by Marcia Moody, @MarciaMMoody
Is this the transformation that royal-watchers have been waiting for? In the past, Kate has drawn criticism for playing it too safe and not having enough personality, but during her recent tour of New Zealand and Australia she has gone from mild-mannered and mousy, to a woman who knows her own mind. Three years after her first royal tour in Canada, the Duchess has become noticeably more assured in her role, revealing more of her true personality and showing she's not just about the well-coiffed hair and a sunny disposition. Here are the five marked differences we've noticed...
1. Getting stuck in
During a street hockey match in Canada, William took a few shots at goal whilst Kate stood by demurely. Instead she started the game by dropping the ball between the two teams, telling one girl in the crowd afterwards, 'I would have taken a shot if I wasn't in heels.' Fast forward three years and this time round Kate got her heels stuck in and played cricket in New Zealand, taking turns batting and bowling. She also won a 'DJ-off' between her and William in Adelaide, and clambered into the cockpit, of a fighter-jet - suede Prada pumps and all - during a trip to an air base near Brisbane. As William took the pilot’s seat, he offered her the seat behind him but she declined, replacing him in the prime spot - while he climbed in the back.
2. A bit of banter
Before their boat-race In Canada William shouted out to Kate ‘You’re going down!’, while she just smiled, and one of her crew remarked she seemed nervous and was quiet. When William's team won, he crowed, ‘there’s no chivalry in sport!’. This time, in New Zealand Kate patted William on the back before their yacht race and said with mock sincerity. ‘Take care!’ and after her victory, she sailed past him giving a cheeky victory salute. Meanwhile when the couple were visiting a produce fair in Australia and came across some alpaca wool, Kate suggested William should put it on his head, adding ‘You need it more than me!’
3. Passion projects
In Canada William took centre-stage when he played in a charity polo match, while there was recognition of his army interests when they visited a military recruitment fair, however this time round there were two engagements that were included specifically because of Kate. An area she has become particularly interested in is that of children's hospices, and she visited two while she was away - one in New Zealand and one in Australia.
On their first tour together it was clear William was guiding Kate through her new royal life - literally as well as figuratively, as he often rested his hand on the small of her back when they were on walkabouts. It was also William who wrapped his arm around Kate for a commiseration hug after his team beat hers in the boat race. However on their recent tour it was a more self-assured Kate initiating their physical interaction, showing affection while they were coaching a kids rugby match, and patting William on the arm with mock sympathy after she beat him sailing.
5. And relax…
She has also become a lot more relaxed and open in her chats with members of the public. When asked two years ago by a crowd-member what her super-power would be, she asked, ‘What did William say?’ Yet on this tour she was joking with the crowds that William thought her green Erdem coat was ‘too bright’ and that her yellow Roksanda Illincic dress (below) made her ‘look like a banana.’ On a visit to a vineyard she also admitted she was enjoying the odd glass of wine now she's not pregnant.