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Irish teacher on parade with the royals after her engagement to pal of William

Lucy Lanigan O’Keeffe and Thomas van Straubenzee at the Sunday service at the Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate
Lucy Lanigan O’Keeffe and Thomas van Straubenzee at the Sunday service at the Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate
Prince William

By Caitlin McBride

An Irish schoolteacher joined the royal family's most senior members in her first official appearance since announcing her engagement to one of Prince William's closest friends.

Lucy Lanigan O'Keeffe is an assistant head teacher at St Thomas's in Battersea, the primary school which Prince George and Princess Charlotte attend. She also teaches outdoor learning and mindfulness.

Last June the couple's engagement was announced and it is believed they will exchange vows this summer.

On Sunday the 31-year-old, from Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, was pictured alongside her beaming fiance at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Queen's Norfolk estate, alongside the monarch and the future heir to the throne, whom Lucy now counts as part of her inner circle.

Mr van Straubenzee (36) runs a successful property business and has been a close friend to William since meeting him at Ludgrove School as children. He is one of Charlotte's godfathers and it is expected the royal children will resume their pageboy and tiny bridesmaid roles at his own wedding later this year.

The Queen is believed to be "very fond" of Thomas, who has made regular visits to Balmoral over the years, according to Tatler.

Lucy's appearance at Sandringham indicates how crucial a figure she has become in the most elevated social circles in the world. She adopted the uniform of the day and appeared to take style tips from the Duchess of Cambridge in a monochromatic petrol blue ensemble, with fascinator and coat dress.

Thomas's younger brother Charlie is also a close confidant to Prince Harry and is believed to be godfather to his son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.

Both Harry and William attended Thomas's previous wedding in 2013 to Lady Melissa Percy, but they split in 2016 after three years together. And both Thomas and Charlie were ushers at Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in 2018.

Sunday's church service came ahead of Kate's impending 38th birthday, which she will celebrate on Thursday. The event was significantly more low-key than the fanfare on Christmas Day, when George and Charlotte took part in the royal 'Christmas walk' for the first time.

Kate was dressed appropriately for the occasion, debuting a funnel neck rust ombre coat by Roksanda and recycling a pair of Stuart Weitzman brown knee-high boots and a statement cerulean fedora by Hicks & Brown.

The service was also attended by Kate's parents Carole and Michael Middleton, both of whom are fresh from a sunny New Year getaway to St Barth's with their youngest daughter Pippa, son James, their respective partners and RTE presenter Vogue Williams.

Most notably, one of the high profile guests in attendance was Rose Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, who attended alongside her husband David Rocksavage, aka the Marquess of Cholmondeley.

It was rumoured earlier this year that Kate and Rose, once thought to be close friends, had a falling out, but this marks their second joint public appearance since the story broke.

Rose was also a guest at the state dinner banquet at Buckingham Palace in June honouring US President Donald Trump's visit to the UK.

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