What Kate did next: the Duchess of Cambridge turns 30
By Helen Livingstone Jan 7, 2012, 2:06 GMT
London - When the Duchess of Cambridge, wife of Britain's Prince William, this week announced which charities she was to support, their reaction said it all - there is no more popular patron to have right now.
'The key words are high profile, this draws attention to the causes of addiction and helps to raise the charity's profile,' said Nick Barton, head of Action on Addiction. His is one of the charities chosen by the former Kate Middleton, who turns 30 on Monday.
'In pure charity marketing terms it does not really get any bigger or better right now in terms of a celebrity endorsement,' said Alan Cole of charity news website Xperedon.
While 'celebrity' status is perhaps not what the duchess is seeking, since her marriage to Prince William in April she has been credited with helping to turn round the British royal family's profile.
Ten years ago, Britain's monarchy was still suffering the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana - by far the most popular royal - with its conspiracy theories surrounding Prince Philip's involvement, while the public overwhelmingly seemed to reject Prince Charles as heir to the throne.
Since then, the British have largely forgotten their dislike of Charles' wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, with whom Charles had an affair while still married to Diana.
Prince Harry, now a 27-year-old army officer, has moved on from the scandal of his appearance at a fancy dress party in 2005 wearing a Nazi swastika and the 2009 row over his calling a colleague 'our little Paki friend.'
Kate, the daughter of self-made millionaire entrepreneurs and who met William while they were both studying at St Andrews university in Scotland, has played a key role in moulding the royals' image to one widely perceived as more 21st century - approachable, down-to-earth and caring.
'We met the duchess at a recent private visit to the Milton hospice and she was really interested in our story and experiences with Each,' said Grant Clemence, who was supported by the children's charity Each, one of those chosen by the duchess, when his baby daughter died last May.
This year will see another opportunity for the royals to shine, with London hosting the Olympics, for which Kate, William and Harry are ambassadors, and Queen Elizabeth II celebrating her diamond jubilee in June.
While the queen will float down the Thames on a boat, with a predicted million onlookers lining the banks, the younger royals are set to tour the Commonwealth - former British colonies.
Kate and William are to visit Malaysia, Singapore, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. It seems likely they will repeat the success of their first official visit as a married couple to Canada and the United States last summer - more than 1,300 journalists from around the world were accredited to cover that event.
Perhaps more than anything else, the public will be paying attention to the duchess' envied wardrobe - 'Kate the Great' was the first British royal to make it on to society magazine Vanity Fair's Best-Dressed List, helped on her way by her 'particularly fetching travel attire.'
'The royal family are on a roll, if anything so undignified can be conceived,' wrote Stephen Bates in the Guardian daily in December as he summarized the monarchy's year.
The only thing that could crown the new royal couple's first year of marriage would be the much anticipated pitter patter of tiny feet.