The Duchess of Cambridge attended her first solo military engagement today. She presented shamrocks to forty Irish Guards officers, watched their annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, sipped some sherry, and joined them for lunch.
The band played God Save the Queen followed by the Irish folk song Carrickfergus, which was especially fitting for the Duchess. In addition to holding the titles Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate also hold the titles Baron and Baroness Carickfergus, which the articles we’ve read about Kate’s visit haven’t picked up on yet. The title refers to Carrickfergus in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Carrickfergus means ‘Rock of Fergus’ and the town is home to Carrickfergus Castle which is over 800 years old and is now open to the public:
As we expected, Kate wore the Irish Guard’s gold shamrock brooch for the second time. For our post on the brooch, click here. The first time Kate wore it was in June when she and William presented medals to officers of the Irish Guards:
She looked great in her green dress coat by Emilia Wickstead and a ‘Betty Boop’ hat by Lock & Co. Kate last wore a hat by Lock & Co. when she joined Prince Philip and the Queen for an ‘away day’ in Leicester. Kate also wore a pair of Kiki McDonough earrings that first appeared at Sandringham on Christmas Day.
Gotta love this dog. He’s an Irish Wolfhound named Conmeal:
And time for a group shot!
And now it’s time for a little history. The presentation of Shamrocks to the Irish Guards is a long standing royal tradition. Queen Victoria first decreed that the Irish Regiments should wear a sprig of shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day. In particular, she said they should be worn on their hats (as they are doing in the picture above).
Queen Victoria stepped things up a bit in 1901 when she started the custom of presenting them to the Irish Guards. Here is Queen Alexandra decked out in her finery but without a shamrock in sight:
Queen Alexandra passed away in 1925. The next royal who we know of that took over these duties was Princess Mary, daughter of King George and Queen Mary. She was the third Princess Royal (check out our post on that title here). This photograph of Princess Mary and Princess Margaret was taken at Ascot in 1961:
This photograph is from when the Queen Mum took part in 1968. She actually began taking over this duty 1965, when Princess Mary passed away.
She sat with the Battalion for a photograph like Kate did today:
This photograph is from the ceremony in 1994:
And this is from St. Patricks Day in 2000. At this point, the Queen Mum was 99 years old. According to the BBC, this was also the first time that the ceremony took place in public.
Here’s Princess Anne doing the honours in 2008 (note the clovers are again pinned to the hats):
and in 2009 in a green jacket:
Well, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all! Thanks for joining us for this recap.