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The Duchess of Cambridge in Birmingham in August. (AP Photo/Geoff Pugh)
The Duchess of Cambridge making a not-so-secret, public visit to Birmingham in August. (AP Photo/Geoff Pugh)

The Duchess of Cambridge is making “secret” visits to charities, following a practice of the late Princess Diana.

Kate started the “under the radar” visits several days ago, in order to help her make decisions about which organizations she will support as a royal patron.

“The Duchess is using the next few months to get to know a number of charitable and other causes better,” said a spokesman at St. James’s Palace. “We are not giving a running commentary of the causes the Duchess is looking at. Her interests remain broad at the moment.”

The Telegraph reported that a “palace source” said Kate was doing her research independently but that William is giving her his “full support.”

The Express writes that her selection of charities is especially important because “it’s likely that her first solo duty will be to promote one of her new charities so it stands to reason that she won’t want to do anything on her own until she has sorted that out.”

The paper says that she wants to “wait until next year at the earliest” before undertaking official appearances without William.

“Historically, women joining the Royal Family do not begin undertaking solo engagements until around two years after their marriage,” the Express quotes one “senior courtier” as saying.

The Express’s Richard Palmer expresses some doubt that the two-year moratorium is a tradition, citing many counter-examples, including Camilla, who made an appearance on her own as early as a month after her marriage to Prince Charles.

But Palmer says that Kate and William appear to have taken advice from the current monarch and her husband. The Queen and Prince Philip, writes Palmer, “were stationed in Malta from 1949 to 1951 and concentrated on enjoying life as a Royal Navy couple, forgoing the burdens of public duty until later in their lives.”

Palmer concludes:  “It stood their relationship in good stead, whereas Diana and Fergie‘s marriages soon foundered. “

In other royal-related news:

• More developments on Mike Tindall’s night out in New Zealand with blondes, dwarves and, now, videotape.

According to BBC News, bouncer Jonathan Dixon today made an appearance in a New Zealand court where he was charged with crimes stemming from his online posting of closed-circuit video of newlywed Tindall canoodling with an as yet unidentified blonde woman in a Queenstown nightclub. The original video was posted on YouTube and then taken down, though it is still available on news sites.

Tindall’s wife, Zara Phillips, the thirteenth in line for the throne, is still not saying anything on the record, but, according to The Telegraph, her spokesman says the blonde in question is a longtime friend of the royal couple.

“This girl in the video is an old friend of Mike and Zara and has known Mike since university days. She is English but lives in Australia and was on holiday in New Zealand,” the spokesman said. “Zara is very relaxed about all this and the whole thing has been blown out of all proportion.”

• The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent the weekend – the weekend before last, that is (September 10 and 11) – at Balmoral, the Queen’s Scotland summer palace.

While Prince Charles was traveling to commemorate 9/11 victims, his son and daughter-in-law stayed at Charles’ Birkhall residence on the Balmoral estate. According to The Telegraph, Kate spent some quality time with the Queen.

The editor of Majesty magazine, Ingrid Stewart, said, “It is an important visit in many ways – not least because the Queen will want Kate to meet all the staff – one day she will be responsible for them.”

• New York Fashion Week prompted lots of pros and cons over the idea that Kate Middleton is a fashion trendsetter. The debate reached far and wide – even down under to Australia, where style writer and editor Paula Joye firmly grabbed the middle ground. “I think it’s a bit premature to be calling Kate Middleton a style icon,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Becoming an icon is about consistency and pushing boundaries over many years, and she’s really only been in the public eye for under five years.” But she says Kate is developing a style, which is “safe and predictable” rather than “fashion-forward.” And that’s okay, because Kate’s got a lot on her plate, and, says Joye, “I think fashion ranks midway on her to do list.” She especially likes that Kate recycles outfits, “because that’s real life, and it also shows that she loves what she bought.” You can listen to Joye’s comments here.



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By Paul Hechinger