Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, turned 40 on Sunday, raising her profile with her husband, Prince William, the future king, while hitting the milestone.
Since marrying into Britain’s most famous family in 2011, the former Kate Middleton has become one of the most popular royals – and a central figure to its future.
His image as a safe pair of hands in difficult times for the monarchy was promoted at a televised Christmas carol concert in December.
He delighted fans with his musical prowess for his touching song “For Those Who Can’t Be Here” with British singer-songwriter Tom Walker on piano.
Kate rehearsed in secret for a surprise performance at Westminster Abbey dedicated to all those who have served their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
“She was absolutely brilliant – she broke it. What a talented, kind, warm, lovely person,” Walker said, describing her as “very cold, very nice” to everyone.
Both Kate and William, who turned 40 in June, have been more visible public figures since the start of the global health crisis.
The couple have held video meetings with frontline health workers battling the outbreak, which has claimed nearly 150,000 lives in the UK since early 2020.
He has also opened up about life in lockdown with his three children – albeit on a royal estate piled up in a sprawling countryside.
As sanctions are lifted, he has been seen in official engagements, from the spectacular world premiere of the new James Bond film to meeting world leaders at the G7 and UN climate change conferences.
Kate has also taken her own initiatives such as promoting early years education and promoting mental health and protecting the environment with William.
– Humble Flexibility –
Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the couple’s former private secretary, told The Times newspaper that part of Kate’s appeal was her humble, straightforward and unflappable nature.
“It takes time to talk to people,” he said, comparing him to his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who was a symbol of British resilience during World War II.
“She is strict. She has found that the Queen Mother feels in her, so that when things need to be done, she is there to do them.”
There was a lot of focus on Kate as she and William began dating as students in Scotland, her middle-class background.
Despite attending one of Britain’s top private schools, much was built on how she would fit into the mystical world of royalty with her own traditions and traditions.
Initial comparisons were inevitably made of William with his mother, Princess Diana, who was struggling with forensic media scrutiny after marrying Prince Charles in 1981.
But Kate appeared to be at least eager to take on royal duties in public, and unlike her sister-in-law Meghan, gave little.
In the British media, she has received favorable coverage, especially since Meghan and her husband Prince Harry left royal life and moved to the United States last year.
– Up to the task? ,
Some attribute the difference in public attitudes towards Kate and Meghan to the British response to emotional clarity in a country known for a hard upper lip.
Certainly, Meghan’s criticism of a prestigious British institution, including accusations of racism, didn’t help.
Nonetheless, Kate – known for her carefully curated social media posts of family life – has faced some brickbats, not least for her immaculate appearance.
Novelist Hilary Mantel even accused him of looking like a “shop-window mannequin without his personality”.
But she is clearly seen as a trusted figure in royal circles at a crucial time.
The royal family has also been shaken by US civil claims for sexual assault against the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, and his ties to convicted sex offenders Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.
Harry is also set to publish his memoirs this year amid fears of new revelations.
With the Queen now 95 and withdrawing from public duties on health grounds, William’s father Charles and his second wife, Camilla, have become more prominent.
But with Charles now 73, his reign, when it begins, is already being seen as a transition to a more up-to-date, sympathetic, Instagrammable version of a respected institution of William and Kate.
Royal writer Phil Dampier said with Harry in self-exile, Andrew in the shadows, and other senior royals aging, “the whole future rests with William and Kate”.
“Luckily they see to the task and I’m sure the best of it is yet to come,” he told the Daily Mail.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)