Prince William Travels for Work, Kate Steps Out for Charity

02/29/2012 at 08:00 AM EST

Prince William Travels for Work, Kate Steps Out for Charity
The Duchess of Cambridge
With Prince William away on a military mission, Kate is a newlywed on her own – but she's hardly sitting home alone waiting.

Instead, she is confidently stepping out solo into the royal spotlight, and impressing royal insiders and commoners alike with her grace and charm.

In this week's cover story, PEOPLE steps inside Kate's world, chatting with people who've met her during her six recent royal engagements at charities of her choice. All were moved by the Duchess of Cambridge's friendly and warm manner.

"We were a bit nervous," parent Diane Squire said after Kate met her daughter, 12-year-old Megan, who has cancer, at a Liverpool hospital. "But she was lovely."

Though William is 7,500 miles away, the couple keeps their love alive through phone calls, emails and Skype. Kate often referred to her husband during her recent engagement, and even told one young girl that William had sent her a card and flowers on Valentine's Day.

For more details – including photos of Kate's recent style choices and the couple's plans to start a family – pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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