When clever, sporty Kate Middleton captured the heart of our future king while both were still teenagers, few would have predicted that this young student from the home counties would one day represent the future of the monarchy.
Yet as she marks her 40th birthday on 9 January, Kate’s birthday wish is not to steal the limelight but to put family first, which is why she will be keeping them at the heart of her celebrations. Since those early days she has grown in poise and confidence, earning universal praise for how she has handled her multiple roles within the royal family.
As well as being mother to three royal children, including a future king, she’s also developed into a supportive partner to Prince William, a passionate leader of her chosen charities and a worldwide fashion icon.
“She is quite simply perfection,” says royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams. “Not only is she very popular with the public, which is crucial for the monarchy’s continued success, she really hasn’t put a foot wrong since joining the royal family in 2011. Catherine has shown herself to be the perfect partner for William in their working life and they seem to be very well suited as a couple. She’s certainly been able to give William the stability he never really had growing up.
“After the turbulent Charles and Diana years, the royals must be thanking their lucky stars that the sensible, glamorous duchess is in their midst. It’s not overstating it to say that, along with William, the future of the monarchy rests on her shoulders.”
Although Kate never met Diana, who died in 1997, she has taken on her mother-in-law’s mantle in terms of glamour, becoming a global fashion icon and making headlines around the world. And she’s just hitting her style stride, says Richard.
“The world is fascinated by the monarchy and certainly glamour is an expected part of it,” he says. “The duchess has developed her own style since joining the royal family and the outfits she’s worn, particularly in recent years, have been exquisite.
“The ones that particularly come to mind are the sombre outfit she wore to Prince Philip’s funeral. The pictures of her in a stylish black ensemble with a laced black hat and mask were iconic.
“It was a defining moment because it encapsulated the death of the Queen’s husband, the pandemic and Kate’s importance to the future of the royal family.
“Another amazing outfit was the stunning golden Jenny Packham gown she wore to the James Bond film premiere last September. This was the duchess demonstrating the full-on glamour of royalty, and I think this shows her growing confidence.”
In one of her earliest appearances Kate already showed the influence her fashion choices would have.
Richard said, “In November 2010, Kate opted for a navy Issa wrap dress matching her engagement ring, which was already iconic as it belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales. It sold out the next day, which was an indication of what was to come. It showed the enormous reach her fashion choices would have in the future.”
A FUTURE PRINCESS
During Kate’s 2010 engagement interview, the future Duchess of Cambridge vowed to “learn quickly and work hard” and she’s certainly stayed true to her word.
The Queen showed her approval in April 2019 when she appointed Kate a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO), in recognition of services to the sovereign. Other royals with the rank include the Duchess of Cornwall and the Countess of Wessex.
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