<![CDATA[The Duchess of Cambridge returned to royal duties on Tuesday evening as she attended the 2014 Portrait Gala, at the National Portrait Gallery.
New mum Kate, 32, dazzled as she arrived at the London gallery in an ink-blue Jenny Packham dress. The Duchess sparkled as she complimented her stunning gown with the Queen's Nizam Hyderbad diamond necklace, which Her Majesty received as a wedding gift.
The engagement marks the Duchess' return to the spotlight and is her first engagement since last year.
Other guests including actress and model Elizabeth Hurley was spotted arriving as the excited crowds outside waited for the guest of honour.
Attending solo, the Duchess also made a speech where she praised the National Portrait Gallery’s achievements.
“I just wanted to say how delighted I am to be here this evening to celebrate the fantastic work of the National Portrait Galley,” Kate said. “The Gallery’s achievements are exceptional. They host the most extensive collection of portraits in the world, and their unique and brilliant exhibitions never fail to inspire us.”
She added: “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.
“Thank you for being here tonight, and showing your support. I hope that you all have a wonderful night.
“I simply could not be more proud to be its patron.”
The royal mum was also shown a selection of “pen portraits” which have been described as exclusive stories, descriptions and commentaries about a chosen painting inside the gallery. These will later be sold to raise money for the gallery.
Kate, who gained a degree in the History of Art, has been patron of the National Portrait Gallery since January 2012 and has made several visits to the London gallery.
In January 2013, her first portrait, by Paul Emsley was unveiled at the gallery provoking a mixed reaction, however the Duchess revealed she thought it was “amazing”.