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Happy Birthday HRH! A Decade Celebrated in the Spotlight

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The New Year is an exciting and sentimental time. We look to the future with anticipation as we say farewell to the past. The New Year is a measuring moment, a pause to take stock of how far we have come before considering where we are going. Birthdays are little New Years of their own. Kate marks her birthday pretty close to the New Year. I get quite reflective on my birthday, looking back to old milestones to measure how far I have come and how I have grown. I imagine that today, as she marks 34 years, Kate is also reflecting just a little on the girl she was and the woman she has become. 


Kate Middleton celebrated her 24th birthday in a cozy London flat she moved to after graduation from St. Andrews. It was her first birthday experiencing the full force of the paparazzi, most of whom had been held at bay throughout Prince William and Kate Middleton's time at university. She was photographed the morning after her birthday dressed simply in a white jacket, black jeans, and her signature suede boots. At this point in her life, Kate had been exposed to press and media while at school, but the attention she received on the streets of London was a new phenomenon. In one picture she has a smile on her face, a mixture of good humor, amusement, and secret excitement, I think. From day one, Kate almost always had a smile for the cameras, a pleasant trait for which I have always deeply admired her. At 24, her relationship with the most eligible bachelor in the world must still have been heady, albeit stressful, stuff. 


A year later, Kate was an old hand with the clamor outside her apartment. Many around the world were expecting the newly 25-year old to be sporting a diamond (or sapphire) sparkler on her left hand by the end of her birthday, so the paparazzi were taking a particularly keen interest. Far from getting engaged, the couple broke up a mere three months later.



William called it quits at the start of April 2007 and the two spent what was a life-changing summer apart. This year was a big one for Kate and William's relationship. It marked a crisis and a crucial turning point. Kate herself has mentioned what a growing experience that summer was for her, and clearly William did a lot of soul searching, too. When they reconciled before the fall it was with a renewed determination that carried them all the way to Westminster Abbey's altar in 2011--and beyond. As she waved goodbye to her tumultuous 25th year on her 26th birthday, the Middleton sisters hit the London night scene to celebrate. Kate was glowing and gorgeous on what turned out to be the last time she publicly partied on her birthday. 


Her 26th year built on the foundation created at the close of her 25th. William and Kate both came out of their 2007 split more mature and more focused. The late night parties of their early twenties were toned down. William's military career intensified and he was often gone on training or assignments. Kate had quit her job at Jigsaw not long after it became public that William had rekindled his romance with her, and although there were various rumors about what she would do next, Kate ultimately retired to Berkshire and went to work for her family's business Party Pieces. It was a smart move that maximized her privacy and allowed her time to prepare for her next role which, although a few years off, was fast approaching. Kate celebrated her 27th year in Bucklebury.


Kate celebrated her 28th birthday with William at Balmoral, and it would prove to be quite the royal year. Before her next birthday rolled around, Kate Middleton would holiday with her prince and other friends in Kenya and William would propose. A month or so later, the happy couple announced their news to an instantly electrified world:



On January 8, 2011, the day before her 29th birthday, Kate arrived at the wedding of friends Harry Aubrey-Fletcher and Sarah Stourton. The Princess-to-be climbed out of a chauffeur driven Range Rover as several PPOs kept a watchful eye over her. The massive sapphire and twinkling diamonds of her engagement ring glittered on her left hand.


It was a whirlwind year for Kate. She married her prince and became a princess, she toured Canada from coast to coast in a wildly successful first international tour, and she experienced her first royal Christmas at Sandringham. On the 8th of January in 2012, on the eve of her 30th birthday, the Duchess of Cambridge attended the War Horse premiere with William in London. As she began her first full year as a royal Kate announced the first four charities of which she would be patron.



The year would be a memorable one. As the Commonwealth celebrated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Kate undertook a number of public engagements with Her Majesty; flew to Malaysia with William on a second tour; and was a lead figure for the London Olympic Games. The best was saved for last as the year ended with the very exciting news that Kate was pregnant. Two days after her 31st birthday, on the 11th of January, Kate marked a milestone as her first official portrait was unveiled at the National Portrait gallery.


This was another life changing year for Kate, who gave birth to her first child on the 22nd of July. The Cambridges also said goodbye to their Angelsey home in August, which must have been a bittersweet farewell. Personally and professionally, the Duchess was entering a new stage. It was rumored Kate celebrated her 32nd birthday in 2014 with a small family dinner at Kensington Palace, but whatever the case may have been, she was not seen at all until she flew to Mustique for her family's annual holiday.



2015 was another packed year for Kate. We saw a shift in her style, which debuted on her almost month-long tour of Australia. Kate's confidence in her royal role, although never lacking, really seemed to have solidified. The new mother was poised, elegant, and seemed entirely in control of every public engagement. Kate announced in the fall of the year that she was pregnant with her second, but recovered from her HG in time to undertake a weekend tour of New York City, another royal milestone for Kate and the two as a couple. As Kate marked her 33rd year in January of 2015 she had just marked her first Christmas at her own (newly renovated) country home: Anmer Hall.  More than ever, Kate's focus was on her family and the new addition on her way. Kate was spotted shopping at John Lewis just a few days after her birthday:


Today, as the Duchess turns 34 she also marks ten birthdays fully in the public glare. It has been an absolutely remarkable ride and as she looks toward this next year, there is doubtless much more excitement in store. This year, Kate will continue to watch her children grow and develop, she will undertake a trip to India and Bhutan in April, and I very much hope that she announces a third pregnancy before we ring in a new year. Kate was known to have wanted a large family, and since she is one of three herself, I think she would like to have more.



Someone asked me in the comments a few days ago why I hoped Kate would have more. Every family is different and there are advantages to large families and different advantages to small families, but as someone who was raised with a number of siblings I naturally advocate for larger families. My siblings were my playfellows when I was young, and because we were raised to be very close, they remain my best friends todays. Especially as the younger ones reach adulthood I have been amazed by how varied our interests and talents are, and how interesting that has made our family get-togethers. In life, even good friends come and go, but no matter how far apart we are, my siblings are always in my life. They are all very smart and all funny, and when we gather for a family cocktail party and dinner we have an absolutely hilarious time together. I think for a royal family, this special trust and camaraderie would be particularly important. Although Kate suffers significantly in the early months of her pregnancies I cannot imagine she ever would look at George or Charlotte and say, "You weren't worth those two months of illness." I cannot fathom thinking that of future children, either. I suspect Kate will have a third child, and I will be rooting for a fourth. :)  In any event, a very Happy Birthday to Kate today!







59 comments:

  1. Beautiful post!!! Thank you so much for yet another insightful and fascinating look at Kate, past and present.

    I think she'll have a third child too!

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  2. Jane, thank you for your time-line and fascinating history of the last 10 years for Kate. It has gone so fast, which I'll bet she's thinking today, too. I can't wait to see her continue to evolve in her thoughtful, graceful way, and watch the children bloom. I'm almost sure she'll have a third, I wonder if we'll have a second boy or girl?! Also, I'm getting more and more curious to know who Harry will eventually end up with? Is he even dating? No pressure, or anything though! Life should not be rushed. (But I'm sooo curious!)

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    Replies
    1. I wonder too if Harry will ever marry. When I look at engagements with William Kate and Harry, it always looks like he is looking at William and Kate like, "man I really want what y'all have." I do wonder also if Harry girlfriend/wife will be compared to Kate. For example, will the press compare the two women, compare the ring that Kate has to the ring that Mrs. Harry will have. Compare Kate's wedding to the future Mrs. Harry's wedding? I'm an American so all things royal excites me. You never know it might be years before there is another royal wedding. Also I wonder what Harry's future wife title will be, possibly Duchess of Sussex.

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    2. Harry does appear to get along quite well with Kate and I agree that he must admire and envy what William and Kate have together. I do hope that he will be equally lucky...

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    3. Even though Prince Andrew and Sarah had a somewhat grand wedding for a younger son, their wedding, her ring, and her wedding dress weren't really compared to Diana's wedding. The only thing that was a big story at the time is that Prince Phillip liked Fergie better than Diana. Of course, that didn't last very long - he ended up hating them both. I don't think that Harry in any way wants to compete with William. He and whoever he marries may even choose, as Prince Edward did, to marry at St. George's Chapel at Windsor. I'm thinking the Duke of Buckingham would be a good choice for Harry. It's a very old title and there hasn't been one since the 1800s.

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    4. The Queen was supposed to be very fond of Fergie too.

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    5. 'Duke of Buckingham' for Harry? I don't think so!

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    6. The first Duke of Buckingham was a favourite of Charles I, claimed by some to be his lover.

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    7. I too think that Harry will have a smaller wedding and that it will be at St. George Chapel. As much I would love to see another wedding at Westminister Abbey, then have the carriage ride, and then finish with the kiss on the balcony, I think since he is now 4th in line, it will be a small wedding. I think the Duke of Clarence would be nice.

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    8. Robin, yes, I recall there being many comparisons between C&D and A&S. By the time A&S got married in 1986, there had been a number of unkind reports written about Diana and how she was a trouble maker and not fitting into the Firm. (No wonder when you consider the reality she was up against!) In comparison, Sarah was made out to be a fun, easy going, breath of fresh air liked by the Queen and PP. I thought they embraced her because they a.) they knew her, b.) her father was Charles' polo manager, and c.) she was a safe and familiar choice given some of the women Andrew had dated prior to 1985. Their courtship was a short one, similar to C&D and I believe they WERE a good match but, unfortunately, they did not consider the reality beyond a fun and passionate courtship.

      Regarding Harry, I like the sound of that. :) And I truly hope he finds a girl worthy of his heart (first and foremost!) and the title.

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    9. Speaking about Harry. Prince Henry Duke of Clarence does sound quite regal.

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  3. I think she will as well, but I have to admit, I hate when she announces a pregnancy as it becomes a year of relatively few events on her calendar...

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    Replies
    1. Slightly bizarre comment.

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    2. Well, I think Amy is pointing out that when Kate gets pregnant, the schedule is very different. As exciting as the baby's arrival is, Kate does disappear before and after for a number of months. Obviously, we are all thrilled to have a new baby, but it is hard not to miss seeing Kate out and about in those months. :)

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    3. Please correct me if I mis-speak, but she "disappeared" about one month prior to
      the second birth and a few weeks after-a balcony appearance, for which her outfit was
      almost viciously criticized and speculations about her current baby weight loss, nursing status etc.kept comment sections buzzing.
      That adds up to about two months, not counting the hospital appearance, hours after
      birth. So, I guess two+ months does qualify as disappearing for "months."

      If one has ever been nine months pregnant, it is easy to understand, if one wishes to understand.Not an optimal time for fashionable
      appearances that will be pictured around the world.

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    4. Jane, I will certainly understand if you choose not to publish my recent comment.
      I do realize the sentiments behind both Amy's comment and your defense. You may have
      been referring to Kate's HG absences as well, not just the circa-birth time.
      The "year of relatively few events" part especially got to me, since-and, again,
      correct me if I am wrong, Kate had at least as many engagements in 2014-2015 as in
      any non-birth year. There aren't really that many Duchess years yet to be finding trends, I think.

      Did I just put my foot in it again?

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    5. No, I just haven't been online a lot today to approve comments. Whatever the actual number of appearances she undertakes, when Kate gets pregnant we have far longer absences than usual. I agree with Amy that it ends up feeling like a dry year. I certainly include HG absences in the count, since that is part of the whole pregnancy thing. I also want to stress that to my recollection there aren't vicious comments about Kate on this blog. I think we can see trends after five year, certainly we could deduce a trajectory and we can see how she deviates from it when pregnant. All in all, this was just a very simple statement that we miss Kate when she gets pregnant. I don't think anyone here wants her out doing engagements when she is ill and ought to be in bed, and as women we understand why she lays low after the baby's arrival, but I think it is still ok to say: we miss her.

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  4. Lovely post - thank you. I think you are right, baby number 3 will be on the way before the close of 2016!!!

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  5. Sonja from BavariaJanuary 9, 2016 at 3:00 PM

    The very first photo of Kate in the red coatdress is just gorgeous, she looks so beautiful!

    I love the this post, you always have such great and unique ideas!
    It's really interesting that Kate has been in the spotlight for that long. I wonder how she felt on her 25th birthday... there had been rumors that william would propose and maybe she had thought that too, who knows? And then she didn't get a ring on her finger and all the cameras were clicking and she knew it would make the headlines... Poor Kate. Being in the spotlight is not easy :)

    I think it was her 31st birthday when she was spotted at Cirque du Soleil with William & her family?

    I hope this was a great birthday for Kate :) no doubt someone helped George paint a special picture as a present for his mama or something like that - and I hope she got some sparkling jewels from William! ;D

    I also think (and hope!) She'll have a 3rd baby. W&K make such beautiful babies as we know and I think Kate loves being a mother and she is an amazing one. I *think* she'll be pregnant again before her 35th birthday. I know she'll likely suffer from HG again, but I think her desire for a big family is more important. However, we won't know until it happens :)

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    1. Yes, Sonja, I could see her receiving a gift like that from George. It makes me realize how quickly the years have gone by since I started paying attention to Miss Middleton. And I too hope William gave her a small, but sparkling package. ;)

      Regarding baby number 3, I believe they will have one more. W&K have very good relationships with their siblings and it isn't a stretch to think they will want their children to benefit from a similar experience, especially given their future roles.

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  6. What a lovely tribute for Kate's birthday. It's certainly been a ride for her. I too am rooting for a third and a fourth. My daughter is William and Kate's age (34 in Feb.) and her fourth will join our family this summer! Can't wait!

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    Replies
    1. Congratulations, Robin. You have a wonderful summer to look forward too. And for your daughter's sake, I hope it's early summer. :)

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  7. Lovely post, Jane. Hopefully, Kate could enjoy a great bday. I think that when you write about the shift in her style and the Aussie tour, the very 1st nuber should be 2014 and not 2015, right?

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  8. Vasiliki Nousiou GreeceJanuary 9, 2016 at 3:30 PM

    Lovely post Jane, thank you so much!!!
    I can't believe it's been ten whole years since Kate started working for Jigsaw and the "Great Kate Wait" was underway!!!
    What fabulous ten years it has been with many more on the way, hopefully.
    Wishing the Duchess all the best on her 34th birthday and yes a baby announcement before the year is out!!!

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  9. That header is a gorgeous photo of Kate. I have never seen it before!

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    Replies
    1. Sonja from BavariaJanuary 9, 2016 at 3:58 PM

      Exactly my thought! :)

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    2. I think that photo is not only beautiful and beautifully done, but also character-revealing.
      Thanks, Jane! Another home run.

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    3. It is one of the most beautiful photographs I have seen of her.

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    4. Why can't this replace the one in the NPG? It is portrait quality.
      Where in the world did you find it, Jane? Amazing sleuth job and time-consuming, I
      should imagine.
      I am convinced Jane is actually Jane 1 and Jane 2.One of whom attends law school
      and one who sees to home and blog.

      Delete
    5. I agree, love this picture and would like it to be on permanent display. It is much better than the official portrait!

      Delete
    6. Hi Eva! Where have you been? If I were British, I'd start a petition on that petition web
      site to remove that unflattering NPG picture-which was largely copied from photographs anyway, and
      replace it with the one above.

      Delete
  10. Wishing HRH a very happy birthday. I am sure she has had a lovely day with her loved ones.
    Looking forward to their tour, particularly to Bhutan--a country I know little about and we are sure to get plenty of pictures whilst they are there.
    If William and Catherine want more children I hope they have the chance to have them and spend time with them, before further responsibilities fall on them.

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  11. Hello Jane,

    Thank you for this unique post. It's a treat to see where Kate has been-both actually and in a more "developmental" sense- on her birthdays.

    I think she'll have a third child. I've noticed a pattern of royal tour/pregnancy (South east Asia/George; Australia and N.Z./Charlotte). I wouldn't be surprised if she has another baby after the India tour.

    Any more children after three may very much depend on whether or not HM the Queen continues on capably or whether health/age concerns start to make a bigger difference for her and the succession.

    If William and Kate have more royal duties, those demands could change their lifestyles profoundly. They may not wish for later children to have a substantially different experience/upbringing than those they have now (for example, less time available to them because their parents are busier with official duties, more staff involved, the family based in London, not Norfolk, etc.). This is all supposition but they will eventually step up to bigger jobs. That and getting older themselves may limit their family size after three or maybe four.

    I think Kate is a very organized, high performing wife and mother who puts a lot of thought into how she does things. She may not want to compromise this approach. As her royal duties become more demanding, she may make decisions on family size accordingly. In a similar vein, William will likely have to revisit his pilot's job when more royal duties fall to him.

    For these reasons, I think there will be another pregnancy in 2016. I think the HG is another factor but it appears that Kate has come to terms with it. Witness the change in approach she took while pregnant with Charlotte which seemed to improve her ability to deal with this illness. This is not to downplay in any way how challenging it must be to have to factor in the likelihood of a bout of HG when considering having another child. Kate has shown that she is willing to brave this.

    I hope HRH has a wonderful birthday! I hope we get a little hint of what she did to celebrate. I hope Gorgeous George paints her a picture and that someone else takes a beautiful photo of her family for her!

    Happy New Year to everyone.

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    Replies
    1. Way back when the world was young and I was in the business world (pre-momhood) my secretary had HG - actually much worse than Kate as it lasted the entire pregnancy. Her first pregnancy was the worst. She ran out of a lot of meetings in a hurry. But, she went on to have four more kids and the HG actually got a little bit better with each one. Fingers crossed that's what will happen for Kate. She didn't seem to be gone quite as long with Charlotte as she was with George.

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  12. Jane:

    Thank you very much for this truly moving post on this the Duchess' 34th birthday. It is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful and lovely, wife, mother, Duchess and favorite royal for me and many more worldwide.

    **Happy Birthday HRH**

    Thanks again. Have a Happy New Year and "family rule".

    RW.

    PS: Jane, if in the future you decide to put together a book about your blog, this piece must definitely be included.

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  13. Happy Birthday HRH! Great retrospective post, Jane, and great pictures.

    I don't care if she and William expand the family; I'd prefer it stay the star it is (more activities! more attention to charities & patronages!), but I'm obviously in the minority. Cheers to another good year, Kate!

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  14. I love these looks back at Kate in her single days. When I see one of her early photos, I think, yes, she had "it" all along.

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    1. Sonja from BavariaJanuary 10, 2016 at 3:49 AM

      Agree. :)

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    2. Agree too, and I like the purple shoes. I wish she would rewear them.

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    3. I noticed them, too, Faith. Great, whimsical touch.

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    4. Sonja from BavariaJanuary 10, 2016 at 3:22 PM

      Yes, these shoes are among my favourites of hers.

      Delete
  15. Kate's family home at the time of her marriage was relatively small and ostentatious when one considers whom she was marrying. She didn't come from a 'grand' background: what a leap!

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, I meant 'unostentatious'!!

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  16. Has Pippa got bare legs in the photo here? Kate seems to be wearing tights in the photo of the sisters in the taxi together.

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  17. I'm not sure they will have a third child.

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    Replies
    1. What are your thoughts?

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  18. Happy Birthday Kate!

    I hope the Duchess has a fun day and thank you Jane for the lovely post. Once again, you've posted pictures that I haven't seen before- how do you do that?

    Hopefully, we'll have many Kate sightings in 2016 but I, too, hope there is another royal baby announcement by the end of the year. They took us by surprise in September 2014 and there are some rumors swirling about now.....

    We'll have to wait and see. Cheers to all!

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    Replies
    1. I know! I'm always amazed there are photos I've never seen either but there it is.

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  19. I love your look-backs, Jane! And, as others have mentioned, you always find pictures I don't remember seeing... the first one where she looks contentedly contemplative and also the one where she's stepping out of the car to the wedding in 2011. I love those purple/pink shoes and purse! So fun!

    Ten years sure went by fast. I can hardly believe William and Kate are in their mid-thirties and have two children. I think they'll probably have a third within the next year and a half. But who knows? :)

    Since I haven't commented in a while: Happy New Year, Everyone!

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  20. Jane, in your last post you mentioned you lived in the St Louis metro area.

    Have you seen photos of Miss Teen Missouri 2015, Christina Stratton? I think she is just so pretty and really should have been in the top 5 at the Miss Teen USA pageant instead of Tennessee (no offense to Tn). And she even has her own charity organization! something with tutus... If she was just 10 years older, I think she'd be the perfect girl for Prince Harry (they'd have awesone ginger babies)!

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  21. Sonja from BavariaJanuary 10, 2016 at 3:29 PM

    Off-topic, but since this blog is about Kate's style I'm asking anyways:

    Do we know what lipstick Kate uses? It looks like she wears the same shade to almost all of her engagements and I LOVE it. I just think it's the perfect your lips but better shade of nude with a hint of pink (probably the longest colour description ever :D). I've already tried so many lipsticks and I'm still struggling to find THE perfect shade and I love Kate's so much. So I wondered if that has ever been identified (by a company or whomever).

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  22. Jane, do you think the Instagram video of Kate leaving Berry Bros. in August is actually her? The gait of the woman seems different than Kate's and the visible arm seems more muscular. Funny, the facial profile says Kate to me while nothing else
    does.

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    Replies
    1. If that didn't look like William I would have thought it was Angelina Jolie, with the gait as you said and the straight hair. But if you look at her face right as she's getting in the car it looks like Kate.

      ~Phyl

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    2. It is definitely William and, as you say, the face appears to be Kate's. The body completely threw me off as the frame appears larger than hers. Very wide shoulders and a muscular looking arm. I guess its all chalked up to an odd angle.

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    3. Faith- I agree.There is something very strange about that video, not to mention its appearance months after the fact. It could be it was shopped around and found no
      buyers because of its questionable look. Whether it is authentic or not, its showing
      up at this particular moment-in the midst of positive Cambridge press portraying them engaging in relatable activities-
      and depicting
      a visit to a venue that is beyond the means of most, with multiple RPOs for a
      private event...it tends to feed republican rhetoric. I applaud Jane's not giving
      it blog space.

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    4. During the last couple of days, I've read a few comments on different sites about Kate's gait (as evidence that it is not her), but we see her taking a few steps before slowing down ahead of getting into the car. Personally, I did not see anything odd about the video.

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    5. Please post link to video!

      Delete
  23. Well,I hope she doesn't have more childreb.I rather like the dynamic of two,not so far apart in age sivlings who have each other as their sole confidantes

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