Why didn’t Duchess Kate wear a tiara for her birthday portraits?

kate 40 portrait2

Our post about the Duchess of Cambridge’s 40th birthday portraits is probably going to be one of the most-commented-on posts of the year. People just loved analyzing the weird, ghostly and Victorian-style photos by Paolo Roversi, an Italian fashion photographer. I’m still stuck on the fact that Kate hired Roversi too – there are tons of really great British photographers, even great British fashion/culture photographers. Why an Italian? Why Roversi in particular? Why these portraits in particular? Why did Kate lean into “glam/fashion” when the whole PR push for her birthday was about how she eschews glamour (unlike Meghan)? Meanwhile, Kate’s fans were wondering why Kate didn’t wear a tiara for the portraits:

Happy birthday to the Duchess of Cambridge, who is celebrating her 40th birthday on Sunday. But unlike other formal occasions the royal wasn’t wearing a tiara.

Although it might initially seem unusual, the occasion wasn’t a formal one for the Duchess, and was more akin to a fashion photoshoot. HELLO! understands that Kate, who studied art history at university, had a distinct style in mind and the photoshoot was very much a collaboration between herself and acclaimed photographer Paolo Roversi. She is said to be “delighted” with the results. And the gorgeous photos certainly captured that feel, as the mum-of-three looked every inch a glamorous fashion model.

[From Hello]

“…As the mum-of-three looked every inch a glamorous fashion model…” One, she did NOT. Two, I thought it was low-class and tacky to look glamorous and fashion-conscious? As for the tiara… come on, like Kate would have passed up an opportunity to wear a tiara. Methinks Angela Kelly – the keeper of the jewels and the Queen’s dresser – didn’t want to lend a tiara out to Kate for her lil’ birthday photoshoot, although Kelly did allow Kate to borrow a pair of earrings from the Royal Collection. The other option – and it’s a solid option! – is that this is what Kate thinks of as “very glamorous.” Expensive, custom McQueen gowns, daguerreotype-style Victorian consumption photos and mall Glamour Shots.

Roversi also spoke about the portraits. He’s clearly proud of his work, and he said that Kate was “nervous” about the shoot. Sources suggest that Sarah Burton (McQueen’s head designer) chose the gowns for Kate. Roversi says he took about 250 photos and he and Kate worked together to whittle them down to the three which were released. He also shot photos of Kate dancing, because he convinced her to twirl and dance at one point. Roversi also took credit for Kate’s, um, Rose Hanbury-esque hairstyle, saying that he asked Kate for a “less is more” approach to styling, with loose hair and little makeup: “I didn’t want her to look too Lady Duchess, too establishment, but as pure and contemporary as possible. Or even timeless.” The photos were none of those things.

kate 40 portrait1

kate 40 portrait3

Photos courtesy of Paolo Roversi for Kensington Palace.

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194 Responses to “Why didn’t Duchess Kate wear a tiara for her birthday portraits?”

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  1. Snuffles says:

    That side view portrait legitimately creeps me out. It looks like the portrait of a dead person from a bygone era.

    • RandomPerson says:

      If someone showed me this photo today, I would ask if it was their great-great-grandma.

    • Emma says:

      Yeah, the other two are fine (not great but whatever), but that one is creepy.

      It’s easy to be an armchair critic but I have to ask, if they didn’t want to photograph her in a tiara or robes of state (which she might not have actually yet), okay but then why not photograph her at her desk or garden, in her sitting room or at a favorite charity, with things she loves around her? Even with her dog or her daughter. The photos are so bare and characterless.

    • Marilee says:

      It looks like one of those western photos where people dress up like cowboys and saloon “maidens” and get their picture taken.

      Do people know what I am talking about or is it just a midwest thing?

      • BeanieBean says:

        No, I’ve seen that thing quite a lot in various tourist spots. It’s a thing.

      • Deedee says:

        They have those at amusement parks.

      • CindyP says:

        I know what you’re talking about…you’re right. Had one taken with friends in high school. I live in MA so not just an MW thing!
        Those pics are so awful, imagine having the best stylists, designers, photographers at your beck & call & this is what you put out

      • TheOriginalMia says:

        I know what you’re talking about and yes, it does.

      • zengirl says:

        100% Funny that the one time I did that was also in MA!

    • LadyMTL says:

      None of them are fantastic but I am sort of liking that one and that one alone, lol. It gives me a throwback vibe (which totally fits if it was Victorian-inspired), and IMHO is the only one that doesn’t come off as forced or overly ‘shopped.

      • Robyn says:

        *whispers* I kind of like it too.

      • Lizzie says:

        It’s the only one that remotely looks like her.

      • Charm says:

        Princess Diana did glamour shoots (by Testino) and no one saw “Victorian inspired” when they looked at the photos. It was 1990s glamour.

        Queen Elizabeth and her sister Margaret also did glamour shoots in their time and what one sees of the photos is glamour of the 1950s/60s.

        Queen Victoria did glamour shoots back in her day and what we see of those pix today, is Victorian era glamour.

        So what does kHate bring to the table? Nothing of herself….always, always, this woman COPIES more actualized women that she sees and envies: Jecca, Rose Hanbury, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Letizia, Princess Diana, Princess Meghan.

        And now, on her milestone birthday, when it called for a glamour shoot of the modern era, what does she do: she clearly was led to believe that her glamour photoshoot, for posterity, must evoke an era of women far superior to her.

      • Nic919 says:

        The concept isn’t bad, but kate can’t pull off the glamour. She looks too emaciated for that and the protruding clavicles don’t work for a Victorian era style photo. Rich people didn’t starve themselves to that extent, only poor people looked that thin. Which is why her look is anachronistic despite the use of black and white. Also her posture is bad and no debutante of that era would pose with poor posture.

      • GraceB says:

        Honestly I don’t think they’re meant to be glamourous. I think they’re supposed to be timeless but that didn’t work either. The last two dresses are so 80’s and nobody looks at 80’s fashion and thinks of it as timeless.

        Also the red dress photo, while it looks like it could have been good, the way the tone has been edited makes her look really washed out. It’s not flattering. I think the concept was good but in reality it didn’t work, so I don’t know why they didn’t decide to scrap it and try again.

      • zengirl says:

        At first glance, I liked it but the more I studied it the more I disliked it. This innocent facial expression and virginal dress (plus the twee hand holding the ribbon thing) reminds me of what Kaiser says about Kate being infantilized. The more you look, the more it seems really inappropriate for someone who has 40 years of life experience (I know, her having actual life experience is highly debatable!).

      • SourcesclosetoKate says:

        @zengirl guilty and manipulative people always portray themselves as particularly innocent, it’s apart of her manipulation. She wasn’t so infantilized when she mean girled Meghan out of the royal family.

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      Out on the wiley, windy moors
      We’d roll and fall in green
      You had a temper like my jealousy
      Too hot, too greedy
      How could you leave me
      When I needed to possess you?
      I hated you. I loved you, too

      Bad dreams in the night
      They told me I was going to lose the fight
      Leave behind my wuthering, wuthering
      Wuthering Heights

      William it’s me, I’m Cathy
      I’ve come home. I’m so cold
      Let me in-a-your window

    • Cringe-worthy,if you asked me. She must have been gunning for Rose Hanbury’s ethereal look.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      It’s like the last big night on the Titanic.

    • mina says:

      It looks like an 80’s school picture

    • Deering24 says:

      Hee. It’s like one of the dead-Victorian-servant photos in The Others.

    • Yvette says:

      The photo with Cate wearing the red dress is too ‘All About Eve’ Bette Davis for me. And is the photographer truly claiming there was no face PhotoShop on these photos??

    • DCGal says:

      It’s that same face she makes when she is trying to look serious. It looks even more ridiculous from the side, like she’s falling asleep.

      What a vanity project. An Italian photographer? 250 photos?? Why??? What a waste of time and resources, although not like she would be doing anything anyway.

  2. Tootsie McJingle says:

    I don’t know why the hair bothers me so much.

    • Carobell says:

      Right? It just looks messy, imagine her with an updo and it would have improved it massively!!!

      • Tootsie McJingle says:

        My guess would be they were trying to somehow make her more relatable. But it just looks messy.

    • Mac says:

      I like the hair but I hate the gowns. Less would have been more.

    • goofpuff says:

      Because it’s extremely out of character for her. Its not how she wears her hair at all so it looks weird. And she looks uncomfortable wearing it.

    • Ronaldinhio says:

      Poor wigley blend

      Also the red dress gives me Kate in Paris vibes

      Looks nothing like herself

      • zengirl says:

        She doesn’t look like herself. I actually think her face has been ‘shopped to look like Princess Mary (Denmark). Princess Mary is another person she has always copycatted.

    • Becks1 says:

      I don’t mind the hair in general, I think these more natural waves look better on her than the latest wiglet she’s been wearing or the sausage curls, BUT its not how she looks in public the majority of the time (this is more how her hair looked during the dating years) so its weird that she would go with this style for these big, important portraits. She took her “signature” hair and changed it.

    • Eurydice says:

      I like that she tried something different with her hair, more modern that her usual Hallmark Channel Heroine. The only thing I’d say is that it looks like they used too much product so her hair looks a little crunchy.

  3. Natters says:

    First, why does Angela Kelly have all this power when it comes to jewelry and tiaras? Second, the hair was a big mistake. She needed bigger hair for such voluminous gowns.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      AK is a favorite of the Queen and she gets away with absolutely appalling behavior – including at least on instance of physical assault on another employee.

      • KFG says:

        They wouldn’t have been so jarring if her smile and eyes conveyed happiness. They don’t. Plus that hairstyle requires an ethereal gown, straight lace or chiffon, not some big Victorian dress. This looks like she took her hair out or just woke up. It’s like everything she does, half-assed.

      • I just looked up the story on that–it was even worse than I thought. What an awful person.

    • Murphy says:

      AK has the key to the cupboard.
      If the Queen wanted her to open it–she would.
      But she didn’t-so she didn’t.

      • Jais says:

        So what happen after the queen passes? Legit question. Who has the keys to the cupboard? Camilla? Charles? Can the queen gift certain jewels to people or do the majority belong to the state/crown?

      • Murphy says:

        Charles will let Camilla run that show.

  4. Cc says:

    Because she couldn’t have used a wind machine to blow her extensions around if she wore a tiara.

  5. Becks1 says:

    She didn’t wear a tiara because she was told she couldn’t. Even the lover’s knot tiara isn’t “hers” to wear, its still part of the royal collection and that’s just the biggest one the Queen has loaned her up to this point. If the Queen and Angela Kelly said no tiara, then no tiara.

    I can’t look at these pictures the way I did even yesterday after someone linked to the very similar Rose Hanbury pictures.

    • Merricat says:


    • Over it says:

      I think the queen said no work , no Tiara.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      Yep. Angela Kelly refused to offer a tiara & no one was willing to push for Kate to get her way, which is interesting. Besides the pictures being extremely weird, these portraits & the birthday stories all feel very…off. I don’t get the impression that the Windsors are pushing this on the public. At best, they’re tolerating it.

      It reminds me of Kate treating Philip’s funeral as her own personal showcase. I can’t imagine any of the family thinks much of all this. She’s acting like she’s the Queen Mum, Princess Margaret & Diana (but not Meghan!). How long will the Windsors tolerate this?

      • TigerMcQueen says:

        I think its her shenanigans at the funeral (the obvious posing for that photographer she’s connected to through one of her ‘fashion consultants’ IIRC) fed into the ‘nope’ for a tiara for this photo shoot. Kelly had to ok the jewelry Mutton Buttons borrowed for the funeral, but I think she was rightfully appalled about how they were used as an embiggening prop (if not appalled, at least aware that it was in poor taste and shouldn’t happen again).

      • Beach Dreams says:

        Oh this is totally the Middleton show. All the PR of the last week had that distinct ‘sanctioned by Kate and Carole’ vibe. The palace would never allow William to be characterized the way he was in those stories.

    • Liz Version 700 says:

      +2 Becks1 yesterday they were creepy haunted pictures, now they are creepy stalker haunted pictures and both to compete with her SIL of course

    • Lionel says:

      Yes! I think Kate posing for portraiture in a tiara is the one actual bit of “Royal protocol” that can’t be breached. Not till you’re QC, honey!

    • Murphy says:

      Yeah I bet she requested a tiara and they sent back the earrings instead “best we could do, sorry”

  6. Tulipworthy says:

    Kate is so much prettier than the photos show. They really are bad.

    • goofpuff says:

      That’s sad considering how much lighting, photoshop and filters went into the final pictures.

    • Ry says:

      The portraits really don’t do her justice I agree.
      But I’m so sick of looking at her face and hearing about her.

    • SD says:

      Yes I think she’s much prettier in nearly any photo you’d see just googling her.

  7. JT says:

    All of that work for these portraits and the embiggening for Meghan to be trending on Kate’s birthday week.

    • Thelma says:

      Is Meghan trending? Why?

      • BUBS says:

        Meghan’s been trending for about 2 days now -well, is there really any time she isn’t? – however, this time, it seems to be because she’s been mentioned so much over this “keen birthday week”. It’s almost as if it’s Meghan’s second 40th birthday celebration!

      • equality says:

        Also H&M’s “freedom day” when they announced leaving is trending.

  8. gah says:

    legit would not have recognized her as Kate in the red dress photo.

    as for the other two the mall glamour shot reference is perfection 😉

  9. Lizzie says:

    Because Keen wasn’t a debutante and wanted to recreate deb pictures along with airbrushing the years away so much she looks like a different person. She’ll save the tiara for when she is POW.

  10. J ferber says:

    All for Kate to let slip that she’ll be doing nothing for the next 10 to 15 years. . . but in style, on YOUR tax dollars. Buh-bye!

  11. Erica says:

    Kate has the weirdest taste ever. Her clothes, the photos that she “takes”, the portraits she sits for, these weird ass portraits. I just don’t understand. It’s like she is trying to be understated, but she swings in the opposite direction. Even those photos in vogue look insane. That hat- it’s a beautiful hat, look great on anyone, but when she wears it…I don’t know, it looks like she’s never worn a hat before. There’s just something unsettling about it. Maybe’s it that grin. It looks fake? I don’t even know what I’m saying.

    • Eurydice says:

      I think I get what you’re saying. You really can’t teach good taste. You can teach manners and techniques, but good taste is a kind of artistic talent, an artistic and personal point of view.
      Kate has weird taste and taste that’s all over the map because she actually has no taste and no consistent point of view. She keeps trying on other people’s point of view and it just doesn’t work.

    • SourcesclosetoKate says:

      That huge smile is to show off her purchase of her longer pearly white teeth that were “inspired” by Diana, courtesy of taxpayers.

    • Ina says:

      I know exactly what you’re saying because I have the same visceral reaction towards Kate. It’s a combination of things. She’s an empty shell with no personality, lacking spark and presence. She does not excite. Tries too hard and falls flat. She’s a phony. I can’t stand her gurning and those huge veneered teeth!

  12. Jen says:

    The gray cast and photoshopping is a whole lot.

  13. Zen says:

    These pics might have been Kate cos playing Diana again. Remember Mario Testino did that famous photo shoot with Diana where she was model-level gorgeous with no tiara in sight.

    • notasugarhere says:

      At least two of these gowns are Diana cosplay.

    • Tessa says:

      Diana did not have the coldness Kate has. Diana chose better gowns, the ones with the one shoulder gown were great. Diana looked like she was also having fun during the photo shoot. Kate looks like a mannequin.

      • Nic919 says:

        The testino photos taken 25 years ago are more modern and fresh than this.

        Kate just doesn’t have the it factor and she can’t admit it.

    • Eurydice says:

      Diana wasn’t trying to portray something she was not. She wasn’t trying to evoke Queen Victoria, or 1920s Hollywood, or turn herself into a fun-loving fashion model. Diana was Diana – she looked at the camera as if it was her very best friend and/or lover and that translated right through to the audience.

    • Lexistential says:

      Diana had the Testino photos taken to sell her old gowns. The photo shoot was all about celebrating her new, freer self away from the Palace, shedding the past, and putting those styles up for auction.

      Kate, on the other hand, had new clothes made, and you can bet that one is going to hold on to every Buttoned Coatdress and lace gown until she’s dead. It’s a terrible, unoriginal knockoff photo.

  14. J ferber says:

    Lizzie, I like the interpretation of your POW as prisoner of war. Because Kate is fighting her own dirty little guerilla war for the big prize, but she may be enmeshed with her prize in ways she never imagined or wanted.

  15. Nan says:

    Totally my opinion. You don’t reveal shoulders when someone is that thin.—the close up white dress shot is giving me Karen Carpenter vibes. So to me, this shoot was a total mess. So many other options they could have chosen, which tells me that either someone set her up to fail, or they are just clueless.

    • Persephone says:

      Agreed – I’d go with someone set her up to fail.

      Also the red dress photo looks like someone photoshopped a big Kate head on a thin body. It looks so unreal.

  16. Leesa says:

    Also, the weird lighting may be intentional to make her look even whiter than usual.

  17. J ferber says:

    Nan, I likened that ghost photo to one of the doomed princesses of Czarist Russia pre-1914. There is something almost frightening about that pic, though clueless Kate is clueless.

  18. DesertSage says:

    All I can see in the red dress photo is young Andie MacDowell. None of the photos vibe together which is the strangest thing about the whole shoot, there’s no “narrative” at all. So disjointed and random.

    • Lizzie says:

      I thought the same thing. Meghan says she wanted to Andie’s hairstyle when she was little and boom, here’s a pic of Keen resembling Andie.

    • zengirl says:

      Yes, after reading through, the red dress photo looks like a computer generated cross between Andie McDowell, Rose Hanbury and Princess Mary – not Kate at all. I don’t think Kate has any real personality or identity of her own. Nothing going on it that brain (other than scheming).

      • Lexistential says:

        And if there is any content in her brain, it’s how stuff looks: her face, her outfit, her appearance with William, PR, the appearance of working– and caring.

        No substance at all, and no comparison to Meghan either.

  19. Sofia says:

    I did say yesterday that I would have put her in full regalia – tiaras and all for this but it’s most likely that HM didn’t give permission for a tiara to be taken out of the vault (including the ones she wears regularly like the lovers knot).

  20. girl_ninja says:

    I disagree that the photos don’t look like her. They do. Boring and bland and Kate. Nothing special at all just like her.

  21. Over it says:

    Was Kate alive when these pictures were taken? They remind me ,especially the two in the white dresses of the ghost in Harry Potter .

  22. What says:

    Why at forty is people still convincing to this”confident” person on how to dress. It was the dressmaker to pick the dresses. It was the photographer to say wear your hair like this.

    Yet she’s professional, confident, coming in her own, still looks to her hubby opinion about her pictures, the best is yet to come in my screaming Kim gargoyle at the Republican convention voice.

    Why’s a forty year old woman trying to look like the queen, the Queen mom and her late mother n law, and trying desperately to copy her sis n law along with her hubby mistress.
    This is the so-called savior of the monarchy when her own fans State that the pictures don’t look like her or does her no justice.

    This is also the same person who with all these different articles. Right now on the daily fail-is already near the middle to bottom of the page since unlike her sis n law and her mom n law she can’t keep people’s attention long. This is the real Kate an image that she herself can’t keep up with. She’s so gorgeous, classhy, stunning, yet piers Morgan is already moved on to dragging his true obsession california, the real star of the Royal family. Which I doubt will have anything to do with the jubilee

  23. Hotsauceinmybag says:

    I’m sorry to say this but she is so thin it hurts me to look at her.

    • Jennifer says:

      True. But that way she doesn’t get constant “Kate is a fat cow” remarks either, I guess.

  24. Ainsley7 says:

    These are all just so weird. She doesn’t look like herself and not even in a good way. Her nose specifically looks huge. She doesn’t have a super tiny one, but it’s never looked this big in any pictures before. Her hair looks greasy and the waves are all flattened like she just rolled out of bed. The minimal makeup also isn’t good. It’s all very very casual. Then you have the super formal dresses with lackluster jewelry (she’s a Royal, I expect better from them). I’m just not sure what they were going for? Who decided on the styling for all this? The dresses feel like Kate, but even the jewelry doesn’t seem like what she would necessarily pick to go with these dresses. A tiara would have made even less sense with her hair that way though. So, I’m glad she isn’t trying to wear a tiara with the messy waves.

    • Lexistential says:

      I noticed the largeness of her nose too! I’m amazed at how there is no contouring on her face.

  25. Valentina says:

    Well, she does have a beautiful smile, but that’s the only positive thing I can say about these pics.

    • RoyalAssassin says:

      You mean the Unhinged Jaw Syndrome is something you find “beautiful”?!! She looks manic when her gaping mouth is hanging open in pretend-laughs.

  26. L4Frimaire says:

    I think while there is a lot of nitpicking on this site, of both the photos and her character, the royalists were very pleased with the photos and they solidify her position. After all of the lauding from the royal press, there is no way they can criticize her, no matter how little she does or how much she spends.

    • Courtney B says:

      Idk. I’m on some super sugary Facebook royal group and there was a fair amount of criticism. Mostly directed at the photos and photographer and not Kate (Ala ‘she’s so much prettier than this’) but it was surprising.

    • Beach Dreams says:

      Eh, I’ve seen a lot of mixed reaction from the royalists and Kate stans. Some were treating the photos as the second coming of Testino’s Diana shots, sure, but there were a lot of tepid comments from that crowd too.

  27. Harla says:

    “As pure …as possible “. Wtf! Where did they get this guy? The 1820’s??? Oh now I get, with all the filters and photoshopping Kate looks ultra-white and of course that’s “pure”.

  28. sodapopcat says:

    The meta of these photos are A Lot, what with the creepy pseudo-Victorian/cameo editing, but wow! – she is beautiful. I personally love the two dresses, though can see the argument that they’re too twee for the contemporary vibe her team seems to be going for. I’m no big fan of hers to be sure, but she is a very handsome woman.

    • BUBS says:

      Botox plus photoshop work wonders…let’s not pretend like this is Kate’s real face, please! Sure, she was pretty at some point but the reality of her appearance can be seen in random, unrehearsed pictures like those taken when she wore that red turtleneck and skirt for some engagement. Her official photos are always worked on! These are so clearly photoshopped some people didn’t even realize it was her they were staring at!

      • Lizzie says:

        I get Botox and it doesn’t give you a facelift. Just sayin.

      • SourcesclosetoKate says:

        Botox, fillers, nip, tucks, micro-lipo, fat excisions, lifts, facials, photoshop, filters, airbrush. With a bottomless public purse, the options are limitless.

  29. Robyn says:

    Very interesting about the tiara…

    • Barbie1 says:

      I would have loved seeing those incredible royal jewels make an appearance in the photos. Poor Kate lol. If I were her I would want to be dripping in gemstones/diamonds from head to toe.

      • Misskitten says:

        I think the Queen doesn’t want to remind people that she owns most of the jewels on this planet, because then people might start questioning their provenance, and considering that most of them were probably taken by force (Koh-i-Noor diamond for example), the Queen probably doesn’t want to risk the original owners (or their descendents) demanding them back! And especially lately there HAS been a big push to return the Koh-i-Noor to India (and it SHOULD be returned), I could see the same thing happening with other historic pieces of jewelry. That and the fact that more and more people are starting to take a dim view of the royal family’s excess ……..

      • Fanciful says:

        she did that at a state dinner in 2017 and looked absurd. it was hilarious! she can’t carry off anything. the only thing that works for her is the tiara she likes, that looks great on her plus some diamond/pearl earrings. b ut the huge necklace looked ridiculous

  30. Emily says:

    Kate dressed George like a Victorian ghost child from a horror movie for years. Naturally, she chose photos that will make it look like she’s haunting the castle from now until eternity.

  31. L4Frimaire says:

    Edit… response to a deleted post. There is nothing poor about her. She is very well defended and protected, to the point where lies are used to prop her up and define her ( the Meghan crying story). I think part of the constant criticism here is just the frustration and hypocrisy of many feeling like Kate got away with something, at the expense of another woman, which she did. She throws rocks and hides her hands, and is then praised for it. Even William catches some if the stray bullets in ways she never does, because he’s too obvious. This to me, shows more than anything, the institutional investment in preserving the monarchy after Elizabeth by any means. They will continue to prop up and protect the heirs and those who stay silent, and relentlessly go after the dissenters ( H& M). Yes she wore some pretty dresses and took some photos that some loved, some not so much, but it’s about more than pretty portraits. Criticizing nail polish, eating avocados, holding you pregnant belly,while being accused of narcissism and undermining the monarchy , being told you deserve to be abused because of those things, is what I would call ragging unnecessarily on someone. Snide comments saying she looks like Victoria’s ghost is not the same thing. Not by a long shot.

  32. Veronica Rhodes says:

    She doesn’t do anything do all we’re left to see are her clothes and hair choices.

    • Liz Version 700 says:

      Right?!? It is easy to “never put a foot wrong” if you refuse to actually go anywhere

  33. better than scrubs says:

    I think they are gorgeous. The art history influences are clear, they have a good range of formality, the compositions are lovely, and they each are appropriate (as a trio or alone) for display in a museum. They aren’t supposed to be snapshots, but they also aren’t stuffy. The profile photo is stunning – it’s a modern update of the Beaton photos or the Sisi painting. The close-up is an homage to Mario Testino and she’s really radiant and happy in it. My main fault with the red dress photo is the dress is so eye-catching, I focus more on it.

    • Megs283 says:

      I love them too.

    • Eurydice says:

      I don’t have as negative a reaction to the actual photos as most here – I think they are attractive. My main reaction is that they don’t look like Kate, not physically or spiritually, at least not compared to all the other photos of her that I’ve seen and the coverage about her that I’ve read. The photos could be any woman who is trying to evoke certain time periods, but they don’t evoke “Kate.”

    • Deering24 says:

      Meghan would have rocked that red dress.

  34. Lizzie says:


  35. Tessa says:

    So glad the Kate dancing photo was not released. Then she’d be the Best Dancer Ever to her stans.

  36. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    Kate is photoshopped to high heaven. If they’re going to do that, then why bother with a “photo,” just have a painting done then they can create a new/younger woman from scratch.

    As for celebrating her 40th birthday, 3 photos don’t show any accomplishment. To quote Kate herself, What.Else?

    Re: the tiara, could it be the portrait wasn’t an official thing, but something Kate did/released personally? Because then I could see her being told “no tiara.”

    • Nic919 says:

      Technically she doesn’t have a tiara of her own so that’s probably why she doesn’t pose with one. They always mention how the Queen “lends” the tiaras to the other women so they likely can only wear them at state dinners or their wedding. A photo shoot for turning 40 isn’t that special of an occasion. And it’s not like these photos will be used in any formal way. When the Queen poses with her tiara, she’s doing it for formal photos that end up on stamps, or sent to government buildings, courtrooms and embassies. Kate will never end up in those locations.

      I don’t think Diana posed much with a tiara except for her formal wedding portrait and she was princess of wales. I could be wrong if there were more. And Kate isn’t even at that level of rank.

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        Thanks, that makes sense. I guess Diana could always wear the Spencer tiara for non-official events and portraits. Ooh, I just thought of something, I wonder if Kate will pester William to purchase a tiara for her that she can personally own, and wear whenever she likes?

      • RoyalBlue says:

        What’s stopping the Middletons from buying a tiara for her to wear and calling it the Middleton tiara. they are superrich right, and purchased their home for cash.

  37. JJ2022 says:

    These photos are trash. This was a lot of money wasted on wardrobe, hair, makeup, photography, etc. I agree with comments that these photos don’t really fit the aesthetic that she seems to be trying to put across – or her handlers or PR people or whatever – of being this ‘unglamorous’ woman and more country house wife look.
    The proportions of the dress don’t flatter her at all. She is very slim and bony and putting someone in a large poufy gown totally gave off those glamour shots vibes that everyone is talking about. Why not have her sit outside in nature with a more understated gown?
    Also why is it that every formal portrait of this woman is just terrible??? The formal painting they did of her made her look tired and old. Why would anyone accentuate eye bags in a painting? I don’t understand the choices being made here.
    Why can’t these royals get better stylists? I don’t understand.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      My first thought when I saw the voluminous gowns was that they were trying not to accentuate how thin she is. It didn’t work, but it’s common for people with eating disorders to bulk up their clothing.

  38. Ana says:

    I’d love to see the bloopers for this photoshoot, they must be hilarious.

  39. Amy Bee says:

    I could be wrong but I don’t think Kate has ever worn a tiara when the Queen wasn’t present. She’s only worn tiaras at Diplomatic Receptions or State Dinners. That may be a clue as to why Angela Kelly didn’t let her wear one for her birthday photoshoot. She may be mother and wife to future Kings but she’s still a commoner. The way she’s dressed in these pictures, it does seem like she was expecting to wear a tiara and given the earrings she wore it was the Cambridge Lovers Knot she thought she would be wearing, the one Diana was famous for wearing.

    • MsIam says:

      That makes sense. Diana was Princess of Wales and Kate is not. Her rank probably entitled Diana to wear those jewels while Kate still isn’t, at least not yet. ,Whether they use the title or not, Camilla is still Princess of Wales.

      • Amy Bee says:

        @MsIam: Diana was also an aristocrat. I think Kate is still looked down upon by the family because of her background. I suspect that she got better treatment when Meghan came on the scene but she’s probably back to pre-Meghan treatment now.

  40. Lizzie says:

    I do wonder what this styling actually looks like on Keen. I’d like to see it in real life.

  41. Mslove says:

    I’m surprised she didn’t wear the imperial state crown, you know, for practice wink wink.

  42. BUBS says:

    He wanted her to look “as pure…as possible.” Not quite sure what to make of that statement…


    Am I the only one who was surprised it’s her 40th birthday? I have only semi-recently gotten into coverage of The Royals (I find them antiquated and boring but I cannot ignore their horrific treatment of Meghan) and looking at Kate, she comes across like late-forties to me. She’s not a natural beauty like Meghan Markle, which is not her fault, but Meghan definitely looks younger than 40 to me by a lot.

    Anyway these photos are awful, from composition to styling and beyond. Can you imagine having those resources and looking like that? I see better on Instagram.

  44. TheOriginalMia says:

    She’s not wearing a tiara because she’s not the Princess of Wales. No way would the Queen allow her to do a photoshoot with a tiara and she’s below Camilla. If anyone is going to get a new photo session in a tiara, it’ll be Camilla upon the coronation.

    • Nic919 says:

      I agree. If Camilla hasn’t done photos with a tiara on, then Lower rank Kate won’t, especially not for a mere 40 th birthday.

  45. Mamasan says:

    She is trying too hard and it shows. While Kate is an attractive woman woman, there is no regal air or sophistication to her.

    It’s just glamour shots.

  46. Murphy says:

    You better believe she isn’t wearing one because she wasn’t given one to wear.

    And in 20 years when she’s Queen Consort she’s going to wear a tiara every freakin day. That will only prove it.

  47. Lululu says:

    This desaturated sepia-ish look was popular in the 90’s-00’s. As a portrait photographer I can tell you that even my high school seniors know it’s dated.

    And the wonky focus on the headshot is not artistic, it looks amateur. A lot of young photographers I mentor like that sort of soft focus when they are first starting out. They quickly find out that it’s gimmicky, and their clients never buy those shots.

    The “ethereal” shot looks flat, and not in an good way, and the glamour shot looks like it was taken at JC Penney in 1992.

    • windyriver says:

      I’m curious what your theory is about what went on here. Haven’t followed the recent generation of photographers, but this guy was known to other people here who liked his work, and assume Kate would have chosen someone with a higher profile. Is it that portraiture just isn’t his thing, Kate had her hand in too much, or what?

      • ArtHistorian says:

        Paolo Roversi is actually very high-profile as a fashion photographer. He’s also done some portraits of people like Bjørk, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton and Charlotte Gainsborough, among others. They are very different and much better than these pics of Kate. His portrait of Gainsborough is especially gorgeous – very simple black and white – and NO photoshop or soft focus!

        The photographer isn’t the problem – the problem is Kate and that she is so focused on looking young and pretty that there’s no room for the physical idiosyncrasies that add character to a face. It is ultimately Kate who chooses the photos she likes. So these images says more about her style than Roversi’s. In fact, these photos doesn’t look very much like Roversi’s style.

  48. Mina_Esq says:

    If you’re going for natural, then why have those couture gowns? It just looks like the photos were taken before her hair and makeup person got there. If she had worn something more low-key, then the whole look would be more cohesive. It’s just all so very tragic. She didn’t need a professional photographer to achieve this level of mall-glamor.

  49. Jay says:

    Keen and co get away with a lot, especially in terms of positioning the Cambridges as the next King and Queen, but I think actually wearing queenly regalia when she’s at least a decade away from the throne would be a bridge too far.

    Charles seems to be particularly touchy about any disrespect aimed at Camilla, and he still holds the purse strings ( and, ultimately, future titles) after all. Kate’s not the brightest spark, but girl’s a survivor – she’s canny enough not to swipe at Camilla directly.

    Plus, if you thought the sepia war widow drag was bad, just imagine how overwhelmed she’d be weighed down by lots of jewels and ribbons. Given her tendency for clothes to wear her, it would look like an overgrown girl wearing a cheap Halloween costume.

  50. First comment says:

    Imagine the great amount of money, hours and days spent for the realization of these photos as well as the people working for them…. the choise of the right gowns, the choise of the photographer, the hair-styling, the makeup, the photoshoot, the decision concerning the ones released etc.. no wonder Kate’s exhausted….. no wonder she hasn’t been seen really working since November…this photoshoot and the practice for the piano was all she could handle… meanwhile, people have real problems to cope and no amount of the the resources spent for these…. tiara or no tiara, she will never be the people’s princess like diana for her inability to empathize with the rest of the world and their problems….and for her refusal to really help the less fortunate…

  51. mina says:

    She looks prettish…. But those sepia pictures! GOD it’s like a High School 80’s Annual Book.

  52. GamerGrrl says:

    I graduated high school in the 80s, and those color shots remind me a LOT of our prom photos.

  53. E says:

    The Botox, fillers, and photoshop is so over the top she doesn’t look like herself at all. Or maybe she’s been getting tips from she-who-shall-not-be-named and jumped on the Japanese potato bandwagon.

  54. laura-j says:

    I think she looks great, I love the spooky vibe.

  55. Lululu says:

    I just went and looked up Paolo Reversi’s work. I’d heard of him but hadn’t really ever looked hard at what he does and what he is known for. The photographer was just a bad, bad choice to work with Kate. The coloring in these photos is very much in line with his style, but that is not what makes his work good. Kate and the RF are far too conservative to let what’s really avant-garde and meaningful about Reversi’s work…the lighting, the posing, the drama…even happen. So it’s like they took JC Penney portraits in expensive dresses and then made them look like a copy of his work with the color manipulation. I suspect the choice of photographer was an attempt by Kate to seem more cutting edge and modern and artistically sophisticated, but she didn’t have the courage to really follow through. So they look dated and fussy…just like Kate.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      Exactly. I love Roversi’s work – and I really don’t like his portraits of Kate. She really manages to make the work of talented people look as bland as she is. It’s quite a talent.

      These images really don’t look like Roversi’s style very much. They don’t look like Kate very much either, which is low-key hilarious. I had to look twice to recognize her.

    • zengirl says:

      This is how internet deep dives happen LOL…I went and looked too now, thinking I would hate his work based on these Kate pics. He really is pretty out there, and good. I think you are right, RF is too conservative. Why pick someone like this and restrain them? I don’t think anyone would name the artist as Roversi just by looking at these portraits. So weird.

  56. Agreatreckoning says:

    They chose these three of 250 shots taken only to go on and heavily photoshop two of them. Yikes.

    They should have gone with one where she is twirling.

    • Nic919 says:

      This also means there are other photos waiting to be released in time.

      • Jais says:

        Hmm it’ll be interesting to see if more pics are revealed over time. I honestly wonder if there are some better pics in there but weren’t chosen for some reason? Like I honestly feel there had to be some more interesting pics than the ones we’ve seen. Maybe not who knows?

      • equality says:

        Maybe photoshopping of the others is still on-going.

      • SourcesclosetoKate says:

        The thousands of pictures she’s taken a month in thousands of different dresses, differents cosplays, in thousands of different ways and expression isn’t enough for you?

      • Nic919 says:

        I’m just pointing out that they are going to do that dumb release of more photos later on as if it is a gift to the taxpayers or something. Or to release when talk of William’s affairs come up again.

  57. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    I gotta admit. I really really liked the Victorian color look. (Not quite sepia, not quite black and white?)
    The one from the side did look ghostly and sort of eerie. That’s my favorite
    I would like to see all of them

  58. Pamplemousse says:

    I sort of get why she went with minimalist jewellery and styling, considering how often she is photographed in full-on regalia. The photos remind me of Mette Marit’s official portrait from a decade ago when she was around the same age. She wore even less make up and zero jewels, so there’s precedent from other royal ladies. Having said that, the red dress photo is just weird. Love the other two though.

  59. Layla says:

    There’s no way that red dress was picked out for her. The original one wasn’t even red.

    The pics are apparently supposed to represent the past, present and the future (hence why there’s 3) the red one is the future so basically the message is clear: the future is full of single white femaling galore! This is just the beginning people
    Also, does anyone else get a Marie Antoinette vibe from this whole bs? Atm in the U.K., there’s around 150,000 COVID cases a day with daily deaths ranging between 50-300.

  60. AmelieOriginal says:

    You can just keep reusing the Victorian ghost profile photo in every Kate article from here on out, she has the haughty condescending expression down pat lol.

  61. Shawna says:

    No tiaras until British austerity eases up, please!

  62. A cat named Geoff says:

    I think the photos (and Kate) are really beautiful! Regardless of what she does & how she carries on, there is absolutely no denying how gorgeous she. I’d die to look 10% as stunning in pics! Don’t @ me! 🤣

  63. aquarius64 says:

    Kate not only didn’t get regalia but she didn’t get the WA bells rung for her. The reason given was the pandemic (?!) and the bells are only going to be rung for the queen and Charles. Bulli-am won’t get the bells for his b-day. Tin foil tiara theory: reason is BP is hacked KP parachuted in Meghan’s lawsuit to cause trouble. Andrew’s mess factors in too.

    • equality says:

      Wonder if that was PC’s decision. I can see not for Kate, she isn’t royal-born or the actual heir. Kind of surprised at not for PW though.

  64. BW says:

    The photos were taken at Kew Gardens. Do you see any gardens in the photos? I see a painters backdrop.

  65. Misskitten says:

    Wow, I NEVER realized until someone above mentioned this; Kate’s Vogue cover really is 100% Kate copping Jecca Craig’s style!!! I knew Kate copied other women’s looks (ESP Meghan) and her Vogue cover is BLATANT……she probably thought it would make Will love her like he loves Jecca, just like she hoped dressing like Meghan would make HARRY love her like he loves Meghan (as well as buying her the kind of respect Meghan gets, as if it can be bought)…….pity……..
    PS- I have, for a very long time, been of the opinion that Kate has been low-key in love with Harry for years. I think she secretly harbored fantasies of leaving Will for Harry, and so when Harry got married…it really helps explain her level of viciousness with Meghan and her participation in attempting to drive out Meghan (and ONLY Meghan), as well as all the stories about how Kate “missed their merry threesome”, and how GREAT the three of them were, and why couldnt Harry be happy as their third wheel for the rest of his life?? blah blah blah….it also explains why Kate was SO determined to go to the statue unveiling, she knew it would be her last chance to see Harry for a loooong time……..if she could JUST talk to him for a moment, she could make him understand! It was ALL William! She didn’t WANT to go along with the smear campaign……

  66. Patricia says:

    Does anyone else see the wig line in side pic? So bland! So bad!

  67. Julia K says:

    It really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of her pictures. They’re her birthday photos, chosen by her to be shown in public. This must be how she wants to be seen and perceived, young and flawlessly beautiful, a future queen! Her sell by date is quickly approaching and these glamour shots will be her legacy. Her call. Not my cup of tea, but it also is not my birthday.

  68. Rural Juror says:

    I don’t know about y’all, but Sara Barielles looks lovely in that red dress. I just don’t know what her photo is doing in a post about Kate.

  69. Fanciful says:

    The more I look at the last one the more it creeps me out. how does this kind of BS go unchallenged in the UK? I know she said queen vic and others talk about the anorexic empress, but what I see is a very typical 19th C small child’s portrait. especially with the ribbons and flowing hair. She really enjoys being infanatalized . and everyone saying on comments she more beautiful in person, clearly have never seen an unphotoshopped pic of her.

    Never mind that wrinkled old red dress. and yet in the dm comments to these pics everyone is still going on about meghan’s engagement pics and her expensive dress which she paid for herself! they are such morons. they deserve everything they get. and funny how all the top comments in the fail reference megs because, of course they do

  70. KSK Pamuk says:

    My takeaway from all this is that Kate has terrible taste and no class, but then we knew that.