Royal Rules Will Prevent Kate Middleton from Wearing Black to the BAFTA Awards

Kate Middleton in Essex
Photo: Getty Images

The highlight of the British awards season is right around the corner, reaching its apex with the BAFTAs on Sunday, February 18. There’s much to look forward to, but perhaps the most exciting development in the proceedings is the confirmation that came earlier this week that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, will be attending the awards show.

While it’s not shocking that the Duke and Duchess will be in attendance simply because Prince William has been the President of BAFTA since 2010, what is intriguing is the question of whether or not the Duchess of Cambridge will participate in the recent call-to-arms for women attending the BAFTAs to wear black. While she wore a black gown with gold accents to last year’s BAFTAs, the meaning behind wearing it this year would carry the potential of making the Duchess of Cambridge a powerful ally for women everywhere. So, why is there an unspoken hesitation to confirm what she’s wearing this year?

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The initiative is in direct relation to the all-black dress code put in place at the Golden Globe Awards in January, with women in the English film industry wanting to continue to raise awareness about sexual assault and harassment in the film industry. A letter was sent out “on behalf of a collective of U.K.-based female film and television industry leaders” in January that asked those attending the 2018 BAFTAs to “follow suit from our sisters who attended the Golden Globes” by wearing black—saying that doing so would make a ‘strong, unifying and simple statement,'” as The Cut reported.

However, the Duchess of Cambridge will have to walk a very fine sartorial line when she hits the red carpet this year, because she has the added royal stress of not appearing to take any kind of stance of this politically-charged issue. It’s currently a rule (although hardly enforceable in any legal way) that the royal family, as figureheads of the British government, must “remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters.”

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While it’s perfectly acceptable that Middleton engage in charity work with groups working in the areas of mental health, motherhood and youth outreach, wearing black and thus implicitly declaring solidarity with the other women in attendance could be seen as a violation of her royal position.

So, the best we can hope for is that the Duchess does something, anything, to show her solidarity, even if it’s just a polite nod.