Kate Middleton took the wheel on her 38th birthday.
The royal mom was spotted arriving at her Kensington Palace home on Thursday, driving herself and wearing a green puffer jacket. Despite the happy occasion, Kate looked solemn as cameras snapped her photo.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s big day comes just hours after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their shocking decision to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family” in order to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution.” The couple also revealed that they would split their time between the U.K. and North America.
Despite the fallout, Meghan and Harry made sure to wish their sister-in-law a happy birthday on social media.
Commenting on a newly released portrait of Kate shared on the KensingtonRoyal Instagram, Harry and Meghan’s official account SussexRoyal wrote: “Wishing a very happy birthday to the Duchess of Cambridge today!” accompanied by a heart and a birthday cake emoji.
Prince Harry is currently sixth in line to the throne, behind his father, Prince Charles, brother, Prince William, and William’s three children, Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, 1.
Multiple insiders say the chill between the brothers runs deeper than many outsiders realize. Today, fallout from the rift that began two years ago with Harry’s engagement to Meghan (sources say William cautioned Harry about moving too fast with the American actress) continues to ripple across the royal family, from seating to staffing to Christmas plans, as Meghan and Harry announced they would not be spending the holiday with the royal family at Sandringham.
Aside from formal family events, Kate and Meghan have spent time together, most notably attending Wimbledon together for the past two years.
Meghan, 38, and Harry, 35, announced their decision on Wednesday, shortly after returning from their getaway to Canada.
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wrote on Instagram. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.
“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”
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While there was some idea of the couple’s desire to take a different route, as discussions have been confirmed to be taking place, insiders tell PEOPLE that Harry’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth and senior members of the royal family, including Prince Charles and Prince William, were caught off guard by the release of the couple’s statement on Wednesday.
“There is a lot of hurt about this,” one royal source tells PEOPLE.