A Surprise Performance by the Duchess in Christmas Carol Concert UPDATED

Hello and an early Merry Christmas to all those marking the occasion!  Below, a photo of the Cambridge family on Christmas Day 2019.

NOTE: The post is updated in several sections, including photos of royals attending services at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, news about what Kate wore as the Cambridge family attended services at St. Mary Magdalene Church at Sandringham (but no photos), and a clip from the Queen’s poignant and personal Christmas Day address. The full speech is also in the post under “VIDEOS” at the end of the post. 

More about Christmas Day events in a bit, but first, an update on the Westminster Abbey Christmas carol event the Duchess spearheaded.  Many of you will remember she helped organize a special program that aired on ITV tonight, Royal Carols: Together At Christmas. 

The broadcast was taped at Westminster Abbey on December 8.  This week, Kensington Palace released photos of the Duchess helping to decorate part of the Abbey used for her introduction to the program. 

From the Duchess’s introduction: 

We wanted to say a huge thank you to all those amazing people out there who have supported their communities. We also wanted to recognise those whose struggles perhaps have been less visible, too. We have been through such a bleak time. We’ve seen so many challenges. We’ve lost our loved ones. We’ve seen our frontline workers under immense pressure. And also we’ve been more emotionally and socially distanced and isolated from each other. But I suppose through that separation, we’ve also realised how much we need each other and how acts of kindness and love can really bring us comfort and relief in times of distress.

Here is a video with a portion of that introduction. 

The day before the taping, the Duchess helped decorate trees donated by The Queen.

After the special was taped the trees were donated to local schools and hospices. 

Below, a still from the program taping December 8.  You see (from l to r) the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Zara and Mike Tindall.  In the second row, you can just see Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, Pippa Matthews, James Middleton, and his wife, Alizée Thevenet.

In another photo, the royals share a smile. 

It turns out the Duchess wasn’t just decorating when she visited the Abbey on December 7.  She also performed during a portion of the program that was taped on the 7th.  Our first clue came something special was in the works came via social media when ITV’s Chris Ship shared this Tweet. 

In what was quite a surprise, the Duchess played the piano in the special.  She accompanied singer/songwriter Tom Walker when he performed his Christmas single, For Those Who Can’t Be Here.  Below, the entire song as shown in tonight’s special. 
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More from this Mail Online story: 

Kate, who has tickled the ivories since she was a child, recorded the song with Walker in the Chapter House of the Abbey, one day before a community carol service on December 8 which was shown on ITV this evening.

They played his Christmas single ‘For Those Who Can’t Be Here’ together, after the Duchess had the idea for the performance following a meeting with Walker when she heard him play at a charity function in October. 

Walker described the Duchess as a ‘lovely, kind and warm hearted person’ and praised her for having ‘absolutely smashed’ the performance, adding that it was a ‘crazy pinch yourself kind of day’ for him.

He also praised Kate for being an ‘amazing musician’ and said that although she was quite nervous when they first rehearsed in a studio, she went away and ‘invested a lot of time and energy into getting it right’.

Another view of the performance. 

We return to the Mail Online story. 

Walker gave the Duchess a backing track to practise with before the performance and said he was ‘shocked at how much better she was’ when it came to the actual show, which left him ‘really impressed.’

Explaining that his mother had a ‘total freak out’, he said: ‘It was truly an honour playing alongside The Duchess for Royal Carols: Together At Christmas. Without doubt, it was a once in a lifetime experience.

‘I thought she absolutely smashed the performance; it’s not easy to just jump behind a piano with a bunch of musicians you’ve never played with before and record live takes to camera, but she completely nailed it. 

‘She’s such a lovely, kind and warm hearted person and she took the time to thank everyone personally for the opportunity to play together. 

UPDATE CHRISTMAS DAY: Mr. Walker posted on social media about performing the song with the Duchess.  

Classic FM reports the Duchess had piano lessons as a child: “Teacher Daniel Nicholls taught Kate the instrument from the ages of 11 to 13.  He also gave music lessons to her brother James, sister Pippa and mother, Carole.” Below, Westminster Abbey’s Chapter House, which dates back to 1246. This is where the Tom Walker song was recorded for the special. 

During the special you see the Abbey’s Canon Steward, the Venerable Tricia Hillas, leading prayers.  You may recognize 6-year-old Mila S neddon at the crib; Mila featured the Hold Still lockdown photography project.

The Duchess greeted Mila when she arrived at the Abbey. 

Another view from the service.

And a look as the carol service comes to a close.

After the program aired this evening, Kensington Palace posted on social media.

Another tweet. 

Now for a look at what Kate wore in promos for the program and while decorating at the Abbey.  Below, another photo, this one with Abbey Marshall Leticia Cachoeira Edwards.

With thanks to Sophia, her cardigan appears to be the Miu Miu Cashmere Jacquard Cotton-Trim Cardigan (£1350, sold out).  The jacquard-woven cardigan features white and black roses in a diamond pattern and has a detachable cotton collar.

The Duchess’s pants look like the Axon Wide-Leg Trouser (£416, now sold out) by Roland Mouret.

Made in the UK, the trousers are a viscose/acetate/elastane blend with front and back pressed creases and a side zipper.  Our thanks to Heaven for this ID. 

From what I could see in one of the photos, it looks like the Duchess wore her Kiki McDonough Lauren Leaf earrings (£2300, about $3050 at today’s exchange rates).  We show them below as worn on another occasion. 

I still have not seen any information about the ITV Christmas carol special being shown outside the UK.  If I do see anything, I will update the post. 

Now for the latest on Christmas Day plans.  As I write, we don’t know if we will see the Cambridge family attending Christmas services or not.  As you may have heard, The Queen elected to forego her usual trip to Sandringham for the holiday and is staying at Windsor Castle “as a precautionary measure” because of the rapidly-spreading COVID-19 Omicron variant.  Below, HM and the Prince of Wales as they left church on Christmas Day 2019. 

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are expected to visit on Christmas Day.  Princess Anne and her husband will not be visiting HM tomorrow, as Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence has tested positive for coronavirus.  The Cambridges will be at Anmer Hall for Christmas, joined by members of the Middleton family.  

CHRISTMAS DAY CHURCH UPDATES: The Cambridge family, joined by the Middleton family, attended services at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the grounds of the Sandringham estate.  There are some photos of the family as they are leaving the church, but none that I can license.  The Telegraph has photos in this article,  Hello! has pictures in this piece and The Daily Mail has images in this story.  In the images, we see the Duchess in a new hat that looks like this Philip Treacy design, with thanks to Gabi for the ID. 

The Duchess is also seen wearing her Catherine Zoraida Fern Drop Earrings, shown below as worn on another occasion. 

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall led a contingent of royal family members attending services at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. 

Below, the Dean of Windsor welcomes (left to right) Sophie, Countess of Wessex, James, Viscount Severn, Lady Louise Windsor and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. 

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. 

UPDATED WITH PORTION OF THE QUEEN’S SPEECH:

Also today, a clip from the Queen’s annual Christmas Day speech that aired this afternoon. 

The full address is viewable just under the ‘VIDEOS’ heading below.  

The speech was described as “particularly personal” after HM’s loss of her husband, Prince Philip, this past April.

In the photo, HM wears “an embossed wool shift dress in ‘Christmas red’ by her Personal Assistant and Senior Dresser, Angela Kelly” per The Daily Mail’s Rebecca English. 

The more notable element of her ensemble is the sapphire chrysanthemum brooch she is wearing.  Some readers may recall HM wore the piece for a photocall on her honeymoon in 1947.  The couple was staying at Broadlands, an estate in Hampshire owned at the time by Lord Mountbatten, Prince Philip’s uncle.

You see the brooch in this photo taken at Broadlands in 2007 for the couple’s 60th anniversary, recreating the 1947 photos. The photo on The Queen’s desk in tomorrow’s speech is from this shoot.

HM also wore the brooch for photos taken as she and Prince Philip looked at cards celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary in November 2020. 

There is also news about a special service honoring Prince Philip. More from The Telegraph’s story by Hannah Furness. 

The Duke will be celebrated during a service at Westminster Abbey in the spring, bringing together family, friends and representatives of his many charities for a poignant moment of grieving and thanks.

The service, which will go ahead in accordance with Covid-19 guidance, is intended to help make up for the circumstances of the Duke’s funeral, where the Queen was photographed sitting alone in mourning and many of those who cared for him were unable to pay their respects in person.

VIDEOS: 

Here is the Queen’s full address.
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In this video, you see one of ITV’s promos for the program.  
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