Merry Christmas Eve to those who celebrate! My cheeks still hurt from smiling at the Sussexes’ (absolutely *chef's kiss* perfect) holiday card that was released yesterday. Seeing Baby Lili and sweet big bro Archie was such an unexpected treat. Also how lovely was it to get that early photo from the Queen’s speech?
ICYMI, my SMTs on both are here.
For the second year, COVID has cancelled the royal family’s usual Sandringham holiday festivities. To tide us all over, I did little deep dive into the royal fashion Christmas archives and found some gems from the annual morning walk to church dating back to Diana. I hope you enjoy the look back, below.
Also, two major and festive television moments coming your way in the next 24 hours: Kate’s carol concert will air on ITV in the UK this evening — a sneak peek suggests she will play the piano! — and the Queen’s annual Christmas address will be broadcast on Christmas Day. Last year, it was available on the BBC's YouTube page.
Wishing you and yours the very best this holiday. xx
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Sandringham Style Through the Years
Back in 1988, when Windsor Castle was being rewired, the royal family moved their Christmas celebration to the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. That’s when her descendants began what has become a beloved modern-day royal tradition: traversing the path from the estate to St. Mary Magdalene Church for the mid-morning service. (The Queen herself travels by car, naturally). In pre-pandemic times, the public would queue up for hours to catch a glimpse of them. You can read a delightful first-person essay about what it’s like here.
Thanks to COVID, the walk has been canceled for the second year in a row. It's the right and responsible call, no doubt, but means another year without the fun and festive fashion. Fear not! I found some standout style in the archives. Combing through pictures from the last three decades was delightful. Diana did her own thing from the start, Eugenie and Beatrice were the cutest tiny twins, plus a major Camilla hat moment and the Queen with her coordinating umbrella. And of course, some memorable looks from Kate and Meghan.
Let's take a look back, shall we?
1988 / I’m enamored by the photos from the first Christmas walk, or rather the expressions of the folks in the pictures. They’ve got an amused “What’s happening?” vibe about them as they stop — but not quite pose — for photographers. That's Fergie on the far left, the Queen Mother in pink, Diana in the middle and little William in burgundy. But I think we can all agree the award goes to Princess Anne’s daughter, Zara, for accessorizing with a stuffed puppy. (Photo via Getty Images)
1991 / Take a moment to look at everyone else in this picture — and then look at Diana. In a sea of beige and black, on what appears to be a chilly Christmas morning (is that frost on the grass?), the princess is pushing for spring in a bright blue Catherine Walker suit. I love it. (Photo via Getty Images)
1997 / Several Sandringham years were somber in the wake of Diana and Charles’s divorce and the princess's tragic death. But the Queen's granddaughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, often provided a little fashion bright spot — especially when they were tiny twins. (Photo via Getty Images)
2006 / Does anyone love a big hat more than Camilla? The Duchess of Cornwall joined the Christmas walk when she married Prince Charles in 2005. By her second stroll, Cam was all in, with a statement feathered hat that felt a bit reminiscent of her bridal headpiece. Oh, and some leopard-print cuffs and clutch — because why not? (Photo via Getty Images)
2011 / Will and Kate's wedding in the spring of 2011 attracted a new generation of royal fans (myself included!) to the family's annual traditions. The duchess was a major draw on her Christmas Day debut — and she brought the drama with this Jane Corbett burgundy hat. I think it might be the most fashion-forward Christmas look of hers? In the years since, she's veered a bit more classic with her choices. (Photo via Polaris)
2015 / Her Majesty's style stepped up considerably when Angela Kelly became her senior dresser in the 2000s, with bolder colors and sleeker silhouettes. But fashion is always mixed with function — one must be mindful of Mother Nature, especially on an unpredictable December morning! I love how festive *and* practical this look is, with a coordinating coat and umbrella. (Photo via Polaris)
2016 / The Countess of Wessex (who is married to the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward) is often towards the back of the pack on the actual walk so hers might not be the first fashion you’ll see. But don’t sleep on Sophie! Several years she has turned the fashion dial waaaay up. How major is this hat? Very into this whole look. (Photo via Getty Images)
2017 / I remember how exciting it was that Meghan joined the royal family walk to church before her wedding to Prince Harry. The pair had announced their engagement about a month earlier and anticipation was building for the big day. Meghan previewed her royal style with this tonal neutral ensemble. (Photo via Polaris)
2018 / These might be my absolute favorite Christmas looks from both the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex. As rumors swirled about tension between the brothers, the women carried on in fine fashion. Quite literally! I love how true these choices are to their respective signature styles.(Photo via Polaris)
2019 / Learning the ropes! Prince George and Princess Charlotte joined their parents for the first time two years ago. Amid the cuteness were early signs of style lessons: Kate’s outfit coordinated perfectly with little Lottie’s, matching her hat, clutch, and heels to her daughter’s coat. (Photo via Getty Images)
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Quick note: I am taking a break from my newsletter next Tuesday but will see you back in your inboxes next Friday, Dec. 31 with my 2021 SMT Royal Year in Review. Wishing you health and happiness this difficult holiday season.
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