02/07/2012

Without William, the Duchess is hitting her royal stride

KateCatherine, Duchess of Cambridge is surrounded by her immediate royal family -- Prince William, Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry -- on Christmas Day. (Getty Images)

In no particular order, the list of catch-up items on Kate Middleton goes like this: Got a dog, had a rumoured fight with hubby (what a surprise – married people fighting), went to Mustique for vacation, visited an addiction clinic, made multiple visits to hair dresser and shops ….

This is one busy Kate. And it’s about to get more so as the Duchess of Cambridge -– now rid of RAF-serving Prince William for six weeks -- shifts her royal duties into high gear.

On Wednesday, she will be visiting the National Portrait Gallery’s Lucian Freud exhibition in London, marking her official start both as a royal 'solo' and as a royal patron of the gallery. It’s one of five charities aligned with the Duchess and we can expect she’ll make her presence felt with each one in the next month or so.

“This will be a busy period for her now,” said one royal aide. “She is really going to throw ­herself into it.”

As if to put an exclamation point on that, Kate has scheduled a full day of activity in Liverpool on Feb. 14 – Valentine’s Day. There will be no pining away for her Prince, thousands of miles away in the Falklands, as she passes her first Valentine’s in her married life.

Instead, it’s off to the Beatles’ birthplace, to tour a Ronald McDonald House, do a ribbon cutting, visit the hospital there, then head for an alcohol-free bar connected with Action on Addiction, one of her causes.

On the calendar are also several Diamond Jubilee events with the Queen, who reportedly has been having one-on-one with Kate to prime her on how to make the most of royal engagements.

“The Queen has developed a great affection for Kate and wants her to feel fully supported,” one insider told the Daily Mail. “She knows how big a step carrying out official duties will be for Kate and has offered to have regular meetings to make sure she feels prepared.”

OK! magazine notes that there is likely to be more than a few trips to shops to replenish her ample wardrobe. "She's going to shop big time and there's talk about a trip to Paris to the fashion houses," said one source.

By the time William returns from the Falklands, he will very likely notice more confident, if not quite independent, streak his wife.

That’s strikes a different note than the one being sounded by some who claim to know the couple. There was talk that Kate was miffed when he arrived in Mustique several days after she landed with her family. William was tied up with RAF duties.

“Prince William and Kate have been bickering a lot lately,” a ‘close friend’ was quoted. “And it’s all down to the fact that Kate can’t stand Wills being away from her.”

That may be so, but judging by her current pace, Kate is obviously determined to present a very different view of her marriage.

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