Behind the Outfit the Princess of Wales Wore at Trooping the Colour

The Sartorial Symbolism Behind the Princess of Wales’s Outfit at Trooping the Colour

The Princess of Wales departs Buckingham Palace wearing Jenny Packham in the Glass Coach to attend Trooping the Colour on June 15, 2024.Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

On June 14, the night before Trooping the Colour, Kate Middleton made a surprise announcement: She would attend the official state celebration with the rest of the royal family.

It made worldwide news. This would not only be the Princess of Wales’s first public appearance in six months but the first since she shared her cancer diagnosis. “I’m looking forward to attending the King’s Birthday Parade this weekend with my family and hope to join a few public engagements over the summer, but equally knowing I am not out of the woods yet,” she said in a statement. “I am learning how to be patient, especially with uncertainty. Taking each day as it comes, listening to my body, and allowing myself to take this much-needed time to heal.”

And on Saturday, amid the pouring rain, she rode down the Mall in a horse-drawn carriage, wearing a white Jenny Packham dress accented with black-and-white ribbon and paired with a wide-brim hat by Philip Treacy. Later, she stepped out onto the Buckingham Palace balcony. She smiled when her six-year-old son, Prince Louis, began dancing to the bagpipe music below and played with the hair of her daughter, Charlotte. Throughout it all, photographers captured thousands and thousands of photos.

Considering the princess was unable to make any remarks during Trooping the Colour, the image she presented through her clothing needed to be a style statement—quite literally. So what did it say? Her Jenny Packham dress was stylish without being particularly adventurous. While in 2023 she chose a custom look by Singapore-born, Paris-based designer Andrew Gn, this year she opted for a tried-and-true brand she’s worn countless times before. Internet sleuths also quickly deduced that the dress was upcycled: The princess wore a remarkably similar look to a coronation lunch in May 2024 and updated it with a black-and-white-striped belt and a bow. She picked something that felt reassuringly familiar and, most of all, like classic Kate.

The Wales family on the Buckingham Palace balcony during the 2024 Trooping the Colour.Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Which was probably the point. There’s an oft repeated quote by Queen Elizabeth: “I must be seen to be believed.” The Princess of Wales knows this better than anyone. During her break from public duties from December to March, salacious conspiracy theories exploded on social media about the true nature of her whereabouts. They only quieted when the princess released a video saying she was undergoing chemotherapy. Her appearance at Trooping the Colour needed to reiterate to the public that her health is on the mend and prevent anyone from jumping to such cruel conclusions. How to do that? By presenting a picture of stability. Amid an incredibly abnormal time, the princess looked remarkably…normal.

Then there was the color choice itself: white, the universal shade for hope. Which Middleton says, at the moment, she very much has. “I am making good progress, but as anyone going through chemotherapy will know, there are good days and bad days,” she wrote in her June 14 statement.

She also looked sartorially in sync with her daughter, Charlotte, who wore a classic sailor suit. Middleton has spoken about how she is prioritizing her health and her family at the moment: “We hope that you will understand that, as a family, we now need some time, space, and privacy while I complete my treatment,” she said back in March. By matching with her family, the princess displayed togetherness and unity amid a difficult time.

The world does not know when it will see Kate Middleton again. But whenever that is, she’ll likely wear an outfit that does all the talking.

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