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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge joined the royal family in 2011 after marrying Prince William. She has been working as a full-time royal for many years now, carrying out charity work and representing Queen Elizabeth on diplomatic trips abroad.

This past year, royal followers have seen a new side to Kate thanks to the pandemic. A royal expert even believes that this has been great for Kate’s image as a future queen.

Kate Middleton smiling, looking to the side
Kate Middleton | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

What Kate Middleton has been doing during the pandemic

For the first few months of the pandemic, Kate and her family isolated themselves at their countryside residence, Anmer Hall.

While the United Kingdom was on lockdown, Kate continued to carry out engagements. She met with charitable organizations over Zoom and continued promoting their important work.

Kate also utilized her photography skills by partnering with the National Portrait Gallery to publish a photo book. Called Hold Still, the book features 100 images that document life in the U.K. during the pandemic. It was released on May 7, and proceeds are going to the gallery as well as a mental health charity called Mind.

Kate’s dedication to her work amid lockdown has made her more endearing to the public.

“I think some people might say that the lockdown that we’ve experienced here—well, three of them—in many ways was the unlocking of Kate,” royal expert Katie Nicholl said to 60 Minutes Australia. “I think that the public got to see more of the true duchess than they’ve ever been able to see before.”

Nicholl added, “We got to see William and Kate at home at Anmer. We got to see their children clapping for the NHS during the lockdown. We got access to them in a way that we absolutely hadn’t before. I think a lot of that was down to William and Kate recognizing that they couldn’t be seen to be in their ivory tower. They needed to be accessible.”

In fact, Nicholl believed a “turning point” for Kate came on March 13 of this year when the duchess visited the vigil for murdered marketing executive Sarah Everard, whose death ignited a national conversation about violence against women.

“We’re not used to seeing royals do that sort of thing,” Nicholl said, adding that she was showing future royals the importance of “being real… and being relatable.”

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According to British research firm YouGov, Kate and William are the third and second most popular royals, respectively—behind the queen herself.

Because of this, a lot of people seem to want the crown to skip Prince Charles and go straight to the Cambridges after Her Majesty dies. However, despite all the talks about this from the public, it does not seem like Queen Elizabeth will do that.

Royal expert Simon Vigar said, according to Express, “The Queen doesn’t believe in breaking the rules, she does not want Charles to step aside when she passes. William doesn’t want that to happen.”