Diana's mantle: 'fun' Kate is Vogue's new royal cover girl
Unafraid of links to her husband's late mother, Kate fronts fashion magazine's centenary, writes Gordon Rayner
In her lifetime Diana, Princess of Wales was the ultimate Vogue cover girl. Now, 19 years on from when she last graced its front, she has a royal successor after the Duchess of Cambridge took on her mantle.
The Duchess, who has proved before she is unafraid of comparisons with her husband's late mother, agreed to a fashion shoot to celebrate the magazine's 100th anniversary.
And for the first time the Duchess, 34, allowed a professional make-up artist to prepare her for the photographer, giving her a fresher, more youthful look. Vogue hired Sally Branka, who persuaded the Duchess to drop her usual black eyeliner and heavy blusher - with striking results.
The pictures were taken by Josh Olins, one of the world's leading fashion photographers, in a collaboration between British Vogue and the UK's National Portrait Gallery.
Two of his pictures will hang in the London gallery from today as part of the 'Vogue 100: A Century of Style' exhibition. Seven images, including the cover, will appear in the magazine's June issue.
The Duchess, who is patron of the gallery and will visit the exhibition on Wednesday, is the most senior Royal to appear on the cover of Vogue since Princess Diana, who featured four times including a posthumous appearance in October 1997.
But while Princess Diana turned to the magazine for advice before her wedding, the Duchess, who celebrated her fifth wedding anniversary on Friday, has taken rather longer to be persuaded to do a fashion shoot.
Mr Olins photographed her on the Sandringham estate in January, her outfits chosen after talks with Vogue fashion director Lucinda Chambers and editor Alexandra Shulman.
For the cover shot the Duchess wore a coat and hat by Burberry and a vintage hat from London boutique Beyond Retro. In the picture of her leaning on the gate, she wears a Petit Bateau top and Burberry trousers.
A spokesman for the Duchess said: "Vogue has been a leading champion of British portraiture. The Duchess was delighted to play a part in celebrating the centenary of an institution that has given a platform to some of the most renowned photographers in this country's history.
"She is incredibly grateful to the team at Vogue and at the National Portrait Gallery for asking her. She would like to thank Josh Olins for being such a pleasure to work with. The Duchess had never taken part in a photography shoot like this before. She hopes that people appreciate the portraits with the sense of relaxed fun with which they were taken."
The Princess Royal also appeared on the magazine's cover, in 1971. Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Windsor, the Prince of Wales and Princess Margaret have also featured inside.
Mr Olins follows such famous names as Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson, Lord Snowdon, Patrick Demarchelier and Mario Testino in photographing royal family members for Vogue.
Ms Shulman said: "To be able to publish a photographic shoot with HRH The Duchess of Cambridge has been one of my greatest ambitions for the magazine.
"I'm delighted the Duchess agreed to work with us and the National Portrait Gallery, and as a result of this unique collaboration we have a true celebration of our centenary as well as a fitting tribute to a young woman whose interest in both photography and the countryside is well known."
Nicholas Cullinan, director of the gallery, said: "Josh has captured the Duchess exactly as she is - full of life, with a great sense of humour, thoughtful and intelligent, and in fact, very beautiful. We had fun in making and choosing these images, and I hope that comes across."
'Vogue 100: A Century of Style' runs until May 22 at the National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London