The photo that proves Kate Middleton is ready to be Queen – and why she is the monarchy's priceless jewel

IT is widely regarded as the greatest photograph ever taken of the Duchess of Cambridge. 

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. 

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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.”

The royal author pointed out that the Cambridges have demonstrated during the pandemic they are up to the job of carrying the mantle for the royal family. 

Phil continued: “Their popularity has never been higher. For years I thought William was a reluctant royal, not keen to fulfil his destiny as king, and delaying duties for as long as possible, working as an ambulance pilot, and doting on his kids.

“Now he is seen as a king in waiting, and Kate an equal partner.

“Grounded in a happy middle class background, Kate has none of the hang ups we have heard so much about in the royal family.

“Out and about on jobs, the couple tease and complement each other, and work brilliantly as a team.

“If one hesitates or is having an off day, the other steps in and takes up the slack.”

The Cambridges unveiled their playful side last month during the launch of their YouTube  channel. At one point Kate, who has grown in confidence in front of the camera, cheekily tells her husband, “You don’t need to roll your ‘r’.” 

In fact, it is Kate’s “ordinary” demeanor that has contributed to her longevity in the royal fold, it has been claimed. 

Royal biographer Christopher Wilson told the Telegraph: “What Kate has managed to achieve – and I think in a better way than Princess Diana did – is to combine magic with retaining a sense of the ordinary.

“Diana went off the scale of stardom and disappeared into the stratosphere. 

“Kate has kept her feet on the ground, coming from this determinedly middle-class family, which has in turn helped to ground William too. Their marriage is strong because of that.”

We shared how Kate Middleton had her ‘heart set’ on a very different name for Prince George, expert claims.

In more Royal Family news, The Queen carries good luck charms from her children in her handbag during public engagements.

And emotional royal fans were overcome after watching grinning Prince Harry and William work together on DIY SOS repeat.

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