The Duchess of Cambridge turned 40 on Jan. 9 — and to mark the milestone birthday, the royal Capricorn celebrated with a new collection of portraits. Shot by Paolo Roversi, Kate Middleton’s birthday photos see her sport three dresses: two of them white, shot in monochrome, and one of them red, photographed in full color. As Roversi told Harper’s Bazaar, snapping the portraits was “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,” he told the magazine. “It was a profound and rich experience for me, an unforgettable moment.”
There’s another layer to the glamorous photos — a pretty personal one. For starters, they will be part of the National Portrait Gallery’s Coming Home project, in which portraits of high-profile people are displayed in locations that are meaningful to them. For Kate, a patron of the gallery, those locations are Berkshire, her birthplace; the University of St Andrews, her alma mater (and where she first met Prince William); and Anglesey, Wales, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge lived in the early 2010s.
And even though the photos are all about Kate’s big day, they pay homage to women of the royal family who came before her. Kate can be seen wearing Princess Diana’s diamond and pearl drop earrings, as People reports — as well as her sapphire engagement ring, which William gave to his fiancée in 2010.
Another royal reference can be seen in the dramatic red moment, where Kate dons diamond earrings from Queen Elizabeth II.
Kate herself took to Instagram to acknowledge the birthday love. “Thank you for all of your very kind birthday wishes, and to Paolo and the National Portrait Gallery for these three special portraits,” she wrote in a captioned signed “C.”
As for how Kate and her family celebrated the day offline, it was likely a little more casual than her portraits — People reported that she’d be spending the day “privately,” while journalist and royal expert Jonathan Sacerdoti told Us Weekly that the birthday plans would be “scaled back” due to the omicron surge in the United Kingdom, and the family would “be keen to set an example to others.”