Friday, 9 March 2012

A Right Royal Affair

When Teresa asked me if I’d like to write a post for her and Sam, firstly, I was very flattered (I just love this blog!) and secondly, I started to panic about what on earth I could write to be in-keeping with the wonderful content Teresa and Sam bring us daily. Ok, so writing and editing is my job, well mostly, but this is my first ever blog post – so please be kind!

So why me? Well I manage the graduate office at De Montfort University (DMU) and yesterday I was lucky enough to be involved with a piece of its history when we welcomed Her Majesty The Queen on the first stop of her Diamond Jubilee Tour. The Queen was accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.

And just to set the record straight, I love the monarchy. Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamt that one day I would marry my Prince. Well, that didn’t quite work out the way I planned, but you have to dream, right?

We first learnt of her visit just six weeks ago, and it was all systems go from the moment we received the Royal ‘nod’ and I have to say the day went off without a hitch, seriously, and there are normally several of those backstage horror stories.

I missed the arrival of the Royal Party on campus, as guests attending the special fashion show had to be seated ahead of this to allow time for security checks to be carried out. Whilst we waited we were treated to some beautifully choreographed dance performances and above the soundtrack you could hear the sound of the overhead helicopters circling. The atmosphere in the marquee was electrifying.

And then the announcement. I was giddy with excitement. We were all asked to be upstanding, and then there they were. As they entered the marquee you could hear a sea of gasps as everyone got their first glance of The Queen and The Duchess, this was immediately followed by a spontaneous rapture of applause and cheering, and their faces beamed. And yes this is going to sound sad, but I actually welled up. Loser that I am...

We’d been taking bets on the outfits they would be wearing, and the colours they would choose, and were pretty much spot on with everything but the colour - no one had guessed cerise! When the show is yours, every woman wants to stand out and I guess The Queen is no exception. She looked radiant.

And The Duchess, well, what can you say? She is tall, beautiful and looks even tinier up close. The jealous part of me was scanning everything for a flaw - fail! She looked refined and I am sure chose the teal L.K. Bennett number not to outshine the in-law.

For me, it was the first time I had seen The Queen and it was totally surreal. I was sat no more than four metres from the Royal Party and had an uninterrupted view. I was torn between looking at them, and the collections on the catwalk. Between you and me, I think I spent more time looking at them. And trying to sneak a peek of THE engagement ring which The Duchess was wearing.

I loved watching the models step onto the catwalk in the colourful and flamboyant designs, then glance over to The Duchess to see her reaction. As the models paused at the end of the catwalk, it was lovely to see her looking at them so closely and swapping comments with both The Queen and guests around her.

Then as the catwalk show drew to a close, the Royal Party left the marquee ensuring they had time to speak with the designers and staff that had produced the show, and what a show it had been.

I am aware of the need to keep this short and sweet, but I cannot finish without mentioning shoes.

In fact, I am sure Teresa and Sam would agree, my contribution to this blog would almost be incomplete without a mention of shoes.

During the visit there were six very excited students of the renowned Footwear Design degree holding their breath, waiting to hear which of them had been chosen to create a pair of shoes for one of the world’s leading fashion icons – The Duchess of Cambridge.

Ahead of her visit, The Duchess had been sent the designs to review, all of which were made into prototypes and were on display as part of the Royal Party’s tour of the university.

She loved them all and found it so hard to choose her favourite (I think we all know how that feels...) but decided on the design by Becca Hunt. Becca’s design was inspired by 19th century fashions and based around her interpretation of The Duchess’s style. The colour of the shoe is sapphire blue (like that of her engagement ring) with an ornate white floral pattern incorporating pearl detail.

This was also my personal favourite as the white pattern reminded me of the ornate silk of her wedding dress. Glamorous, elegant and beautiful in equal measures.

Sam’s design: A cool and sexy shoe for a formal occasion.

Summer’s design: Inspired by Kate and Prince William’s coat of arms, with tartan reflecting the couple’s time at university in Scotland. 


Tabitha’s design: Design features daisies and pink leather 

Mei’s design: The concept comes from this being the year of the dragon and its shape is inspired by a lantern. 


I am conscious of the fact that I have rambled on somewhat, but before I save, send and close my laptop for the day, there is one anecdote that I would like to share with you from the Royal Party’s visit, that makes me chuckle. Whilst signing an official photograph, the pen The Queen was using stopped working, she turned to Prince Philip and asked him to pass her a pen. He reached into his pocket to pass her his (he always carries his own) to which she glanced him a look and replied, ‘not your pen, that pen’ gesturing to another on the nearby table.

It made me realise that their relationship works just like any other. And is a lovely reminder that although we grow up and don’t marry our princes, I like to hope the man I married will be loyally by my side for as many years.

It was a truly amazing day and one that I will never forget.

Louise Lowman.

All images are property of De Montfort University