Chronicling Kate

Thursday, 28 September 2023

It's Fun, Foam & Play as The Princess Joins a Family Portage Session

I am finally sharing the post about Kate's heartwarming engagement earlier today. With apologies for the tardiness, it was almost completed when another commitment arose. The Princess stepped out to join a family portage session at a specialist centre in Sittingbourne, Kent. 

The visit coincides with the National Portage Association's 40th anniversary this year. I saw several comments on social media concerning the term "Portage". Many of our readers across the pond will recognise the name of the town in Wisconsin. That is indeed the inspiration for the name. In Portage, a scheme was piloted involving home-visiting educational services for children with special educational needs at a very young age. The model focused on family, structured learning and child-led play proved incredibly successful and was adopted in the UK in the 1970s, leading to the establishment of the National Portage Association.

The model of support is considered especially effective in early years settings .The engagement was chosen as one of several the Princess will carry out in the run-up to Christmas as part of her Shaping Us campaign. A key element of Kate's early years work has been an emphasis on our "relationships, experiences and surroundings" in our earliest years and the role they play throughout our lives. 

Kensington Palace said: "Providing strong support for children, parents and carers during these years is essential and can have a life-changing impact - this is never truer than for those families caring for children with special educational needs".

During a conversation with a father, Kate recalled her very difficult experience with Hyperemesis gravidarum. 

The Telegraph reports:

'Steve Ikebuwa, a father-of-four from Gravesend, whose 11-month-old son Nathan has profound learning difficulties, explained how the Kent Portage Service, which ran the session, had helped with his child’s development.

He further revealed that – like the Princess – his wife had suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, a type of morning sickness that causes severe vomiting during pregnancy. “I went through that. I know what that feels like,” she told him.

The mother-of-three was taken to hospital in 2012, when she was pregnant with Prince George, and later revealed in a podcast that she was “not the happiest of pregnant people”.

Mr Ikebuwa, 44, said later that his reference to the condition had “ struck a chord” with the Princess, adding: “You can see her expression change – she went through the same thing.'

At one point, Kate sat on the floor with a group of little ones.

Hello! reports: "She is very sweet," Kate said of one little girl Skylar, who is almost two and was spreading foam over herself".

Darling three-year-old Beatrice having a ball during the royal visit. 

Adorable Darcie was joined by Kate in pouring colourful squares into cups. 

A smiling Kate said: "Well done. Louis' got a Darcie in his class".

Yahoo writes:

'Charlotte Beer, a portage practitioner from Dover, Kent, used the service for support while raising her daughter who has autism. She said Kate “really cared about the children”.

Ms Beer said: “She was quite interested in the fact that we noticed a regression within my daughter at quite an early age and how supported I felt as a parent.

“She expressed how important it is to make sure children with special needs are supported in their first five years of life.

“You can really tell that she really cared about the children, she came and sat with some of them on the floor, talking to their parents. You can really see she cares and she wants to make a change.”

The recent Portage Impact Survey shows that Portage provides invaluable emotional support, practical advice to families and helps to form a sense of belonging and community. 

National Portage Association Chair, Janet Rickman, said:  "Her Royal Highness’ visit shines a vital spotlight on the National Portage Service Association. We are so privileged that The Princess was able to meet some of our Portage families and spend time learning about the work we do. This year is particularly important for us as it's our 40th year of the National Portage Association and #nationalinclusionweek2023 so it's wonderful that we can showcase Portage through the Shaping Us campaign and make sure that any parent with a child not meeting their developmental milestones knows how to access Portage support."

Kate chose familiar pieces for the outing. 

Kate sported her red textured ZARA double breasted blazer.

The Princess wore her Boden black suede ballet flats. The sold out pair are available in tomato suede here.

And her Spells of Love medium twist earrings.

Tuesday, 26 September 2023

The Princess Retraces Paternal Family Footsteps in Leeds

It was a fascinating day for the Princess of Wales, who undertook visits to textile manufacturers in Leeds and Lancaster to learn more about "the heritage, history and innovation of the industry, the technical processes involved and how vital the sector is to the UK economy". 

When I read the press release for today's engagement, I noted the itinerary is very much a continuation of a plan announced almost five years ago. As the royal schedule of official appearances began in January 2019, Kensington Palace confirmed we would see a series of visits from the then Duchess of Cambridge "in the coming months". A Palace spokesperson confirmed at the time: "The textile and manufacturing industry is an area of interest to the Duchess. Her Royal Highness’ great-great-grandfather, Francis Martineau Lupton, was a mill owner who ran the family’s successful textile manufacturing business, William Lupton & Company, with his three brothers".

We saw a lovely visit to the Royal Opera House in 2019, with Kate learning about their commissioning of textiles and fabrics. She selected her eye-catching Oscar de la Renta skirt suit, Rupert Sanderson pumps, Asprey Oak earrings and carried her Aspinal of London Midi Mayfair bag for the occasion. After that and for unknown reasons, the series of visits was shelved. It's great to see them resuming again, particularly given the family association with the industry in Britain. 

Leeds was a very fitting choice for the first engagement; Kate's paternal ancestors ran William Lupton & Co. in Leeds. In 1958, the Princess’ great-great grandfather sold William Lupton & Co. to AW Hainsworth. 

It was very much a full circle moment for Kate today.

Kate's great-great grandfather, Francis Martineau Lupton, known as Frank, attended Leeds Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read history. A member of the Leeds Rifles (a unit of the 19th century Volunteer Force of the British Army), Frank was essentially responsible for transitioning the Lupton family business from merchants to manufacturing and entering the increasingly lucrative cloth-making market of the time. Frank married the daughter of a clergyman, Harriet Davis, who sadly passed away twelve years later following the birth of their youngest son. In total, Frank and Harriet had a family of two daughters and three sons. In addition to his position as a prominent businessman, he was a Justice of the Peace for Leeds and the West Riding and an alderman. A passionate campaigner for the plight of the poor he worked to improve working class housing and ultimately played a leading role in making significant housing changes as chair of the council's Unhealthy Areas Committee. 

Sadly, the loss of Harriet was one of many Frank would endure. He would lose all three of his sons, Maurice, Lionel and Francis, in the First World War (of course, this is why Kate often wears three poppies on Remembrance Sunday). 

A letter on behalf of King George V recognised the loss of his "gallant" sons. Following the devastation of their deaths, Frank turned his home into a safe space for children of soldiers. 

Frank's remaining two children, Olive and Anne, carried on the torch of their brothers bravery and their father's spirit. The eldest, Olive, was accepted to study at Cambridge but refused in order to look after her father. An active volunteer at Stead Hostel, a home in Leeds for working women and girls supported by her father, she also volunteered with Leeds Ladies' Association for the Care and Protection of Friendless Girls. In 1914, she met and married solicitor Noel Middleton (who subsequently became a director of William Lupton & Co.). During the First World War, Olive volunteered as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse to do her bit to help. 

Amidst the extraordinary pain of losing all three brothers, her husband was also fighting on the Western front during this time. This telegram from Noel Middleton to the family, informed them that Francis's body had been found: "Bad News Francis Body Found Near Taylors Killed Instantaneously Bomb Saw Norman Yesterday And Grave In Churchyard Writing Middleton".

Olive and Noel's youngest son, Peter would grow up to become an Oxford-educated pilot, who would co-pilot on Prince Philip's 1962 tour of South America. Little did either know that almost five decades later, Peter's granddaughter would marry the Prince's grandson.

I was equally intrigued to read the story of Frank's younger daughter Anne (Kate's great-aunt; you will note more than a passing resemblance to both the Princess and her father Michael). A student at Newnham College at Cambridge, Anne deeply desired the opportunity to enter the family textile business, but as women were not afforded those opportunities, she travelled extensively across South America and Canada for years. On her return to England, she never married and enjoyed a "Boston Marriage" (the cohabitation of two wealthy women, independent of financial support from a man) with Enid Moberly Bell, the daughter and biographer of The Times editor Charles Frederic Moberly Bell. From June 1915, Anne Lupton was the secretary of the Leeds General Hospital Committee and the organising secretary of the 2nd Northern General Hospital at Beckett's Park. In 1920, Anne received a coveted M.B.E. for her voluntary work for the Leeds Local War Pensions Committee. Among her many and varied philanthropic achievements, Anne organised an exhibition at the London Housing Centre for the centenary of Octavia Hill's birth which was visited at her request by Queen Mary. Hill was a prominent English social reformer who greatly influenced Anne's father Frank in his social housing efforts.

Below, an advertising leaflet for the business from 1921.

Another piece of advertising from 1922 shows the Lupton family logo.

During the visit to Leeds, Kate had the opportunity to explore AW Hainsworth and retrace the footsteps of her ancestors.

Kensington Palace said: "Today, AW Hainsworth is a fully integrated, vertical textile mill which supplies fabrics to a wide range of customers – from fashion and homeware brands to the Armed Forces. It also produces woven felt for pianos and other musical instruments, designs national and international transportation fabric, and creates protective materials for emergency services and military personnel worldwide. AW Hainsworth is proud to hold a royal warrant and its fabrics were on display during the coronations of both Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and His Majesty The King earlier this year". 

The company was first awarded the Royal Warrant in 2014, and today their woollen cloth "adorns the inside of Royal residences, bringing tradition and all the inherent benefits of wool".

Below, one team member describes the feeling of holding the Royal Warrant.

The Princess toured the mill whilst learning about the manufacturing process of textile – from yarn to fabric – and how traditional machinery and techniques are the backbone of today’ s industry. 

Kate met a number of the company’s apprentices, alongside their mentors, who are passing down generations of specialist skills. 

Hello reports:

'Rachel Hainsworth, a seventh generation of the family-run business who sits on AW Hainsworth’s family council, chatted to Kate about her family history. 

She said about Kate: "She knows about the history, her parents have been talking to her about it," and she was interested to hear how the Lupton company specialised in “collar Melton” a piece of woollen cloth used to give body and definition to a jacket collar.

During her visit, the royal grabbed handfuls of freshly-woven Merino wool fabric and declared: "I love the feel of it and the smell of it!"

Hello! notes the Princess spoke to several people packing cream blankets for Canadian firm Hudson Bay. Kate told them: "I really recognise this. I think we were given one on tour to Canada as a gift. So I’ve still got it. It’s in a box. I’ll take a photograph and send it to you. I use it for the children all the time. I am going to double check when I get home and look at the label".

Speaking about the company ethos, Kate noted, "As a consumer it is so nice to be able to tell that story to understand where the produce comes from". 

Kate met Oliver, a mannequin sporting a traditional guardsman uniform.

People reports:

'Kate was fascinated by the creation of the bright scarlet fabric that’s the mainstay of the ceremonial uniform of the palace guards.  

Zena Al Mausawe, operational excellence director, tells PEOPLE, “She loved it. It was great that she saw the scarlet tunic which is the iconic red fabric that everyone associates with Buckingham Palace and the guards. It was great how she was trying to feel everything and get the tactile experience as well."

She adds that the royal "loved the smell of the wool and the texture of it and the handle of it.”

Another lovely photo from the visit.

From there, it was a most enjoyable visit to the new state-of-the-art on-site laboratory which the company is using for cutting-edge innovation and product development. 

The Princess was joined by Professor Stephen Russell, the Founding Director of Future Fashion Factory (FFF), an industry-led collaborative R&D programme that harnesses academic and business expertise to design and deliver innovation in fashion and textiles. Stephen is also the Director of the Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour (LITAC), a world leading research institute bringing together expertise in design, technology, science and engineering. He collaborates with the team at Hainsworth regularly.

From there, the Princess travelled to Lancaster to visit Standfast & Barracks, a printworks dating back to 1924 which is now part of the Sanderson Design Group. 

The company is a recipient of the Queen's Award for Enterprise. 

"The company is renowned for its impressive heritage in textile design and creativity. It places innovation at the heart of its business and product development. Standfast & Barracks has expertise in both conventional printing techniques including rotary and flatbed printing and ground-breaking digital inkjet technology", Kensington Palace noted.

Kate learned about the history of the company and saw artefacts from the archive before meeting the founders of House of Hackney (a British interiors brand), Frieda Gormley and Javvy M Royle. A Palace spokesperson continued: "Champions of print and craftsmanship, House of Hackney work closely with small-scale factories, including Standfast & Barracks, preserving specialist, age-old trades and local jobs whilst delivering high quality products. House of Hackney and Standfast & Barracks are working together on a pioneering idea to pilot end-to-end regeneratively farmed materials, which would improve sustainability and ensure that people and planet are considered at every touch point Their approach will also support the next generation by co-creating design and manufacturing apprenticeships".  Kate had the opportunity to spend time with young people who have benefited from the apprenticeship programme and hear more about the creative product development process between Standfast & Barracks and House of Hackney, including how inspiration becomes finished product. 

House of Hackney is also a recipient of the Queen's Award for Enterprise, now renamed the King's award.

The Princess enjoyed a tour of the printworks before departing. The development of digital printing has provided a more sustainable approach to fabric printing, with each metre of fabric produced using approximately 80 litres less water than the traditional processes. 

Kate repeated her green Burberry trouser suit today.

Below, the Princess wearing the look when she and William greeted Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway at Windsor Castle. 

Kate wore her Emmy London Josie block heel pumps.

Kate accesorised with a pair of Shyla London Rosalia earrings.

And her Laura Lombardi Portrait Necklace.

Tomorrow, the Princess will join a family portage session at a local specialist centre in Sittingbourne to highlight the importance of supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities and their families.

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