Kate Middleton picture perfect for first solo performance

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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge steps out amid a shower of camera flashes as she attends a preview of Lucian Freud paintings at the National Portrait Gallery on Wednesday night. Below, Sandy Nairne, the Director of the National Portrait Gallery, acts as her guide for the evening. (Getty Images)

Kate greetKate Middleton has made it her job to get off on the right foot.

And that was one giant step she took Wednesday night, flying solo for a public royal engagement for the first time.

With no William in the way as he continues his RAF duties in the Falkland Islands, the Duchess seemed perfectly at ease in stepping up as official royal representative.

It didn't hurt that the outing was to the National Portrait Gallery, which is now one of Kate's patronages. Or that the subject of art isn't entirely unfamiliar -- she has a degree in art history from University of St Andrews.

The occasion was the opening of an exhibition of portraits by Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund Freud and one of Britian's most important painters of the last century. He died last July at age 88 as he was helping the Gallery put together this show that has more than 100 of his works.

From all reports, the evening went off without a hitch. Most attention, of course, was paid to what Kate wore. It was a grey coatdress from high street's Jesire. The earrings are reportedly from Links of London and the shoes are Jimmy Choo.

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The Duchess of Cambridge poses for a picture as she attends the Lucian Freud Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. (Jorge Herrera/AFP/Getty Images)

Kate shake

Kate smileThe Duchess of Cambridge shakes hands with Bella Freud during a preview of Lucian Freud paintings at the National Portrait Gallery and managed to keep smiling through the entire evening. (Getty Images)

Freud exhibition

Sue Tilley, a model for British painter Lucian Freud's "Benefits Supervisor Sleeping", poses for the media in front of the painting at the exhibition of his portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London on Wednesday. The painting sold for $33.6 million at an auction in 2008. The gallery is showing more than 100 paintings completed over 70 years, many of them nude studies of the artist's friends and family. Freud worked with the gallery on the exhibition for several years before his death in July 2011 at age 88. (AP)






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"Benefits Supervisor Sleeping", The painting sold for $33.6 million at an auction in 2008

Sorry - I'm sure the lady is a wonderful woman and probably well eductaed but there is nothing "I see: in that picture worth $33.60. let alone 33 million!

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