Stars stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the red carpet dressed head-to-toe in black outfits to show their support for the Time’s Up movement at the BAFTAs. But, the Duchess of Cambridge’s decision to wear green has invited the ire of the internet, with some arguing that it was a “bad call” to opt out of the (unofficial) all-black dress code.
At this year’s BAFTA awards, actors and directors dressed in all black, in a show of solidarity with those who wore black at the Golden Globes in January.
Royal etiquette expert William Hanson says that before we “vilify” the Duchess, we should examine the royal family’s role. And, while we’re at it, we should take a closer look at her outfit.
“The Duchess of Cambridge did as much as she could do given who she is and what she represents,” says Hanson.
“The royal family is above politics and cultural movements, and the Duchess was at the BAFTAs in a public role, carrying out an official engagement.” Hanson says that the UK’s constitutional monarchy has to “remain above politics and political movements” irrespective of how “worthy and timely” they might be. A constitutional monarchy means that while the queen is head of state, the ability to “make and pass legislation” is the government’s role.
Wearing black to the event, and making a public display of support to the movement might have been construed as the royal family meddling in a cultural or political movement, says Hanson.
Kensington Palace declined to comment about the Duchess’ sartorial choice for the awards ceremony. According to the royal family’s website, the Queen, as head of state, “has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters.”
Hanson’s opinion is not shared by everyone. Many people flocked to Twitter to express disappointment that Kate Middleton didn’t wear a black dress.
Quite a bummer to see that the Duchess of Cambridge didn’t wear black to the #BAFTAs and not a #TimesUp pin on either Cambridge.
There is nothing political about standing up to sexual assault. This should’ve been an easy choice for them to make, and they failed.
— diane alston 👩🏾💻 (@dianelyssa) February 18, 2018
I must say I feel like that was a bad call. We are living through a very unique moment. It’s about the message. Woman fighting abuse should not be tagged as an agenda. It’s bigger than that. 🙄
— Love me? Always (@nina_lux) February 18, 2018
“I’m sure the Duchess privately supports the Time’s Up movement, and everything it stands for,” says Hanson. Despite not wearing all black, the Duchess’ outfit included two black details, which Hanson feels might have been a discreet way of showing support. The dark green dress included a black ribbon around the Duchess’ waist, in addition to a black clutch bag.
“The black sash and clutch bag would have been a nod to the movement, but it was as much as she could do,” he says. He says the choice to wear a sombre, dark green colour was also deliberate.
I think this very dark, but not black, colour was a perfect walk down the tightrope.
— Rebecca ‘Pekka’ (@hernameispekka) February 18, 2018
There’s also another reason why the Duchess of Cambridge might have steered clear of wearing all-black. According to Hanson, the royal family only tends to wear black when it comes to funerals, court mourning, or remembrance services. “Wearing black would have gone against royal protocol,” he adds.
Ultimately, Hanson feels that the Duchess of Cambridge was caught between “a rock and a hard place” and, whether she wore black or not, someone would have been upset.