Kate's touching Diana tribute

NEW MUMS: Kate's custom-made (she's normally an off-the-rack advocate) Jenny Packham gown is a clear tribute to the dress Diana wore when leaving the hospital with baby William.
NEW MUMS: Kate's custom-made (she's normally an off-the-rack advocate) Jenny Packham gown is a clear tribute to the dress Diana wore when leaving the hospital with baby William.
CAREFUL DAD: Prince William went for an altogether more casual look for the big debut than his dad did 32 years ago.
CAREFUL DAD: Prince William went for an altogether more casual look for the big debut than his dad did 32 years ago.

The Duchess of Cambridge, 31, paid a spotty style tribute to her late mother-in-law Diana when debuting her baby son to the world outside London's St Mary Hospital on Wednesday morning (NZ time). 

The smiling new mum wore a light blue custom-made polka-dot Jenny Packham gown that bore a strong resemblance to the spotty light green Catherine Walker dress a 20-year-old Princess Diana wore on the same steps 31 years ago after her eldest son, William was born. 

The strong similarity, and the fact that the Jenny Packham gown was custom-made for Kate - who normally wears off-the-rack fashion - suggests that this was a deliberate homage to the mother-in-law that she sadly never met.

"The significance of this outfit is extraordinary," says Helen McCabe, Editor in Chief of the Australian Women's Weekly. "It will be on the cover of hundreds of magazines and newspapers around the world - it's an image that will be seen over and over again. There will be books written about this baby, documentaries will be made and that photograph will be used for perpetuity."

"Diana's frock was fabulous at the time but perhaps hasn't stood the test of time, " said McCabe. "Kate's taken a more conservative, timeless approach."

Back in June 1982, a blushing Princess Diana, 20, greeted the crowds less than 24 hours after giving birth, before heading back to Kensington Palace (immediately after which Prince Charles, 33, left his new family to play in a polo match).

Apart from the fact that we imagine Prince William will have cancelled any sports plans today, there are three other differences that show the signs of the times of the two 'people's princesses' hospital departures: Kate's hair was loose and no-fuss, while Diana's was heavily-hairsprayed as was the fashion. Prince William drove the precious cargo off himself, while Prince Charles hopped in the back of a chauffeur driven car (ah, the heady Eighties). And, most importantly, the new bub was tucked safely into a car seat, while William was just cradled in his mum's arms. 

ANOTHER SIMILARITY, THE KIWI GIFT

New Zealand's official gift for the day-old royal baby - who is now third-in-line to the throne - is a fine-lace handmade shawl, which took Cambridge spinner Cynthia Read 280 hours to craft.

Back in 1982, the official Kiwi gift was also a beautiful white shawl - in merino - which is said to have taken 400 hours to create, and featured a pattern inspired by Maori design and native NZ flora (below).

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