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A first look at the Princess of Wales’ Houghton festival style

Kate Middleton at a party at Houghton Hall in 2016, alongside Prince William (L) and the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley (R) (Getty Images)
Kate Middleton at a party at Houghton Hall in 2016, alongside Prince William (L) and the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley (R) (Getty Images)

Festival dressing has been an enigma from time immemorial.

Follow the High Priestesses of Glasto, Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, and double down on boho-chic, but risk washed-up hippie results; adopt a neon-lycra catsuit, and attract the most unflattering attention; or buy one of those naff sequin bombers from an on-site stall, embarrass yourself in it once, and let it sit in a landfill site forevermore.

And that’s just for us regular folk. How does a princess navigate the sartorial trap doors of dressing for a booze-fuelled, techno rave fest? It’s a question no one had pondered until news broke that the Princess of Wales had made an unexpected appearance at the boarding-school-boy-romp-of-a-festival Houghton at the weekend. Far from the expected spot of a royal sighting, it is famed for being the UK’s only 24-hour thanks to its continuous sets on the stages.

Now, we have our answer as to how Kate really does mufti, thanks to a sneaky onlooker and a photograph currently setting X (Twitter) alight.

Passing on the perennial festival favourite Hunter wellies, the princess opted for a worn-in pair of flat, white Veja Campo trainers — the sustainable sneaker of choice for her and 40-something women the country over. With them, bare ankles and spray paint skinny black jeans. Allegations have been levelled that these are in fact  (deep breath) leggings, but the shadow of a belt buckle looks to have saved her from the fashion police on this occasion.

Party Princess: Catherine, then Duchess of Cambridge, shows off her more sparkling side at a special reception hosted by the Governor General of Belize in 2022 (Getty Images)
Party Princess: Catherine, then Duchess of Cambridge, shows off her more sparkling side at a special reception hosted by the Governor General of Belize in 2022 (Getty Images)

Just as tight was her upper half. A body-con, long-sleeved top with a boat neckline slipping to her shoulders allowed for the exposure of defined clavicles, and acted as a foil for a knocking pair of dangling gold, circular earrings. Completing her jewellery accoutrements was a wafer-thin chain and little pendant, a bracelet and — most amusingly — a festival wristband. It appears royalty must flash a wrist to security to gain entry, like anyone else.

This personal insight into the princess’ OOO style begs a number of questions. Was this monochrome get-up really her look of choice for dinner with friends, the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley, David Cholmondeley and Rose Hanbury, on their Houghton Hall estate, before the group was lured out into the masses? Or did she shrug off a shimmering The Vampire’s Wife gown to dress down à la LA celebrity, incognito mode?

The real head-scratcher, though: who on earth are the Cirencester farmer types she is pictured trapped chatting with?