and the page boys and bridesmaids. The white, green and black colour scheme works wonderfully against the backdrop of the room.

In 1992 the fire at Windsor Castle severely damaged the Semi-State Rooms, including the Green Drawing Room. By good fortune however, the contents of the rooms had been removed at the time. Each room was subsequently restored to its nineteenth-century appearance using the original designs supplied to George IV. This watercolour shows the Green Drawing Room after restoration.

The Green Drawing Room in 1848.

In recent times, the Queen's official 90th birthday portrait with her two youngest grandchildren and five great-grandchildren was shot by Annie Leibovitz in the Green Drawing Room.

Alexi Lubomirski described the commission as an "honour":

“It has been an incredible honour and privilege to document The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's inspiring journey of love, hope and family; from the engagement photos, all the way through to the official wedding and family portraits on Saturday. This has been a beautiful chapter in my career and life, that I will happily never forget."

It's been quite a journey for the pair from the newly engaged Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to TRH The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Following the release of the photos, the Duke and Duchess were photographed arriving back at Kensington Palace. You can view more at the Daily Mirror.

Royal Wedding Updates

We also have several royal wedding updates to share. For those wondering what happened to Meghan's bouquet - it was sent to Westminster Abbey and place on the grave of the Unknown Warrior. This is a tradition which was begun by HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, at her marriage to King George VI in memory of her brother Fergus who was killed in 1915 at the Battle of Loos during the First World War. The bouquet was designed by florist Philippa Craddock and comprises sweet pea forget-me-not, lily of the valley, astilbe, jasmine, astrantia and myrtle. The Warrior’s Grave stands as a remarkable tribute both to the fallen of the First World War and to all those who have died since in international military conflict. In 1920, the Reverend David Railton, a First World War army padre, suggested that an unknown soldier from the battlefield should be brought back to Britain for burial as a representative for all who had died. The grave remains a focus for pilgrimage and a powerful symbol, known across the world, of the sacrifice, suffering and bravery brought by war. It is the only grave or memorial in the Abbey which is never walked over.

The couple sent the majority of the flowers from St George's Chapel to St Joseph's Hospice in London. Hello! reports  "The Hackney-based health care facility took to their Facebook page on Sunday to share pictures of their "very special delivery". St Joseph's wrote in the caption: "A big thank you to Harry and Meghan and florist Philippa Craddock. Our hospice smells and looks gorgeous. Such a lovely gesture."

It was a treat to see sketches of Meghan's gown and to hear from designer Clare Waight Keller on the creative process.

The Telegraph reports:

'Birmingham-born Clare Waight Keller - the first female Artistic Director at French fashion house Givenchy - revealed the new Duke of Sussex spoke to her after the ceremony in St George's Chapel, Windsor, on Sunday. "He came straight up to me and he said 'oh my God, thank you, she looks absolutely stunning'," she said. "So I think for the both of them, they were just radiant at that time," she said. The designer added: "Well I think everybody saw on television - he was absolutely in awe, I think. She looked just incredible and it showed."
Ms Waight Keller also revealed she was told by the Duchess in early January that she was the chosen designer. She said: "It was an extraordinary moment when she told me. Of course it's an incredible thing to be part of such a historic moment." Ms Waight Keller said the process was collaborative, adding: "I think she had very much seen my work and knew what I did.
"I think she loved the fact that I was a British designer, and working in a house such as Givenchy which has its roots in a very classical, beautiful style. Ms Waight Keller said over time they quickly got to a point where the Duchess felt she knew exactly what she wanted after various meetings and trials.
This meant that the designer got to know her, and she said of the new Duchess of Sussex: "She's exactly what you see on TV. She's just so genuine and warm and radiant. She's just glowing. "She's a strong woman. She knows what she wants, and it was really an absolute joy working with her."

Meanwhile, Stella McCartney described Meghan choosing her design for the evening reception as "the most humbling moment" of her career. “I am so proud and honored to have been chosen by the Duchess of Sussex to make her evening gown and represent British design,” McCartney told Women’s Wear Daily in an interview published Sunday. It has truly been one of the most humbling moments of my career, and I am so proud of all the team on this stunning royal day.”

Meghan's hairstylist Serge Normant revealed it took just 45 minutes to style Meghan's hair for the wedding. More from the Mail Online:

'Describing how long it took him to style Meghan's hair, the French-born hair stylist, 52, explained: 'You know not that long, believe it or not. 'We had to blow dry it from wet, I would say 45 minutes to an hour. Then they did the make-up and then you fiddle around with it a little bit. But it's not that long.'I always tend to try and go as fast as I can at these events. Nobody wants to sit around.' 
The hairdresser described the look as a 'messy bun', a style that Meghan has frequently sported in the past. 'It's a messy bun, we call it. Messy in a controlled way,' he said. 'Making sure it doesn't become a whole mess after a few hours! I don't overload the hair with products in general and certainly not on this day.'

The Telegraph revealed details from inside the Frogmore House reception:

'The new Duke and Duchess of Sussex partied into the small hours after their wedding ceremony with fireworks, a playlist of soul classics and a DJ slot from Idris Elba, the Telegraph can reveal. The newlyweds, who had woken that morning as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, are said to have eschewed a slow first dance for livelier tunes, from 1960s R&B to the dance hits of the 1980s.
They are said to have chosen "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" as an opening number, with guests treated to a sit-down dinner after a long day in front of the cameras at Windsor Castle. James Corden, one of the guests, was reported to have acted as compere for the evening, with a “surprise” some speculated may have seen Harry Styles, the former One Direction singer, perform after he was spotted in the area the next morning.
Late into the evening, a dramatic firework display was seen over the house, with guests finally leaving around 2am to go back to their hotels or nearby. Older guests, including the Prince of Wales, Earl and Countess of Wessex, Duke of York and Doria Ragland, the bride’s mother, were able to retire earlier if they wished.
Speeches, including from Meghan herself, were also expected at the evening reception where the couple were to take their first dance. The bride, now a fully-fledged Duchess, sweetly complimented her new husband and expressing her joy at being welcomed into his family. The Prince reportedly earlier moved some guests to tears when he described his new bride as having "navigated everything with such grace", adding: "We make such a great team."
The groom and his brother, best man the Duke of Cambridge, made moving references to their late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who Prince Harry has previously said would have adored his new wife. Charlie van Straubenzee, a friend of the family, is reported to have joined the best man in teasing the groom mercilessly.'

The Mirror reports George Clooney danced with both the bride and the Duchess of Cambridge. Meghan gave a speech thanking the royal family for welcoming her in with a special mention to Prince Charles. She reportedly concluded with "I have found my Prince".

A fantastic time-lapse video from the BBC.

The Duchess of Sussex

Shortly after the wedding, The Duchess of Sussex page went live on the royal website. The background information focuses on Meghan's charitable work to date.

'The Duchess of Sussex, born Meghan Markle, married Prince Harry at St George's Chapel, Windsor in May 2018. The couple's official residence is Kensington Palace. As well as undertaking royal duties in support of The Queen, both in the UK and overseas, The Duchess devotes her time to supporting a number of charities and organisations.
From a young age, The Duchess had a keen awareness of social issues and actively participated in charitable work. Aged 11 she successfully campaigned for a company to alter their television advert that had used sexist language to sell washing-up liquid. Her Royal Highness also volunteered at a soup kitchen in Skid Row, Los Angeles from the age of 13-17. She continued to volunteer at the soup kitchen when she would return home to Los Angeles until the age of 22.
These early experiences helped to shape her lifelong commitment to causes such as social justice and women's empowerment. 
While filming in Toronto, The Duchess actively volunteered at a Canadian soup kitchen from 2011-2013. She also established the program at her place of work to ensure that leftover meals from the set were donated to local homeless shelters.'

Meghan has been officially added to the social media pages covering the Kensington Palace royals.

Meghan plans to fight for women's rights and throw herself into her new role.

Hannah Furness elaborated on what we can expect from the Duchess during her "incredibly busy" first year:

'The newlywed Duchess of Sussex has been given the blessing of the palace to use her position to fight for feminism, as she plans her life as the newest member of the Royal family. The Duchess, known as Meghan Markle until her wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday, is expected to announce which charities and campaigns she will support when she returns from honeymoon in the coming weeks.
The Duchess will immediately join her new husband, and in-laws the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at their Royal Foundation. The prominent inclusion of such causes on the official Royal Family website indicates the direction the new Duchess plans to take with her charitable endeavors.
A source said: "As you will have seen with this generation of the Royal family, and in particular their Royal Foundation, they have a very modern and exciting outlook about how they are going to approach their philanthropic and charitable work. Meghan is going to be a brilliant addition."
The Duchess has been working behind-the-scenes for months to create a blueprint for her focus as a working member of the Royal family, which could also involve her promoting the work of the Diana Award for youngsters who champion social change. She told guests at her wedding reception, including the chief executive of the Diana Award, that she would “love” to get involved in their campaign work, saying: “That’s why I am here, bring it on.”
They are expected to slip away on honeymoon privately later this month, before returning to a full schedule of overseas tours, including trips to the Netherlands and Australia, and charity work closer to home. The Duke, who appeared emotional throughout the wedding ceremony, paid moving tribute to his wife at their reception, praising her “grace” and telling her:  "I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you."

I'm very excited to see the remainder of the year unfold.

Tomorrow, Harry and Meghan will attend the Prince of Wales' 70th birthday patronage celebration in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.