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Kate Middleton's meaningful fashion change revealed

The Duchess celebrated her 39th birthday on Saturday

Fiona Ward

The Duchess of Cambridge celebrated her 39th birthday on Saturday - and like many others, marked her special day during the UK lockdown.

Kate, who usually shares a smiling portrait on her birthday, in fact even broke with her own tradition this year - choosing to instead share a snap of herself wearing a protective face mask during her recent royal train tour.

MORE: 8 of Kate Middleton's cosiest winter outfits: From knitwear to dresses

While her mouth was covered, you could still see the happiness in the royal's eyes as she waved at the camera - and many felt her choice of photograph reflected the current challenges the world is facing.

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Kensington Palace shared a masked shot of Kate on her birthday

The caption read: "Thank you for your kind wishes on The Duchess' birthday. Birthdays have been very different in recent months, and our thoughts continue to be with all those working on the front line at this hugely challenging time."

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WATCH: Kate answers fan questions in rare Q&A

One fan replied: "Happy birthday! Choice of photo is fitting at these worrying times. Have a lovely day with your loving family. Stay safe."

MORE: Kate Middleton's favourite casual jackets are in the January sales at up to 50% off

Another added on Twitter: "I love this photo! 2021 will always be a year we’ll look back on and remember our masks. Happy Birthday my dearest Duchess of Cambridge!"

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Kate's beautiful snap shows her wearing her Simone Rocha faux pearl earrings and her Hobbs military coat layered over a chic cream jumper. You can shop similar styles of her sold-out earrings at Monica Vinader and Etsy.

MORE: Queen Letizia makes first royal appearance of 2021 in the chicest monochrome look

She is thought to have marked her birthday with husband Prince William and their three children at Anmer Hall, during England's third lockdown, after spending the Christmas period at their Norfolk abode.

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Kate spent a quiet birthday with her family

The Duke and Duchess are believed to be homeschooling their eldest children, Prince George, seven, and Princess Charlotte, five, after schools across England were closed.

The young royals attend Thomas's Battersea school in south-west London, a short drive from the Cambridges' London residence, Apartment 1A, at Kensington Palace.

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