Wearing a silver Grecian-style gown, by designer Jenny Packham, draped over one shoulder and gently gathered in at the waist and featuring a bright red poppy, Kate dazzled as they entertained 120 guests in the Picture Gallery at St James’s Palace for the National Memorial Arboretum Appeal, of which the Duke is patron.
The fund hopes to raise £12 million to turn the Arboretum, near Lichfield, Staffordshire, which honours all those who have sacrificed their lives for their country, into a world-renowned centre for Remembrance.
More than 300,000 families, servicemen, veterans and members of the public visit the 150-acre site each year. In 2006 the Daily Mail was instrumental in helping to raise funds to build the breathtaking Armed Forces Memorial, which stands at the centre of the site and pays tribute to the 16,000 British servicemen and women who have died since the Second World War, after the British Legion was refused lottery funding.
The monument has been designed so that at exactly 11am on November 11 – Armistice Day – a slit in one wall will let a ray of sunshine light the central plaque.Shortly before last night’s dinner, the Duke – who has himself lost two close friends in Iraq and Afghanistan - gave a short speech. In it he described how in just a few years the Arboretum had become an ‘iconic focal point’ for the nation’s remembrance of ‘British heroes’.
William continued: ‘For Britons today, and for generations of Britons to come, the example of dedicating one’s life to helping and protecting others and to the service of our Country remains core to our values as a Nation. Nowhere is this lesson better taught than through contemplation of the names inscribed on the memorials in Staffordshire.
Queen leads heartfelt tributes to Britain's fallen heroes on Remembrance Sunday
Kate joined her husband, Prince William, as the royal family led Britain in tribute to the nation's fallen soldiers on Sunday morning.
In a dedication to the U.K.'s dead servicemen and women, William laid a wreath at the leading London war memorial, the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
Kate, meanwhile, stood in a window of the nearby Foreign and Commonwealth Office and watched William, 29, in his gray Royal Air Force uniform. Alongside her: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Sophie, Countess of Wessex. The Duchess of Cambridge wore two poppies, Britain's traditional symbol of remembrance, pinned to her black coat – and she stood with her head slightly bowed during the two minutes of silence.
William, who has lost friends in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, stood solemn-faced alongside the ranks of soldiers, sailors and pilots who attended the memorial, which took place just a few hundred yards from Westminster Abbey, where William and Kate wed in April.
At the conclusion of the period of silence, Queen Elizabeth stepped forward to lay the first wreath. She was followed by her husband, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and then William, who will be heading to the Falkland Islands for two months of military exercises next February.
William offered a white-gloved salute after his tribute.
Observers said that Camilla, 64, seemed to be giving Kate some words of advice during the 22-minute service, which also included a brief set of prayers and hymns. "She was chatting quite a lot [with] Camilla, who seemed to be telling her what was going on," says one.
Prince Harry, who is currently in the United States, is expected to pay his respects at the Gila Bend base in Arizona, where he's currently training.