Kate and Wills' Brexit charm offensive

Publish Date
Saturday, 18 March 2017, 7:59PM

It was a whirlwind day for William and Kate. They started the day at a St. Patrick's Day parade in London before taking a private jet to Paris to begin a two-day Brexit charm offensive.

The Duchess of Cambridge dazzled in three outfits in just a matter of hours in the French capital. She kicked off her sartorial showcase at the Elysée Palace with a green Catherine Walker coat dress for a meeting with the French president.

A little while later she changed into a black Alexander McQueen gown complete with oversized pearls and Gianvito Rossi heels when she and William attended the British Embassy to launch Les Voisins - The Neighbours - a year-long celebration of UK-French links, reports DailyMail.

The pair, on their first official visit to the city since the death of William's mother Princess Diana twenty years ago, finished the evening at the Ambassador's residence next door where she dazzled in an ice-blue Jenny Packham dress.

After Prince William made headlines with his "dad dancing" during a booze-fuelled lads' skiing holiday last weekend, Kate ensured all eyes were on her as she stole the show in her range of sophisticated outfits.

But if he thought he could entirely put the embarrassment of his wild weekend behind him, William was sadly mistaken when a group of child performers sang Pharrell Williams' song Happy - the tune the royal danced to in a club in Verbier.

The Duchess of Cambridge had opted for three costume changes in a matter of hours. Photo / AP

However, the prince made it clear he and Kate intend to fly the flag for Britain and unity post Brexit during their visit as he told those who had gathered at the gala:

"The connections between our nations run deep - ties of history, ties of values, ties of friendship and family. And ties born, above all, of the fact that our countries are neighbours.

"This deep friendship between the United Kingdom and France, forged in sweat and blood, is one that will endure. This partnership will continue despite Britain's recent decision to leave the European Union."

Later, at a dinner, William read out a message from the Queen to France saying: "I retain an enduring affection for this beautiful country and its people. The ties between our nations have stood the test of time and will, I am sure, continue to prosper."

The couple's charm offensive, which comes just days after the Brexit bill received Royal Assent allowing Theresa May to trigger Article 50, is the first time that William or Kate have visited Paris officially - although both have spent time in the city privately.

The pair kicked off a busy day of engagements with a St. Patrick's celebration in London, and tonight they mixed with stars including actress Audrey Tatou, Dame Kristin Scott Thomas, who lives in the city, and footballer Robert Pires.

Kate stunned in a custom Alexander McQueen gown. Photo / AP

Kate, 35, oozed Hollywood glamour with her hair worn in loose waves and teamed her designer gown with Gianvito Rossi heels, a chic leather belt and oversized pearl earrings.

On the menu last night was sole crown and Dublin Bay prawns, crayfish, braised leg of Welsh lamb with a seasonal vegetable garnish and roast potatoes with thyme, and an iced white and dark chocolate soufflé, butterscotch sauce with a pistachio and almond diamond shortbread.

Earlier in the day, the pair headed to the Elysée where they enjoyed bi-lateral talks with the French leader Francois Holland to kick off their whirlwind 24-hour visit after arriving on a private jet.

On Friday morning, the pair had been at a St Patrick's Day parade in Hounslow, West London, and clearly Kate did not have time to change after her engagement this morning - arriving in Paris in the same coat she had sported hours earlier.

She wore the same green Catherine Walker outfit to meet President Hollande, but the only difference was that Kate had quickly taken her hair down en route to the city, suggesting that her personal hairdresser has accompanied her on the trip.

France's President Francois Hollande, right, with Prince William and his wife Kate. Photo / AP

"The British Royal Family are some of the most important diplomats we have," said an FCO source, "and will play a major part in what is being called our 'soft diplomacy' efforts."

Interestingly, William and Kate did not travel to Paris by Eurostar but flew in by private jet today, following an engagement in London this morning.

British Ambassador, Edward Llewellyn - Lord Llewellyn of Steep, David Cameron's former chief of staff at Downing Street described the visit as "exciting and special" and revealed that the embassy planned to launch at least one major initiative on the back of it.

He said: "This is a very exciting and special day. This is the first official visit by the royal couple, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Paris. This is a country they know well but their first visit is an important and significant moment.

"I have been ambassador for four and half months and been very struck in that time by the deep affection in this country that there is for the Royal Family. I think that is very much evidence today when we see some of the French press coverage."