The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pictured with actor Tom Cruise attending the Top Gun: Maverick Royal Film Performance at the Odeon Leicester Square on 19 May
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When the Duke of Cambridge stepped on to the red carpet for the UK premiere of Top Gun: Maverick last Thursday, he probably didn’t realise it would be him — rather than his wife, Kate, or the film’s star, Tom Cruise — who would send the paparazzi into overdrive.

But it wasn’t the prince’s beautifully cut Alexander McQueen dinner jacket that got the snappers in a frenzy. Oh, no. What really caught the eye that evening was Wills’s unexpectedly flamboyant footwear.

Pulled over the royal trotters was a pair of fetching black velvet slippers embroidered with an F-18 Super Hornet, the fighter jet that features in Cruise’s new blockbuster.

Costing £300, William’s slippers were custom-made by Crockett & Jones, the fancy cobbler that holds the royal warrant thanks to William’s nattily dressed dad.

Crockett also sells them with a skull and crossbones motif, a fleur de lis (very Prince of Wales) and a heraldic lion rampant.

Another top English shoemaker, Shipton & Heneage, offers an even richer multitude of elaborate designs: Cupid, rocket, ‘piggies’, tigers, flowers, flames and, er, electricity pylons (all for just £275 a pair).

And that’s not all: bling-bling rap stars and noted dandies P. Diddy and Kanye West have both been seen sporting slippers on raucous nights out.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pictured with actor Tom Cruise attending the Top Gun: Maverick Royal Film Performance at the Odeon Leicester Square on 19 May

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pictured with actor Tom Cruise attending the Top Gun: Maverick Royal Film Performance at the Odeon Leicester Square on 19 May

What’s that I hear you scoff? Velvet slippers a bit old-school, a bit fuddy-duddy? Nonsense! In case you hadn’t heard, they are actually the height of sophisticated modern fashion, thank you very much.

As I write, I am wearing a rather fetching navy blue velvet pair, emblazoned with some cheeky foxes, made by the same cobbler from which William procured his.

The main difference is that I had to wait the standard two months for mine to be ready (they are made to order, dahling). The galley slaves at Crockett & Jones turned William’s slippers around in under two weeks. Clearly, there are benefits to being a royal.

Wills’s fighter planes are a nice touch, what with his aeronautical past as a helicopter pilot. But, like slogans on T-shirts, I find some novelty prints on clothing look a little old after a while.

I received mine as a Christmas gift ten years ago and am unashamed to say they have barely left my feet since.

So attached have I become to my slippers that I rather yearn for them when I’m not wearing them, in the same way a small child pines for its blanket.

Rarely these days do I travel without my precious slippies in my overnight bag. Forgetting to pack them would irritate me in the same way as if I’d failed to bring a toothbrush.

It is polite, too, if you happen to be staying in someone else’s house. Recently, you may have read in these pages about the debate raging over whether we should take off our shoes indoors. Up to you, but some hosts don’t like you leaving them on. They worry about all that beastly mud and oomska you’ll be bringing into their home from whatever you have been walking in.

No such problems with a decent pair of slippers!

Besides, who wants to pad around in socks? You look like a slob — for one thing, most men’s socks tend to be riddled with holes. Unfortunately, they also tend to get whiffy, which can be a tad embarrassing when you’re someone’s guest for the weekend.

Henry Deedes showcases his favourite posh slippers after the Duke of Cambridge stepped out on the red carpet in unexpectedly flamboyant footwear, £300 custom-made velvet slippers

Henry Deedes showcases his favourite posh slippers after the Duke of Cambridge stepped out on the red carpet in unexpectedly flamboyant footwear, £300 custom-made velvet slippers

Plus, going around indoors without something on your tootsies can be painful if, like me, you are permanently stubbing your toes on furniture. (I also have a talent for standing on upturned plugs — ouch!)

William’s slippers have caused something of a stir among fashionistas. After all, the second-in-line to the throne has not hitherto been known for his sartorial flair.

‘It’s certainly quite a statement,’ declares Peter York, style commentator and co-author of The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, which has long set the rules for this sort of thing.

‘William has never been much of a fancy dan in the dress department but, in the past eight years or so, there has definitely been a bit of a change in the way he looks in public. He used to be a bit behind the times — now he dresses like someone of his generation. His missus, of course, is very conscious of these things.’

Velvet slippers date back to the 1800s, when William’s great-great-great-great grandfather, Prince Albert, took to wearing them with his smoking jacket while entertaining at home.

After that, they became a staple of the English gentleman’s evening-wear, eventually reaching Tinseltown, where studio icon Clark Gable was rarely seen without a pair. These days, fancy designers such as Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana have jumped on the velveteen bandwagon.

But according to York, the modern ‘slipper surge’ began in the mid 1990s, when young Sloanies set a trend for sporting them outside the house, replacing their hallowed Gucci loafers.

Having William on board must feel like the ultimate recruit to their movement. A bit like signing Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the same time. And personally, I think it’s great. First because, as York points out, until now dear Wills has been something of a dullard in the wardrobe department.

They’re hot: Shipton & Heneage flames slippers, black velvet and red internal quilting, £275

They’re hot: Shipton & Heneage flames slippers, black velvet and red internal quilting, £275

Gator fun: Aligator motif embroidered velvet slippers from Shipton & Heneage, £275

Gator fun: Aligator motif embroidered velvet slippers from Shipton & Heneage, £275

Gold top: Black and gold embroidered detail velvet slip-on shoes, Alexander McQueen, £470

Gold top: Black and gold embroidered detail velvet slip-on shoes, Alexander McQueen, £470

Flash of plumage: Alonzo embroidered velvet slippers in navy, from Ralph Lauren, £590

Flash of plumage: Alonzo embroidered velvet slippers in navy, from Ralph Lauren, £590

Having been quite presentable in his youth, he became a bit of a scruff once those unkind Windsor genes — not least when it comes to the royal hairline — kicked in during his mid-20s.

Unlike his dazzling late mother or his dad, clothes were not a big part of Wills’s life. His everyday wardrobe normally consisted of crumpled shirts, ill-fitting cords and scuffed loafers. In other words, he tended to look like a man about to embark on a pub crawl around Fulham (which, to be fair, he sometimes was).

The sudden move to velvet slippers lends the prince a rakish decadence. And I don’t believe this will do his image any harm at all. After all, Popes, who sit on a different throne in the Vatican, often wear achingly snazzy red slippers as part of the rig.

Slippers are cool — the ultimate in comfort wear — and they go with a DJ, a suit and jeans, as well as pyjamas. I once met a female friend for lunch at the celebrity-studded Wolseley restaurant, and she wore a pair embroidered with flowers. Our waiter couldn’t keep his eyes off them.

So my advice to aspiring boulevardiers is to invest in a pair — or several. You can get them in gold, purple, tartan and beyond. Go wild! Have them embroidered in your footie team’s colours or with a motif of the family hound.

Do avoid having your initials sewn into them, though. As that noted snoot and style guru Nicky Haslam observes, monogrammed clothing is naff.

Besides, it’s not as if anyone else will step into them. A man’s slippers are not for sharing.

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