Kate Middleton wisely chose to set her fashion phasers a few notches below stun today to avoid overshadowing the Queen when she stepped out on a unique royal engagement at a London department store.
The Queen, Camilla Parker-Bowles and Kate are visiting London’s poshest big shop, Fortnum & Mason (Harrods is tacky these days, and it’s owner, Mohammed al-Fayed, suspects the Queen’s husband of murdering his son) on an intergenerational shopping trip and tea party.
Kate wore a collarless blue wool dress coat by M from Missoni, the more moderately priced Missoni diffusion range, with two yellow daffodils pinned to her lapel in honour of Saint David's Day. St David is the patron saint of Wales, and Camilla, eagle-eyed observers noticed, was wearing a broach shaped like a leek, the symbolic vegetable of Wales (Really).
Kate's look was immediately criticised on twitter for being 'unbalanced' and not dazzling enough, but in fact it was clearly quite deliberately constructed to not set the fashion world on fire, and avoiding upstaging Her Majesty.
Kate is clearly determined not to ‘do a Diana’; while Di was originally feted for her gorgeousness, in the end, her massive popularity became something of an issue for her husband, who got a little fed-up of being constantly asked to move out of the picture by press photographers.
Kate’s playing a much shrewder game in the full knowledge she is engaged in a marathon not a sprint.
Her clothing choices have been consistently dialled-down over recent months. The last time she wore something truly show-stopping was the McQueen gown she wore during her trip to Los Angeles last year.
Today’s choices were of a piece with that sense of restraint – a straight, conservative coat dress instead of a hipper, more fashion-conscious, sixties A-line design. Fashion would demand a longer coat, but Kate opted for above the knee.
In essence, she would have looked quite at home working on the perfume counter at Fortnum’s – which is probably exactly the vibe she was going for.
Sixty years and hardly a slip.