Kate's picture perfect on first solo outing
KATE Middleton looked every inch the confident British royal as she stepped out for her first solo public engagement.
Kate has reached the stage where she feels ready to take on a visit by herself, under the gaze of the press and public. She arrived for a preview of the Lucian Freud show at the National Portrait Gallery in London as it was confirmed she had agreed to a request from the Gallery to pose for a portrait.
Kate stepped from her chauffeur-driven car wearing a dress by Jesire, a high-street clothing range -- a double-breasted, 1950s-style grey gown in a marbled pattern.
She has been carrying out accompanied public engagements for just under a year and has adapted well to the pressures of meeting dozens of new faces.
Kate has been learning about being a royal from her husband William, who last week was posted to the Falkland Islands to work as an RAF Search and Rescue co-pilot.
On their joint visits around Britain last year, William was continually at her side and a reassuring presence during their first overseas tour together last summer to Canada and California.
The guest list last night included Lord of the Rings actor Ian Holm; photographer Mary McCartney, daughter of ex-Beatle Paul; and Andrew Parker Bowles, the ex-husband of Kate's mother-in-law, Camilla.
Kate smiled and chatted to fans outside before taking a tour of the gallery.