Secrets of Kate Middleton’s 40th birthday photoshoot – private shots, dancing and George’s feedback

The photographer behind Kate Middleton’s 40th birthday portraits, Paolo Roversi, has spoken out on what it was like working with the duchess and the tricks he used to snap such stunning photos

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Kate Middleton releases photographs to mark 40th birthday

Royal fans had been hoping the Duchess of Cambridge would release new official photos to mark her 40th birthday – and they were not disappointed.

Three beautiful portraits were shared for the occasion – each showing Kate in a different light.

In two of the images, she wears flowing light dresses while in the third she dresses up in a vibrant ruby red gown – completing the look with loose curly hair and natural-looking make-up.

The pictures were snapped during a secret photoshoot at Kew Gardens last November by famous fashion photographer Paolo Roversi, whose previous work has graced the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair.

And Mr Roversi has opened up on exactly how he came to work with Kate and how he also snapped some special photos that are likely to remain private…

First meeting

Kate first met with her birthday portraits photographer in November


Getty Images)

The first meeting between Kate and Mr Roversi came last November at Kensington Palace, where the photographer says they met for tea and biscuits.

And during this meeting, he says he found Kate a little nervous about carrying out the shoot.

He told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera : “At first the Duchess was apprehensive. She is machine-gunned by photographers every day but is not used to posing.

“Knowing my photos with models she was a little fearful of facing a real session, which required about four hours of work. But I reassured her that once we started it was going to be very easy.”

Dresses and jewellery

Kate in one of her stunning birthday photos


Paolo Roversi / Kensington Palace)

In the shots, Kate wore dresses by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen


Paolo Roversi / Kensington Palace)

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In the portraits, Kate wears three absolutely stunning dresses created by a designer who she’s worked with numerous times in the past – Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.

Sarah’s relationship with Kate goes back more than 10 years as she also created her iconic wedding gown.

And it appears her trust in her is steadfast as it’s been reported Kate allowed Sarah to pick the dresses for the shoot.

For the official portrait (the side profile image), Kate wears a stunning light organza dress, which Mr Roversi says makes the duchess look like a “classical ballerina”.

In terms of jewellery, Kate wears her eye-catching engagement ring and in two of the shots, opts for a pair of diamond earrings on loan from the Queen.

While in the photo where she wears the red dress, she wears diamond and pearl drop earrings that once belonged to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana.

Hair and make-up

Kate wore her hair loose and had minimal make-up


Paolo Roversi / Kensington Palace)

When it came to Kate’s hair and make-up, the photographer was keen for a less is more approach, with a no defined hair style and little make-up.

He told the Italian publication: “I didn’t want her to look too Lady Duchess, too establishment, but as pure and contemporary as possible. Or even timeless.”

On the shoot

Kate has only been seen dancing in public a handful of times, including in 2012 in the Solomon Islands



While taking her picture, Mr Roversi said he was moved by Kate’s “warm 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”.

He added: “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.”

The photographer also revealed that for some of the images he took, he persuaded Kate to dance and twirl across the floor – something she’s rarely done in public.

He said: “In the end I wanted to take some moving pictures, so with that wonderful wide skirt I made her dance in front of my lens, a sort of accelerated waltz mixed with a pinch of rock ‘n’ roll.”

But unfortunately, he says these dancing images are likely to remain private and have not been released.

Selecting the images

After the shoot, the photographer was left with a set of around 250 pictures, which he whittled down to 30.

He says he and Kate then worked together to choose the three final portraits. The Italian newspaper suggests that Prince William and their children’s favourite shot is the one where she looks directly into the camera.

The photos, part of the National Portrait Gallery’s Coming Home exhibition, will go on display in Berkshire, where Kate grew up, St Andrews, where she met Prince William, and Anglesey, their first marital home.

And yesterday, Kate thanked her many well-wishers on Twitter, in a rare personal tweet.

She said: “Thank you for all of your very kind birthday wishes, and to Paolo and the National Portrait Gallery for these three special portraits. C.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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