Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton dazzles at National Portrait Gallery in diamond necklace borrowed from the Queen

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The Duchess of Cambridge glammed up for her first official night out of the year tonight – with a diamond necklace borrowed from the Queen.

Kate, 32, left Prince George at home with dad William and put on her glad rags for the National Portrait Gallery’s fundraising Gala evening.

Looking stunning in the same midnight green Jenny Packham gown she wore to a dinner in October teamed with the enormous diamond necklace, Kate mingled with 430 guests including Liz Hurley, Olympic Gold Medallist Katherine Grainger and cross-dressing artist Grayson Perry.

The dazzling piece of jewellery was given to the Queen as a wedding gift from Nizam of Hyderabad, then King of a state in India.

Then Princess Elizabeth, she was gifted the necklace along a with a tiara from the King’s priceless collection.

And last night Kate, patron of the gallery, looked a million dollars as she chatted to guests, who paid £600 each for their tickets.

The evening celebrated the work of acclaimed authors who have written special “pen portraits” to be sold to raise money for the gallery.

Among them was the work of Hilary Mantel, double Man Booker prize-winning author, who caused outrage last year when she described then pregnant Kate as a “plastic princess” “designed to breed”.

Mantel wrote a piece on Thomas Cromwell for the Portrait Gala, but Kate was spared the embarrassment of coming face-to-face with her as the author decided to stay away.

The Pen Portraits were on sale for £500 each, alongside a special display of mystery Portrait postcards at £250 each. All funds raised were donated to the gallery’s work to deliver exhibitions and displays and carry out research.

Following dinner, guests were invited to bid in a live auction for items including a head and shoulders portrait by Nicky Phillips – who painted Kate for a picture commissioned by Prince Charles as a present for Prince William two years ago.

There will also be a raffle with prizes including a Philip Treacy hat, Stella McCartney handbag and vouchers for Soho House.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, said: ‘The 2014 Portrait Gala is a great occasion of celebration, benefiting the Gallery’s collection through the Portrait Fund and its work more generally.

“I am hugely grateful to all those who are helping make this possible, including very notable writers and artists.”

Kate will step up her working timetable this month after spending last month focusing on being a mum to Prince George.

On Friday she will view the work of her charity The Art Room at Northolt High School.

Kate’s glittering debut last night follows reports she is undergoing a “royal makeover” supported by the Queen.

She is reported to be refining her wardrobe to include statement jewellery from the Queen’s collection assisted by her dresser Angela Kelly.

She is also reported to be making her hemlines longer and outfits more formal to emphasise her royal status.

Kate also made a short speech at tonight’s event, endearingly stumbling at the end and putting her hand on her chest.

She said: “I just wanted to say how delighted I am to be here this evening to celebrate the fantastic work of The National Portrait Gallery.

“The Gallery’s achievements are exceptional.

“They hold the most extensive collection of portraits in the world, and their unique and brilliant exhibitions never fail to inspire us all.

“But, it is more than simply a world renowned visitor’s attraction – the Gallery’s outreach and research programmes makes it one of the leading centres for the important study into Portraiture. I simply could not be more proud to be its Patron. Thank you for being here tonight and showing your support. I hope that you all have a wonderful evening.”



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