Kate Middleton has turned cover girl, as she graces the front page of British style bible Vogue, to mark the 100<sup>th anniversary of the magazine. It's the first time the Duchess of Cambridge has been featured in a fashion photo shoot.
The series of portraits, taken by British photographer Josh Olins capture the "country girl Kate" as she relaxes in the grounds of her Anmer Hall home in Norfolk. The cover image sees the 34-year-old looking effortlessly stylish, in a brown suede jacket with a white shirt by Burberry and a vintage green hat.
In a second image, she is seen wearing a casual black and red striped Petit Bateau top and adopting a natural pose as she leans over a wooden gate, while a black and white portrait captures a flattering close-up of the very photogenic royal.
Photographer Josh Olins took the historic snaps which capture the relaxed and approachable nature of the Duchess. Olins said it was a 'privilege' to be chosen to photograph Kate, describing her as "a natural" in front of the camera.
"This was the Duchess's first sitting for a magazine and she was a joy to work with, a natural," he explained. "I am incredibly grateful to Alexandra Shulman for placing her faith in me for such an important and historic assignment.'
A spokesperson for The Duchess of Cambridge revealed that the young mother of-two, who is a keen photographer herself, had thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being a cover girl for the first time. "Since 1916, 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 to take part. 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.'
Kate, who is hailed as a style icon the world over, famously follows in the footsteps of her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana who appeared on the cover of the magazine four times. And in an apparent nod to the late Princess, the Duchesses diamond and sapphire engagement ring, which was originally worn by Diana, is seen prominently in the photos.
The landmark series of photos was commissioned by British Vogue in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, of which The Duchess has been patron since 2012.
Alexandra Shulman, Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue said the shoot with the Duchess of Cambridge had been one of her "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 National Portrait Gallery, said the images capture the Duchesses natural beauty and reflect her warm personality. "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.
"Not only do they reflect her love of the countryside, interest in photography and championing of the National Portrait Gallery as our very committed Patron, but they also encapsulate what Vogue has always done so brilliantly – to pair the best photographers with the great personalities of the day, in order to reflect broader shifts in culture and society.
"We had fun in making and choosing these images, and I hope that comes across,' he added.
Two of the portraits of HRH The Duchess of Cambridge are featured in Vogue 100: A Century of Style exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, which opens to the public from Sunday, May 1.
The full photo shoot is featured in the June centenary issue of Vogue.