When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex got married on that balmy May day in Windsor in 2018, there was a buzz around the royal family that hadn’t been felt for a long time. After all, Meghan is bi-racial, a former actor and a divorcee and Harry, the party boy ginger – the union had all the trappings of a modern-day fairytale. It was meant to inject new life into the royal family but, as we know, this quickly soured. When the couple made the decision to step down as senior members of the firm in January 2020, it seemed as if any semblance of relevance the royals still held quickly vanished along with them.
Relevance is something the royals have long chased. It was something they found when Diana married Charles and was quickly lost again after their divorce and then her untimely death in 1997. While Diana’s relevance has soldiered on posthumously – Gen Z still looks to Diana and her oversized jumper and cycle shorts for fashion inspiration – in the near-two and a half decades since her death, relevance is something the firm has been scrambling to find. There was a glimmer of hope in 2011, following the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding, which suggested a new path for young royals. A decade on and Prince William and Kate Middleton’s by-the-book appearances have done little to convince us of the monarchy’s relevance. Yet, it seems there has been a tide change in 2021 and the Windsors have found something to make them seem on the pulse again: the climate crisis.
This year, sustainability has been front and centre of our minds as we continue our attempts to slow down the climate crisis – even William and Kate’s focus has shifted to greener things. William launched the Earthshot Prize in October, which awards innovative solutions to help repair the environment. In the lead-up to the launch he said he feared his children’s generation will still be talking about climate change in the future. “It shouldn’t be that there’s a third generation now coming along having to ramp it up even more,” he said at the time.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge both dressed sustainably at the first Earthshot Prize awards ceremony in October
To the Earthshot Prize ceremony – where guests were encouraged to dress sustainably – William wore a pair of 20-year-old trousers while Kate re-wore an Alexander McQueen gown she’d initially appeared in a decade prior. While Kate has long had a habit of recycling her outfits she’s stepped up her recycling game in 2021. When she filled in for the Queen at this year’s Remembrance Sunday service, she re-wore the same Alexander McQueen jacket she wore to the service in 2018. Earlier this year, she donned her pair of Penelope Chilvers long tassel boots that she’s worn to various engagements for 17 years and, more recently, she wore a sparkly green Jenny Packham gown to the 2021 Royal Variety Performance that she initially wore in 2019.