Duchess of Cambridge’s 40th Birthday Portraits

Kensington Palace has shared a series of new images to mark the 40th Birthday of the Duchess of Cambridge, which were taken at Kew Gardens by Paolo Roversi in November 2021, and will be put in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery of which the Duchess is Patron. In the portraits, the Duchess is wearing Alexander McQueen gowns with the Queen’s Antique Diamond Earrings and Princess Diana’s Collingwood Pearl Earrings. From the Telegraph:

The Duchess, who marks her milestone birthday on Sunday, has posed for a series of images for the National Portrait Gallery, as she uses her education in the history of art to help curate her own image for posterity.

Taking influence from the work of era-defining royal photographers such as Cecil Beaton, the Duchess has also channelled her admiration for Victorian photography for a series of three very different images.

One, in which the Duchess is captured in profile, is reminiscent of the young Queen Victoria and shows the modern mother-of-three in regal serenity.

A second, also in sepia tones, is more intimate, seeing her look directly at the camera with a beaming smile in a pose echoing Diana, Princess of Wales in her Mario Testino photoshoots.

The third, in which she wears a vivid red dress with hands in her pockets, channels a younger aura, with earrings loaned to her by the Queen.

First meeting last November at Kensington Palace, with Kate and her staff at a typical five o’clock tea, with biscuits. And it is the first Royal Highness that she immortalizes.

“A nice meeting, and then some nice photos. But at first the Duchess was apprehensive. Every day she is machine-gunned by photographers but not used to posing; knowing my photos with the models she was a bit fearful in facing a real session, which then required about four hours of work. But once she started it would be very easy, I reassured her. And so it was. Kate, who also studied art in Florence, is very fond of photography, in particular of authors such as Julia Margaret Cameron and Lewis Carroll who wrote Alice in Wonderland ».

Since 2019 she has also been patroness of the Royal Photographic Society, since Queen Elizabeth II left her the role after 67 years. Natural or artificial light to portray it?

“All in natural light. Her with little make-up, no hairstyle, simple pearl earrings, a ring… The focal point of Kate’s face is her gaze and smile. I didn’t want her too lady duchess, too establishment, but purer and more contemporary as possible, even more timeless ».

Timeless, but also very Pre-Raphaelite. There is a climate in the profile photo (which she considers the official one even if it is not from the protocol point of view) of the Duchess that refers to the painting of that English movement of the mid-19th century. To Dante Gabriel Rossetti or to Sir David Coyle Burne-Jones, I refer in particular to that Desiderium drawing of 1873, woman in profile….

In fact, that’s right, Kate, to give me inspiration, showed me some reproductions of works by those authors you mention, but after all I have always been a Pre-Raphaelite”.

Three photos and three very different Kate. The first, in profile, regal and with a maturity that goes beyond her age and the white dress that dampens the seriousness of an effigy. The second choice by William and his children where a carefree girl returns. The third in color is as you see it, a little more glamorous.

In the official portrait, she is also a little Angelica of Visconti’s Leopard.

In the photos she makes there are often dreamlike and poetic elements. Then he says that through the lenses of his lens he sees many things, in depth. What did Kate’s person reveal to you?

She is a nice, welcoming woman who puts you at ease, respectful of everyone’s work. Bursts of joie de vivre. Open, generous, luminous, I think it can bring so much hope to England and to the whole world ».

Certainly his condition was truly privileged, but for Diana it was very different.

Lady Diana lived through a drama that made her unhappy, but she is really living her story. But he has an enormous responsibility, his every gesture is looked at under the microscope ».

In December, the selection of photos, out of 250 shots almost all in black and white.

Which eventually became about seventy. I did the first skimming, a dozen of his favorites, then we got to 3 of my favorites and one of his, the official photo is both mine, but also his favorite. But Kate was less determined than me in the last choice. The designer Sarah Burton (hers Kate’s wedding dress) chose the dresses: only one was red, the others neutral. For the official portrait she wore the organza one, almost like a classical ballerina. In the end I wanted to take pictures in motion, so with that wonderful wide skirt I made her dance in front of my camera, a kind of accelerated waltz mixed with a pinch of rock’n’roll ». And it’s a secret image for now.


Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara | Cartier Halo Tiara | Lotus Flower Tiara | Diamond Chandelier Earrings | Collingwood Pearl Earrings | Bahrain Pearl Earrings | Antique Diamond Earrings | Queen’s Wedding Gift Bracelet | Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace | Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace | Queen’s Japanese Pearl Choker Queen Mary’s Diamond Choker Bracelet | Irish Guards Brooch | Sapphire Fringe Earrings | Princess Diana’s South-Sea Pearl Earrings | Pearl Bracelet | Queen’s Dubai Sapphire Suite Acorn Brooch Duchess of Cambridge’s Tiaras


One thought on “Duchess of Cambridge’s 40th Birthday Portraits

  1. The Duchess of Cambridge is a beautiful woman as these portraits clearly show. Her smile is luminous! Her choice of gowns and jewels reflect her love of simple elegance. I would have loved to see a portrait of her by F. X. Winterhalter. I know it would have been divine!

Leave a Reply