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The Princess of Wales gives a subtle nod to Diana during first state visit in new role

Kate’s pillbox hat cost £1,720  (Getty Images)
Kate’s pillbox hat cost £1,720 (Getty Images)

The new Princess of Wales joined her husband, the Prince of Wales, in helping King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla welcome South African president Cyril Ramaphosa to the UK today. It is, for them all, the first state visit held in their new roles following Queen Elizabeth II’s passing.

The new princess rose to the moment in style. Her plum shade dress coat was custom made by one of her go-to British designers Emilia Wickstead. Beautifully tailored, it features two short peaked lapels, which fall down to a box pleated skirt falling to the shins.

The Queen Consort and the Prince and Princess of Wales as they inspect a guard of honour during the ceremonial welcome for President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa's state visit to the UK (Getty Images)
The Queen Consort and the Prince and Princess of Wales as they inspect a guard of honour during the ceremonial welcome for President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa's state visit to the UK (Getty Images)

Her fully colour-coordinated look also included a pillbox hat with back bow by milliner Jane Taylor, worth £1,720, mauve gloves, a Mulberry bag and suede Gianvito Rossi high heels.

But the hidden message was in the jewellery she carefully selected. For her first state visit as the Princess of Wales, Catherine nodded to her mother-in-law and predecessor Diana with key items from her jewellery collection.

Catherine, Princess of Wales and Prince William, Prince of Wales arrive at Buckingham Palace (Getty Images)
Catherine, Princess of Wales and Prince William, Prince of Wales arrive at Buckingham Palace (Getty Images)

The standout was the drop pearl earrings by the jeweller Collingwood. They were given to the late Princess prior to joining the royal family, and quickly became an important part of her royal wardrobe.

Most often she was seen wearing the earrings with Queen Mary’s lover’s knot tiara, as both feature elongated drop pearls of similar shape. She wore both as she joined the then Prince Charles to a dinner at Washington DC’s British Embassy on November 11, 1985.

Princess Diana wearing a white evening dress and the Queen Mary tiara at a visit to the British Embassy in Washington with Prince Charles on November 11, 1985 (Getty Images)
Princess Diana wearing a white evening dress and the Queen Mary tiara at a visit to the British Embassy in Washington with Prince Charles on November 11, 1985 (Getty Images)

The new Princess of Wales has long been a fan of this pair herself, and has worn them countless times at her most special engagements. This included the 2018 state banquet to welcome King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands to Britain, where she also paired them with the Queen Mary tiara. Catherine also wore the earrings for her 40th birthday portraits taken by Paolo Roversi.

The Princess of Wales travels in a state carriage to Buckingham Palace following the ceremonial welcome for the South African president on his state visit to the UK (Getty Images)
The Princess of Wales travels in a state carriage to Buckingham Palace following the ceremonial welcome for the South African president on his state visit to the UK (Getty Images)

The Princess also wore the feather pendant as a brooch on her left lapel, which features 18 diamonds surrounded by small emeralds, a larger emerald drop, and three ostrich feathers in the centre. Diana was given the brooch for her marriage in 1981 and wore it as a diamond necklace to many state banquets, often paired with her Collingwood pearls.

It was touching way for the Princess of Wales to step in to her new role on a day when the government will discuss trade and economic improvements with the South African leader.