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Spicy margs, £700 tips and 24-hour techno: the curious case of Kate’s attendance at Houghton Festival

The Princess of Wales  (Arthur Edwards / Getty Images)
The Princess of Wales (Arthur Edwards / Getty Images)

Of all the festivals, in all the towns, in all the world, the Princess of Wales walked into Houghton Festival this weekend.

Accompanied by a string of security guards and a group of friends, Kate sipped on spicy margaritas, left a hefty tip for festival staff, and enjoyed the soundscape of 24-hour techno that surrounded her.

It doesn’t make much sense when you think about it initially: if the royals were set to attend any festival, why Houghton? Surely, somewhere sanistised like Wilderness would be more appropriate.

For context: Houghton Festival, located in the Norfolk countryside, is the UK’s only 24-hour music festival, which means that some form of techno, house, or drum and bass is playing at every point during the weekend. It’s a relatively new festival, set up in 2017 by DJ Craig Richards, who is the longest-serving resident DJ of the infamous London nightclub Fabric, having played the club every Saturday for 20 years.

The attendees don fluffy bucket hats, skin-baring rave gear, and side bags for maximum efficiency as they trek the 1,000 acre Houghton Hall estate and mingle with the other 10,000 fellow festival goers.

Doesn’t exactly scream “royal appearance”, does it? But Kate’s outing at Houghton can be explained quite simply. Her close friends, the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley, David Cholmondeley and Rose Hanbury, are the owners of the Houghton Hall estate, and Kate had been dining with them in their stately home this Saturday when they suggested going to the festival.

Kate attends a party at Houghton Hall in 2016 (Stephen Pond / Getty Images)
Kate attends a party at Houghton Hall in 2016 (Stephen Pond / Getty Images)

According to reports, Kate was hesitant, but eventually agreed and attended with a large security detail. Prince William wasn’t there.

At the festival, she shunned the food trucks, instead opting for the upscale on-site restaurant, Turntable & Napkin, where festivalgoers can treat themselves to a four-course meal, featuring burrata, panzanella, short rib ragu, and affogato, for £60 a head.

A source who was at the restaurant told the Evening Standard that Kate, who was wearing an understated black off-the-shoulder top, black skinny jeans and Veja trainers, was in high spirits, ordering spicy margaritas, eating affogato, and speaking affably with the other members of her party. Her companions apparently carted in a huge, balthazar-sized bottle of AIX rosé and, together with Kate, left the festival restaurant staff a £700 tip.

Kate at a party at Houghton Hall in 2016, alongside Prince William and the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley (Stephen Pond / Getty Images)
Kate at a party at Houghton Hall in 2016, alongside Prince William and the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley (Stephen Pond / Getty Images)

It’s unknown if Kate traversed the rest of the festival or saw any of the acts that night, which featured musical stylings from the likes of DJ Stingray, DMX Crew, Shanti Celeste, and Radioactive Man, though the source did see her leave the restaurant via the festival’s Pavilion stage.

This is the latest example of the senior royals letting their hair down recently, with Prince William spotted in beloved London nightclub Koko this June, having a dance on the club balcony with his best friend, Guy Pelly. Could we be entering our royal raving era? Stay tuned to find out.