Kate Middleton bowled up to the inaugural King’s Cup Regatta on the Isle of Wight in a striped Sandro top and wide-legged pant, but soon changed into a navy short and athletic jacket, her glossy ponytail flowing below a baseball cap.
Her boat came last in the contest (which was won by Bear Grylls) but Kate, 37, was a huge winner in one particular department: Role model.
From taking the wheel on her sailing yacht to laughing with husband Prince William at the presentation, Kate (whose nod to glam was Kiki McDonough diamond earrings) looked just as at home as she always does in Jenny Packham red carpet gowns, Alexander McQueen coat dresses for christenings and Zara striped dresses for polo.
Royal women aren’t often seen in active wear on duty, so Kate’s ease in stepping out in front of the public and cameras to show off her sporty side is fabulously refreshing and sends a strong message.
Yes, I wear tiaras. I also wear tracksuits and actually exercise in them.
It’s something we’re yet to see Meghan Markle attempt.
The former actor has nailed her version of royal style since marrying Prince Harry – Givenchy, Dior – but the closest she comes to casual is a black jean and jacket with heels.
Meghan’s physicality is different to Kate’s.
Rather than perfecting her backhand, she practises internal pursuits like meditation.
Maybe one day we’ll see her leading a group yoga class in a Silou bodysuit.
The Queen used to race other aristocrats down the straight at Ascot in jodphurs, a tailored riding jacket and silk head scarf, and Princess Diana was regularly snapped in bike shorts leaving the gym or tennis court.
But unlike Kate, they never got their hands dirty on the clock.
Since her marriage, Kate has broken that mould, promoting a fantastic image of a woman who takes her health seriously and sees workouts as part of everyday life.
Please, check out her quaddies on the boat. This isn’t someone who has breakfast in bed brought up every morning or is happy with a light ramble through the Kensington Palace shrubbery.
Nailing her athletic credentials to the mast took Kate a while to work into after she married William in 2011.
While she played hockey at school, skiied at Klosters with the future king (go-to outfit: black salopettes, white jacket) and competed in dragon boat racing, Kate would turn up for official ‘sporty’ events in day wear.
In 2012 she played soccer in London wearing an A-line dress and her favourite ghastly wedges.
Her outfit to hike in Bhutan was much more Chelsea chic meets The Sound of Music than sports gear: $990 Penelope Chilvers boots, a $1020 Nubuck shoot waistcoat and a white Jaeger linen shirt.
Those days are done for Kate now.
She has the confidence to carry off maternity tracksuits, sleeveless puffas and running shoes.
In Belfast in February, she did soccer drills in leggings, not her previous jeggings and arrived to the Chelsea Flower Show earlier this year in Superga trainers and Massimo Dutti linen culottes.
It’s images of the duchess “looking normal that resonate best with her fans”, The Telegraph noted after her sailing outing.
I bow down to the duchess for signalling to young women that it’s fine to tie up your blow dry and break a sweat.
That women don’t need to get glammed up to be a sport.