Kate Middleton's 40th Birthday Portrait Is Similar to a New Princess Diana Portrait—Here's Why

It probably wasn't deliberate.

Kate Middleton And Diana Princess Of Wales
(Image credit: Getty/Tim Graham)

On the occasion of her 40th birthday on Jan. 9, 2022, the Duchess of Cambridge released three special portraits by renowned photographer Paolo Roversi. In them, she wore earrings that once belonged to her late mother-in-law, Diana, Princess of Wales.

But after Kensington Palace exhibition "Life Through a Royal Lens" opened in early March, people began to see another nod to the Princess of Wales in the photos. They compared one portrait from the series with a previously unseen portrait of Diana included in the exhibition (this one here, by David Bailey).

The exhibition's curator, Claudia Acott Williams, sees the similarity between the two images, but is skeptical of any theories implying Catherine and Roversi took inspiration from Diana and Bailey. In actual fact, the expert believes they both took inspiration from the same school of imagery.

"I think that they are both referencing things earlier again," Williams tells Marie Claire. "I don't think the Duchess of Cambridge is referencing a Diana portrait. I mean, also, this one wasn't in the public, so I don't know if she would have seen this until now, but I think what they are both doing is they're referencing, I think, Victorian and early Edwardian styles of royal portrait—which are these profile shots.

"I think the Duchess of Cambridge's—in some respects, it references a kind of late 19th century portrait in the style of Winterhalter which then is kind of referencing Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, or early Queen by [Cecil] Beaton, when he was also referencing Winterhalter which was 19th century. So I think they're both referencing something much earlier."

It makes sense: Nothing is left up to chance where the image of the Royal Family is concerned.

A portrait of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on her 50th birthday, London, England, 1950. (Photo by Cecil Beaton/Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

The Queen Mother by Cecil Beaton

(Image credit: Getty/Underwood Archives)

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Bustle and Shape. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.