27 Relatable Facts About Kate Middleton
Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, has changed the idea that members of British royalty are unapproachable.
Her public appearances and the causes she furthers show genuine concern for people and a desire to make their lives better. It’s not difficult to imagine sitting down for a chat over a cup of tea or swapping tales and tips about child-rearing with her, if only there were time in her busy schedule.
Here are 27 facts you should know about the duchess.
She Comes From Not-So-Royal Roots
Born January 9, 1982, Catherine Middleton’s father was a flight dispatcher and her mother a flight attendant. When she was five, her parents founded Party Pieces, a mail-order party goods company. Unlike royal spouses of prior generations, she is considered a commoner. Her father is descended from a line of solicitors and landed gentry; her ancestors on her mother’s side were laborers.
Going back to the 16th century, it has been discovered that she is related to the Prince of Wales; they are 15th cousins. She became Catherine, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, on April 29, 2011.
She Was an Accomplished Student Athlete
Kate was an athletic child. She broke the record for the high jump at St. Andrew’s School in Pangbourne, which she attended from 1986 to 1995. During her early years, she attended as a day student, but in later years, she was a boarder for part of each week.
She also played netball and hockey at Marlborough College in Wiltshire, which she attended from age 13 before going on to university.
She Earned an Art Degree, With Honors
After taking a gap year, Kate enrolled at the University of St. Andrews in 2005, where she studied art history. It was here that she met Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. They lived in the same dorm, St. Salvator’s Hall, and had several of the same classes. While they were seen spending time together at meals and walking to class, their relationship began as a platonic one.
These days, she continues to express her interest in art, particularly photography, and she is a patron of The National Portrait Gallery and The Art Room, a charity that teaches children life skills through art.
She Rejected the Future King’s Initial Advances
It’s widely reported that she piqued the prince’s interest when she appeared in a revealing dress for a fundraising fashion show at college, but she wasn’t interested. When they first met, Kate was dating someone else. Unlike girls all over the world, she wasn’t dreaming of capturing the prince’s attention. In fact, she admitted in an interview that she had the “Levi’s guy” posted on her dorm wall, not a photo of the prince.
After her then-boyfriend graduated in 2002, Kate and William got to know each other better and a relationship began, though it was not initially made public.
She Worked in Retail
After graduation, Kate took a job as a part-time accessories buyer with the High Street fashion chain Jigsaw, where she worked for about a year. She also worked for the family business, Party Pieces; she’s credited with starting a new line, “First Birthdays.”
When she left Jigsaw, she reportedly had plans to pursue portrait photography. It was later reported that she also planned to work with her brother to start a new bakery business, The Cake Kit Company, which had a goal of encouraging kids to cook.
She’s a Talented Photographer
In 2007, Kate got serious about photography, even looking at London galleries as venues to display her work. Her relationship with William changed those plans, but not her passion.
She’s Expanded Her Work in Photography
Today the Duchess of Cambridge’s focus for photography is her children; their official portraits are her work.
She’s Expanded Her Work in Photography, Continued
Last year, she became the first royal patron of the Victoria & Albert Museum. She recently took over patronage of the Royal Photographic Society from the queen, and has also become a patron of the Royal Photographic Society and Action for Children.
She’s Expanded Her Work in Photography, Continued
Her work with Action for Children, an agency that supports disadvantaged youth, includes hands-on lessons photography lessons for children that focuses not only on learning a new skill, but also on how the art can be used as a form of expression.
She's a Hands-on Volunteer
A Brownie in her youth, one of Kate’s early volunteer roles was with the Scout Association, where she participated in activities with young people in North Wales. She says she was drawn to Scouts by her love of outdoors and a desire to work with youth.
She's a Hands-on Volunteer, Continued
She continues to take her role seriously, recently trading in her heels for boots to sit with a scout group in a hut made of sticks. She hopes that her children will also participate in scouting where, she says, children learn important life skills.
Everyone Wants to Know Who She Wears
Like many women who frequent the limelight, people want to know, “What is Kate wearing?” Her outfits are the topic of many articles and conversations. She’s not afraid to be seen in the same thing more than once. This fascination with her clothing has even spawned a website: WhatKateWore.
The ‘Kate Effect’ Affects the Economy
Not only does everyone want to know what Kate is wearing, they want to wear it too. Whatever she wears is in great demand and quickly sells out, all around the world. In fact, some designers have been known to double their staff to keep up with demand.
It’s Also Good for Charity
The Kate Effect has also extended to fundraising efforts. A charitable foundation set up by her husband and brother-in-law saw donations grow almost tenfold after she joined the family.
She’s an Avid Gardener
The past two years, Kate has designed a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, and this year also designed a new Back to Nature garden at the Royal Horticultural Society Wisley. She been a vocal proponent of getting kids outside and has frequently spoken about the health benefits of time spent in nature.
Unlike the previous two gardens, this new garden is a permanent fixture. It also includes a children’s playground that, in keeping with the theme, features wooden structures, rather than man-made ones.
Backyard Nature Is Important to Her
Middleton is a tireless advocate for children and believes that time in nature is an important and effective part of teaching lifelong skills, both physical and emotional. She has given her support to Backyard Nature, a campaign started by Liverpool children that has spread throughout the U.K.
Backyard Nature Is Important to Her, Continued
The garden she most recently designed for the Chelsea Flower Show highlighted her belief that being active in nature benefits one’s physical and mental health.
She's a Hands-on Parent
Maintaining a sense of normality as best she can is important to Kate. She doesn’t just talk about the importance of outdoor education, she also practices it. She takes her children outside to play as frequently as possible. Just like other families, Kate, William and the children have been seen kicking around a soccer ball, running to the car for snacks and sitting in the grass to eat them.
She's a Hands-on Parent, Continued
While her children are a significant focus in her life, like many moms, she also serves as a role model to her children by looking outward to the larger society in which they live. She has chosen to center her public work largely around children and family. Among the causes she supports are those that further efforts to improve the physical and mental health of both children and new parents.
Huff Post Made Her Editor For a Day
As part of Young Minds Matter, an effort to raise awareness for children’s mental health issues, in early 2016, Kate became editor of Huffington Post U.K. for a day. In her blog post on the site, she wrote about what she has learned regarding children and mental health, and the stigma that so often surrounds it. The royal attention caused a stir on Twitter, making #YoungMindsMatter a trending hashtag.
Mental Health Is Important to Her
Mental health is an important topic to the Duchess, and the Duke as well. The two of them, along with Prince Harry, worked together on a campaign, Heads Together, dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues.
In a video released by the royal family on Twitter, the princes revealed that Catherine was behind the initiative. Mental health issues can be seen to be an underlying thread connecting the personal projects of all three of them (homelessness, military, and addiction and bereavement). Kate has also become a patron of various mental health charities.
She Must Curtsy to the Queen and Others
Though Kate will almost certainly one day be queen, and her daughter Charlotte is fourth in line to the throne, she is obliged to curtsy to “Blood Princesses” unless she is accompanied by Prince William. The Order of Precedence in the Royal Household also requires her to curtsy to Duchess of Cornwall Camilla (pictured, right), if neither of the women’s husbands is present. (If William is present, but Charles is not, Camilla must curtsy to Kate. When the princes are present, their wives adopt their rank.)
She Favors Bacon as a Pizza Topping
On a visit to the Islington community garden, the conversation turned to pizza. The duchess spent some time chatting with children about what toppings they like. She caused controversy when asked about her pizza topping preferences. She said she prefers bacon to pepperoni, because bacon is not as spicy.
This set off the Twitterverse, where a debate about whether pepperoni is spicy took off. This almost overshadowed the question of the day, “Has the Queen ever had pizza?’ (It’s possible we may never know.)
Her Accessories Are Affordable
Kate is often seen pairing expensive designer dresses with inexpensive earrings (some as low as $6). Some fashion experts call the choice “strategic,” saying that it makes the royals more appealing to the general public, since these prices make it possible for them to dress like a princess.
Her headbands and hair bows and ties can also be found in stores such as J. Crew.
She Shops Grocery Chains Like Everyone Else Does
Kate was seen shopping at the grocery store chain Sainsbury's in King’s Lynn Hardwick (about a half-hour from the family’s country house, Anmer Hall), where the children were browsing Halloween costumes.
The young prince and princess were along so they could choose their own (Charlotte is reportedly a big Disney fan), though a bodyguard was on hand to make sure no pictures were taken to reveal their choices too early.
After they made their selections (while chatting casually with other shoppers) the future queen headed to the self-checkout to pay for her items. This is not the first time the future queen has been seen shopping for her family’s needs herself or even her first visit as royalty to budget-friendly stores; she made some holiday purchases at The Range last December.
She's shown here shopping at an EACH charity shop in Holt, England.
Her Thriftiness Extends to Air Travel
While other national figures make news for their extravagant vacations, Kate and William choose to be selective in their splurges. According to People magazine, fellow passengers were surprised to discover the family had been on their flight on the economy airline FlyBe last summer. They did so with little fanfare; most passengers did not even notice them until after they disembarked from the $89 flight to Aberdeen for a family gathering at the Queen’s Scotland residence last summer.
It’s not clear what was more surprising to the public, that they flew economy or got on and off the plane without notice.
She's shown here boarding a plane in Canada in 2011.
Accessibility Is Important to Her
While driving through a small village on a royal trip to Pakistan, Kate asked the driver to stop so that she could talk to the locals along the roadside. When one couple invited her and William to their hut for tea, they promptly accepted. Through a translator (the only other individual to go with them), they learned much about the challenges of life there. After the visit, Kate spoke of their hospitality and called it a “special moment.”
No Trainers, No Problem
On the same trip to Pakistan, the Duke and Duchess joined in an impromptu game of cricket while visiting the SOS Village at Lahore, which currently houses more than 150 orphans. Ever the athlete, wearing heels didn’t deter Kate. The scheduled visit also included engaging in art projects with the residents.
She Doesn’t Carry a Phone
While many women select a small bag for its ability to carry their phone and other essentials, Kate doesn’t carry a phone. Though she is often seen carrying a clutch, there are relatively few things inside. In fact, it contains only a compact mirror, lip balm, a handkerchief and blotting paper.
While it is assumed that she has a cell phone, she has not been seen using it, and one can only speculate that she has an iPhone as William does.
Being Princess Of Wales Is Her Choice
Since her 2011 marriage, Kate has been the Duchess of Cambridge. When William takes the throne, she will be Queen Consort. In between those titles, it’s expected that Charles will become king and William will take his place as Prince of Wales.
According to Express UK, the likelihood of her rejecting the title is low, but it will be up to Kate to decide whether or not she wants to be called Princess of Wales. (Camilla Parker Bowles opted for Charles’s second title, Duchess of Cornwall, when they married, out of respect for Diana, the late Princess of Wales.)
As Queen Consort She Will Have No Power
Though Kate will be called queen, her official title will be Queen Consort, which has no real power. The title merely shows that she is married to the king. She will, of course, share his social rank and status, but will have no political and military powers of her own.
As Queen Consort She Will Have No Power, Continued
It’s expected that she will continue to have influence over her family and possibly serve as an advisor to the king, but it is up to him to determine what, if any, political role she will serve.
Middleton Possesses An Honor Higher Than Her Brother-in-Law
Earlier this year, Middleton was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. She is the fourth royal to receive the title, along with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (Prince Charles’ wife), Sophie, Countess of Wessex (Prince Edward's wife), and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (the Queen’s husband).
The award is the highest rank given by the sovereign. It is intended to "personally thank and honor people who had helped her directly, or represented her across the Empire." Prince Harry (left) holds a lower rank, that of Knight Commander.