Gorgeous Images of Kate Middleton for Her 40th Birthday Contain a Sweet Nod to Diana

The portraits will be displayed as part of an exhibition for the National Portrait Gallery.

kate middleton portrait
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Happy Kate Middleton’s 40th birthday to all who celebrate! The Duchess of Cambridge has hit a birthday milestone, and while she’s reportedly keeping it low-key for the actual celebration, plenty of people want to pay tribute to the future Queen of England. In one gorgeous instance of a tribute to Kate, the National Portrait Gallery—to which Kate is a long-time patron—released three beautiful new images of the Duchess, which the Cambridges shared on their Instagram.

The first image, shared by the couple Saturday night ahead of the event, is in a nostalgic black and white and shows Kate in an ethereal white dress with a pearl earring. The jewelry choice is actually a deliberate nod to Princess Diana: The Collingwood pearl and diamond drops belonged to the late Princess, making the jewelry’s prominent inclusion in the portrait all the more meaningful.

The second portrait shared by the royals shows Kate smiling in a one-shoulder red dress by Alexander McQueen (she wears dresses by the designer in all three images). That portrait, shared the morning of her birthday, also includes details about where the images will be headed as part of the National Portrait Gallery. Captured by Paolo Roversi in Kew Gardens, they will appear as part of the gallery’s ‘Coming Home’ exhibition. Each photograph will be displayed in a different place—Berkshire, St. Andrews, and Anglesey—and will remain in the gallery’s permanent collection.

The third image, another black and white of Kate in a white dress, is giving bubbly 1980s prom queen. To this imageKate added her own personal note: “Thank you for all of your very kind birthday wishes, and to Paolo and the National Portrait Gallery for these three special portraits.” She signed the note “C” for Catherine.

According to the Daily Mail, a palace source also explains that the images show the three sides to Kate’s personality. “There is the regal side to her – as you can see in the classic shot where she is looking off into the distance; there is the more informal image in the red dress as a modern woman at 40; and then there is the close-up, which offers a more intimate perspective,” the source said.

Happy birthday, Kate!