How Kate Middleton's Electric Green Rental Dress Was a Sartorial Nod to Queen Elizabeth

The Princess of Wales' gown from Solace London was paired with a priceless necklace from the royal vaults

When Kate Middleton stepped onto the green carpet in a coordinating lime dress for the Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony, there was no mistaking the royal as one of the evening's VIPs.

"The green dress was such an eye-popping color, it had so many echoes of the late Queen to me," Bethan Holt, fashion director at The Daily Telegraph tells PEOPLE. "To do something so unexpected and carry it off, it was such an amazing fashion moment."

While this was Kate's lime green debut, it was actually one of Queen Elizabeth's signature shades. The late Queen wore a bright green ensemble in 2016 for her 90th birthday (her appearance went viral on social media with the hashtag #neonatninety). She also wore a similar hue of green for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in 2018 and at several key occasions since, such as Royal Ascot.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 02: Catherine, Princess of Wales and Prince William, Prince of Wales attend The Earthshot Prize 2022 at MGM Music Hall at Fenway on December 02, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Kate Middleton and Prince William at the Earthshot Prize 2022. Mike Coppola/Getty

Queen Elizabeth was known for the rainbow of colors in her wardrobe, and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex explained why wearing bright shades was such an integral part of her working life in the 2016 documentary The Queen at 90.

"She needs to stand out for people to be able to say, 'I saw the Queen,' " she said.

All the more important for the monarch — who was just 5'3" in height — and her love of hats was partly for the same reason: to add height and color!

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The Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2016. Starmax/Newscom/Zuma

There was no chance of missing a glimpse of Princess Kate on their big night in Boston either. The off-the-shoulder bright green dress from Solace London, borrowed from the rental brand Hurr, was not the only nod to royal women of the past — the fitted column gown was accessorized with a stunning emerald and diamond choker gifted to Princess Diana by the Queen herself. The heritage piece of jewelry originates from 1911 when it was gifted to Queen Mary.

"I loved how she teamed a very accessible rental dress you can hire for £74 with a priceless emerald choker — that was such a brilliant high-low moment," notes Holt.

Prince William and Kate Middleton, Earthshot Prize at MGM Music Hall at Fenway on December 01, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Prince William and Kate Middleton. Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Earthshot

The choker, famously worn by Princess Diana as a headband during a tour of Australia with Prince Charles in 1985, was given to Diana by the Queen as a wedding gift. Until the Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony, it had not been seen in public since Diana had last worn it.

"Everyone had been craving a big jewelry moment since she became the Princess of Wales, wanting to see some amazing new piece of jewelry from the royal vaults, and I think she delivered that at a really impactful moment," says the British fashion journalist and author of The Duchess of Cambridge, A Decade of Modern Royal Style.

Anwar Hussein/Getty
Kate Middleton and Princess Diana in the emerald and diamond choker. Karwai Tang/WireImage; Anwar Hussein/Getty

Another style staple of Kate's Boston wardrobe was her chic pantsuits. The royal wore an indigo suit by Alexander McQueen to arrive in the U.S., a first for Kate who tends to wear smart dresses and matching jackets for the first day of overseas royal tours. The following day, she wore a plum-colored suit by Roland Mouret with a feminine pink pussy-bow blouse underneath.

"Her new penchant for trouser suits is great because I think it puts her on a more equal footing with William," says Holt. "Visually when you see them getting off the plane together, both in tailoring, both ready to get to work, there's no decorative duchess anymore — it's the power princess."

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The three-day trip to Boston, the first overseas tour taken on by the couple since the death of the Queen, was jam-packed with joint and solo engagements. While Kate wore her go-to brands like Emilia Wickstead and McQueen with accessories by Mulberry and Chanel, the tailoring was front and center, with silhouettes more sophisticated and the colors bolder.

"She's a decade or more into her royal life, she's really found her feet and she's going for it," says Holt. "She's embracing the power of royal fashion!"

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