The Duchess of Cambridge spoke of how her code-breaker grandmother felt unable to tell her about the vital work she did at Bletchley Park before she died, as she told other veterans: ‘You were so very important.’
Kate, 37, who was shown a new memorial of bricks containing the name of her grandmother and great-aunt when she visited the legendary Second World War headquarters today, said her said her granny – like so many others – had been ‘so sworn to secrecy that she never felt able to tell us’ about what she did.
The royal re-wore a £1,750 frock by A-list favourite Alessandra Rich for the outing to Bletchley Park, near Milton Keynes, this afternoon.
She was on hand to view a special exhibition celebrating the role Bletchley Park codebreakers played in D-Day ahead of the 75th anniversary of the landings next month.
Bletchley Park holds a special personal significance to the Duchess as her paternal grandmother, Valerie Glassborow, was among those who worked to decipher the secrets of the German Enigma machine at the site.
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The Duchess of Cambridge looked elegant in a polka dot dress for the outing to Bletchley Park this afternoon, pictured
Kate, 37, re-wore an £1,750 Alessandra Rich frock she donned for Prince Charles ‘ official 70th birthday portraits for the outing this afternoon
The Duchess of Cambridge knelt down to receive a posy from a smartly-dressed little boy as she left the estate
Bletchley Park holds a special personal significance to the Duchess, left today, as her grandmother, Valerie Glassborow, right, was among those who worked to decipher the secrets of the German Enigma machine at the site
Crowds turned out to greet the Duchess of Cambridge with flags as she arrived for the visit to the wartime exhibition
Kate looked ready for spring in her flattering mid-length dress, which she previously wore for Prince Charles’ official 70th birthday portraits last year.
The frock features pretty white buttons and a vintage-inspired contrast collar and cuffs.
Meeting four women who had worked as codebreakers, and are now in their 90s, she told them they must be ‘so proud’ of their achievements, and shared her hopes that a new generation would celebrate them.
It was a return visit for the Duchess, who went to Bletchley in 2014 to retrace the footsteps of her paternal grandmother, Valerie Glassborow and her twin sister Mary.
The Duchess of Cambridge put an affectionate hand on Lawson Bischoff after he handed her a beautiful posy at the event
Both Miss Glassborows worked as duty officers, employed as Foreign Office Civilians in the Cover Management Y section in 1944.
They are known to have been formally employed by the ‘Government Code and Cypher School’ at Bletchley and worked in Hut 16, now restored as Hut 6 and open to the public.
Kate, who was wearing her late grandmother’s brooch in honour of her memory, was shown their names carved into bricks alongside dozens of others on the new codebreakers wall.
Meeting schoolchildren who were learning to code using enigma machines, she emphasised the lifesaving work of Bletchley staff during the war and encouraged them to learn more.
The colours in the Duchess’ bouquet contrasted beautifully with the blue and white of her designer frock
‘At the time, they couldn’t talk about it could they?’ she told year six pupils at Akeley Wood Primary School.
‘My granny and her sister worked here. It’s very cool. When she was alive sadly she could never talk about it.
‘She was so sworn to secrecy that she never felt able to tell us.’
The Duchess also spent time with four women, who had worked at Bletchley at the same time as her relatives: Rena Stewart, who worked in Hut 3; Georgina Rose, a Teleprinter Operator and Morse Code Slip Reader in Block E; Elizabeth Diacon, a Teleprinter Room Supervisor, serving Hut 3, Hut 6 and Hut 8; and Audrey Mather, a Teleprinter Operator who was based in Block E.
The Duchess of Cambridge smiled as she left Bletchley Park following the afternoon engagement today
Kate’s codebreaking family history at Bletchley Park
The Duchess of Cambridge’s grandmother Valerie Glassborow and her twin sister Mary were among the codebreakers stationed at the top secret base at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.
The crack team, which also included famed British mathematician Alan Turing, of researchers and cryptographers was tasked with intercepting and interpreting enemy communication and breaking the German enigma code.
Enigmas, which resembled large typewriters, were used by German air, naval and army forces to safely send messages throughout the Second World War.
It used a complex series of rotors and lights to encrypt messages by swapping letters around via an ever-changing ‘enigma code’. The code was eventually broken in 1941 by mathematicians at Bletchley – a feat that proved a crucial turning point in the war.
Valerie Glassborow and her twin sister Mary worked in Hut 16 at Bletchley Park. She later married Peter Francis Middleton (pictured on their wedding day) and had four sons, Michael, Richard, Simon and Nicholas. Michael is the father of the Duchess of Cambridge
Two women work in hut 6 at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, during the Second World War. Cryptographers deciphered top-secret military communiques between Hitler and his armed forces, which ultimately aided the victory of the Allied forces
Then a young, unmarried woman, Valerie Glassborow worked in Hut 16 on the estate, which is no longer standing.
Many of her colleagues were ‘ordinary’ middle-class women like herself, whose work, kept secret for almost half a century, helped change the course of the war.
However very few went on to pursue a career in intelligence. Indeed of the 9,000 people who worked at Bletchley Park during World War II, just 600 women went on to join the fledgling GCHQ or other branches of the secret services.
Among those to leave the service for a life of domesticity was Miss Glassborow, who married Peter Francis Middleton in 1946 in the village of Adel, Yorkshire.
The couple went on to have four sons, Michael, Richard, Simon and Nicholas in quick succession.
Michael, the eldest, is the father of the Duchess of Cambridge and is known to have been close to his mother.
Miss Glassborow died in 2006, without ever speaking publicly of her wartime service.
A black and white photo offering a look inside one of the huts on the Buckinghamshire estate. Among the roughly 9,000-strong workforce was Valerie Glassborow, the paternal grandmother of the Duchess of Cambridge
Mrs Mather told her: ‘We haven’t got together like this before. We don’t know each other even though we were here at the same time.’
The Duchess, referring to the element of secrecy, said: ‘My grandmother, for my childhood, never spoke about her work. Are you able to share your stories now?’
Told yes, she added: ‘I was just speaking to the children next door and they were saying this [codebreaking task] is really complicated.
‘They have got a real appreciation of what you were doing.’
The Duchess of Cambridge was surprised with two bricks dedicated to her grandmother Valerie Glassborow and her great-aunt Mary Glassborow on the Codebreakers’ Wall at Bletchley Park
‘You were very important. Your families must be very proud.
‘It’s a real honour to meet you.’
Mrs Rose offered her ‘congratulations on your beautiful family’, to which Kate revealed that little Louis, one, was already running amok.
‘Thank you so much. Louis is keeping us on our toes,’ she said.
The Duchess of Cambridge waved to excited crowds as she made her way into the newly restored Teleprinter Building
Schoolchildren were among those who were on hand to welcome Kate to Bletchley Park this afternoon, pictured
‘I turned around the other day and he was at the top of the slide – I had no idea!’
Given four cuddly toys by the primary school codebreakers: a squirrel, fox, owl and rabbit for George, Charlotte, Louis and baby Archie, she said: ‘They love wild animals. They will look after these.’
Following one of her favourite trends, Kate plumped for head-to-toe blue and paired the frock with a pair of £425 suede court shoes by Emmy London and a £450 navy Panama Purse by Smythson.
She finished the look with her signature bouncy blow-dry and a pair of delicate pearl drop earrings.
The dress is a favourite of celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker and Christie Brinkley and was notably seen on Meghan’s friend and former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer at the Sussexes’ wedding in May last year.
The Duchess of Cambridge is on hand to visit the immersive film and audio display, D-Day: Interception, Intelligence, Invasion, which celebrates the role played by codebreakers in the landings.
Codebreakers fed crucial information to Allied forces in the days and weeks leading up to the largest sea invasion in history in 1944.
The Duchess of Cambridge was typically elegant as she arrived at Bletchley, waving to well-wishers at the site
Kate Middleton’s unusual fashion accessory
The Duchess of Cambridge has worn jeans and boots at recent events, such as last week in Wales. She donned two separate outfits, but kept her ankles covered
Kate Middleton’s ankle featured a small flesh coloured plaster today, although it’s unclear where the injury came from
Kate Middleton sported an unusual fashion accessory today – a small flesh coloured plaster on the outside of her left ankle.
It’s unclear how long ago Kate suffered the flesh wound, as at recent events she’s covered up in jeans and boots.
The royal may have received an injury while tending to her garden ahead of the Chelsea Flower Show.
Photographs released yesterday showed the hands-on Duchess of Cambridge amongst the weeds and plants helping to produce a plot for the annual gardening event.
Kate, who is more commonly spotted in dresses and skirts, covered her ankles last week during a visit to Wales.
She donned jeans and high heeled boots while touring the Caernarfon Coastguard Search and Rescue Helicopter Base and Wales Air Ambulance.
Later she wore a more practical pair as she walked along a beach and helped with a local litter pick.
Kate wore the polka dot dress with a pair of blue suede heels and a navy leather clutch bag for the outing this afternoon
The royal kept her jewellery simple, plumping for a pair of pearl drop earrings that complimented her ensemble
Youngsters took out their phones to snap a picture of Kate as she made her way into the exhibition this afternoon
The royal mother-of-three smiled broadly as she arrived for the engagement near Milton Keynes
Young royal supporters gazed in admiration at the Duchess as she spent time speaking to them on her way into the exhibition
The Duchess of Cambridge wore a subtly dark eye make-up look for the engagement this afternoon, as seen left and right
The Duchess of Cambridge looks at bricks dedicated to her grandmother Valerie Glassborow and aunt Mary Glassborow who both worked at Bletchley Park, during a visit to view a special D- Day exhibition in the newly restored Teleprinter Building
The Duchess of Cambridge uses a German Enigma machine and talks to students during her visit to Bletchley Park to view a D-Day Exhibition in Milton Keynes
Kate Middleton got to grips with a German Enigma machine captured during WWII during her visit to Bletchley Park
Kate got to grips with a German Enigma machine and talked to students during her visit to Bletchley Park to in Milton Keynes