The Boston Globe

A look at Kate’s royal style in Boston — and the message it sends

Globe staff, Getty, and Pool photos
The Princess of Wales in all five looks during the first two days of the royals' trip to Boston.


A little over a day after the royals touched down in Boston, the Princess of Wales had already stunned with five different looks.

As she and Prince William stepped off the plane at Logan Airport on Wednesday, Kate wore a navy Alexander McQueen pantsuit with a croc-embellished leather belt and a navy turtleneck. A few hours later, she stepped onto City Hall Plaza clad in a long, evergreen coat — Alexander McQueen again. Underneath, she wore a custom Burberry green tartan dress. And a bit later, courtside at the Celtics game? The princess wowed in vintage tweed Chanel.

“Arrivals made it into three different moments with three distinct looks, and there’s a very specific reason to promote that,” said journalist and author Elizabeth Holmes, known for her coverage of British royal style and the messages it sends. “The Earthshot Prize is William’s cause, and Kate has made it clear that she’s here on business, too.”

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Holmes, the author of “HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style,” called Kate’s sharp arrival suit “a nice touch,” and said it sends a different message than a pretty dress. “They’re keen to make this a trip, not a tour.”

Holmes said this visit to Boston isn’t a standard royal tour. It’s a business trip, and the princess’s outfits make that clear.

“I thought they’d go from the plane to City Hall, and I thought she’d keep on the McQueen suit,” Holmes said. “The royals are savvy at this and know the more outfits you wear, the more attention you get.”

Catherine, Princess of Wales, waved after a visit to Roca, an organization working to reduce urban violence through community engagement efforts, in Chelsea. – Nancy Lane / Pool

On Thursday, the princess doubled down on that messaging in a sleek burgundy suit by Roland Mouret. She also wore a pale pink blouse by Burberry. The rich hues are a nod to British fashion, which is known for its splash of color, Holmes said.

“It’s so much more interesting than a black suit, but she’s still got that business vibe going,” she said. “It’s fun to see them push the envelop.”

Prince William, Prince of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, speak with Mayor Michelle Wu and Reverend Mariama White-Hammond as they visit Piers Park on December 1. – ANGELA WEISS / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

The princess on Thursday also wore earrings by Daniella Draper and carried a Chanel bag that matched her suit. She had another outfit change before an appearance in East Boston, donning a double-breasted Alexander McQueen coat in brown over a red dress with a high brown block-heel boot.

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“Her shoes so far have been a very standard pump,” Holmes said of the prior four footwear choices. “Kate loves [pumps] — and the fact that she even wore them courtside to the Celtics knowing that her shoes would be visible — reminds us that the royals do like to be a touch fancier than other people in the room. There’s that expectation. They want to razzle and dazzle.”

Prince William, Prince of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, watched the Celtics and the Miami Heat at TD Garden. – Paul Edwards / Pool

But part of the modern monarchy is about being relatable, Holmes said, “which is part of what makes royal fashion so interesting.”

Back to Kate’s look at City Hall: The princess held a deep green Mulberry Small Amberley Satchel featuring a top handle.

“Another quintessential British brand,” Holmes said, noting that the princess had primarily worn British brands through Thursday and had yet to wear an outfit by an American designer. Holmes said the Mulberry bag is one of Kate’s staples: “She’s carried that for years now.”

Holmes said the princess knows the economic power that her outfit choices hold.

“She knows that savvy people on the Internet will know what she’s wearing and share the link quickly and it can be a meaningful boost to the brand,” Holmes said. “I think she does a great job of wielding that wisely.”

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This week, the princess was also spotted wearing a pair of sapphire diamond earrings that belonged to Princess Diana.

“I think she’s really thoughtful when she’s wearing pieces from Princess Diana’s collection,” Holmes said. “People are quick to point it out. Princess Diana holds a special place in the hearts of Americans in particular.”

Britain’s Prince William, Prince of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, arrived at Boston Logan International Airport. – John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe

Holmes noted that Kate is in the very early days as the Princess of Wales, and that title is synonymous with Diana.

“I think it’s a gracious nod when everyone is getting used to her new title and seeing her in this new role,” Holmes said.

As far as Kate’s look for Friday’s star-studded Earthshot Prize ceremony, Holmes is predicting an outfit repeat for the princess — a notably sustainable fashion choice.

“Kate is a skilled re-wearer of clothes,” Holmes said, adding that at last year’s inaugural Earthshot Prize ceremony in London, she dressed in a lilac Alexander McQueen dress that she previously wore to a Los Angeles event in 2011.

“That was a fan favorite, and everyone got so excited to see it again,” Holmes said. “I think she’ll do a fan favorite this year, or pick something green.”

Holmes said the overarching theme of this trip is “reestablishing the modern monarchy in the minds of Americans.”

Have the Prince and Princess of Wales accomplished that?

“We’re about mid-trip,” Holmes said. “It’s too early to say.”

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