Snapped as she arrived at St George’s Chapel for Prince Philip’s funeral on April 17, Kate’s sorrowful, piercing green eyes stared confidently down the camera lens. Adorned in the Queen’s four-strand diamond choker, a Rouland Mouret lace fascinator and an obligatory black face mask, the Duchess managed to exude both style and substance.
Royal commentators believe the well-timed image revealed Kate’s “inner steel and determination” – and proves she is ready to become Queen. “Waity Katie is now Catherine the Great, the monarchy’s priceless jewel,” says royal author Phil Dampier.
“When she first married William she shrugged off the ‘Waity Katie’ tag and gave birth to three beautiful children, but she was seen by some as his supporter, not equal. “A hesitant public speaker, she could easily become tongue-tied meeting crowds, and William was constantly looking to protect her.
“But now, as she approaches 40, the middle-class rose has blossomed into an international figure, winning respect from all quarters.” In a time when the royals have been rocked with rumours of “rifts” and family tension, the extraordinary image – taken by Getty photographer Chris Jackson who is married to Kate’s stylist Natasha Archer – proves that quietly-confident Kate is the family’s “rock”.
Body language expert Judi James said: “How surprising that the most iconic photo to date of one of the world’s most photographed women should entail a complete covering of her signature feature. “Kate has always been known for her pitch-perfect, weatherproof smile.”
Judi explained that Kate’s “steady gaze” showed a woman “happy to connect with a hint of authority” and added her lack of eye-darting due to the camera flash showed a “sense of calmness.” She added: “The mask was an essential factor in this ‘reveal’ of the new calm, confident and Vogue mag-classy Kate.
“Instead of deleting her charisma by hiding that smile it re-directed us to her eye expression instead.” An unflappable and solid presence in the royal family is particularly crucial at the moment, with Prince Philip sadly departed, the Queen at 95, and Charles and Camilla both in their seventies.
Phil added: “The future of the House of Windsor rests on William and Kate’s shoulders. Harry and Meghan have quit, adding to their burden.” He pointed out that it wasn’t just Kate’s expression that reinforced that she is seamlessly stepping into the Queen-in-waiting role.
Phil explained: “On the day of Philip’s funeral, Kate comforted a distraught Prince Charles, kissing him warmly on the cheek, and then brought warring brothers William and Harry together for peace talks after the service. “There is still a long way to go before the brothers’ rift is healed, and the unveiling of Diana’s statue next month will be the next opportunity for them to continue the process.
“But make no mistake, Kate – once described by Harry as the sister he never had – will be at the heart of the recovery. “She has learnt so much from the Queen, the ultimate pragmatist and bringer together of peoples and nations. “The Queen always looks for the positives, not the negatives, and Kate is now doing the same. “She is fast becoming the glue holding the royal family together, and a lot now rides on her success.”