For the second day of the Royal Tour of Poland and Germany, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge toured the Stutthof Concentration Camp and met with five former prisoners, traveled to Gdansk to take part in a street party, visited the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre and toured the European Solidarity Movement Museum, leaving flowers at the Solidarity Monument.
Unfortunately, the events of Day 2 were overshadowed by debate on social media over whether or not Kate’s outfit was inappropriate for a visit to a concentration camp where nearly 65,000 people died. Reaction ran from some thinking it was fine to others being extremely offended. No matter where royal watchers landed on the opinion spectrum, far too much of the conversation was about whether or not Kate, a guest of Poland as an official representative of the United Kingdom, was appropriately dressed.
Kate wore a floral Erdem top and skirt and a pair of Stuart Weitzman Nearly Nude Ankle Strap Sandals. I couldn’t find attire guidelines listed on the Stuttof website but the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site asks that no children under 12 visit the grounds and to “Please respect the dignity of the site by wearing appropriate attire.”
“Appropriate” is a subjective term. Kate’s Erdem was a floral print but with somewhat subdued tones on a white background in a modest cut. On Twitter, Richard Palmer noted that he asked if “black or dark colours were expected and they said not”.
I didn’t happen to notice anyone else in a pattern, most were in dark blue or black.
In addition to a questionable clothing choice, Kate also wore sandals. Kate’s worn sandals on tour before but to events like the zoo and the beach. There are a lot of companies that prohibit employees from wearing sandals on the basis they look unprofessional while some only allow sandals on Casual Fridays. Given how devoted Kate is to her court shoes, her decision to wear sandals to tour a concentration camp is a curious choice.
And then there was the red polish on Kate’s toes with which some took issue. I would just like to point out Kate usually has a visible problem with toe nail fungus so maybe the red nail lacquer was serving a beneficial purpose. Just sayin’.
For every Royal Tour, a team goes out ahead of time on a reconnaissance mission at taxpayer expense, gathering information about the venues, taking photographs, making notations about things like temperature and weather conditions all to make sure clothing will be event appropriate and will photograph well in the surroundings. So what happened? Now that Rebecca Deacon’s leaving, perhaps Kate should give some serious consideration to a proper lady-in-waiting. Kate’s known to be stubborn and not take suggestions under advisement, but she’s more than six years into a job she waited almost a decade to get, there shouldn’t even be a debate about how sartorially insensitive a future Queen Consort was being at a concentration camp.
Another disappointing aspect of the visit to Stutthof was the revelation via Royal Correspondent photos that the sentiment in the visitor’s book was obviously written ahead of time by someone else because the handwriting wasn’t Prince William’s or Kate’s. All the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge did was sign their names.
With only two short days, it feels as if the Poland part of the tour was over before it began with so much of the host country under-represented. Even at the street party, Kate and Prince William ate pierogi and drank Goldwasser which I can do pretty much any time I want here in New York. Polish cuisine has the best comfort food ever, it deserves so much more than a casual mention. I must admit I’m not a huge fan of Goldwasser, though, it’s basically like drinking candied fire. It’s so potent, in seconds you go from your tummy feeling warm to asking if the bell no one else heard meant an angel got its wings.
Richard Palmer wrote a lovely piece about the Stutthof Concentration Camp which I recommend reading because it’s a focused overview of the first engagement without the distracting noise.
Interestingly, the media chose to not question Kate’s attire or even mention the heated debate amongst royal watchers. Considering how flat the Cambridge’s recent tours have been, perhaps they need this tour to go well because once the public loses all interest in the Cambridges, they will need to find a new job. Or maybe they’re just waiting for a lull when they need a story of interest. Like this one mentioning the fight Kate and William got into prior to leaving for the garden party celebrating the Queen’s birthday.
I’m not sure what’s going on with Kate lately, but in these photos, she looks like Wonder Woman’s pissed off grandmother.