While the Duchess of Cambridge has the power to make retailers' websites crash and even the nude pump fashionable, Charles is not your typical style reference. As an engagement revealed last year, he was unfamiliar even with the basics – Middleton had to show him how to use an iron.
Perhaps, then, his appearance on Sunday night's Countryfile shows a different side. As a guest presenter of the outdoorsy show, the future king's knowledge of hedges was only overshadowed by his jacket: a patchwork of army green fabric with leather and stray threads in a ragtag display. Presenter Matt Baker described it as having "seen a bit of wear".
Baker isn't the only one to notice. Perfectly distressed in a manner that the fashionable will part with considerable sums for, it saw a flurry of attention from insiders. Melanie Rickey suggested on Twitter that Barbour should create a version of the jacket, while designer Patrick Thornton, who produces London's E Tautz label, cites it as an example of how Charles is "completely at ease in his clothes – this makes him a man of great style." High praise for a man more usually known for his double-breasted suits.
Charles' countryside look – with or without that jacket – has stealthily grown in influence over the last few years. While he was once overshadowed by the royal women – his mother, as well as Diana and Kate – he may actually have the last guffaw. His beloved Barbour has become the outerwear of the young and the beautiful – first worn by Kate Moss at Glastonbury and then adopted by city-dwelling hipsters. The menswear collections for autumn also paid homage. "We saw a real nostalgia for British heritage across the Paris and Milan," confirms Damien Paul, menswear buyer at London boutique Matches. "Prince Charles's classic, town-meets-country aesthetic is endlessly emulated."
While the Duchess of Cambridge's style may have captured the hearts of the masses, Charles's appeal seems to have penetrated the upper echelons of high fashion. This jacket only clinches it.
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image: © Dan Marsh