I often marvel at my sister-in-law’s ability to loop jewelry up her arms, drape it around her neck and dangle it from her ears, looking nothing short of spectacular, yet if I try to do the same I resemble something of an overly decked-out Christmas tree. While I have always admired jewelry, I have never been particularly interested in it. That said, I was surprised to catch myself thinking – upon seeing a photo of the Duchess of Cambridge at the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Gala Dinner last Thursday – she needs a necklace, and by necklace I didn’t mean a barely-there, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it number; I meant a full-on statement piece resting at the nape of her neck.
Kate looked stunning wearing an ink-blue, full-length Jenny Packham evening gown. We’ve come to expect nothing less, but this was the first time I have found myself wishing that she had stepped things up in the princess stakes and worn jewels. Many have said it’s simply not her style, which is true enough, but as a senior royal, the likely future Princess of Wales and one day Queen Consort, it is a style which I hope she will cultivate and embrace over time.
We see the word “normal” bandied about a great deal when it comes to William and Kate, and perhaps their wide appeal is due to their perceived normality, but here’s the thing: they’re not normal; they’re not just like us, and if they were, what would be the point? If I went to a “do” at Kensington Palace, and paid a staggering amount of money for the privilege to do so, I would want to meet someone who positively oozed royal. As host and patron of a gala dinner held on her own turf it was the perfect opportunity to kick things up a notch and look like a “princess”. Her natural ease would have kept her from seeming grand and elusive. It’s a fine line, but it’s one I believe she’s more than capable of walking.
Kate’s transition from commoner to Duchess has been masterful. Always prepared, ready with a smile, and fully invested in whatever she is doing, she has proven herself to be a natural in very unnatural circumstances. While she is not the first commoner to marry into the royal family as has been widely reported, she is perhaps the most middle class. Unlike Diana – technically a commoner – Kate has not grown up as a member of a noble family with access to ornate jewels that have been passed down through the generations. Nor would she have had the appropriate occasion to trot out said family jewels, so perhaps she too feels like a Christmas tree when faced with regal diamonds, rubies, and pearls.
I’m not going to presume to know how Kate thinks, but my guess is as a relative newbie to the royal world, she’s paying deference to the Queen and Camilla by not being overly showy. Smart girl. Kate is not the queen. She’s not even on deck. She’s well aware of the hierarchy and her place in it, which is why I’m not suggesting she wear St. Edward’s Crown to Top Shop…but there are rare occasions when a bit of royal’s-only bling fits the bill.
In 1985 at an official event in Melbourne, Diana wore an art deco diamond and emerald choker as a headband. It had been a wedding present from the Queen and was once owned by Queen Mary. It was bold (hey, it was the eighties), and Queen Mary may have been rolling in her grave, but it fulfilled everyone’s fantasies of meeting a princess that night. You’d be hard pressed to find a picture of Diana not dripping in jewels at an official evening engagement. Sure, times have changed, and the monarchy is keen to not look ostentatious, but at the end of the day, jewels are a part of the royal brand. There is a reason why millions queue up every year to view the Crown Jewels to the tune of twenty-one pounds per ticket.
As a senior royal, Kate has access to a plethora of jewels. Many are personal items; others belong to a family name, a title, the Queen, or the State. My hope is that there will come a time when she throws caution to the wind, thinks stuff the naysayers, and rocks a diamond-encrusted tiara, choker, or maybe even a headband.
There will always be cynics and elitists ready to grumble, “Who does she think she is?” But who she is, is exactly the point. She is no longer Miss Catherine Middleton, but rather HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. My guess is were she to take the leap and throw on a corker of a family jewel, she’d make one heck of a dazzling Christmas tree.