Duchess Kate's 31st birthday party a quiet family affair
For the last time in probably a while, Kate will be celebrating a birthday without worrying about diapers.
The Duchess of Cambridge turned 31 on Wednesday and the palace says it is being celebrated "privately," most likely at the home she shares with Prince William in north Wales.
"They'll arrange a very small lunch with present openings if she's feeling up to it," a source told Marie Claire magazine. "Or, they'll throw a big family dinner in the evening. "She'll just want to be with her family and enjoy her last birthday with Wills before there's a little one to look after."
It has been a year of highs and lows for Kate, from her emergence as a royal superstar to the topless photo scandal. The next 365 days mark a whole new chapter, with a royal heir due in early summer and another shuffling of homes when renovations are completed on Apartment 1A in Kensington Palace.
There are no major tours planned for the duchess and Prince William this year, and with a new baby, there's no doubt the public be seeing a lot less of her than last year.
The duchess, of course, is not alone in having a birthday this day, though she has inevitably snagged most of the headlines. There are, in fact, many celebrity-types and fellow Capricorns of the January 9 vintage. They may not have much in common with Kate on the surface, but that won't stop us from doing a Kevin Bacon treatment and connecting the royal dots with a few of them:
Crystal Gayle (born 1951): Her most famous hit was 1977’s ‘Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue’, which would be a perfectly connection perfectly if Kate’s eyes were brown, but they’re hazel. Nevertheless, both women are linked via the roots -- hair roots. Both are brunettes with flowing locks, and it’s one department where Gayle may be more famous considering it has reached as far as her ankles.
Joan Baez (1941): The singer/songwriter’s mother, Joan, was born in Edinburgh, the daughter of a decendant of the last Duke of Chandos, James Brydges. In fact, Joan’s middle name is her mother's maiden name, Chandos. Alas, the title died in 1789. Her mother, Baez once declared, could have been a duchess. Just like Kate.
Jimmy Page (1944): The famed guitarist with Led Zepplin is one of the most famous residents of Sonning, a tiny village in the county of Berkshire. It's just down the road from Reading, where Kate Middleton was born. About 25 kilometres away is another Berkshire gem, Bucklebury, home to the Middleton clan.
Richard Nixon (1913-94): We’ll reach a little on this one …. One of Richard Nixon’s most famous TV interviews was the one he did with Britain’s Sir David Frost, post-Watergate (1977), and it was later turned into a movie. Frost is a patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. So is Kate.
Bob Denver (1935-2005): To most people, Bob Denver will always be Gilligan, stuck on a deserted island after an ill-fated three-hour tour. Coincidentally, Kate’s favourite vacation spot is an island, Mustique, and she also lives on an island -- Anglesey in North Wales -- while William toils for the RAF’s search and rescue squadron. Which, come to think of it, Gilligan could have used.
Gracie Fields (1898-1979): She was one of Britain’s most popular entertainers during the Second World War and beyond. One of the country’s biggest showbiz nights each year is the Royal Variety Performance, always attended by senior members of the Royal Family. Fields made 10 appearances on the show, beginning in 1928 and the last in 1978 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoaHT3JMu4k). Ultimately, the Queen named her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Not quite a duchess, but darn close.
Herbert Lom (1917-2012): He will most be remembered as the long-suffering Chief Inspector Dreyfus in seven Pink Panther movies, but he was also an actor with a royal touch. He was the original King in the London stage production of “The King and I.” Coincidentally, his Pink Panther colleague, Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, also came from a royal acting background, having switched sexes to play Duchess Gloriana in the 1959 farce, “The Mouse that Roared.”
Sergio Garcia (1980): The Spanish golfer has yet to win a major, but he’s got a pretty good swing with the ladies. The connection to Kate? Well, one of his first big romances was with former world No. 1 tennis player Martina Hingis. Kate is a tennis freak. (Another of Hingis’s ex-boyfriends was Sol Campbell, who used to play for Arsenal, Prince Harry’s favourite team). Today, Garcia’s girlfriend is Nicole Horrex, who hails from Wales. Kate, of course, lives in Wales where Prince William is stationed. Alas, there seems to be no actual golf connection, though Kate did own one (a VW Golf that is).
Now, for all those who can't get enough photos of the duchess on her happy 31st, Reuters has put together a 31-picture combo covering her since the royal wedding in April 2011:
BIRTHDAY CAUGHT IN CROSSFIRE
The Union Jack was flying at Belfast's city hall on Wednesday, but it only heightened the tension in the city over a decision by city council last month to fly the British flag only 18 days a year to mark special occasions, most of them of the royal variety.
The Duchess of Cambridge's birthday was one of those occasions, but it was marked by a sixth night of violence between police and loyalists who want the flag to fly all year round.
Protesters threw bottles and rocks at police in the Northern Ireland city in clashes that have seen more than a hundred people arrested and scores of officers injured.
The British flag flies behind a statue of Queen Victoria at the Belfast City Hall in Belfast on Wednesday. It's the first time it has appeared since its removal a month ago sparked riots in Northern Ireland. The emblem will now fly for a maximum of 18 days a year including royal birthdays. (AFP/Getty Images)