The Duchess of Cambridge has marked her 40th birthday by releasing three new photographs.
The glamorous portraits, taken by fashion photographer Paolo Roversi, show her wearing Alexander McQueen gowns, as well as Diana, Princess of Wales, and others loaned by the Queen.
Catherine expressed gratitude for the “very kind birthday wishes” and thanked Roversi for “these three special portraits.”
A significant birthday is always a good excuse for nostalgia and reflection, and the duchess has plenty to think about.
Not only has her marriage into the Royal Family changed her life, but so have their three children and her role as future Queen.
She has also had to re-establish herself as a public figure.
- Kate surprises audience with piano performance
- Kate and William’s decade of marriage in pictures
- Kate launches centre for early childhood
The transition from the private Kate Middleton to the public royal Duchess of Cambridge has been difficult.
She has had to navigate the unique and unusual stresses that come with being a member of the Royal Family.
Buckingham Palace, the Prince of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall were among those who took to social media to wish Catherine a happy birthday, sharing photos of Catherine with the Queen, Prince Charles, and Camilla.
The three new photos of the duchess released to commemorate her big birthday are revealing. They represent how she wants to present herself at the age of 40, and they exude glossy, old-fashioned glamour.
The photos were taken at Kew Gardens in November and will be part of a project sponsored by the National Portrait Gallery, of which the duchess is a patron.
They will be displayed in three locations chosen by her that hold special meaning for her.
Berkshire is where she grew up and where she spent her childhood. She attended university in St Andrews, which is also where she met her husband. Anglesey is where the couple lived before and during the early stages of their marriage.
The photographs will then be added to the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.
These are not royal selections. They are personal for a duchess whose happy and settled childhood served as a model for how she now manages her life.
And, at 40, she appears to be content with the path she’s chosen.
In 2011, I attended her first ever engagement on Anglesey.
Despite the fact that she had been in a relationship with William for the majority of her twenties, this was the first time we had seen her on official duty. The crowds were large, and the spotlight was intense, but she appeared unfazed.
That calm, sometimes shy, exterior has not vanished in the years since, but it now includes a growing sense of self-confidence in her public work.
I remembered her first speech, which she gave in 2012 for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, a cause that she still cares about. She appeared and sounded anxious. This was not her usual situation. But fast forward to 2021 and a speech for Action on Addiction, and her words are more relaxed and direct.
“Addiction is not something that can be avoided. Nobody chooses to become a drug addict. However, it is something that can happen to any of us. We are all vulnerable.”
Perhaps the most noticeable change in her appearance has resulted from adjusting to the scrutiny.
The clothes are still a mix of high street and designer, and the duchess knows when to go all out. I’m referring to the September James Bond premiere and the Jenny Packham-designed gold gown.
Her forties will be a decade of significant change for her.
Because of her age, the Queen does less and works in a different way, so the Cambridges will do more.
That will entail a focus on mental health, addiction, and early childhood issues for the duchess.
She will also continue to protect the privacy of her own children, Prince George, eight, Princess Charlotte, six, and Prince Louis, three, by controlling when we can see them.
At 40 years old, life for the duchess who will one day be queen is now a balancing act between the private and the public.