KEY POINTS

  • Kate Middleton was frustrated that the media chose to focus on her outfits than the substance of her work
  • When the duchess made her first public speech in 2012, many outlets talked about her attire instead of her work
  • Middleton spends more time preparing for her engagements than dressing up for them

Kate Middleton finds it frustrating that she prepares so much for her royal engagements, but most media outlets only focus on her appearance instead of her efforts.

The Duchess of Cambridge turned 40 Sunday. Roya Nikkhah, royal editor of The Sunday Times, spoke with friends, aides and sources who gave their thoughts on Middleton as a wife, mother, daughter and a working royal. 

After talking to multiple sources, Nikkhah said the media's obsession with Middleton's style over the substance of her work was a source of frustration for the duchess, especially when she was still starting her public life as a royal.

"When she goes to the 'Bond' premiere or is at Trooping the Colour, of course, she puts on the 'uniform' of the role," an unnamed close friend told Nikkhah." "But what was enormously frustrating and difficult for her, especially in the early days, as she was going out and doing the work she was interested in and was hugely important to her, and people just talked about what she was wearing."

Middleton made her first public speech in March 2012, almost a year after she married Prince William when she attended an engagement at the Treehouse hospice in Suffolk. She arrived in the venue wearing a high-street dress that her mom, Carole Middleton, had previously worn to Royal Ascot. After the event, many talked about her outfit instead of her official engagement.

"There she was meeting with hugely vulnerable children and families, and the dress was the story," the friend added. "She said she found it 'a bit demoralizing.'"

Middleton's frustration toward the press highlighting her fashion over her work could be due to her preparations before her public engagements. Rebecca Priestley, a confidante and former advisor to the duchess between 2011 and 2017, said Middleton "educates herself first" about the charities or events she's attending before making appearances. 

Priestly said before they made public engagements, they had to do a lot of "under-the-radar visits." Middleton would spend more time preparing herself in the run-up of the event than dressing up for it, but the press most often only talked about her dresses.

The Duchess of Cambridge turned heads in September when she joined Prince William, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles at the world premiere of "No Time to Die." She arrived at the event wearing a  gold sequin embellished cape gown with architectural shoulders and a flowing train by Jenny Packham. Everyone was clamoring at how stunning the duchess was at the event and her look that night made headlines again.

"Kate Middleton looked positively royal on the James Bond 'No Time to Die' red carpet!" People tweeted.

"It was a mega fashion moment for Kate Middleton—golden and resplendent in custom Jenny Packham at the premiere of the new James Bond movie, 'No Time to Die,' in London," The Daily Beast added.

Kate Middleton Kate Middleton places her handbag in front whenever she wants to avoid handshakes. Pictured: Middleton during a visit to the Foundling Museum in London on March 19, 2019. Photo: Getty Images/Eddie Mulholland-WPA Pool