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(LONDON) – Duchess Kate begins 2022 with a milestone birthday.

The Duchess of Cambridge turns 40 on January 9, a birthday she is expected to celebrate privately with her family.

Kate, the wife of Prince William and mother of three, appears to be starting her new decade with a renewed emphasis on her royal role.

In the nearly 11 years that she married Prince William at Westminster Abbey, she has become one of the most popular members of the British Royal Family.

And in recent years, Kate has taken on an increasingly prominent role in the Royal Family amid family changes.

At 95, Queen Elizabeth II has reduced her public commitments, especially since a brief hospitalization in October. And Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s decision to step back as royals has left William and Kate, now the only royals of their generation, to take on more duties.

The growing public profile was a “significant transformation” for Kate, who was propelled into the public limelight when she started dating William while in college, according to the royal ABC News contributor. , Victoria Murphy.

“I think her desire to do a good job, to be loved by the audience and respected by the family was palpable at first, and she was clearly very nervous when the spotlight was on her from speaking in. public, ”Murphy said. “She built up her workload very gradually, initially taking on a small number of sponsorships and taking time before making solo appearances and speeches.”

“But over the years Kate has gained tremendous confidence and is now a driving force behind the way she and William work and the causes they champion,” she said.

It was Kate, for example, who came up with the idea to focus on mental health as a cause, according to Murphy, which spawned the highly successful Heads Together campaign that started in 2016 and continues to be central to William and Kate’s work to this day. .

As the Cambridges prepare to one day become King and Queen Consort, Murphy says audiences can expect to see Kate grow even more in her role as she focuses on causes close to her heart.

“I’ve always thought Kate is a team player, a poise and a good listener, and these things have served her well over the year,” said Murphy. “I think she also has a lot of compartmentalizing ability, as the Queen has been said to do, which is an important quality in dealing with the pressures of the public role.”

Since becoming a mom eight years ago, Kate has focused much of her attention on supporting new parents and young children.

In early 2020, just before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Kate launched a nationwide inquiry to explore what Britons think about child rearing, with a focus on children under 5 years.

Then, in June last year, the Duchess launched the Royal Foundation Center for Early Childhood, which she says is designed to “raise awareness of why the first five years of life are so important to our people. future outcomes in life, and what we can do as a society to seize this golden opportunity to create a happier, more mentally healthy and more stimulating society. “

At the same time, Kate and the Royal Foundation, the charitable arm of William and Kate, published “Big Change Starts Small”, a research report on early childhood development.

Kate has also focused much of her work on including the outdoors in early childhood development. She helped design a ‘Back to Nature’ garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2019, and the following year was named co-chair of the UK Scout Association, marking the first time that a royal woman has held the title of president or co-chair of the scouts.

“I think what’s changed over the past few years is that it’s become very clear what the main areas of Kate’s work are in a way that feels a lot more focused and immersive,” Murphy said. “She has always been interested in the outdoors and young people, but the fact that she makes these areas the cornerstones of her work has become much more evident.”

Murphy said Kate’s commitment to the cause of early childhood education is particularly striking, noting: “This is a difficult and very broad area, but she has shown real and serious commitment to it. over a long period of time which I think has earned him a lot of respect from the people who work in this field.

During the pandemic, Kate offered her support to parents, students and teachers, and spoke about the experience of quarantining and leading virtual learning for her own children, Prince George, 8 , Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3.

The glimpse Kate gave her and William’s family life is just one example of how the Duchess’s growing confidence made her feel more comfortable, according to Murphy.

Kate and William launched a YouTube channel last year, where they share more behind-the-scenes content. And in 2020, Kate gave a rare interview to a podcast focused on motherhood, where she opened up about her mother’s guilt.

“The [podcast] It was a courageous move because it could have backfired on people if people had criticized the fact that she had access to a lot more help than most, “Murphy said.” But it ended up being being one of the best things she could have done because it made it clear how active she is and how she is raising her three children. “

Kate has also been more public in recent years about her own passions, whether playing in sports, like the tennis match that a big fan Kate played with US Open winner Emma Raducanu. last year, or photography.

Kate, a college art student who is often the photographer behind family photos shared with the public, started a photography project, “Hold Still,” last year to capture life during the coronavirus pandemic.

The photographs were compiled into a book in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, of which Kate is a patron.

Most recently, in December, Kate hosted her first Christmas carol concert at Westminster Abbey, honoring the people and organizations who have supported their communities during the pandemic.

During the concert, Kate delivered a surprise performance, showing one of her unknown passions, the piano, when she accompanied singer Tom Walker.

“These things show a willingness to step forward and show us more of who she is and what she loves,” Murphy said.

And while Kate seems to be more in her element when she’s outdoors or with kids, she’s also happy to embrace the “glamor side of royal life,” according to Murphy.

She was stunned in a gold evening gown at the world premiere of the latest James Bond film in September and won accolades the following month for wearing a recycled Alexander McQueen dress at the inaugural Earthshot Prize Awards.

“Over the years there has been a lot of excitement when she has worn tiaras from The Queen’s Collection,” said Murphy. “And even a decade into her public role, she still easily commands all of the front pages whenever she makes a red carpet appearance.”

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