The Princess of Wales frequently practices the art of diplomatic dressing and often wears national colors or flag hues for visits abroad. In addition, she will don ‘collective couture’ and wear a group of colors with special meanings (her coronation lookbook represented the colors of King Charles’ honorary theme — an ode to the Union Jack i.e. the national flag of the United Kingdom).
Still, her secretive sartorial efforts don’t go unnoticed. Leaving as many ‘Easter Eggs’ as pop superstar Taylor Swift, Kate’s fashions continue to surprise and inspire with their hidden meanings, messages and symbolism.
Here are 5 of Kate Middleton’s Most Symbolic Outfits of All Time:
1. Honoring the Queen in McQueen
When the Princess of Wales cut a somber figure at Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral on September 19, 2022, the mom of three was wearing a black box pleat coatdress. The structured design is constructed of a wool blend and features a pleated bottom skirt silhouette.
A bespoke creation based on the designer’s sold out $2145 coat, this design has a wide collar, concealed front button fastenings and long sleeves. Princess Kate’s design had undergone alterations including removal of front pockets at the hip and additional buttons placed on the front of the coat.
The designer dresscoat was heavily symbolic as the princess wore the same Sarah Burton style for a G7 Summit reception (which the sovereign attended) as well as the Queen’s historic Trooping the Colour parade in June 2022. The long sleeve A-line blazer jacket dress with a double layered lapel is part of Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection. Interestingly, the topper has also been seen on Queen Rania who wore the look for a Social Good Summit in September 2015.
Paying homage to the departed monarch, Kate’s sartorial selection had a sentimental connection to her late grandmother-in-law. (The Duchess of Sussex also wore a repeated cape dress courtesy of Stella McCartney for Her Majesty’s funeral.)
2. Diana’s Doppelgänger
The Princess made a seriously symbolic gesture paying homage to Prince William’s mother when she stepped out at the Lindo Wing on the steps of St. Mary’s hospital with baby Prince George of Wales and his brother Prince Louis of Wales.
Echoing the exact fashion formula seen on Princess Diana, Kate donned a playful polka dot shift which called to mind the same turquoise polka dot ensemble worn by her late mother-in-law.
Compared to a nightgown, Diana presented her new son (Prince William) to the world in a billowy and oversized polka maternity dress with a white collar in June 1982. The People’s Princess also wore white stockings and pink ballet flats adorned with bows.
Princess Kate selected the same iconic print seen regularly on Diana’s most memorable fashions and opted for a dotty custom blue Packham dress which she donned in the summer heat in July 2013. Stepping out on the world stage after having just given birth, Kate looked jubilant introducing baby son George to a flurry of flashbulbs. The princess skipped Diana’s slipper shoe look and opted for Pied a Terre cream wedges for her ‘new mom’ photos.
Later, Kate would repeat the tradition and sport a red shift with a peter pan collar by Jenny Packham when she presented her second son (and future heartthrob) Prince Louis to the masses in April 2018. It’s thought that Kate’s red and white dress was a tribute to Diana who wore the same color combination for the arrival of Prince Harry in 1984. Kate opted to wear praline Rossi heels for her third delivery while Diana selected low-heel red pumps for her second son’s debut.
The princess recently made another thoughtful tribute to Diana by donning an open cuff bracelet by Halcyon Days featuring a blue stone called the forget-me-not (Di’s favorite flower).
3. Codebreaker Clothing
The princess often pays tribute to family with her fashion lookbook — case in point: her codebreaker accessories. The brunette royal wore a special codebreaker brooch to Remembrance Sunday services in 2019. Honoring the history and legacy of her own family heritage, Kate paid tribute to her late grandmother who served in World War II as a secret codebreaker. Kate’s paternal grandmother Valerie Glassborow was among those who worked to decipher the secrets of the German Enigma machine at Bletchley Park.
The princess also wore an Enigma pin for a visit to the famed Allied code breaking country house Bletchley Park in May 2019. Kate’s gold brooch features an enigma rotor and was designed to look like the cipher device (Enigma machine).
4. English Rose
Kate’s Victorian-Era wedding dress was a spectacular and stunning work of a slew of Sarah Burton appointed seamstresses. The fairytale bridal gown featured plenty of special details including a lacy corset, organza covered buttons and hand-cut embroidered flowers.
Kate’s dressmakers used a Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the early 1800s. The dress designers at the Royal School of Needlework created the bodice and skirt with handmade lace appliqué and constructed the dress with a floral motif including blooms of roses, daffodils, thistles, and shamrocks. The florals represent the national emblems of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
5. BAFTA Beauty
Avoiding controversial and political subjects can be difficult while working as an official ambassador for the Crown. Kate played it safe with her forest green Packham gown which graced the BAFTA red carpet in February 2018.
Most women attending the event wore black ensembles in support of the Time’s Up movement (which offers support for victims of sexual harassment and seeks to achieve gender equality in the film industry).
Princess Kate showed her allegiance to the monarchy’s neutral stance by wearing a green garment but also offered a hint of solidarity with the cause by wearing a black ribbon belt.