What does the future Queen of England do on her first official visit to New York?
She smiles; she waves; she mingles with little children, potential future presidents and American royalty (of the celebrity kind) — and she doesn’t say anything.
This story first appeared in the December 9, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge — known as Kate Middleton to almost everyone — toured New York from Harlem to Brooklyn on Monday and exhibited the typically British sense of style that has made her a designer’s dream on the one hand — and boringly predictable to some on the other.
The duchess is here to fly the Union Jack and did it by sticking to British designers, donning outfits by the likes of Beulah London and Séraphine on Sunday and then Goat on Monday, all while maintaining her preference for Jimmy Choo stilettos even though she is five months’ pregnant.
And dawn until midnight, her more die-hard fans were ready and waiting. They also moonlighted as self-appointed publicists, explaining to many New Yorkers who happened upon the instantaneous commotion, “It’s Kate.”
The duchess started her day on Monday at the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem, touring the facility with the City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray. Kate, who arrived 15 minutes early wearing a coat by Goat, was greeted by a waiting McCray. The two lingered outside the center for a few minutes, exchanging pleasantries with the duchesses’ back toward the press pit stationed across the street. The shivering photographers had been camping out for three hours for their shot, so naturally this caused ample frustration. “Kate! Kate! Turn around!” they shouted. She ignored them, only turning to wave to her fans across the street before the women walked inside.
Afterward, the former Miss Middleton rolled right up to the front door of the British Consulate General Residence in an SUV, gave a quick wave and ducked in from the cold for a private luncheon. About 20 fans — including two twentysomething North Carolinians who had driven eight hours — waited out front for her departure two hours later. Kate flashed her signature smile and offered up a few more waves before speeding off again.
Security on the scene said Bergdorf Goodman would be on her afternoon itinerary, but that was not to be. Perhaps the expectant mother had a change of heart or a touch of jet lag, but she never made it to the 57th Street store. That may have been just as well, because police were called to the tony flagship later in the day to lead away an alleged shoplifter who was said to resist arrest.
By nightfall, Kate and husband Prince William — who’d spent the day mingling with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss animal conservation — were back at the British Consulate General’s Residence for an intimate cocktail party with Hillary and Chelsea Clinton cohosted by the Royal Foundation and the Clinton Foundation. The duchess actually was an unexpected bonus for those party guests, since she was not scheduled to attend the gathering. Her husband whisked her indoors with his hand on her lower back. While she went with slim black pants, a tweed jacket and Jimmy Choo stilettos, he kept things casual in a plaid button down shirt and dark pants. True to form, the pair were all smiles and waves on their way in and on their way out — but didn’t say a word to any of their fans. When the crowd cheered furiously, the Second to the Throne upped the star wattage for paparazzi, beaming at fans and putting his waving skills into overdrive.
Unlike the duchess’ low-key arrival earlier in the day, the Midtown evening stop snarled traffic and temporarily shut down East 51st Street. Six SUVs, six police cruisers and two ambulances signaled their arrival and jolted passers-by. The duo must have been enjoying themselves as they did not leave precisely at the designated hour, but strolled out with Chelsea Clinton and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, though it appeared that the former First Daughter was the one drinking in the photo-op.
The royals’ night was far from over — they rounded out their day double-dating with Jay Z and Beyoncé. The couples were expected to sit courtside at the Barclays Center, rooting for the Brooklyn Nets as they face the Cleveland Cavaliers. Like pretty much every other East Coast outing, their Brooklyn one had a message: The Royal Foundation and the NBA have formed a partnership between the foundation’s United for Wildlife and Coach Core programs and the league’s NBA Cares program.