Kate Middleton: Why the 'Kate Effect' Means More Than Fashion

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The Duchess of Cambridge joins her husband, Prince William, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island for their first royal tour as a married couple.

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The Duchess of Cambridge joins her husband, Prince William, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island for …

A blingtastic blue sapphire engagement ring, love for Prince William, and former "commoner" status are just a few of the things style icons Kate Middleton and the late Princess Diana share.

Now, there's the "Kate Effect."

The phrase is popping up in all corners of the British press, and to the UK fashion industry, that effect is worth millions of dollars, since everything the Duchess wears sells out in a hot minute - just try searching for the chestnut Hobbs coat she wore in Liverpool over the weekend - benefiting British brands.

To those looking beyond the style, that "Kate Effect" reaches way beyond clothes and accessories.

The most high-profile member of the Royal family is blazing a benevolent trail first pioneered by Lady Diana, with a full schedule of engagements in the coming months - perhaps to help keep her busy while husband Prince William kicks off his six-week search-and-rescue deployment with the Royal Air Force almost 8,000 miles away in the Falklands.

Met by cheering crowd and swarmed by admirers wherever she goes - think well-wishers who want to shake her hand and bouquet-bearing little kidlets who practice their curtsies and bows for weeks before meeting her - it's obvious Kate does her homework, taking her role quite seriously.

With three solo appearances - one to London's National Portrait Gallery, a second to The Brink, an alcohol-free bar run by Action on Addiction, and a third to Alder Hey Children's Hospital - tucked under her elegant belt, royal watchers are giving serious hi-fives to the newest royal family.

Good thing she was rumored to be learning the velvet ropes via Queen Elizabeth's own brand of princess bootcamp way before tying the knot in April 2011.

The stalwart monarch, who will be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee later this year, is said to be fond of the down-to-earth Duchess, who shared a secret (her puppy's name!) with a young patient at the aforementioned children's hospital, and gained the starry-eyed admiration of 10-year-old Ethan Harris, who Kate met at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) during her visit to Alder Hey Children's Hospital. The cutie made a handmade card for the Duchess with a poem tucked inside: "You're smiley like the sun, you're bright like a star, you're light when it's dark and I love your spark."

That affable personality the Prince (understandably) fell in love with and the reality of being an officer's wife give Kate an accessible vibe. People can identify with her in a way that has helped modernize the monarchy (yep, they're on Facebook and Twitter), making her a natural "People's Princess."

Diana would be proud.

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