The Duchess of Cambridge’s 40th birthday portraits combine grandeur with modernity

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White still works a similar spell in 2022. So does slightly gauzy lighting – witness the wisps of what look like sunbeams around the Duchess’s Pre-Raphaelite hair in the photograph of her wearing ruffles. This is Fairy Tale Duchess – undercut with that extraordinary, eye-reaching smile of hers. Of all her strengths, the Duchess’s apparently genuine pleasure when she engages with people is her most endearing. 

With the Queen expected to be seen less often in public, and with what might be termed a staff shortage in The Firm, this birthday portfolio is a signal that all is far from lost.

The decision to work with Roversi suggests a confident new approach for the Duchess.

Although her outfits have been carefully pored over by fans ever since her engagement to Prince William was announced in 2010, she and William, mindful, perhaps, of how Diana’s alleged extravagant clothes expenditure in the mid-1980s made it harder for her to be taken seriously as an ambassador of her more serious causes, Kate has always been careful not to position herself as a fashion plate.

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