In many ways the gowns Kate has worn over the last five years tell the story of her transition from Kate Middleton to future queen - and tonight we're taking a look back through them.
The Duchess debuted her first regal gown in London, the second would be unveiled in Los Angeles. Following a hugely successful tour of Canada, which saw the newlyweds undertake a flurry of engagements during their first joint tour, it was time for a brief stop in LA. The Cambridges were the toast of tinseltown as they mingled with Hollywood's elite. Kate was drop dead gorgeous in a lavender grecian style gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. It was an incredible evening; I'm sure Kate, still very much a new royal, was nervous. I recall reading an article in which a guest observed how stars such as Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman and Barbara Streisand were 'starstruck' by the royal couple.
For the 100 Women in Hedge Funds dinner at St James's Palace in October 2011, Kate selected the red 'Sarai' dress by Beulah London, marking the beginning of a fashion relationship that continues today. At this point, Kate had decided to forego wearing what had been her signature label for years - ISSA, however, this dress very much had the same feminine, whimsical feel of the brand and was reminiscent of several of her pre-engagement looks.
Kate carried out her first solo engagement in late October 2011, on behalf of her father-in-law Prince Charles, who was in Saudi Arabia following the death of the Crown Prince. A Palace aide said the Duchess "was delighted to step in". One imagines her first solo engagement had to be a daunting and intimidating one. As a stand-in, Kate could avoid a lot of media glare and last minute nerves as it all occurred at very short notice. The Duchess wore a very pretty aqua Amanda Wakeley gown with grecian lines and criss-cross straps. From the 2006-2007 collection, it's likely a piece she had in her wardrobe years prior.
The Duchess was elegant in a bespoke, one-shoulder satin chiffon gown by Jenny Packham for a reception at St James's Palace in support of the National Aboretum Appeal.
Kate was simply stunning at The Sun Military Awards in December 2011 in a sumptuous black velvet Alexander McQueen gown. With its sweetheart neckline and figure-hugging silhouette, I think it was one of those times when Kate looked incredibly comfortable in what she was wearing and oozed confidence and ease. The look was completed with dazzling Mouawad jewels. It remains my favourite gown to this day! HRH looked every inch the duchess that evening, and six months on from her first royal appearance, was settling into royal life with aplomb.
2012 began with unquestionably one of Kate's favourite gowns - the Temperley London 'Amoret' - at the London premiere of War Horse. The black lace dress was trimmed with scalloped eyelash edges, and featured a curved seam and removable crepe belt. It was the perfect choice for Kate's first premiere.
William and Kate were back on the red carpet four months later for an exclusive dinner at Claridge's. The Duchess wore the lovely Roland Mouret 'Ella' gown. The creamy gown with long sleeves, structured shoulders and a split was something of a collaboration between Kate and Mr Mouret. The designer later said: "I think it was quite fantastic there was a split up the front. It was not too much I think I did quite well." The Cambridges had just celebrated their first wedding anniversary and Kate was very much in her element with a slew of impressive sartorial choices.
In their roles as London 2012 ambassadors, the Duke and Duchess attended the 'Our Greatest Team Rises' event. Kate wore a bespoke teal Jenny Packham gown, based on a style from the designer's bridal collection. The gown combined an emerald lace bodice embellished with Swarovski crystals and a pleated skirt and ribbon waist with a crystal and flower embellishment. The back of the dress is the highlight of the gown and to show it off Kate wore her hair up - the first time she had done so with a gown since the wedding.
In September the Cambridges undertook a tour of Southeast Asia. The aim of the much anticipated tour was to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee tour. The tour demonstrated Her Royal Highness's growing confidence with a speech at Hospis Malaysia. The itinerary's glittering event was an official dinner given by His Majesty the Agong at his official residence, the Istana Negara, in Kuala Lumpur. Kate dazzled in a long, cream gown with embroidered gold hibiscuses (the national flower of Malaysia) by Alexander McQueen. It was one of the early occasions where HRH proved she was more than adept at sartorial diplomacy.
Kate's Amoret gown had its second appearance of the year as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a black-tie fundraiser in Middle Temple Hall, London in support of St Andrews University's 600th Anniversary Campaign. During a speech William thanked St Andrews for "the woman he loves".
2012 was a big year, and the defining moment came with the announcement the Duchess was expecting her first child. The nation and fans worldwide joined in congratulating the couple on the joyous news. Unfortunately, the announcement came sooner than they would have liked because Kate was hospitalised with Hyperemesis gravidarum. Following a period of rest, a fragile-looking Kate made a surprise appearance at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Awards. The Duchess wore an emerald green, bell-sleeve Alexander McQueen gown.
With the arrival of Prince George, we didn't see Kate at a red carpet event again until September 2013 when she joined William for the inaugural Tusk Trust Awards, seven weeks after George's birth. The Duchess wore a glittering Jenny Packham gown embroidered with shiny sequins and featuring a high round neck and drop waist.
For the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Gala at Kensington Palace, another favoured gown was debuted. Described as: 'Simply stunning in ink-tinged silk, this floor-grazing gown from Jenny Packham is the ultimate in evening elegance. It features a wrapped front, V-neckline, gathered short sleeves, black velvet sash, hidden back zip, tailored bodice and full skirt.' Taking place shortly after Prince George's christening, talk on the night was very much focused on the recent event, with Kate telling guests: "He was such a good boy actually, he's not always like that, but the people there, lots going on, it's slightly distracting." The Duchess revealed the three-month-old was "fast asleep" when she left.
That December, the Duke and Duchess attended their first Diplomatic Reception. The white-tie event saw Kate don a lilac McQueen and marked her first tiara appearance since the royal wedding. We would have to wait a while to see the gown in its entirety...
It was time to hit the red carpet for the premiere of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom on 5 December. Sadly, the event turned out to be a sombre one as Nelson Mandela passed away during the screening. The movie's star Idris Elba later spoke about hearing the sad news: "The Duchess, Kate sort of turned to me and looked at me as she had her phone and I wondered what was wrong with her because she looked quite emotional. And my girlfriend looked at me and handed the phone and I looked down and there it was, Mandela had passed. I looked back at Prince William and Kate and they were just in tears with me." Kate chose her Roland Mouret 'Ella' gown, this time freshening up the look with a ponytail and a ZARA necklace.
It was a third outing for the Temperley London 'Amoret' gown for an advance screening of David Attenborough's Alive 3D at the Natural History Museum. Electing to wear two repeats in quick succession was likely down to having a young baby at home (as you may recall William and Kate have often said George was a poor sleeper) and I expect with other priorities dominating it was most convenient to choose gowns already in her closet.
The Duchess carried out her first engagement of 2014 in style for the Portrait Gala at the National Portrait Gallery. The dress code for the night dictated "black tie with a touch of sparkle" and the Duchess certainly didn't disappoint in her ink-blue Jenny Packham gown. The look was certainly given sparkle as the Queen loaned Kate the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace (I don't know about you, but the image below always reminds me of a poster for a movie or a painting).
It was a Ms Packham design for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards in 2014. Again, it had been another momentous year following a tour of Australia and New Zealand with Prince George. The month before the awards it had been announced the Cambridges were expecting their second child. With so much speculation as to whether Baby Cambridge would be a boy or a girl, it was fun to see Kate having fun with fashion, teaming the powder blue wrap gown with her pink L.K. Bennett Agata Sandals. The colour combination worked beautifully and the ensemble was completed by Monica Vinader jewels.
For the Royal Variety Performance, Kate dazzled in an elegant black DVF 'Zarita' gown. The entire look was perfect for the event and the Duchess was in her element.
The final month of 2014 will be remembered for William and Kate's trip to New York. Enormous excitement surrounded the brief visit, which saw the couple meet a host of well-known figures including Hillary Clinton and Beyoncé. The trip concluded on a fitting note - with the glamorous St Andrews' 600th Anniversary dinner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kate's ink-blue Packham gown received its third public wear - this time with an updo and beautiful emerald jewels. My favourite photo of the trip is the one below of William and Kate holding hands as they left the event.
With the arrival of Princess Charlotte, 2015 was relatively quiet. In October, Kate debuted her first gown of the year with a sartorial bang for the Cambridges first state banquet. The Duchess turned to her go-to 'evening wear' designer Jenny Packham to create the cap sleeve, sweeping red gown. The Papyrus tiara and bracelets loaned by the Queen completed the sparkling look. The white-tie event marked a royal milestone for William and Kate, and the Duchess was given pride of place beside the Chinese president.
Kate had a date with 007 for the premiere of Spectre. Once again it was a Packham creation - this time a bespoke duck egg gown with sheer sleeves, sheer overlay and a glittering belt. Kate teamed the gown with the Robinson Pelham earrings her mother Carole Middleton wore for the royal wedding reception.
One might say Kate's most talked about and divisive gown selection came when she chose the Erdem 'Alouette' for the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Gala. The floral-print piece had quite a bit going on with a voluminous peplum skirt, fitted bodice and very busy print. At the time, as a mother of two in her early thirties, Kate was experimenting a little with fashion and with her hair. Whilst it wasn't a 'fashion win' or an iconic look for her, it was interesting to see her having fun with fashion and trying something entirely out of her comfort zone.
'If it's not broke why fix it' was Kate's motto for the 2015 Diplomatic Reception as she chose the same McQueen dress she wore for the same event two years previously. Thanks to a documentary on Her Majesty's 90th, we finally got to see the very princessy gown in all its glory, and of course, Kate wearing the Cambridge Lovers Knot tiara.
And that brings us to 2016 which has brought us a flurry of gowns thanks to the glittering Royal Tour of India and Bhutan. For the pre-tour reception at Kensington Palace, HRH fittingly wore the Mary Illusion Dot Dress by Indian designer Saloni.
For the first evening of the royal tour Kate was Queen of the Night in a dazzling sapphire-blue Jenny Packham gown for a glamorous Bollywood gala. The beading on the gown was actually done in India, and the silhouette and design of the garment was clearly inspired by the host country. An outstanding look.
We really saw Kate embrace colours and prints across her style choices for the tour. One of the most colourful was the Tory Burch gown she wore for a private dinner with the King and Queen of Bhutan. The colourful gown is intricately embroidered with retro-inspired floral shades of sky-blue, orange, green and brown. The neckline is adorned with red-bead embellishments. Meeting with other royals, heads of state and dignitaries is an important aspect of Kate's royal role, and will be an increasing one as her role grows.
For SportsAid's 40th anniversary gala, Kate stunned in the beautiful off-the-shoulder Roland Mouret 'Nansen' gown. From the French designer's Resort 2016 Collection, the gown features the label's signature darts and panels, providing a flattering silhouette with a nipped waistline and svelte contours. It was a treat to see the Duchess choosing another piece by the talented designer.
And Kate's most recent appearance brings us back to where we started: with her shimmering rose Jenny Packham gown, this time for a gala in support of her patronage East Anglia's Children's Hospices.
The significance of reaching five years as a member of the Royal family will not have been lost on Kate and I'm sure played a part in her selecting to wear the gown again. When Kate first wore it, she was a 29-year-old newlywed finding her bearings as the eyes of the world looked on. Now, at 34, she's a mother of two and is very much growing into her role as a future queen. Long gone is the initial nervousness and uncertainty, replaced by a quiet confidence and assuredness. From solo engagements, to overseas tours and dining with world leaders, the sophisticated Duchess has no doubt learned an enormous amount to prepare her as her role grows - and it's fascinating to see how those years have progressed through the gowns she has worn.
What will the next five years bring? I'm sure we're all looking forward to seeing! :)