Young Kate will need to tread lightly but firmly if she is to emerge from the shadow of the Diana comparisons, and I have every confidence in her ability to do just that. When she marries Prince William in April of 2011, she will be almost a decade older than Diana was on her wedding day. The difference in maturity, life experience and self-confidence from the early twenties to the late twenties is quite significant. Kate is already an internationally acknowledged fashion icon with a signature style, while the young Diana’s style was completely unfocussed, fussy and frumpy giving no clue to the elegant fashion icon she would later become.
Kate is usually referred to as a “commoner,” which seems to ruffle the egalitarian feathers of some Americans, but it simply means she has no royal blood. Don’t forget that, although called Lady Diana, Diana herself was a commoner as was the much loved Queen Mum, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. England and indeed Europe in general are full of “commoners” running around with titles. I personally know an Italian Count who owns an ancient Fiat that breaks down so often he just leaves it in front of the Trattoria he frequents and walks back and forth to the little apartment he shares with his mother, the Contessa.
So, how well will this lovely young commoner fit in to the royal family? I have no idea, but I do think they may find one very significant area of common ground – Hats!
Nobody loved hats more than the Queen Mum. Over her lifetime, she spent a Queen’s ransom on them. Early on she found a style that worked for her and stuck with it. Whether adorned with feathers, fur, ribbons or lace, the brim of her hats always swept back off her face the better to frame the warmth of the sunny smile that brought the Brits through the dark days of World War II.
Her daughter, the current Queen, continues the royal tradition of taking great interest in royal headgear. Queen Elizabeth’s style is clearly more eclectic than her Mother’s, sometimes to dubious effect, but she is said to be very hands on during the creation process and scrutinizes the results carefully before giving her royal approval.
And then came Diana, Princess of Wales, who changed the whole image of royalty as much with her hats as with her clothes.
This English Rose, a long-stemmed beauty with great bone structure, had the perfect face for hats. Whether they had (l to r) a broad brim, small brim or no brim at all, Diana always looked best in hats with a large crown.
And she wore them all to perfection.
Prince Charles is reported to have persuaded his son to pop the question to Kate by saying that they had been “practicing” long enough. Well, I’d say that practice makes perfect, and she will be the perfect Queen consort. I can already feel the breath of fresh fashion air wafting from Buckingham Palace.
Speaking of the Palace, they have assured me that my wedding invitation is in the mail, which means I have just enough time to chercher the perfect chapeau!!!
Photos courtesy of I-Village and Getty Images