A birthday to remember! Ahead of Duchess Kate’s 40th birthday tomorrow, Kensington Palace have released three new portraits of the duchess to mark the special occasion.
The photographs were taken in November last year at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, a venue the Duchess of Cambridge had recently visited on a royal engagement with Prince William.
Italian fashion photographer Paolo Roversi—best-known for his soft, monochromatic images of women and dramatic use of light and shadows—traveled from his Paris base to shoot the duchess. Three different frames from their session were then selected to enter the permanent collection of Britain’s National Portrait Gallery, of which Kate has been the royal patron since 2012.
For one of the images, Kate wore a pair of antique diamond earrings on loan from the Queen and posed in a custom red off-the-shoulder dress by Alexander McQueen with an asymmetrical draped sleeve and pocket detailing. Despite the dramatic dress, the duchess appears relaxed and at ease as she smiled for Roversi’s camera.
In a traditional side-profile image, this one black-and-white, the duchess wore in a white chiffon gown with a ruffled sleeve and bodice, paired with diamond and pearl drop earrings which belonged to Princess Diana.
“Taking the portrait of Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, was a true honour for me, and a moment of pure joy,” Roversi told Bazaar.com. “I was moved by her warmth and friendly welcome and enchanted by her shining eyes that reflected the loveliness of her soul and her smile showing the generosity of her heart. It was a profound and rich experience for me, an unforgettable moment. I have met a wonderful person, a person who, with her positive energy, can bring hope to the whole world.”
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The photographs are not just being used to celebrate Kate’s milestone birthday but will also feature as part of a special exhibition run by the National Portrait Gallery that features portraits of famous faces being displayed at locations of importance to each person. For the duchess, the images will be shown at three locations of special meaning throughout 2022 — her home county of Berskhire, her alma mater of St Andrew’s University in Scotland, and Anglesey in Wales, where she first lived with Prince William after they got married in 2011.
The Coming Home project, which will be announced with further detail later this year, has been created to give people in towns and cities across the UK a chance to see famous works in their local area while the gallery undergoes refurbishment until 2023.
Despite the royal fanfare for her birthday, Kate Middleton will be enjoying a low-key celebration when she turns 40 on Sunday, January 9. Sources close to the duchess tell Bazaar.com that she will be enjoying festivities “privately with her family.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.