A Royal Family Order for Kate?

A side bar in a Daily Mail article caught my eye earlier today and inspired me to dust off the computer and dive back into the Royal Post, which I’ve been wanting to do for quite sometime!  The article in question is a tidbit about the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.

That is the Order we see Diana wearing pinned to her pink dress in the photo below.

Such a Diana look (source)
So many bows! (source)

Here is the sidebar article in full:

The Queen plans to celebrate her milestone next month – when she becomes the longest-reigning Monarch – by honouring the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate will receive the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II – the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a female member of the family. The 33-year-old Duchess is the only senior member not to wear a family honour. A source said: ‘It is an honour reserved for first division female Royals.’ Sophie Wessex has one, as does the Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Anne. The insignia is a diamond- encrusted brooch featuring an ivory plaque of the Queen wearing the Order of the Garter and bearing the Royal cypher. It is worn on a yellow ribbon. Kate is expected to wear hers to a State dinner when the Chinese president Xi Jinping visits the UK in October. (source)

I’m wondering about the source here. Traditionally this honour isn’t announced in advance – it’s something that only becomes public when the royal in question starts to wear the Order out and about. The Daily Mail isn’t providing anything concrete and a quick Google search shows that this information hasn’t been picked up anywhere else as of yet. That being said, it seems like the Daily Mail does have some reporters in cahoots with legit sources behind palace walls so…could it be true?

The Front and Back of the Royal Family Order (source)
The Front and Back of the Royal Family Order (source)

I think it could be.   Kate and William have been getting criticism lately for being work shy and maybe this is intended to help push things in an another direction.

Let’s look a little more at the history. For the British Monarchy, the Royal Family Order is  a tradition that was formalized by George IV when he became King in 1820. It used to be that both men and women wore Orders, but now it is solely given to female members of the family and is given at the discretion of the sovereign in recognition of service.

The Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth is a portrait of the young Queen surrounded by diamonds and on a yellow ribbon. The front and back can be seen in the image above; it comes from the wonderful blog From Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault.

Each sovereign chooses a different colour for their Order’s ribbon. Queen Elizabeth’s dad George VI chose a pretty pink shade, for example. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret wore theirs to the coronation in 1939. If you look closely, you can see them pinned to their dresses below.

Those mini crowns! (source)
Those mini crowns! (source)

And here’s the Queen wearing it in 1969 with a dress that matches the ribbon perfectly. Below the pink, you can see the light blue order given to her by her grandfather King George V.

The Queen colour coordinates her dress with her order in 1969
The Queen colour coordinates her dress with her order in 1969

For her Order portrait, the Queen chose an image taken during a sitting with Dorothy Wilding in 1952, so it was done before her 1953 coronation. I wonder if the Queen knew she wanted a yellow ribbon and chose her dress for the portrait accordingly?  These are the things I think about!

by Dorothy Wilding, hand-coloured by Beatrice Johnson, hand-coloured bromide print, 1952 (Source)
by Dorothy Wilding, hand-coloured by Beatrice Johnson, hand-coloured bromide print, 1952 (Source). This portrait is held by the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Anyway, Princess Anne has worn the Order for decades.

The Queen and Princess Anne at a reception in Vienna (Getty Images)
The Queen and Princess Anne at a reception in Vienna (Getty Images)

We also know that Princess Diana received a Family Order quite early on. Here she is wearing it in 1983.

The Princes & Princess of Wales all dolled up on tour in 1983 (source)
The Princes & Princess of Wales all dolled up on tour in 1983 (source)

It’s a bold piece and doesn’t necessarily always go with the evening gowns it is worn with, but as The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour put it “you’d wear your mother-in-law’s portrait on your best dress because it is considered an honor to do so.”  😉

30 Mar 1983, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia --- Princess Diana wears Spencer family tiara, necklace, and family order of Queen Elizabeth pin. --- Image by © Tim Graham/CORBIS (SOURCE)
30 Mar 1983, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia — Princess Diana wears Spencer family tiara, necklace, and family order of Queen Elizabeth pin. — Image by © Tim Graham/CORBIS (SOURCE)

Sophie and Edward got married in 1999 and Sophie began to be spotted wearing the Order in 2004. Here she is at the May 2004 wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson.

Sophie and Edward in 2004 (Getty Images)
Sophie and Edward in 2004 (Getty Images)

Camilla and Prince Charles got married in 2005 and she started being seen with hers in 2008.

Camilla in Sri Lanka, 2013 (source)
Camilla in Sri Lanka, 2013 (source)

So Kate could be receiving the Order in advance of the President of Singapore’s state visit in October, or it’s possible she already has it and just hasn’t been photographed wearing it yet.

It’s also possible that the Queen is holding off on bestowing this honour for awhile yet. Kate is far from a full-time working royal – here is the tally of engagements she’s done each year since her wedding

  • 2011: 34 (granted, the wedding was in April of that year)
  • 2012: 111 (The Queen did 425, Prince Philip 325, Princess Anne did 566, and Prince Charles 592)
  • 2013: 44 (Prince Philip at 92 did 184 and Prince Charles did 537)
  • 2014: 76 (Prince Philip  did 200, Sophie did 307)

The Queen is all about work and duty and might want to see a little more elbow grease first.

Also, I wonder about Beatrice and Eugenie and if  or how they factor into this at all. What with Princes Charles’ plans for a more streamlined monarchy,  they  are not full time working royals though they do the odd engagements here and there and both work for various charities. Will they be left out and all ‘”Hey, Gran where’s my Order? I was born a princess!”

Princess Beatrice & Princess Eugenie (source)
Princess Beatrice & Princess Eugenie (source)

And what about Zara?  I’m thinking since she doesn’t have a title or do charitable engagements on behalf of the Queen, that’s an easy no. She became a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to equestrianism back in 2008 so she has her own thing going on.

Zara Philips with her parents and Mike Tindall (source)
Zara Philips Princess Anne,  Timpthy Laurence, and Mike Tindall (source)

All that being said, if this little Daily Mail tidbit turns out to be true, that’ll be very telling as to who their sources are!

So what do you think? Will Kate be picking out a dress that complements the yellow ribbon of the Order for the state visit in October? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

William & Kate seen either leaving or arriving a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace (source)
William & Kate seen either leaving from or arriving at the Queen’s annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace in December 2013. To date apart from the wedding, this has been Kate’s only other tiara appearance. From this photo it seems she didn’t have the Order then! (source)