Kate Middleton's Latest Fashion Statement Signals Major Moment Ahead For King Charles

King Charles III ascended to the throne when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died in September 2022. Since, then, the new head of state has been easing into the position, slowly changing customs and imagery that have long been associated with the adored former queen, who reigned for over 70 years.

One remaining item he has yet to check off his list is the Royal Family Order. First established in 1820, the Royal Family Order is a pinned decoration that includes a portrait of the king or queen attached to a ribbon, with the color of the ribbon changing with each new ruler. The order is gifted from the head of state to members of the royal family in honor of their service. Queen Elizabeth bestowed the Royal Family Order on Princess Diana, then Queen Camilla and Princess Catherine, among others, who proudly wear the order to formal events.

On December 5, Buckingham Palace hosted the annual reception for the Diplomatic Corps. Kate wore a sparkling gown, a tiara, and her Royal Family Order honor pinned to her left shoulder. There was one noticeable difference to the pin, though, pointing toward an impending major moment for King Charles. The bottom portion of the ribbon that normally hangs down was missing. 

The shortened ribbon signifies an impending change

While Princess Catherine's Royal Family Order still displayed the portrait of the woman who gave it to her, Queen Elizabeth II, the yellow ribbon that serves as a background to the painting was altered.

Instead of it being a bow with a tail, the bottom half was visibly missing from the pinned decoration. Royal watchers have been waiting to see when King Charles III would present a new Royal Family Order with his portrait, and what color ribbon he would choose. The missing tail has infused a new round of speculation, believing the change to be another subtle switch from the old reign to the new reign. While there were rumors (via Royal Central) that King Charles would debut his version of the time-honored tradition at the event, it's now expected the new version of the honored insignia will debut in 2024.

When King Charles does gift his Royal Family Order to Kate, she will most likely keep wearing her original yellow Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II, which Majesty Magazine reported that she was first seen wearing in December 2017, along with it. Princess Margaret was known to wear all three of the orders given to her, one each from King George V, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth II. When William, Prince of Wales, takes over, Kate will likely have a third honor from her husband to add to her wardrobe.