Royal protocol doesn’t demand one must let loose at a rave, but that didn’t stop the Princess of Wales, who reportedly attended her first ever music festival as a royal at the weekend.
Kate Middleton is believed to have attended the annual Houghton Festival, held at the royal-owned Houghton Hall estate in Norfolk, after a spot of supper with the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley.
The festival, set in the idyllic grounds of the stately home with sculpture gardens and a picturesque lake, is distinctly upper class in flavour. Ticketholders can sip a glass of Pimms or prosecco while enjoying the music, and the estate’s panoramic views.
It specialises in electronic music, with previous line ups including BBC Radio 6 Music regular Afrodeutsche, legendary DJ Fumiya Tanaka, whose career spans 15 years, and London-based DJ Call Super. Willow Smith, singer and daughter of Hollywood stars Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, is among the high-profile DJs and artists to have previously appeared.
It seems the princess did not want to be outdone by her husband, the Prince of Wales, who was spotted among the clubbers at Camden hotspot Koko in June.
She was apparently accompanied by David and Rose Cholmendeley (née Hanbury). The family have had close links with British royalty ever since the title was created in 1815 for George Cholmondeley.
David and Rose live in Houghton Hall in Norfolk, just four miles from Prince William and Kate’s country retreat, Anmer Hall. Kate had attended dinner with the couple over the weekend when it was reportedly suggested to her that they head down to the festival, which was being held on the 1,000-acre estate surrounding the the historic Palladian mansion. The property was built in the 1720s for the UK’s first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole.
A source to The Independent confirmed that Kate attended the dinner at Houghton Hall.
The Daily Mail quoted a source as saying: “After dinner, one of the guests suggested that Catherine [Kate] go to the festival.
“Catherine was nervous about the idea, but after much discussion with her protection officers, she went with lots of security. William wasn’t there.”
The four-day-long Houghton Festival came into being after DJ Craig Richards launched it in 2017. It features more than 200 artists performing across 13 stages, including returning artists such as The Ghost, Hiroto, D Tiffany, Ben UFO, and Richards himself.
The princess’s enjoyment of electronic music may surprise some fans, as she has previously suggested her taste keans more towards classical and mainstream pop.
Kate, who plays the piano, is believed to be a fan of Leona Lewis and Ellie Goulding. At their wedding reception, Goulding sang her version of Elton John’s “Your Song” for Kate and William’s first dance, and has since performed at several events related to the royal couple, including the prince’s Earthshot Prize Awards ceremony in Boston last year.
The royal mother-of-three asked both Lewis and Goulding to sing at a 2021 Christmas carol service she hosted at Westminster Abbey, titled Royal Carols: Together at Christmas. Her taste in pop music also appears to have rubbed off on her two older children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, who were seen dancing along to artists such as Katy Perry and Take That at the Coronation Concert.
Houghton Hall, a Grade I-listed building, has been the seat of the Cholmondeleys since 1797, after Walpole’s death. The estate was passed to the family of his sister, Lady Mary, Countess of Cholmondeley, who married George Cholmondeley, the third Earl of Cholmondeley.
The Cholmondeleys have been close to the royal family for many years. At the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla in May, the couple’s 13-year-old son, Lord Oliver Cholmondeley, was a page of honour alongside William and Kate’s eldest son, Prince George, nine.
While William did not attend the festival, he was recently seen serving up vegetarian burgers using ingredients and packaging from his Earthshot Prize winners to unsuspecting diners from a street food van.
The Independent has contacted Kensington Palace and Houghton Festival for comment.
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