Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Watershed' Year for Kate's Royal Career; as the Duchess of Cambridge Spends Her 32nd Birthday Quietly at Kensington Palace, Robert Jobson Looks Forward to a Busy 12 Months Ahead, Where She Will Be the Focus of a Major Tour of Australia and New Zealand

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Watershed' Year for Kate's Royal Career; as the Duchess of Cambridge Spends Her 32nd Birthday Quietly at Kensington Palace, Robert Jobson Looks Forward to a Busy 12 Months Ahead, Where She Will Be the Focus of a Major Tour of Australia and New Zealand

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Jobson

THE Duchess of Cambridge celebrates her 32nd birthday today ahead of what is seen as a "watershed" year in her royal career.

Kate was spending the day "quietly and with little fuss" at Kensington Palace with her baby, Prince George, amid preparations for the most significant royal tour of a generation.

The duchess and Prince William, newly enrolled as a student at Cambridge University, and George are to visit Australia and New Zealand, a tour which is expected to outshine the one made by Prince Charles, Princess Diana and baby William a little over 30 years ago.

One senior source told the Evening Standard: "The duchess intends to spend her birthday quietly. It will be private. She is busy with her duties as a mother as well as preparing for the big tour Down Under. It is going to be an important, watershed year."

The month-long tour in April is already getting extensive media coverage in Australia and New Zealand. It is focusing on the duchess, who has never been to either country. There have been reports on what she will wear, her hairdresser and even tongue-in-cheek questions about whether William and Kate could bring the real Ashes Urn to Australia after the five-nil test cricket whitewash of England.

Royal aides including the couple's private secretary, press secretary and security teams are about to embark on a detailed reconnaissance mission to work out the schedule with the respective governments, which will pay for the visits.

Today's low-key celebrations will be in-keeping with her style, marked with the minimum of fuss. Kensington Palace would not officially divulge anything about the duchess's birthday plans other than it was "all private". The lock-down on information is typical of the palace strategy on how to handle their "star asset", the former Kate Middleton. …

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