Friday 17 January 2020

Irish schoolteacher Lucy Lanigan-O'Keeffe joins Kate Middleton and Queen Elizabeth with fiancé Thomas van Straubenzee

Lucy Lanigan-O'Keeffe and Thomas van Straubenzee attend Sunday service at the Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on January 5, 2020 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Lucy Lanigan-O'Keeffe and Thomas van Straubenzee attend Sunday service at the Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on January 5, 2020 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive to attend a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk
Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk
Rose Hanbury the Marchioness of Cholmondeley arrives to attend a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive to attend a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Irish schoolteacher Lucy Lanigan O'Keeffe joined the British royal family's most senior members in her first official appearance since announcing her engagement to one of Prince William's closest friends.

Ms Lanigan O'Keeffe (31), from Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, is an assistant head teacher at St Thomas's in Battersea, the primary school which Prince George and Princess Charlotte both attend. She also teaches outdoor learning and mindfulness.

Last June, their engagement was announced and it's believed they will exchange vows this summer.

On Sunday, she was pictured alongside her beaming fiancé at St Mary Magdalene Church on Queen Elizabeth's Norfolk estate, alongside the British monarch and the future heir to the throne; whom Lucy now counts as part of her inner circle.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive to attend a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive to attend a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk

Mr van Straubenzee (36) runs a successful property business and has been a close friend to William since meeting him at Ludgrove School as children. He is one of Charlotte's godfathers and it's expected the royal children will resume their pageboy and tiny bridesmaid roles at his own wedding later this year.

It's believed Queen Elizabeth is "very fond" of Thomas, who has made regular visits to Balmoral over the years, according to Tatler.

Lucy's appearance at Sandringham indicates how crucial a figure she has become in the most elevated social circles in the world. She adopted the uniform of the day and appeared to tale style tips from the Duchess of Cambridge in a monochromatic petrol blue ensemble, with fascinator and coat dress.

Thomas's younger brother Charlie is also a close confidant to Prince Harry and is believed to be godfather to his son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.

Both Harry and William attended Thomas's previous wedding in 2013 to Lady Melissa Percy but they split in 2016 after three years together. And both Thomas and Charlie were ushers at Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in 2018.

It's reported that Sunday's church service was the start of Kate's impending 38th birthday, which she will celebrate on Thursday. Sunday's event was significantly more low-key than the fanfare from Christmas Day, where George and Charlotte took part in the 'Christmas walk' for the first time.

Rose Hanbury the Marchioness of Cholmondeley arrives to attend a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk
Rose Hanbury the Marchioness of Cholmondeley arrives to attend a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk

Kate was dressed appropriately for the occasion, debuting a funnel neck rust ombré coat by Roksanda and recycling a pair of Stuart Weitzman brown knee-high boots and a statement cerulean fedora by Hicks & Brown. The service was also attended by Kate's parents Carole and Michael Middleton, both of whom are fresh from a sunny New Year getaway to St Barth's with their youngest daughter Pippa, son James, their respective partners and RTÉ presenter Vogue Williams.

Most notably, one of the high profile guests in attendance was also Rose Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, who attended alongside her husband David Rocksavage, aka the Marquess of Cholmondeley.

It was rumoured earlier this year that Kate and Rose, once thought to be close friends, had a falling out, but this marks their second joint public appearance since the story broke. Rose was also a guest at the State Dinner Banquet at Buckingham Palace in June, honouring US President Donald Trump's visit to the UK.

Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk
Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending a morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk

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