Kate and William have spent the past week on a Royal tour of India and Bhutan, a trip that has cost taxpayers many thousands of pounds. You might ask what they are achieving, apart from a PR exercise for the Monarchy. The Foreign Office claims their trip to Bhutan is important to ‘support a new democracy’, headed by a young King and Queen. So it was a chance to meet their counterparts, practise archery and exchange small talk.
As for raising pressing political and economic matters in India, I doubt that Port Talbot workers were very hopeful Prince William would be able to achieve much in an ‘informal’ lunch chat with the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. The Chairman of Tata Steel declined to attend a charity gala at the Duke’s hotel at the start of the tour, citing ‘travel commitments’. The pair have spent their time touring charity projects, meeting conservationists and homeless kids – and at each event, the Duchess (supported by a team of stylists, hairdressers, dressers and PAs) has dressed in a manner that ranges from the demure to the plain dowdy.
Surely the main point of the couple’s trip (apart from the endless photo-ops) was to fly the flag for Britain, to drum up visitors, promote our exports and encourage investment? In her over-anxious effort not to offend anyone, the Duchess ended up looking decidedly dreary. Wearing a printed cotton frock (which to me looked no different from those made by workers on low wages in the Third World) and high street earrings (ditto), what message was she trying to send out?
Even clothes by cutting edge designers like McQueen were altered beyond recognition, turned into something more suitable for the bride’s mother. My disappointed Indian friends think Kate should have worn high fashion, not high street, and can’t understand why she looks so prim and proper.
Attending a wedding in Mumbai a few years ago, I stayed at the same hotel as the Royal couple, and went to some swish parties. The Indian women of all ages looked extremely glamorous, putting us Brits to shame. As for Kate covering her flesh – this isn’t a predominately Muslim country (79 per cent are Hindu) and sari-wearing Indian women frequently reveal their bare midriffs. The British fashion industry inspires the rest of the world and is a key part of our economy, but whoever is advising the Duchess of Cambridge should be sacked.
The British Monarchy has worked its usual magic, turning a vibrant commoner into an underweight thirty-something with no pizazz. Princess Diana had her shortcomings, but she understood perfectly that the public expected glamour at all times – and she never let them down, promoting British designers brilliantly. Kate has turned into the Duchess of Drab.
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