Duchesses on tour
This fall is going to be an exciting one for many reasons, but two major ones are that both duchesses are undertaking separate official tours, Kate to Pakistan with William and Meghan to South Africa with Harry (and likely Archie). Official tours are important part of the work that Kate and Meghan do as duchesses, and, as we are focusing on the duchesses’ work this week, we can’t skip talking about their work abroad.
As we’ve spoken about before, the Queen is the Head of the Commonwealth of Nations, 53 countries that were mostly all former territories of the British Empire. It would be impossible for the 93-year-old Queen to visit each of these 53 countries herself on a consistent basis, so she dispatches her Family to visit them on her behalf. You’ll notice that the bulk of attention is generally given to the 16 sovereign states, the nations where the Queen is also considered the reigning sovereign. Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are great primer official visits for new Royals like Kate and Meghan to cut their teeth. Both duchesses have been on official visits to Australia and New Zealand, and Kate’s first official visit was to Canada – though Meghan has not yet gone on an official visit to Canada. She has a deep history with the country, though – she filmed Suits in Toronto and has a special affinity for our neighbor to the north. I expect an official tour to Canada sometime within the next couple of years for Meghan.
(Kate and Meghan hop around to different countries, usually in Europe, all the time. Think Ireland, France, Denmark – but not all of those visits are official tours. Those are usually for just one or two engagements, but an official tour encompasses a mountain of engagements.)
Kate’s first visit, as I previously stated, was to Canada from June 30 to July 8, 2011, just three months after she and William were married. Then, much to my delight at the time, William and Kate announced that they would be tacking on a couple of days to the back end of their tour to visit the United States! This was Kate’s first visit to our country, and she and William went to Los Angeles from July 8 to 10, where they attended an event hosted by BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), of which William is president. I can still see that outdoor reception with William and Kate mingling with Hollywood royalty, who look as starstruck as ever to be sipping champagne with actual Royalty.
For their second official tour, William and Kate went to Singapore, Malaysia, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu from September 11 to 19 – if one does the math, right before George was conceived. They visited these countries as a part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour, representing her 50-year anniversary of being on the throne. This visit is notable because Kate made her first official speech abroad at a hospice in Malaysia, where she talked about her experience as patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. (See the last blog post for more about she and Meghan’s patronages.)
Kate took the year off from official tours in 2013, as, you know, she was merely giving birth to the heir to the British throne. She took that heir (George, of course) along with her to her third official tour with William to New Zealand and Australia from April 7 to 25, 2014. Kate had so many iconic looks from this tour it’s impossible to pick a favorite, so just check them all out here. You’re welcome. In September 2014 she was set to make her first solo official tour to Malta for the country’s fiftieth independence anniversary, but her hyperemesis gravidarum (we’ve been talking about this on The Duchess Commentary Facebook page – look for an explanation of what it is in next week’s Royal Potpourri) prevented her from going. She was in the first trimester of her pregnancy with Charlotte at the time. William went in her place instead. The couple closed out 2014 with a visit to New York City from December 7 to 9, where they attended a charity dinner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and an NBA game in Brooklyn.
She once again skipped 2015 to focus on Charlotte, but visited India and Bhutan from April 10 to 16, 2016 with William. The whole family – William, Kate, George, and Charlotte – visited Canada from September 24 to October 1, 2016. Kate went solo to the Netherlands in October 2016, and in 2017, Kate went with William to Paris from March 17 to 18 and then visited Luxembourg solo in May 2017. All four Cambridges visited Poland and Germany from July 17 to 21, 2017.
While pregnant with Louis in 2018, Kate visited Sweden and Norway with William from January 28 to February 2. That gets us up to the Pakistan tour, which will be the Royal Family’s first visit to the country in 13 years.
As for Meghan, as she gears up for her third official tour this fall, it seems not so long ago that she was embarking on her first official tour, which took her to Australia, Fiji, Tonga, and New Zealand with Harry from October 15 to 31 of last year. Shortly after they arrived in Sydney, it was announced that Meghan was pregnant with Archie, which set a joyous tone for the whole tour. Meghan had to cut back pretty significantly – understandably – on the number of engagements she undertook on that intense tour, but wowed crowds everywhere she went. Like Kate, Meghan had an iconic fashion tour. From February 23 to 25 of this year, Harry and Meghan went to Morocco, where they visited projects centered around women’s empowerment, girls’ education, inclusivity, and encouragement of social entrepreneurship. I fully expect this to be the M.O. for the South Africa tour, slated for September.
The work that Kate and Meghan do on these official tours is pretty brutal – there are tons of engagements and it is exhausting. But, I must say, the duchesses’ fashions are usually at their best while on official tours and official tours are some of my very favorite times, as we get to see the duchesses extensively, usually for days and sometimes weeks at a time. Someday, we might even have a joint official tour between Kate and Meghan – wouldn’t that be a dream?
Expect full coverage of both Kate’s Pakistan visit and Meghan’s South Africa visit this fall!