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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge praised for the type of clothes that earned Trudeau ridicule | Opinion

National Post logo National Post 2019-10-17 Devika Desai

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge standing in front of a store: Britain's Prince William (R), Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrive on a decorated auto-rickshaw to attend a reception in Islamabad on October 15, 2019. - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a warm welcome in Islamabad on October 15 to Britain's Prince William, the son of his late friend Princess Diana, who is on his first official trip to the country with his wife Kate. © AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images Britain's Prince William (R), Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrive on a decorated auto-rickshaw to attend a reception in Islamabad on October 15, 2019. - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a warm welcome in Islamabad on October 15 to Britain's Prince William, the son of his late friend Princess Diana, who is on his first official trip to the country with his wife Kate.

On Tuesday evening, the Duke and Duchess were photographed stepping out of a colourful rickshaw for a formal reception in Islamabad. Kate Middleton was clad in a Western-style green gown, while Prince William eschewed suit-and-tie for a dark teal sherwani, a traditional Pakistani outfit. 

The photo made headlines as the media and public lauded the couple for its sense of style and efforts to boost local designers. However, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie wore traditional outfits at an event with Bollywood celebrities during their India trip, they were lambasted for going overboard and ridiculed. 

The contrast between public reaction to the royals’ traditional wear and the Trudeaus’ in February has been consistent — the former are praised, the latter condemned. 

Related Gallery: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge: Style file (Provided by Chatelaine)

On one hand, the Trudeaus could have simply chosen the wrong outfits, according to Canadian designers. On the other hand, the difference in the public feedback could also come from the difference in political relations between the respective countries, according to a former Indian ambassador. 

“As an Indian person, I appreciated the Trudeau family’s effort to pay respect to Indian culture and I think they showed a lot of love” said Anu Raina, a Toronto-based designer. However, from a professional point of view, the wardrobe could have been better vetted beforehand. 

“The colours were too bold,” she said. “And no one wears a sherwani or a brocade sherwani all the time.”

a group of people standing and talking on the phone:  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and children, Xavier, 10, Ella-Grace, 9, and Hadrien, 3, visit Sabarmati Ashram (Gandhi Ashram) in Ahmedabad, India on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. © Sean Kilpatrick Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and children, Xavier, 10, Ella-Grace, 9, and Hadrien, 3, visit Sabarmati Ashram (Gandhi Ashram) in Ahmedabad, India on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018.

Media reports criticized the Trudeaus for overdressing during their trips and choosing outfits akin to those worn by an Indian bride and groom. One Twitter user described their penchant for family colour co-ordination as a “choreographed cuteness”, remarking that it was a “a bit much.”

“I would have recommended a classier look, simpler fabrics and something that would show their personality with a hint of India,” Raina said. “You don’t have to wear all the culture on your clothes.”

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge posing for the camera:  In this photograph released by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry on October 14, 2019, Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrive at Nur Khan military airbase in Rawalpindi. © Pakistan Foreign Ministry / AFP In this photograph released by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry on October 14, 2019, Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrive at Nur Khan military airbase in Rawalpindi.

The Duke and Duchess on the other hand, did a better job of blending in with their host country. “You can tell there’s a designer’s touch,” said Raina. “There’s a lot of thought behind (the outfits) and the country, the culture, everything has been taken into account.”

The choice to wear Pakistani colours at the formal reception was an especially “politically correct” move, she added. 

Sophie Gregoire, Shah Rukh Khan, Justin Trudeau posing for the camera:  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R), his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau (L), daughter Ella-Grace (2R) and son Xavier James (3R) pose for a photograph with Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan in Mumbai on February 20, 2018. © INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R), his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau (L), daughter Ella-Grace (2R) and son Xavier James (3R) pose for a photograph with Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan in Mumbai on February 20, 2018.

Despite the Trudeau’s fashion gaffes, Raina believed the criticism they garnered was unfair. “They shouldn’t have been criticized,” she said. “India is a bold country and people wear bold colours on the street. They really made an effort to blend into Indian culture.”

Rajiv Bhatia, a former Indian ambassador who also served as Consul General of Toronto, said simmering tensions between the Indian and Canadian government during the visit could have added to the media criticism. 

“There was a great deal of expectation for that visit,” said Bhatia, “for the simple reason that the relationship was going very well (at the time).”

Narendra Modi in a suit standing in front of a curtain:  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands  at Hyderabad house in New Delhi on February 23, 2018. © MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands  at Hyderabad house in New Delhi on February 23, 2018.

However, Trudeau treated the visit with “sartorial diplomacy,” which complicated the Indo-Canadian relationship, he explained.

“There was a considerable delay in scheduling the visit of Trudeau because it was well into Modi’s first term (as prime minister of India). And the second factor was the way the visit was designed. It gave the impression that the main people being addressed were Canadians back home more than the people in India.”

He added that the Liberal administration had also disrespected India’s protocol when it comes to hosting foreign visits. Trudeau’s schedule had him travel around the country — Agra, Ahmadabad, Mumbai and Amritsar — before he was formally received in New Delhi, the national capital.

Related Video: Kate Middleton and Prince William Continue their Royal Tour of Pakistan with Day 4 (Provided by People)

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“India’s protocol is that the prime minister visit Delhi first but the Canadians chose to reverse that order,” he said.

Finally, Trudeau’s perceived endorsement of the Sikh separatist movement by the Indian government, marked by the invitation of Jaspal Atwar to a formal dinner by the Canadian High Commissioner was the final nail in the coffin, he explained. 

Imran Khan, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge are posing for a picture:  Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 15, 2019. © Andrew Parsons/Reuters Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 15, 2019.

The political significance of the Duke and Duchess’s visit to Pakistan, which is rocked by domestic turmoil, paints a different picture. “The visit of the British royals comes as a godsend to Pakistan,” he said. “It gives them a clear signal that they are not without friends in the West.”

What if the royal couple were to visit India in the future? “If it is done in balance,it would be taken positively,” he said. “It would be taken as a signal that the British, who are in doldrums thanks to Brexit, are trying to connect to the people of India.”

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