Thursday 20 September 2018

How new mum Kate Middleton was ready for her close-up in less than seven hours

Camera-ready: Kate and Will leaving the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London with Prince George (left), Princess Charlotte (centre) and their as yet unnamed son (right)
Camera-ready: Kate and Will leaving the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London with Prince George (left), Princess Charlotte (centre) and their as yet unnamed son (right)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their newborn son outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their newborn son outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge looks at her newly-born son, her third child, on the steps of the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on April 23, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their newborn son outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their newborn son outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their newborn son outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London
Kate and Will and baby
The Duke of Cambridge holds the hand of his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, as he carries their newborn son from the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

It was business as usual for Kate Middleton as she stood on the steps of St Mary's Hospital and introduced her third child to the world on Monday evening.

The hairstyle was reassuringly predictable. The smile switched between its two settings: demure and dazzling.

The Duke of Cambridge holds the hand of his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, as he carries their newborn son from the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London
The Duke of Cambridge holds the hand of his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, as he carries their newborn son from the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London

And the outfit choice - a red Jenny Packham smock dress - was as judicious as ever.

The 36-year-old's poker face has been refined to the point that it's almost impossible to know how she's really feeling - even seven hours after giving birth.

There is no doubt Middleton would make a superb poker player, but on Monday, as she stood outside the hospital, there was one tiny, almost imperceptible, 'tell' that revealed the pressure she's under to keep up appearances. Her poker face might have belied the lack of sleep, but her feet suggested the strain of the never-ending walkabout.

Middleton is one of those genetically-gifted creatures who doesn't suffer from swollen ankles - even after giving birth. This time around, however, the regulation mid-height Gianvito Rossi heels didn't fit with the same Cinderella precision.

The suede, stiletto-heeled pumps that her stylist, Natasha Archer, delivered to the hospital earlier that morning were a shade too snug and, for the first time ever, the woman who could teach us all how to run in high heels looked like she might have preferred a pair of slippers.

Most new mothers opt for flats or slip-ons when they're leaving the hospital. Of course, most new mothers don't have to pose for a press-call shortly after giving birth. This is probably why Middleton prefers shoes of the vertiginous variety - even when she's dizzy with exhaustion.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their newborn son outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their newborn son outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London

Let's not forget that she gave birth to her third child at 11.01am. At 6pm, she was ready for her close-up. That gave Middleton less than seven hours to rest, bond with her child and get a signature bouncy blow-dry from Amanda Cook Tucker, her personal hairstylist.

Presumably a tyrannical, clipboard-carrying Palace official orchestrated the entire post-partum transformation.

"Placenta delivered. Glam Squad assemble. I repeat: Glam Squad assemble...

"Outfit by British fashion designer: check. Sartorial tribute to Princess Diana: check. Mid-height heels: check."

I've never given birth but I've seen the aftermath enough times to know that squeezing into a pair of stilettos is the furthest thing from most new mothers' minds.

Seven hours after birth, most new couples are still coming to terms with the trauma they just experienced. Women look almost beatific in their vulnerability; men look like they've just listened to The Dark Side of the Moon on LSD. Sure, some women reach for their make-up bags because they want to look 'presentable' for visitors but, for the most part, they don't give much thought to fashion when they've just been told they have to wear an adult nappy.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London, with their newborn daughter The Princess of Cambridge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 2, 2015. See PA story ROYAL Baby. Photo credit should read: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London, with their newborn daughter The Princess of Cambridge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 2, 2015. See PA story ROYAL Baby. Photo credit should read: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

The pressure to smile through sleep deprivation can't be easy for William either. The poor chap came out of St Mary's with less hair than he went in with. Then again, he has his military service behind him and, like any good ex-British army officer, he knows not to talk about his time in the trenches...

Funnily enough, photographs of an immaculately-dressed post-partum Middleton always put me in mind of Britain during WWII, when red lipstick became an affirmation of dignity and the morale-boosting mantra 'beauty is your duty' was trumpeted on the pages of Vogue magazine. In spite of what you had been through or what you were going through, it was essential to keep up appearances for the troops.

Fast forward to modern-day Britain and the Duchess of Cambridge has her own troops to consider. Whether by accident or design, Middleton embodies a Cath Kidston-buying, home-baking, allotment-owning brand of motherhood. She represents the type of mother who always has a front-door face and who never, ever wears Uggs while leaving the maternity hospital.

Stilettos are rarely comfortable so I can only imagine how it feels to squeeze into a too-tight pair seven hours after childbirth. But squeeze Middleton will because she knows she is representing the get-up-and-go, how-does-she-do-it? mother. The type who loses the baby weight in a matter of months, the type who makes other women feel lesser-than for wearing tracksuit bottoms...

Perhaps Meghan Markle will keep it real in athleisure and Crocs. Her sister-in-law, on the other hand, was never really given a choice in the matter.

June 2013: After the birth of Prince George, she wore a beautiful blue and white polka dot dress by her favourite designer - Jenny Packham
June 2013: After the birth of Prince George, she wore a beautiful blue and white polka dot dress by her favourite designer - Jenny Packham

Irish Independent

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