Kate Middleton celebrated her 40th birthday with a series of regal photos. The photos, by Paolo Roversi, show the duchess stepping into her future role as queen. Meanwhile, Meghan Markle used her 40th birthday to highlight a mentorship project. The Duchess of Cambridge posed for three professional photos
in celebration of her 40th birthday on Sunday.
The photos, taken by Paolo Roversi, show the duchess posing in London’s Kew Gardens and wearing a series of Alexander McQueen ball gowns. The images portray a regal duchess. Kate Middleton has previously taken a more casual approach to photo shoots.
It was a complete contrast to the Duchess of Sussex’s 40th-birthday celebrations. In August 2020, Meghan Markle used her birthday to promote 40×40, an initiative that encouraged the public to give 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work.
For the project, Markle shared a comedic video on her website featuring Melissa McCarthy, in which the pair joked about getting matching tattoos.
Both Middleton and Markle used their milestone birthdays to redefine their royal roles — and it shows just how different their paths are. Middleton is stepping into her role as the future queen, while Markle is focusing on her celebrity status and philanthropic work.
Insider’s Bethany Dawson reported Middleton’s photos were considered more formal than her first royal portrait, a painting by Paul Emsley in 2012. Roversi’s photos were inspired by old photos of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II and showed Middleton’s “regal side,” The Sun’s Matt Wilkinson said.
“The photographer has clearly been inspired by Cecil Beaton’s portraits of the Queen and the queen mother,” the royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Insider.
“Catherine’s interest in photography and her patronage of the National Portrait Gallery were highly significant in choosing these poses. Above all, these photographs are those of a future queen,” he added. Kinsey Schofield, the founder of the royal blog To Di for Daily, told Insider the photos reflected the “comfort and confidence” Middleton developed in recent years.
For Markle, who left royal life behind in 2020, there were few traces of her royal roots in her 40th-birthday video, other than McCarthy jokingly wearing a fascinator and sipping tea. Instead, the focus was on the duchess’ newfound celebrity status as well as her philanthropic work, as she announced that stars such as Adele, Amanda Gorman, and Stella McCartney had agreed to join her initiative.
“These are two very different women with totally different futures,” Fitzwilliams said. “It would be a wonderful step in their 40th year if the rift in the royal family could be healed and, despite their differences, that they could both be friends.”
While there has been a reported rift between Prince William and Prince Harry since 2018, the status of Middleton and Markle’s relationship is currently unknown. They were last photographed together at Markle and Harry’s final royal engagement at Westminster Abbey in March 2020. Representatives for Kensington Palace and the Duchess of Sussex did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.