The Princess wore familiar pieces for a sensory development class today in Sittingbourne, Kent, about 90 minutes east of Windsor.
A quick video.
NEW: The Princess of Wales has arrived at the Orchards Centre in Kent to highlight the importance of supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities – the first in a series of engagements before Christmas, focused on HRH’s @Earlychildhood campaign #ShapingUs. pic.twitter.com/5rBu1KFE0I
— Cameron Walker (@CameronDLWalker) September 27, 2023
Below, the Princess as she was welcomed.
The family “portage” session was run by the Kent Portage Team, a “home-visiting educational service for pre-school children with additional support needs and their families.”
The name Portage “comes from a town in Wisconsin, USA where the first home teaching scheme began,” per the National Portage Association site. (This is fascinating, as I lived in a town called Portage in Michigan for several years.) Here you see the Princess with Warren, who is two years old.
Portage has been established in the UK since 1976.
Today the Princess met parents, carers, and children using the service. Here you see her with 1-year-old Skylar and Portage Practitioner Beanie.
Skylar was playing with foam that she could throw.
The Princess with a big thumbs-up for Skylar.
A video from Matt Wilkinson of The Sun.
The Princess of Wales is in Kent supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities thanking parents and carers. It is the first of many events for her Shaping Us campaign in the weeks for the rest of the year. pic.twitter.com/d9Cku7b7p3
— Matt Wilkinson (@MattSunRoyal) September 27, 2023
Rebecca English reports in her Daily Mail story that today’s session was “…attended by seven children with a range of needs and conditions, including social communications difficulties, autism, complex needs and Down Syndrome, is run by Kent County Council at the Orchards Centre in Sittingbourne. The Princess also met front-line practitioners and learned more about the ways it supports families on a day-to-day basis.”
You see the Princess speaking with Stephen Ikebuwa in the photo above. More about their conversation from this Yahoo UK story.
Stephen Ikebuwa, 44, who was at the centre with his son, Nathan, said the princess’s expression changed after he informed her that his wife suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum during her pregnancy with their son. Mr Ikebuwa, 44, from Gravesend, Kent, told the PA news agency: “It was nice meeting her and when I told her that my wife had hyperemesis gravidarum, it struck a chord with her.
“You can see her expression change; she went through the same thing.
“I remember one of her visits in a hospital she said something about how she had hyperemesis gravidarum.
“You can see her connection to the fact that my wife went through all that, and that really resonated with me.”
The Princess and three-year-old Beatrice.
Beatrice was having a terrific time playing with shredded paper.
It looked like the Princess was also having a pretty good time at today’s session.
We return to the Yahoo UK piece for more on today’s visit.
Charlotte Beer, a portage practitioner from Dover, Kent, used the service for support while raising her daughter who has autism. She said Kate “really cared about the children”.
Ms Beer said: “She was quite interested in the fact that we noticed a regression within my daughter at quite an early age and how supported I felt as a parent.
“She expressed how important it is to make sure children with special needs are supported in their first five years of life.
“You can really tell that she really cared about the children, she came and sat with some of them on the floor, talking to their parents. You can really see she cares and she wants to make a change.”
In a social media post, the National Portage Association Chair, Janet Rickman, said “Her Royal Highness’s visit shines a vital spotlight on the National Portage Service Association. We are so privileged that The Princess was able to meet some of our Portage families and spend time learning about the work we do.”
The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood posted this message. Kensington Palace also posted a thread about today’s engagement. Today’s engagement is part of the Princess’s focus on the Early Years and the Shaping Us campaign launched by the Princess in January.
Now for our look at what Kate wore.
Many will have recognized today’s jacket immediately, the Zara Textured Double-Breasted Blazer. Made in a cotton/acrylic/poly blend, the design features a double-breasted silhouette with padded shoulders, gold buttons, front flap pockets, a welt pocket at the chest, and peak lapels.
The jacket was initially worn to a June 2021 football match at Wembley.
It was seen again for a visit to the Copenhagen Infant Mental Health Project in Denmark in February 2022, and also in October 2022 for a “good luck” video for England’s Red Roses rugby team.
I added some repliKates here for those interested in trying the look. Beneath the blazer, the Princess wore a camel long-sleeved sweater that is not yet identified and a pair of trousers that are also not IDed.
Many have commented on the more sober looks worn by the Princess at recent engagements.
The Telegraph’s fashion director, Bethan Holt, wrote about the trend.
Many of us choose September as a clean-slate moment for our wardrobes, using the new fashion season as an opportunity to refresh the way we dress. The Princess of Wales is no different; after returning to public engagements following her summer break, she has enacted an unmistakable new style strategy.
For eight out of the ten new appearances she’s undertaken in the past three weeks, the Princess has worn either a full trouser suit or a blazer with coordinating trousers. She’s mostly chosen muted colours and she’s largely been recycling previously seen pieces.
If three’s a trend, then these many tailored looks point to a very deliberate change in style direction from Catherine, who has always used her fashion choices to send messages. So what is she trying to tell us here?
“It’s a look of the moment, which works well on the Princess with her long legs, and those boxy jackets suit her,” said Ingrid Seward, the editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine and author of numerous royal biographies. “She wore those ‘little girl’ dresses for so long, but now she wants to look more sophisticated. It’s more of a work-day look; she doesn’t need to be in dresses anymore. A suit is snappier and smarter.”
The Princess’s hair was in an updo.