The Princess Wears Plum Ensemble for South Africa State Visit Ceremonies – What Kate Wore

The Princess of Wales chose a design believed to be by Emilia Wickstead for this afternoon’s state visit duties.

On behalf of the King, the Prince and Princess of Wales greeted President Cyril Ramaphosa at his London hotel.

This is the UK’s first state visit since 2019 and the first hosted by King Charles as monarch.

President Ramaphosa arrived at London Stansted airport last night.

The Prince and Princess then accompanied the President as they traveled to Horse Guards Parade. The Princess of Wales as she arrived at Horse Guards Parade.

The Prince and Princess join the King, Queen Consort, and President Ramaphosa at the Royal Pavilion for the ceremonial welcome.

There was a royal salute, and the South African national anthem was played.

In this view, you can also see Prime Minister Rishi Sunak behind the King. 

Today’s ceremonies involved more than a thousand soldiers, about 230 horses, seven military bands, and nine military units from the British Army’s Household Division.

More on the visit from this BBC story published before the welcoming ceremonies.  

This is the diplomatic equivalent of getting out the poshest plates and cutlery to impress the visitors.

Flags are out on the Mall, there will be a ceremonial carriage ride, honour guards and a banquet in Buckingham Palace.

There is a serious soft-power intent behind the toasts and tiaras of the visit. Trade with South Africa represents 30% of the UK’s entire trade with the African continent, worth almost £11bn per year.

The King is also now head of the Commonwealth and will want to send a positive message about strengthening relations.

One more photo of the Prince and Princess at the ceremony. 

Then it was time for a carriage ride.

President Ramaphosa rode with the King and Queen Consort. 

Here you see the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals accompanying the State Carriage on the Mall.

The Princess of Wales. 

The route took the group from Horse Guards Parade to Buckingham Palace. Below, the Prince and Princess as they arrived at Buckingham Palace.

Following a private lunch, the King and Queen Consort, Prince and Princess of Wales, and President Ramaphosa moved to the Palace’s Picture Gallery to view an exhibition of Royal Collection items related to South Africa.

Here you see the couple with Dr. Naledin Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, looking at a chess set Nelson Mandela gave Prince Philip in 1996.

Other objects included a map showing the route of the Royal Train during the Royal Tour of South Africa, undertaken by King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth, and Princess Margaret in 1947. Chris Ship of ITV shared a photo of the late Queen Elizabeth at age 21 on that trip as she read the famous speech pledging her service for her “whole life whether it be long or short…”. 


President Ramaphosa holds a photograph of Nelson Mandela with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in this image. 

Now for our look at what Kate wore for this afternoon’s welcoming events. Her rich, plum-colored ensemble included a dress that very much looks like an Emilia Wickstead design.

The midi-length piece features a fitted bodice, peak lapels, applied waistband, and pleated skirt. We do not have confirmation that this is an Emila Wickstead design and it may be another designer altogether. But to me, the design carries many of the Emilia Wickstead signature elements seen in other coatdresses worn by the Princess. The most significant distinction between today’s garment and other Emilia Wickstead pieces is the inclusion of a fully pleated skirt, with pleats that are stitched down.   

The Princess wore a new pillbox hat with a bow in the back that looks quite similar to the Sean Barrett style worn for this year’s Commonwealth service in March (below right). Thank you to Liz at Kate’s Closet for pointing out the similarity!

She accessorized with her Gianvito Rossi pumps. 

And Mulberry clutch, along with a pair of UFO gloves.

The Princess wore a stunning brooch for today’s events, Queen Alexandra’s Three Feathers Brooch. The Beau Monde explains the piece is “… composed of eighteen Round Cut diamonds with small emeralds that surrounded the traditional symbol of the Prince of Wales, three ostrich feathers surrounded by a crown with the motto ‘Ich Dien’ (I Serve). It also came with a detachable cabochon emerald pendant that can be hung from the bottom of the Pendant.”

And from The Court Jeweller’s piece about today’s jewelry.  

Alexandra (who was then Princess of Wales herself) received the brooch and its coordinating emerald drop earrings as a wedding gift from a committee of women, the Ladies of North Wales, in 1863. The Three Feathers (or Prince of Wales’s Feathers), a trio of white ostrich plumes, is one of the most important symbols of the Prince of Wales title, and the brooch features the feathers set in a diamond frame. This particular piece can be worn with or without the emerald drop, and it can be used either as a brooch or a pendant.

Diana, Princess of Wales liked to wear it as a pendant on a necklace (both with and without the emerald drop). More recently, Queen Camilla has been the wearer of the jewel. She’s always worn it as a brooch, and always with the emerald drop.

Below, Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing the brooch in 1991 during an official visit to Canada.  
Embed from Getty Images
Here you see the Duchess of Cornwall wearing the brooch and matching earrings to an October 2006 movie premiere.

Here is one more photo from the afternoon engagement. 

Click here for tonight’s state banquet coverage.


The Royal Family Channel offers two minutes of coverage from the hotel. 

Here is a video covering the welcome ceremony. 

 This coverage includes the carriage ride and arrival at Buckingham Palace. 

The Royal Family posted a video. 

Here you see the carriages arrive at Buckingham Palace. 

The Royal Family shared some of the preps for today’s official welcome. 


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