Kate Middleton wows in New Zealand-inspired gown at glittering state reception
The Duchess gave a nod towards the host country with a black bespoke Jenny Packham dress embroidered with silver ferns, the emblem of New Zealand
The Duchess of Cambridge paid tribute to her hosts tonight in a glittering evening dress embroidered with silver ferns – the emblem of New Zealand.
Kate, 32, wore a bespoke black Jenny Packham dress which had been hand-stitched with silver beading.
Following in the footsteps of the Queen, who has long employed the trick of incorporating an item of national importance in her outfits when on foreign tours, Kate dazzled in the elegant gown.
She and Prince William were attending a lavish State Reception thrown by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae, the Queen’s representative in New Zealand, at his official residence, Government House.
On their arrival back in Wellington following a day out in Blenheim, Kate went to get ready for the evening while William met with the leader of the opposition, David Cunliffe and the Prime Minister John Key.
Each meeting lasted around 20 minutes and William mentioned the miserable weather several times.
Leader of the Opposition, Hon David Cunliffe, presented William with a piece of local art by local artist Nick Cuthell.
“That’s very kind of you,” William told Cunliffe. “The colours and detail are wonderful.”
The pair then sat down on studded leather armchairs to talk. William laughed: “We haven’t done so well with the weather.”
He also spoke of the importance of their visit to Blenheim today to commemorate those who lost their lives in combat, describing the memorial service as “poignant”.
Later, in his meeting with Prime Minister John Key, William said: “I can’t believe our luck with the timing of this weather.” He then joked: “It’ll keep the dairy farmers happy.”
He said about their flight: “I looked at Catherine to point out Wellington… and we just saw clouds.”
He also revealed his excitement about visiting their winery visit in Queenstown later this week. “We drove by a vineyard (in Blenheim) today and I already getting quite thirsty,” he laughed.
William also seemed excited about taking on his wife at the boat race tomorrow in Auckland.
“There will be a bit of competition tomorrow,” he smiled. “A bit of healthy competition.”
The Duke was also presented with a set of the commemorative stamps being issued to mark the tour by the New Zealand Post – one showing the grainy photograph taken by Michael Middleton one month after Prince George was born.
At 6.45pm the couple came down a grand wooden staircase together to be greeted by the Governor General, Sir Jerry, his wife, Lady Janine, and Mr Key and his wife Bronagh.
They then undertook a lengthy line up, shaking the hands of each of their 198 guests, comprised of senior politicians, MPS and notable figures from public life including the Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias, and the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Christine Chretien.
William and Kate were next ushered into the Blundell Room – where their son George, who was sleeping upstairs with his nanny, had played on the carpet just a day earlier – for official photographs.
Finally it was time to join their guests for a glass on local wine and some stunning canapés showing off the best of local produce in the Ballroom, heralded by a flourish of trumpets from the six-strong Lance of Trumpeters.
On the menu was parmesan and horopito shortbreads with Zany Zeus Feta and heirloom tomato, smoked and potted Lake Taupo trout with oatcakes and capers, oysters on ice with shallot and Chardonnay vinaigrette, braised Cardorona Merino lamb tarts with fresh mint, tomato and black olive.
There were also cocktail Paua fritters with garlic mayonaisse and pickled ginger, dressed Waikanae crab toasts with lime and herbs, Windsor Blue and beetroot risotto balls with green herb mayonaise, South Island rabbit pies and custard tarts with kiwifruit and kaffir lime.
As the guests mingled, chatted and sipped on chilled local wine, the Royal New Zealand Air Force jazz quintent played a selection of lively tunes including Nina Simmone’s My Baby Just Cares For Me.
William will later address the gathering with a short speech before unveiling a portrait of his grandmother by a New Zealand artist.
In September 2012 the New Zealand Portrait Gallery commissioned a portrait of The Queen for their permanent collection to commemorate the Diamond
Jubilee.A group of young people pledged funds to finance the portrait and picked a young artist, Nick Cuthell.
Cuthell had a sitting with The Queen in the UK in October 2013.
Images (c) Getty