Saturday 24 February 2018

'Commoners' who became icons of their generation

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Photo: Cartsen Koall/Getty Images
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Photo: Cartsen Koall/Getty Images

Tony Jones

They never met, yet Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Duchess of Cambridge share a common bond.

Both women were "commoners" who married into the royal family and became standard-bearers of their generation, famed as much for the clothes they wore as the charities and causes they chose to champion.

Diana was, in fact, from the aristocratic Spencer family, whose ancestors had rubbed shoulders with monarchs down the centuries.

Kate is the daughter of self-made millionaires Carole and Michael Middleton, thanks to their online party paraphernalia business, who attended one of the top fee-paying schools in the country.

A famous piece of jewellery has graced both their ring fingers, a 12-carat sapphire engagement ring featuring a cluster of 14 brilliant-cut diamonds, a poignant reminder for Kate of her mother-in-law.

Fashion was important to Diana, whose style reflected her changing character and signalled her mood, helped establish British designers, but above all made a statement.

Her clothes progressed from demure dresses worn by the young princess into chic outfits where the confident mother-of-two mixed glamour with wit for a global audience.

Kate has been a more conservative dresser sticking, for much of the time, to her favourite nude LK Bennett court shoes, Alexander McQueen outfits and the simple elegance of Jenny Packham or Emilia Wickstead dresses.

The Princess and Duchess followed separate paths when it came to the charities they chose to support.

Diana supported homeless charities and courted political controversy when she campaigned to end the proliferation of landmines.

Kate is patron of the National Portrait Gallery, royal patron of the art therapy charity The Art Room but has also, with William and Prince Harry, taken on the issue of mental health with the royal trio's Heads Together campaign, which aims to get people talking about their psychological problems.

Irish Independent

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