“Easygoing” Kate Middleton is camera shy and “surprisingly lacking in vanity”, says former fashion editor

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Anna Brech
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She’s someone who lives her life in the glare of the media spotlight, yet Kate Middleton “isn’t entirely comfortable” in front of the camera, according to a former fashion editor who spent the day photographing the Duchess of Cambridge.

Alexandra Shulman, the outgoing editor-in-chief of Vogue, has opened up about what it was like working with the Duchess, one year on from her appearing as cover star for the centenary issue of the magazine.

The picture she paints is of someone informal and laid-back, despite the ridged etiquette that caveats her role as a high-profile royal ambassador and wife of the future King of England. 

 “The Duchess arrived, in jeans and a parka, her hair in big rollers, with a bright, inclusive smile,” Shulman recalls. 

“Although the Duchess of Cambridge is one of the most photographed women in the world, she is not someone who feels entirely comfortable at the end of the lens, nor as the centre of attention, and throughout the day the whole mood was very low-maintenance.”

She notes that Middleton, 35, was surprisingly “easygoing” throughout the shoot:

“Most of us would fuss about our skin or our lines or about our skin or our lines or whether we looked thin or fat or in some way wrong and would need constant reassurance, whereas she demonstrated none of these neuroses, which showed an admirable and surprising lack of vanity.”

Shulman reveals that the idea for a bucolic, country-themed shoot was endorsed by Middleton, who wanted the pictures to be “as informal as possible”.

“The Duchess liked the idea of being photographed in the countryside, and she wanted the pictures to reflect an element of her private existence,” she writes. 

“She didn’t want to be dressed as a fashion plate and was not keen to be shot in gala gowns and tiaras.” 

Instead, the wardrobe for the shoot was based “on what the Duchess likes to wear when she is off-duty – jeans, shirts, T-shirts”.

Perhaps understandably for one who isn’t at home in front of the camera, Middleton told Shuman how she loved the way her own children were completely unbothered by being photographed.

 “From taking photographs of George and Charlotte, I have been struck by the wonderful lack of self-consciousness that you see in photographs of children, without the self-awareness that adults generally feel,” she said.

The Duchess and her husband Prince William released a new photo of their daughter Charlotte (below) today, to mark her second birthday. The picture was taken by Middleton last month, at the family’s Norfolk home, Anmer Hall.

Shulman edited Vogue for almost 25 years before stepping down as editor-in-chief a few months ago.

“It has been very hard to find a rational reason to leave what is unquestionably a fascinating and rewarding role but last autumn I realised that I very much wanted to experience a different life and look forward to a future separate to Vogue,” she said at the time.

Photos: Rex Features

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.