As the Duchess of Sussex carries out her first solo engagement on Tuesday, visiting an art exhibition in London, fans are looking back to when the Duchess of Cambridge was at the same point in her royal journey. Kate had been married to Prince William for just six months when she was asked last-minute to step in for her father-in-law Prince Charles. The future King had asked his "darling daughter-in-law" to host a private charity dinner at Clarence House on his behalf, as he needed to fly to Saudi Arabia to offer his condolences following the death of the kingdom's Crown Prince Sultan.
William was unable to attend due to his RAF Search and Rescue commitments, so it was left to Kate, then 29, to go alone. The Duchess certainly impressed the 30 donors and sponsors of Prince Charles' charity, In Kind Direct, who were invited to the champagne reception and dinner at Clarence House.
Her first solo engagement was deemed a roaring success, with guests reporting that Kate smiled warmly and struck up conversation with the invitees, making sure she had time to meet each of them.
Let's take a look at her first solo engagement in October 2011…
Robin Boles, chief executive of In Kind Direct, told HELLO!: "The Duchess was genuinely interested in what everyone had to say. She asked lots of questions, too. The atmosphere was wonderful. She absolutely charmed everyone. No one wanted to leave as everyone was enjoying themselves so much. She was amazingly poised – it was as if she had been trained by Prince Charles himself. She was a complete natural, she was very professional and is clearly very intelligent."
She continued: "She was absolutely brilliant. She had read the briefing I had sent over about the charity and clearly taken it all in. She told me that she had already spoken to her mother Carole and asked her to give any surplus goods to the charity. I walked her out at the end of the night, and she told me how much she had enjoyed her evening, and you could tell that she really meant it."
Another guest told HELLO!: "Kate came around the room and she was talking to everyone individually – she made sure that she spoke to everyone there. She seemed a bit nervous at first, but she was composed and poised at all times and as the evening wore on she became more and more confident. When she spoke to the guests, she seemed to be very interested in what they all had to say – she made everyone feel special.
"One of the guests told her that they knew someone who'd gone to visit the Royal Wedding Dress exhibition at Buckingham Palace. Kate looked delighted to hear that, and said, 'I was overwhelmed with the public response to the gown. I was surprised it had gone on display for so long because I thought there would only be enough public interest for a few days.'"
Kate dazzled in a silver-embellished vintage Amanda Wakeley dress. As host and guest of honour, she sat at the head of the table for the dinner – which included a main course of parsley-crusted halibut with a crab and saffron sauce and crème caramel for dessert. A speech that was originally meant to be read by Prince Charles was delivered by a representative of the charity.
As Kate rose to make her departure, one guest made an impromptu toast in honour of Charles' daughter-in-law. Our source said: "The toast thanked Kate for being a 'huge asset' to the royal family. She looked so flattered to receive such a big compliment and she also seemed to be relieved that the evening had obviously gone so well. She said thank you to her guest for his kind words, and said she was so glad she had been embraced so warmly by everyone at her first solo engagement."
A palace aide also confirmed: "The engagement all went very well. The Duchess was so pleased that her first solo engagement was for the Prince of Wales, who has shown her so much support over the years."