KEY POINTS

  • Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle both used their 40th birthdays to "redefine their royal roles," a report says
  • Middleton posted official portraits that royal experts said showed her "regal side"
  • Markle chose to highlight her philanthropic work when she turned 40 last year

The difference in the way Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle celebrated their 40th birthdays reveals how different their paths are, according to a report.

Middleton and Markle both used their milestone birthdays to "redefine their royal roles," with the former stepping into her role as future queen consort and the latter focusing on her new status and charity projects after leaving royal life behind, Insider reported.

The Duchess of Cambridge released three official portraits, taken by Italian fashion photographer Paolo Roversi, to mark her 40th birthday Sunday, and they showed her posing in a series of Alexander McQueen ball gowns at London's Kew Gardens.

On the other hand, the Duchess of Sussex announced her initiative 40x40 when she turned 40 in August last year. Markle shared a funny video featuring pal Melissa McCarthy to promote the campaign, which encourages the public to donate 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work.

British PR consultant and royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Insider that Middleton's portraits were "those of a future queen."

"The photographer has clearly been inspired by Cecil Beaton's portraits of the Queen and the queen mother," he said. "Catherine's interest in photography and her patronage of the National Portrait Gallery were highly significant in choosing these poses."

The Sun's Matt Wilkinson said the pictures showed Middleton's "regal side," while Kinsey Schofield, the founder of the royal blog To Di for Daily, told the outlet they revealed the "confidence" Middleton has gained over the years as a member of the royal family.

As for Markle, who, along with Prince Harry, stepped back as a working royal and moved to California in 2020, her 40th-birthday video featured few references to her past royal role and instead highlighted her newfound celebrity status as well as her philanthropic work. In the video, Markle announced that stars and famous personalities such as Adele, Amanda Gorman and Stella McCartney had agreed to support her initiative.

Fitzwilliams noted that Middleton and Markle are "two very different women with totally different futures."

"It would be a wonderful step in their 40th year if the rift in the royal family could be healed and, despite their differences, that they could both be friends," the royal commentator added.

Markle and Middleton have not been seen together in public since the former "Suits" star and Prince Harry's final royal engagement at Westminster Abbey in March 2020.

A year later, Markle claimed during her and Prince Harry's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey that it was Middleton who made her cry in the run-up to her 2018 wedding and not the other way around as tabloids had previously reported.

Markle said Middleton later apologized to her with flowers and a note following their clash over flower girl dresses.

In July 2021, an unnamed source told Us Weekly that the "tensions have eased" between the two duchesses.

Middleton reportedly even sent Markle a gift after the latter gave birth to baby Lili, her second child with Prince Harry. "They’re in a better place and have exchanged texts since the birth of Lilibet," the source added.

Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge stands with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex at Westminster Abbey for a Commonwealth day service on March 11, 2019, in London, England. Photo: Getty Images/Richard Pohle