It's been a fortnight of grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons for the Duchess of Cambridge – not that you'd know it, after her dazzling appearance at the annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace.
With her favourite Lover's Knot Tiara firmly in place and wearing an incredible custom Jenny Packham ball gown, 36-year-old Kate proved she would not be brought down by scurrilous rumours of a rift between herself and her new sister-in-law Meghan Markle.
Sources tell Woman's Day her graciousness at the reception was not lost on Queen Elizabeth, who is said to have since confided to Prince William that his wife will make a "fabulous" Queen when her time comes.
"Her Majesty has always appreciated that Kate is hard-working, honest and extremely committed to never putting a foot wrong but she really went above and beyond last week," confirms a palace insider.
"Kate's never been hugely comfortable with the spotlight but she was aware the family were facing a public relations nightmare over all the reports that Meghan's terrorising the castle so she really put herself out there in order to regain public favour."
This comes after several claims have been made that Meghan's "demanding" approach to life as a royal has led to clashes between the duchesses – with one report even claiming Kate broke down in tears and complained about Meghan's treatment of palace staffers.
Several sources have also spilled that the ladies' husbands, Princes William and Harry, are barely on speaking terms over the scandal.
Despite the situation, which is without doubt traumatic, Kate's show of professionalism has earned her widespread praise.
"Kate has been completely dedicated to earning her stripes as a commoner turned royal since she married William and she's done an impeccable flawless job," explains our royal source.
"Being centre in all the gossip must have been hard for her to deal with because she's usually such a private and dignified person, but you'd never know she's going through a tough time."
The royal reception was just one of Kate's scene-stealing moments over the course of a hectic two days last week.
She book-ended the ball with two touching visits to British military personnel and their families, including a whirlwind visit to provide Christmas cheer and gifts to an Air Force base in Cyprus.
WATCH: Flashback to when Prince William and Duchess Catherine introduced Prince Louis to the world. Post continues...
Several servicemen and women said Kate took the time to chat with them about their children – including revealing that her seven-month-old son Louis is learning to wave.
"William is so proud of Catherine. He's watched her navigate every tricky step of learning to be royal with so much poise and warmth. She genuinely cares about the people she meets," a source tells.
"Even though it may be a few years off, William is looking forward to taking the throne and seeing her become Queen."
According to another insider, cynical royal watchers are said to be privately sniping Meghan "could take lessons from Kate in how to be a princess, rather than working against her."
"Right now it's about Kate re-establishing herself in the royal pecking order and asserting herself as a queen-in-waiting," spills the insider.
"People used to think Kate was meek and mild but that's certainly not true!"
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