Thursday, 23 March 2017

Kate Speaks on Motherhood: "It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together."

Ahead of Mother's Day, the Duchess of Cambridge attended the launch of maternal mental health films with Heads Together charity partner Best Beginnings at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London today.

Following yesterday's horrific terror attack on Westminster, it was very much up in the air until this morning if the engagement would go ahead. Her Majesty postponed plans to open the New Scotland Yard building until a later date. Victoria Arbiter tweeted "Worth noting that the Queen's postponed engagement will not be due to fear but rather a conscious effort to relieve the burden on police". In terms of location there was no reason to cancel Kate's appearance and no doubt after much consideration it was decided not change the schedule.

It is  exactly one month until the Virgin Money 2017 London Marathon, for which Heads Together is the Official Charity of the Year. William, Kate and Harry are very much hoping to make it a 'mental health marathon' and have been carrying out individual and joint engagements ahead of the big event. A key point of these engagements has been to highlight the amazing work being done by the charities involved. Best Beginnings focuses on the period between conception and a child’s third birthday, where the foundations of a healthy and fulfilling life are laid. Founded by Alison Baum in 2006, the organisation aims to ensure that every child has the best start in life by: developing practical, simple, educational and interactive tools to support parents-to-be and new parents. Embedding resources in local health pathways and training professionals to use them in their practice. Raising awareness of the things that can affect new mums, dads, bumps and babies and engaging with government, authorities and society to influence change.

Kate received a warm welcome upon arrival from CEO Alison Baum.

The event, to raise awareness of maternal mental health challenges and start conversations about the wellbeing of parents and their children, was attended by health campaigners, academics and other professionals in the field.

The Duchess watched one of Best Beginnings films. Rebecca English noted Kate was accompanied by Sophie Agnew today, assistant to her private secretary Rebecca Deacon and a likely contender to replace her when she leaves.

The 'Out of the Blue’ film series was created by Best Beginnings to promote mental health for parents and their children. The series explores a range of mental health conditions from low mood and anxiety to more severe forms of depression through stories told by real mothers across the country. The films are also aimed to help fathers, and the wider circle of family and friends to better understand mental health issues and show how to support mothers more effectively. For those interesting in viewing the videos, information on downloading them is available here.

The Duchess appropriately began her speech by sending "thoughts and prayers to all those sadly affected by yesterday's terrible attack in Westminster". I was very much looking forward to hearing Kate speak about motherhood in her speech. Drawing on her own experiences, the Duchess admitted to a lack of confidence and feelings of ignorance as a mother. "It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together.  Your fundamental identity changes overnight.  You go from thinking of yourself as primarily an individual, to suddenly being a mother, first and foremost." Kate's speech was excellent - easily the most personal one she's given discussing the highs and lows of becoming a parent. I imagine these are feeling all parents experience. With the joys come challenges and perhaps it's not always easy for people to discuss those challenges.

The full text of Kate's speech:

'Before I begin, I know you would all want to join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to all those sadly affected by yesterday’s terrible attack in Westminster.  We will be thinking of all the families, as we discuss the important issues we're here to talk about.
I would like to thank Best Beginnings for inviting me here to introduce the 'Out of The Blue' series.  This collection of films highlights how vital it is to be open about our mental health especially in the early years of parenthood.
Personally, becoming a mother has been such a rewarding and wonderful experience.  However, at times it has also been a huge challenge- even for me who has support at home that most mothers do not. Nothing can really prepare you for you the sheer overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother.  It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together.  Your fundamental identity changes overnight.  You go from thinking of yourself as primarily an individual, to suddenly being a mother, first and foremost.
And yet there is no rule book, no right or wrong - you just have to make it up and do the very best you can to care for your family.  For many mothers, myself included, this can, at times lead to lack of confidence and feelings of ignorance. Sadly, for some mothers, this experience can be made so much harder due to challenges with their own mental health.  Two in ten women will suffer mental health issues that can occur during pregnancy and in the year after birth, often clouding their moments of joy with a real sense of darkness and isolation.  Many of these women also suffer in silence, overwhelmed by negative feelings, but also afraid to admit to the struggles they are facing due to the fear or shame of what others might think if they “aren’t coping”. 
Some of this fear is about the pressure to be a perfect parent; pretending we're all coping perfectly and loving every minute of it.  It's right to talk about motherhood as a wonderful thing, but we also need to talk about its stresses and strains.  It’s ok not to find it easy.  Asking for help should not be seen as a sign of weakness.
If any of us caught a fever during pregnancy, we would seek advice and support from a doctor.  Getting help with our mental health is no different – our children need us to look after ourselves and get the support we need.
Conversations are crucial for mental wellbeing and they should be part of everyday family life.  Talking about a problem with a friend or another trusted person can be the beginning of getting better. This week, as we look forward to Mother’s Day, I would love to see everyone celebrate and value the fundamental importance that mothers play in family life. Mothers take on an overwhelming responsibility of caring for their families.  Their role is vital in providing unconditional love, care, and support at home, particularly in the early years of a child’s development. We therefore should do everything we can to support and value their hard work. 
The work of Best Beginnings is vital.  By providing tools and resources to help parents establish their own confidence and their own self-awareness, Best Beginnings enables mothers and fathers to do the best they can for their families.
The Out of the Blue films you are about to see are also an amazing example to all parents, that starting conversations and asking for support is a real source of strength.  They have been created with real parents, talking honestly and openly about their own experiences of parenthood. '

A video of Kate's speech.

A view of Kate leaving the auditorium from Richard Palmer.

Kate then joined a parent support group to talk with parents about how becoming a parent affected their mental health and how open and honest conversations with family, friends or other trusted people helped them get through the tough times.

The Duchess talked about how "There's so much support for mothers when they are pregnant but it can be very lonely after your baby is born."

More from the Daily Express:

'Ms Grant said: "I wasn't sleeping,I was unable to feed, I had an infection and was in a bad way physically after I lost three quarters of my blood. I begged for help with what I think was my last vestige of sanity. I just wanted to get my baby someone where safe and was admitted to a special mother and baby unit."
Thanks to the help of a team of 'amazing' professionals, Ms Grant made a good recovery and her 'bright and funny' son, now four and a half, is about to start school, while she is back at work. Kate told her: "I feel very passionately about women - and fathers, getting the help they need at the right time and being able to talk about these issues. "I know if William was here then he would say the same."
She added: "Well done to you all in taking the step to come here and talk about your experiences. Having that conversation is so important."

Kate was delighted to meet two year old Teegan Mia and said to her "You have been so good, sitting there. I know George wouldn't have done the same at your age!"

Daily Mail royal reporter Rebecca English shared a video of Kate talking to one mother about post-partum psychosis.

Before leaving, Kate posed with staff and families she met for photos.

The Duchess brought back her much loved red and white gingham skirt suit from Kensington based bespoke firm Eponine London (named after designer Jet Shenkman's children's favourite Les Miserables character). Kate first wore the chic look almost exactly a year ago for a visit to the XLP Mentoring Programme.

The top features a boat neck and three-quarter sleeves while the skirt is A-line. It originally retailed for £1200. The womenswear brand is "inspired by the elegant lines of the fifties and sixties". Every garment is designed and made in London for women who seek out individuality and who desire to be both chic and contemporary.

Eponine London

Kate's suit is from the Spring/Summer 2016 Collection. 

Eponine London

Kate carried her L.K. Bennett Nina Clutch. The £185 clutch remains available on the U.K. website.

L.K. Bennett

The Duchess chose her Gianvito Rossi '105' pumps in praline. The $675 pumps are described as "Is there anything more chic than a classic pair of suede pumps? We think not - and we simply adore this rosy-nude pair from Gianvito Rossi. Crafted in Italy, they come with a seductive stiletto heel and an elegantly streamlined toe". They are available at My Theresa.

My Theresa

Kate accessorised with her Kiki McDonough Cushion Drop and Morganite earrings.

Kiki McDonough

In a formidable speech this morning, Prime Minister Theresa May said “Beyond these walls today – in scenes repeated in towns and cities across the country – millions of people are going about their days and getting on with their lives. The streets are as busy as ever, the offices full, the coffee shops and cafés bustling. As I speak, millions will be boarding trains and aeroplanes to travel to London and to see from themselves the greatest city on earth. It is in these actions, millions of acts of normality, that we find the best response to terrorism". There's been such a display of unity, courage and strength. From the first responders to the doctors and nurses who ran from St Thomas Hospital to help the injured displaying incredible bravery, to those who walked into the office this morning and went about their routine showing "acts of normalcy" are so important. It was good to see Kate embodying the "keep calm and carry on" spirit so many in London have shown.  I know we all echo Kate's words when we say our thoughts and prayers are with all those who were affected by the senseless act of terror yesterday.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

It's Red Carolina Herrera for Wales v France Rugby Match!

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge concluded their two-day visit to Paris with an appearance at the Six Nations Rugby match between Wales and France.

Leaving the embassy where they stayed with the British Ambassador to France, Lord Llewelyn and his wife, the couple received a warm send off and flowers from local children.

The Duke and Duchess arriving at the Stade de France for the match.

It was reported the trip was actually planned around the rugby match with the Foreign Office asking Kensington Palace to plan a short visit. Today marks the first Wales match Prince William has attended since becoming Patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.

William and Kate singing the Welsh National Anthem.

The Duke and Duchess enjoying the match.

Prince William chats with rugby union coach and former French secretary of sport Bernard Laporte.

It was an incredibly tense match which saw the game run into twenty minutes overtime before France clinched a victory scoring in the 100th minute.

The match ended with a final score of 20-18.

A great photo of Kate which no doubt captures one of the tense moments in the match.

Prince William was visibly disappointed.

The Telegraph reports: "It was the 100-minute match which finally consented to reach its conclusion. Wales were deservedly beaten in the game in which time stood still, in which 20 minutes injury time took place, which became so interminable that officials in Dublin were forced to delay the kick-off of Ireland versus England, the Six Nations finale which was supposed to end a full 20 minutes after the match in Paris had finished. France versus Wales in 2017, threatened never to end. But it did and for France it gave them rich hope of finishing runner-up the Championship table, their best placing in six years. For Wales, it killed the ambition of leapfrogging Ireland into fourth place in the rankings, before the World Cup draw in May."

The Duchess wore her red Carolina Herrera coat, first seen in Canada last year. The double-breasted red coat features a peter pan collar and is made of a double-faced wool and a cashmere mix blend. It retails for $1,915 and is only available in store.

The coat was a very good choice with red featuring in both the Welsh and French flags. Underneath Kate wore a turtleneck sweater and skirt (or perhaps one of her turtleneck dresses).

It is very much thought Kate's black ankle boots are the same pair she wore in New York in 2014.

 Kate's has had them for years, but they remain unidentified.

The Duchess was wearing her Cartier jewellery from this morning.


And carried her very chic Chanel bag.

William and Kate headed back to London after the match. It's been a very interesting two days. I enjoyed the itinerary and the mixture of events. From celebrating UK and French links, to meeting victims of the Paris attacks, viewing art, posing against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower to a glittering gala, it encompassed quite a bit in little more than a 24 hour period. The Duke and Duchess are excellent ambassadors for the United Kingdom, and with Brexit, the Paris trip gave us a taste of what we can expect in the future, with a visit to Germany and Poland scheduled for July. On the fashion front, I was impressed with Kate's wardrobe which included Catherine Walker, McQueen, Jenny Packham, Carolina Herrera and, of course, Chanel. I thought it a very good show of sartorial diplomacy to support the Iconic French brand whilst largely sporting British labels. What were your highlights of the visit? Which look is your favourite? Chanel and McQueen are clear winners for me.

Paris Blog Posts:

  • The Cambridges arrival, meeting with President Hollande and their appearance at a reception celebrating UK-French cultural ties can be viewed here.
  • The glittering black-tie dinner where Kate wore Jenny Packham can be viewed here.
  • Kate in Chanel for day two in Paris can be viewed here.

Finally, a reminder, Merci Maman are offering readers a special 15% discount to mark Mother's Day. Simply enter duchess15 at the checkout to avail. Kate's Duchess Necklace remains available here.

We'll next see the Duchess on Thursday when she will attend the launch of a series of educational films created by Best Beginnings, a charity partner of the Heads Together campaign, to raise awareness of maternal mental health challenges and start conversations about the well-being of parents and their children.

Thank you for reading and commenting throughout the trip. It was a very enjoyable one to cover :)