22nd November 2017—William and Kate visited the city of Birmingham in the West Midlands, England.
The visit began at the Jaguar Land Rover Solihull Manufacturing Plant, which sits on 480 acres of land. The plant creates 8,000 cars a week.
The royal couple learned more about the manufacturing plant before touring the site. They also met with staff and apprentices, including ex-military personnel. The Solihull site was the first to introduce the ‘Wounded, Injured, Sick’ training programme.
William and Kate then visited the Vehicle Assembly area, which operates 24 hours a day and employs over 10,000 people.
Next, Their Royal Highnesses spent time in the Jaguar Land Rover Experience Centre and met with Mountain Rescue volunteers. Most Mountain Rescue teams use Land Rovers:
[T]he majority of mountain rescue vehicles are four wheel drive and, more often than not, Land Rovers, which allow a hill party of five and all of their equipment to be taken as close as possible to the casualty site.Mountain Rescue
Then, it was time for a test drive! The couple both took part in some off-road driving around a specially designed course on the site. Here’s a short clip of Kate navigating the rocky terrain:
Next, William and Kate met with schoolchildren from Topcliffe Primary School. The team of four had won the Jaguar Primary School Challenge, where students aged between 5-11 design and race a car out of cardboard, complete with wheels, body and even a mini driver!
[The schoolchildren] design and manufacture a body shell to fit a standard chassis using template software before printing/cutting their designs onto card and then making their car ready to race. F1inschools.co.uk
Kate chatted with the winners and tested their car on the racetrack.
Of course, Kate has a connection with the Land Rover brand. She is Patron of the 1851 Trust, the charitable arm of Ben Ainslee Racing, a commercial sporting team. Land Rover has sponsored Ben Ainslee Racing since July 2015. (Update: This relationship ended in 2018.)
Also, the Royal Family has a special arrangement with Jaguar Land Rover.
The Queen is thought to have had no fewer than 30 Land Rovers, most of which have been loaned to her at ‘prestige’ rates — heavy discounts for VIPs — some loaned free of charge and some bought outright […] The company holds three royal warrants — one awarded by the Queen, one from Prince Philip and one from the Prince of Wales.The Daily Mail
Pictured below, Prince William driving Kate in a Range Rover SUV (part of the Jaguar Land Rover company) on their way to Crathie Kirk in 2015.
The second stop on the couple’s itinerary was Villa Park Stadium, the home of William’s favourite team, Aston Villa. As you can see, Kate changed into a more casual outfit (all of the details are below).
At the club, the couple saw the work of Coach Core, the apprenticeship scheme set up through the Royal Foundation. Coach Core works with Sport Birmingham to give young people between the ages of 16-24 living in Birmingham the chance to become the next generation of inspirational coaches and to give them the opportunity to succeed in employment.
The Royal Couple met with a group of employers to discuss the positive impact of Coach Core and hear about the progression of the apprentices.
William and Kate have attended a number of Coach Core-related engagements recently. You might remember that Kate visited the Lawn Tennis Association on the 31st of October, where she met with some tennis coaching apprentices.
At the football club, William and Kate took part in a number of activities on the pitch with school children from the local area.
The club kindly gifted William and Kate with a commemorative framed picture collage showing all of the royal visits to the Villa Park down the years.
The couple’s third and final engagement in the city took place at Acme Whistles, the world’s largest and most famous producer of whistles. Brothers Joseph and James Hudson founded the company in Birmingham in the 1870s. The company holds the patents on over 40 whistle designs.
Today, their whistles are used in major sporting events globally and by police forces, including the Metropolitan Police. As you can see, Kate changed back into her black coat (again, details below).
During the visit, William and Kate heard about the company’s history and learned more about the production process, including the presswork, plating, moulding, welding and polishing of the 115,000 whistles that are made and tested every week.
Before leaving Birmingham and heading back home, the couple joined Acme Whistles staff and apprentices at a short reception, where they unveiled a plaque to mark their visit.
This wasn’t the royal couple’s first official visit to Birmingham. They spent time in the city back in August 2011, where they met people who’d been affected by rioting that had taken place in the city a few days prior.
For the majority of today’s visit, Kate wore her Goat Washington coat. The black wool coat features white-trimmed tabs on the cuffs and back. It’s also trimmed with white fabric on the collar.
Goat refers to the coat as having a “sixties clean silhouette” and describe it as “chic and versatile”. The coat is from a past season, but since 2017, the company has re-released it a couple of times. In 2014, it retailed for £680 GBP (around $900 USD in 2020).
If you recognise the coat, it’s because this is the second time Kate has worn it in public. She first wore it during a visit to New York in 2014.
The black suede riding boots feature a medium height block heel. They cost £325 at russellandbromley.co.uk, who do not deliver outside of the UK and Northern Ireland, sadly.
Kate brought back her Kiki McDonough Lauren Leaf earrings for the visit to Birmingham. The earrings are made from 18ct gold and pavé diamonds. As of 2020, they retail for £2,300 at kiki.co.uk (around $3,055 at today’s rates).
Kate accessorised with her Mulberry Bayswater clutch bag. The black bag features a gold-tone closure on the front. It’s ultra-slim with plenty of pockets and slots inside. Kate owns it in three colours! Pictured below in leather. Kate carries it in suede. Unfortunately, Mulberry.com no longer stock the bag.
Kate changed into a more casual ensemble for the visit to Villa Park.
She chose the red Mini Duvet II jacket by Perfect Moment. The red ski jacket is made from a special nylon sports fabric. It has a protective high neck and soft black ribbed cuffs. The jacket is finished with navy blue elbow pads.
You may remember that Kate first debuted the jacket earlier this year, during a Heads Together Marathon training event?
If you’re a regular reader, Kate’s footwear should feel familiar too. They’re her New Balance’s Vazee Transform trainers, also first worn during the Heads Together event pictured above. The shoes were designed in a limited edition colourway exclusively available from Sweaty Betty. Sadly, they’re no longer available to buy.