Kate Middleton Apparently Sent a Subtle but Strong Message by Taking Her Coat off Indoors

Royal protocol and Kate Middleton go hand in hand. Having been a member of the British royal family for more than a decade, the Duchess of Cambridge knows all the rules. But from time to time she breaks royal protocol. In a rare act of royal rebellion, the 39-year-old broke a strange etiquette rule that royal women must keep their coats on indoors. And, in doing so, she sent a strong message, according to royal commentators. 

Women of the British royal family are supposed to wear their coats indoors

Kate Middleton smiles as she looks on wearing a blue coat, black-and-white shirt, and black pants.
Kate Middleton in November 2021 | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Taking a coat off inside may be a perfectly normal thing to do but not in the royal family. It’s typical for royal women to keep their coats on during an official visit or outing, even if it means they’ll be spending time indoors.

Why? Because, according to reports about the royal family’s style rules, Queen Elizabeth II considers the stripping off of a coat or jacket to be undressing and, as a result, “unladylike.” Hence the reason why Kate, her sister-in-law Meghan Markle, and many other royal women have often been spotted wearing coats indoors. 

However, this particular style rule doesn’t extend to royal men. This means when Kate’s husband, Prince William, shows up at an event wearing a coat, it’s perfectly acceptable for him to remove it upon stepping inside. 

Kate Middleton broke royal protocol by removing her coat during a November 2021 visit to the Imperial War Museum

On Nov. 10, 2021, the Duchess of Cambridge carried out an official engagement ahead of the U.K.’s Remembrance Day events. She arrived at London’s Imperial War Museum sporting a navy blue coat, military-inspired blouse, and pants. 

Upon entering the museum, instead of keeping her coat on, she made the surprise move to take it off. That means Kate walked around the museum without a coat as she met with Holocaust survivors to mark the newly opened Holocaust Galleries. 

Per Express, royal commentator Elizabeth Holmes took to Instagram to discuss Kate breaking protocol. 

“Once inside [the Imperial War Museum], Kate took off her coat,” the author of HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style said. “Which should not be a big deal, it’s a very common thing for everyone everywhere to do. But this is the Royal Family we are talking about, and they don’t typically ‘disrobe’ (aka take off their coats) in public.”

Holmes continued, saying that Kate taking off her coat made her happy because the particular royal fashion rule “always felt like such an old-fashioned and uncomfortable thing.” 

Personal stylist Samantha Harman also weighed in on Kate breaking royal protocol by way of not wearing a coat indoors. “Kate is supposed to keep her coat on indoors because of royal protocol,” she told Express. “This rule is often attributed to the Queen who apparently deems taking off your coat in front of the public ‘unladylike’, although there isn’t any clear evidence on this.”

She continued: “Even when Prince William is wearing a jumper or cardigan, the Duchess would still be in her coat. In 2021 this kind of thing comes across as old-fashioned. Why one rule for women and another for men?” 

The Duchess of Cambridge opting to remove her coat spoke volumes, Harman added. “Kate taking her coat off is a subtle way of saying ‘I’m human just like everyone else’ and also, ‘I’m ready to be in charge now,’” she said.

Breaking royal protocol isn’t anything new for the Duchess of Cambridge

Kate Middleton attends the annual Remembrance Sunday service at The Cenotaph on November 14, 2021 in London, England
Kate Middleton in November 2021 | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Kate and royal protocol go beyond taking a coat off once indoors. The mother of three — Kate and William have two sons and a daughter: Prince George, Prince Louis, and Princess Charlotte — breaks protocol in much bigger ways. 

Kate helped modernize royal parenting by being hands-on with Louis, George, and Charlotte. She (and William) have a habit of traveling together as a family. Previously, the royal travel custom was that two heirs (e.g., Wiliam and George) never fly on the same plane. 

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