Kate Middleton Attends First St. Patrick's Day Parade Since Becoming Colonel of the Irish Guards

Princess Kate was joined by Prince William, who was the Colonel before his wife recently took over the position — and cracked a joke about how he'll "fail once again to finish a pint of Guinness"

Kate Middleton and Prince William are getting into the holiday spirit for St. Patrick's Day.

The Prince and Princess of Wales joined the Irish Guards for their annual celebration in Aldershot, about 40 miles southwest of London, on Friday. Kate wore a teal Catherine Walker & Co coat dress with a matching hat and heels. She also accessorized with emerald earrings and a shamrock brooch, a piece that belongs to the Irish Guards and is loaned to the royal women who are associated with the regiment, according to The Court Jeweller. Before Kate, it was worn by Princess Anne and the Queen Mother.

The event represented something of a handover for the royal couple. Kate, 41, is the new honorary Colonel of the regiment — a role she was recently given by King Charles. Although Prince William, 40, previously held the position, he became the equivalent for the Welsh Guards to go with his Prince of Wales title.

They both gave speeches at the event, with Prince William sharing a farewell as Princess Kate spoke about the "true honor" of becoming "Colonel Catherine," as William called his wife.

The Prince And Princess Of Wales Attend The St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales. CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Prince of Wales said, "Whilst I am extremely happy to be here celebrating St. Patrick's Day with you once again, I'm incredibly sad to be giving this speech, as it really does mean my time as your Colonel has come to an end. It has been one of the great honors of my life to hold that title; I'm proud of everything it stands for – just as I'm immensely proud of every single one of you."

William also poked some fun at himself and the tradition of toasting the holiday with a pint of beer.

The Prince And Princess Of Wales Attend The St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Prince William, the Prince of Wales. Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images

"I would now like to speak directly to the families gathered here today," he said. "I hope you know how truly grateful I am to all of you too. On this, my 13th and final St. Patrick's Day as Colonel, not only am I saddened that I'll likely fail once again to finish a pint of Guinness… but I am also sad that I won't in future see more of you, the families, whose unwavering support enables these outstanding men and women to do what they do."

He continued, "I may be stepping aside, but in Colonel Catherine, you have a committed, focused, and already incredibly loyal 11th Colonel."

The Prince And Princess Of Wales Attend The St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Prince William and Kate Middleton. CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Kate then stepped up to the microphone, saying, "I really couldn't be prouder to stand in front of you here today. It really is a true honor to be your Colonel. I am here to listen to you, to support you, and to champion you in all you do – this is a responsibility I do not take lightly."

"I look forward to spending more time with you and your families, seeing your commitment to duty and service in all you do. Before I close, however, I want to thank Colonel William. He has always talked about his fierce pride for this Regiment. I know he will continue to support us all in the work we do," Princess Kate said. "Finally, I would like to wish you all, a very happy St. Patrick's Day."

The Prince And Princess Of Wales Attend The St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Kate Middleton and Prince William. Samir Hussein/WireImage

It is Princess Kate's second outing with the Irish Guards since becoming Colonel of the regiment, following her trip — sporting camo! — to see some of the troops on exercises in snowy Salisbury Plain last week.

Kate referenced the visit in her speech, praising the Irish Guards' "inspiring work."

"The day was bitterly cold, and while displaying your skills to yet another visitor was probably the last thing any of you wanted to do, all I saw was enthusiasm, pride, and incredible dedication," she said. "I was hugely impressed with your insistence that nothing is as bad as it seems, and — most of all — your boundless, irreverent, glorious sense of humor."

The Prince And Princess Of Wales Attend The St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales. ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

On Friday, it was more about formal uniforms and fun. Kate took part in the traditional distribution of shamrock sprigs, which the guards pin to their tunics. Also getting a sprig of the Irish bloom was the regimental mascot, Irish wolfhound Turlough Mor, who is known as Seamus.

The parade ended with something Kate has seen her husband receive many times but was now about her: a royal salute as the troops marched past.

Afterward, the couple met a group of veterans from the Irish Guards Association, and then Kate was invited to inspect the front rank. Prince William inspected the second rank.

Following the inspection, Prince William and Kate sat for official Officers' and Sergeants' Mess photographs before they retired to the dining hall of the junior ranks. There, the Senior Guardsman raised a glass and proposed a toast to the prince and princess.

Both Prince William and Princess Kate held up their glasses before sipping Guinness as they chatted with members of the Irish Guards.

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Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales laughing and enjoying a glass of Guinness after the St. Patrick's Day Parade
Prince William and Kate Middleton. Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Kate has taken part in parades with the Irish Guards most years since her marriage to Prince William in 2011. There was a break for a couple of years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it returned to its normal festivities last year.

Earlier this month, the couple paired up to mark the Welsh national celebration of St. David's Day with the Welsh Guards.

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