Kate attended the Portrait Gala 2014 at the National Portrait Gallery in London today—wearing a necklace loaned to her by the Queen (I’ll get to that in a moment). Kate is the patron of the museum. The gala was a fundraising event to showcase Pen Portraits and Mystery Portrait Postcards created by a number of artists, authors and well-known individuals who have been inspired by portraits in the collection. Apparently the portraits will be sold, with the proceeds going to fund “the Gallery’s work of delivering inspirational exhibitions and displays, offering unique learning opportunities and undertaking world class research.”
One of the Pen Portraits was created by Hilary Mantel—the Man Booker prize winning author—who called Kate a “shop-window mannequin” last year. She was heavily criticized for that, even though she was totally correct. I guess Mantel didn’t attend the gala. I wonder why. It’s too bad she didn’t, a run-in with Kate would have been amazing. Maybe that’s why she didn’t go, she didn’t want that run-in, or someone in Kate’s camp asked her not to go. What a shame.
Some notable people in attendance were photographer David Bailey, Olympic Gold medalist Katherine Grainger, transvestite potter Grayson Perry, actor Alan Rickman (omgs!) and artist Jonathan Yeo. Elizabeth Hurley was also in attendance. She looked fabulous!
Kate gave a short speech:
“I just wanted to say how delighted I am to be here this evening to celebrate the fantastic work of The National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery’s achievements are exceptional. They hold the most extensive collection of portraits in the world, and their unique and brilliant exhibitions never fail to inspire us all. But, it is more than simply a world renowned visitor’s attraction – the Gallery’s outreach and research programmes makes it one of the leading centres for the important study into Portraiture. I simply could not be more proud to be its Patron. Thank you for being here tonight and showing your support. I hope that you all have a wonderful evening.”
I haven’t seen a video of the speech, but apparently Kate’s voice faltered toward the end of the speech and the audience said “Ah” in sympathy before she regained her composure. She really should be better at public speaking by now. She should have had lessons or something.
Now on to the all-important fashion and jewelry segment of this post: Kate wore an ink blue Jenny Packham gown that she wore to the 100 Women in Hedge Fund’s dinner last October. Meh. I mean, I do think this gown is pretty—and one of the prettiest gowns Kate has worn (but that’s not saying much because I’m not a huge fan of Kate’s style)—but it just doesn’t wow me. It’s a pretty gown, but it doesn’t have that wow factor. Also, it’s a repeat, so blah. At least it’s not that damn black lace Alice Temperley dress she’s worn three times—I am not a fan of that dress at all. I guess I shouldn’t be criticizing her repeats—that dress was something like $6,000 after all—but for a gala dinner that is so formal, where she was wearing a Royal Collection necklace, I would have expected something new.
Onto jewelry: Kate wore earrings she’s worn a number of times that are believed to be a gift from Prince Charles. I’m not sure if she wears them so much because she’s a huge fan of them—I’m not, they’re not that pretty—or because they are the fanciest earring she has. Let’s be real, her jewelry game isn’t that great.
Now for the big stunner (and talk about burying the lead, sorry about that): Kate wore the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, made by Cartier in the 1930s, that was a gift to the Queen for her marriage in 1947. This necklace is gorgeous! According to Artemisia’s Royal Jewels this necklace “consists of a long chain of 38 diamonds (reduced from the original 46) with a diamond-encrusted snap. The centre of the necklace is pave-set with detachable double-drop pendant 13 emerald-cut diamonds and a pear-shaped drop.”
My only complaint is that Kate’s hair got in the way of the beautiful necklace. She really should have put her hair up in an elegant updo—especially since this was a “black tie with a touch of sparkle” affair. Also, during her speech, her hair got in the way again.
Other than the tiara on her wedding day, and the tiara from some reception in December, this is the first time the Queen has lent Kate any significant royal jewelry. I guess Liz wasn’t fond of Kate wearing a cheapy necklace—that everyone could run out and buy—to that premiere last December. This must be part of the “princess makeover” we’ve been hearing about. I’m sure Kate was thrilled that she got to wear such a beautiful and expensive piece of jewelry.
Randomly, here’s a picture of Kate standing in front of her portrait. I wonder what she really thinks of it.
UPDATE: Here is a video of Kate at the gala. It includes her speech. The reporters were mistaken, her voice didn’t “falter”, she stumbled over her words, there’s a difference. Kate’s public speaking hasn’t gotten any better. She’s still looking at her notes every few words. Her constantly bobbing head is really distracting. I laughed when she said: “I just want to say how delighted I am to be here [looks down at notes and takes a long pause] this evening to celebrate…” Something I take issue with, is that she had two weeks (that’s how long ago this appearance was announced) to prepare for a speech that was less than a minute long and she still can’t remember her lines and looks down every other second. Ridiculous. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_GqYDZ_jng&w=560&h=315%5D
Full view photo of Kate from Twitter. Close up photo of Kate from Daily Mail. Photo of necklace from the Royal Collection website.