On a Tuesday morning visit to Stanningley, Yorkshire, Princess Kate toured the AW Hainsworth textile mill and expressed her enthusiasm for fine wools. During a conversation with employees about the carding process that turns wool from merino sheep into yarn, Kate grabbed a handful and said, “I love the feel of it and the smell of it!” In a forest green suit by Burberry, she examined the mill’s traditional machinery and learned about the specialized skills it requires to operate.
The princess’s visit to the mill, which opened in 1893, is part of a larger project to promote the British textile industry, which is also a passion of King Charles III. But this mill in particular also has a special connection to her own family.? In 1958, her great-grandfather Noel Middleton sold his family firm William Lupton & Co. to AW Hainsworth. The mill holds a royal warrant, which indicates that it does business with the royal family, and during Kate’s visit she saw the dyeing process for the fabric which will eventually become a uniform for the guards at Buckingham Palace.?
“‘She was very interested in the process, and I talked her through how we made the cloth for the Guards on the Somet loom. She had a good background knowledge,” senior weaver Zeb Akhtar later told the Daily Mail. “It was such a pleasure to have her, very good. We feel very proud at being a royal warrant holder. We work hard and look after the royal family whenever they call upon us.”
She also toured an area of the mill where they put examples of their wares on display. Along with a mannequin wearing a finished guard uniform, the mill displays a black dress by Madderson London—featuring fabric from Hainsworth—that Kate herself wore during a 2015 engagement during her second pregnancy. She followed the visit with a trip to Standfast & Barracks printworks nearby in Lancaster, England.