Kate Middleton Pairs Polka Dots With Princess Diana's Diamonds For Ascot

Kate Middleton pulled out all the fashion stops as she presided over the fourth day of the Royal Ascot horseracing event on Friday while wearing a special pair of heirloom earrings.

The duchess, alongside Prince William, led the royal carriage procession in an elegant white and brown ensemble featuring a polka dot dress from one of her new favorite designers, Alessandra Rich.

Kate's dress was similar to another Alessandra Rich dress worn earlier this year, this time in black with white spots, for the service of thanksgiving for the life of Prince Philip in May.

The royal's appearance at Royal Ascot comes as Queen Elizabeth II faces missing the event for the first time in her 70-year reign, with the exception of the 2020 event (which was run without spectators owing to the COVID pandemic.)

Kate Middleton Royal Ascot 2022
The Cambridges took part in the royal carriage procession of Royal Ascot on Friday with the duchess wearing an elegant polka dot dress and diamond earrings. June 17, 2022. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The Queen has faced a series of health and mobility issues over the past year with the 96-year-old monarch pulling out of many public appearances including the State Opening of Parliament and several Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Kate's role at Royal Ascot, essentially representing the Queen as the most senior member of the royal family present alongside William, is symbolic of the increased role and responsibility the duchess faces as the queen slowly delegates more of her royal duties.

For the race meeting, Kate paired her Alessandra Rich mid-length asymmetrical dress with pleated bodice detail and statement shoulder buttons alongside a dark saucer style boater hat with white faux orchid embellishments.

Accessorizing the look, the royal carried a chocolate brown suede clutch bag and wore matching brown suede heeled pumps.

Perhaps the most eye-catching accessory the duchess wore was the large pair of diamond and pearl earrings that had once belonged to her late-mother-in-law, Princess Diana.

Kate Middleton Fashion Royal Ascot 2022
Kate Middleton wore a polka dot Alessandra Rich dress with chocolate brown accessories for the fourth day of Royal Ascot alongside Prince William, June 17, 2022. Chris Jackson/Getty Images/Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse

The provenance of the earrings is unknown but the first public outing which the princess reportedly gave them was in 1990 at the coronation banquet of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan.

The earrings feature two stylized curves of diamonds with a pearl suspended from each. In Diana's lifetime the earrings had attached two large south-sea pearls as pendants but when Kate started wearing them in 2019 she replaced them with smaller, more delicate diamond-topped pearl drops.

The earrings were a favorite of Diana's throughout the 1990s and she wore them on many memorable occasions, including a gala in Australia in 1996 with an electric blue Versace evening gown.

Diana also wore the earrings without the pearl additions with a notable example of this being to a performance of Swan Lake at London's Royal Albert Hall in June 1997, just weeks before her untimely death at the age of 36 in a Paris car crash.

Kate Middleton Princess Diana's Earrings 2022
Kate Middleton wore a pair of diamond earrings from the collection of Princess Diana for Royal Ascot. Photographed (L) June 17, 2022. And Diana (R) photographed in Sydney, Australia, October 31, 1996. Samir Hussein/WireImage/Ken Goff/Getty Images

Kate's wearing Diana's earrings for her high-profile Royal Ascot appearance is touching given that 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the latter's ' death.

In addition to William and Kate their royal cousin, Peter Phillips, a grandson of the Queen's through her only daughter Princess Anne, was also at the royal sporting event.

A heatwave in Britain has seen the usually strict dress code which governs Royal Ascot be relaxed for the first time in its history. With temperatures reaching 87 F the event released an official statement reading: "Due to forecast high temperatures tomorrow, following the arrival of the Royal Procession the dress code will be relaxed in all Enclosures."

This meant that after the royals arrived racegoers were permitted to remove jackets and hats.

Royal Ascot closes with its final day of racing on Saturday with members of the royal family expected to show out in force to make up for the absence of the Queen.

For more royal news and commentary check out Newsweek's The Royal Report podcast: