Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, turns 40 on January 9 and the royal has released three new glamorous and ethereal photos for the public. It’s a celebration of not only her birthday, but of Catherine’s continued success as a beloved member of the royal family.
Shot by Italian fashion photographer Paolo Roversi, they will become part of the permanent collection at the National Portrait Gallery, of which the Duchess is patron.
Both ethereal and timeless, the looks and photos are a bit of a departure for Catherine, who generally is more casual in her official portraits. The dresses are all from Alexander McQueen, the same fashion house responsible for Catherine’s wedding dress. They were taken in the Kew Gardens at Kensington Palace.
In particular, it’s the profile portrait of the Duchess with the organza and tulle dress that stands out. The soft gradient coloring, that’s not quite black and white, evokes a sense of years gone by and could easily be a photo from the 1800s or a portrait hundreds of years old.
According to The Telegraph, Cecil Beaton and his portraits of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret were part of the inspiration.
“It was very much a collaborative process,” said a source. “She is really creative and very much into her photography – she was extremely involved in all of this.”
The looks are flawless, but it’s the praise that Catherine is receiving on her 40th year that shows how the royal, who was previously called Waity Katie, has captured the hearts of the people and the press.
“William will be respected. Catherine will be loved.” That’s how one royal insider described the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in an article for The Times of London.
The description is perfect.
Despite the turmoil that has followed most royal marriages for the last 50 years, the Cambridges’ seems like it will stand the test of time. Most explain that it’s Catherine’s calming presence and strength of character that has really given the Duke a strong standing.
A close friend explained: “Kate has a way of calming William down and knows how to be really affectionate and gentle. But she is 100 per cent loyal to him and has a shaft of steel running up her back when she needs to deal with stuff that’s unpalatable.”
She’s needed this ability more than ever this last year, as Prince William and the entire royal family has been put “through hell,” as one of the prince’s closest friends describes it. Between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Oprah interview, where the former actress claims Kate made her cry, to the death of Prince Philip, 2021 was not easy for the future king.
But Kate has been “fantastic” at supporting him through it.
It’s this steely resolve that is reminiscent of the Queen Mother.
As Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton explains, who is a close friend of the Cambridges’, their former principal private secretary and the godfather to Prince George: “She has that almost old-fashioned, Queen Mother attitude to drama—she just doesn’t do it.”
This was on full display during her tour of Asia in 2012, when topless photos of Catherine were published online.
Though her husband was unable to completely contain his rage at the incident, the devastated Duchess never let it show on her face.
“For any normal person, when those photos are in circulation, you’d be within your rights to go to pieces,” says Rebecca Priestley (nee Deacon), who was with them when the story broke. “But there was no sense of ‘poor me, this is horrendous for me’. She knew it wasn’t going to be helpful to have a meltdown.”
Priestley also describes Catherine as having the ability to “play the long game,” and avoid jumping into anything without thinking it through and molding her royal role into something that can inspire her and can contribute to the people of the U.K. for a lifetime.
“She was aware she wasn’t an expert in any one field, and she wanted to educate herself first, then shine a spotlight where needed,” Priestley said. “It was a ‘listen and learn’ approach rather than immediately becoming patron of a charity. We did a lot of under-the-radar visits before the public engagements.”
And it shows, as that’s the exact opposite of what her sister-in-law Meghan Markle did in her few months as working royal. She quickly crashed and burned, and Megxit isn’t looking much better either.
Speaking of the errant Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Catherine has also played an enormously key role in supporting her husband and broke the ice between him and his brother Harry after the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
A source close to the Cambridges’ shared: “In the days after the interview her priority was William, not how she felt about what Harry and Meghan had done. She has focused on personal support for William in what has been a really sad time in his life. She never predicted the degree of falling out between them.”
As Kate is incredibly close with her own family and has helped her husband recognize the importance of family after his own turbulent childhood, so it must be incredibly difficult for her to watch William essentially lose his relationship with his brother.
She has truly become an asset to the monarchy and will remain a stalwart presence for decades to come.
Roversi, her photographer for these new photos, summed up his time with Catherine and her overall royal presence quite well, stating: “Taking the portrait of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge was a true honour for me and a moment of pure joy.
“I was moved by her warmth and friendly welcome and enchanted by her shining eyes that reflected the loveliness of her soul and her smile showing the generosity of her heart.
“It was a profound and rich experience for me, an unforgettable moment.
“I have met a wonderful person, a person who, with her positive energy, can bring hope to the whole world.”
Happy Birthday Catherine!