Kate Middleton boards commercial airline, shocks passengers, as she returns from first solo trip without Prince William

By @chelean on
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrives to view the exhibition "At Home in Holland: Vermeer and his Contemporaries from the British Royal Collection", at the Mauritshuis Art Museum in the Hague, the Netherlands October 11, 2016. Reuters/Phil Noble

Kate Middleton surprised the passengers of British Airways on Monday as she boarded the commercial flight back to London from her first solo trip without Prince William.

The Duchess of Cambridge, whose mother Carole Middleton was an air hostess for British Airways, stepped onto the 7:15 p.m. flight from the Netherlands with her bodyguards at the last minute. She wore a bespoke pale blue skirt suit by French designer Catherine Walker.

According to the Daily Mail, the shocked passengers excitedly took out their phones to take photos of the mother-of-two as she was shown to her seat on the front row. One passenger said he had “never seen so many iPhones pop up at once” as passengers rushed to take her photo.

Kate, who is formally known as Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, kept a low profile during the quick flight. She was the first one out of the plane as she was escorted to a waiting car on the tarmac at London City Airport.

She was coming from her first official solo trip in the Netherlands, spending the day visiting the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague. The Duchess, who was wearing pearl with diamond earrings, appeared to have enjoyed The Girl With The Pearl Earring oil painting during her tour of an exhibition featuring Dutch Old Masters loaned by the Royal Collection.

According to Daily Mirror royal correspondent Victoria Murphy, the pearl and diamond earrings were loaned to her by Queen Elizabeth II.

Mauritshuis gallery director Emilie Gordenker said the Duchess regarded the visit as a “real treat.”

“She didn’t mention the earrings she was wearing, but she was interested in the painting. She asked if it had become a lot more popular since the film came out, and I said it definitely had,” Gordenker told the Daily Mail. “The Duchess seemed to particularly enjoy seeing The Goldfinch, by Carel Fabritius.”

Earlier on the same day, Kate made a courtesy call to King Willem-Alexander at royal residence Villa Eikenhorst. After her museum visit, she then travelled to the official residence of Sir Geoffrey Adams, Britain’s ambassador to the Netherlands.