Who Is Kate Middleton?
Kate Middleton became Catherine, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge when she married Prince William at Westminster Abbey in London on April 29, 2011. Queen Elizabeth II conferred Kate with the title shortly before the ceremony.
Middleton gave birth to Prince George, the third in line to the throne, on July 22, 2013, amid an international media frenzy. She gave birth to a daughter, Charlotte, the fourth in line to the throne, on May 2, 2015, and followed with another son, Louis, on April 23, 2018.
Kate Middleton’s Parents and Siblings
Kate Middleton’s parents are Michael and Carole Middleton. She has a younger sister, Philippa ("Pippa"), and a younger brother, James.
On her mother's side, Kate came from a decidedly working-class stock of coal miners and builders. Her maternal grandmother, Dorothy Goldsmith, pushed her children to aim high. As a result, Kate's mother became an airline hostess—at the time, a considerably glamorous job.
It was on this job at British Airways that Carole met Michael Middleton, an airline dispatcher, whose wealthy family hails from Leeds and which has ties to British aristocracy. The couple married soon after.
In 1987, her parents founded a mail-order party goods company. The business was a surprise success, eventually making the Middleton family multi-millionaires.
Kate Middleton’s Early Life and Education
Middleton was born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton on January 9, 1982, in Reading, Berkshire, England. As a result of their parents’ business and newfound income, Kate and her siblings didn't want for much.
Kate attended exclusive boarding schools, including St. Andrew's Prep School, Downe House, and Marlborough College. Her time in boarding school did not come without its conflicts. Kate left the exclusive Downe House all-girls boarding school at the age of 14, due to bullying and taunts from other students.
On her first day at co-ed Marlborough, some particularly mean-spirited boys began rating incoming students based on attractiveness and personality. They gave Kate a two out of 10.
Despite the initial setbacks, Kate did well in her studies, passing 11 GCSEs and three A-level exams.
PHOTOS: Prince William and Kate Middleton's Relationship
Prince William and Kate Middleton
Middleton and William lived in the same dormitory at college, St. Salvator's Hall. They shared several classes in their course schedule as well and soon became friends.
While they often shared breakfast and walked to classes together, the two were not interested in each other romantically at first. Middleton was dating senior Rupert Finch, and William was busy dealing with the press and struggling with his feelings about his new school.
In 2002, Middleton appeared in an exclusive fashion-show fundraiser wearing a revealing dress. William was also present at the charity event and became intrigued and interested in Kate in a new way. He attempted to engage her romantically that evening but, still, in a relationship with Finch, Middleton spurned the future king's advances.
At the end of the 2002 school term, Middleton's boyfriend graduated, and the couple soon parted ways over issues of distance. Newly single and entering her sophomore year, Middleton and several friends were invited to share a flat with William, a setting that allowed their budding romance to blossom.
At first, Middleton's life didn't change much. The couple kept their relationship a secret, mostly due to the prince's extreme distrust of the press. The couple agreed not to hold hands in public, or be seen sitting together at dinner parties. This seemed to throw off the press for the most part.
But in 2004, Kate was caught by paparazzi while on a royal family ski trip. Her relationship with William became the subject of intense scrutiny and, by 2005, she was a tabloid favorite. The two graduated together that summer, with Middleton earning an honors degree in art history.
In February 2006, it was announced that Middleton would receive her own 24-hour security detail from the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Department. This led to rumors that Middleton was being groomed for a position of royalty. However, with William headed off to a military academy, Middleton was faced with tending to the paparazzi frenzy, alone.
In April 2007, Middleton and William publicly split. Allegedly pressured by the royal family to either propose or let Middleton move on with her life, William apparently broke off the couple's five-year relationship over the phone.
Media reports said otherwise, however, as Middleton was spotted at several royal events accompanied by the prince only a few months later. Other rumors indicated that the couple was living together. Both parties denied the rumors.
Marriage Proposal and Kate Middleton’s Engagement Ring
On November 16, 2010, Middleton and William announced their engagement. The prince proposed during a vacation to Kenya, presenting Kate with the engagement ring worn by his mother, Princess Diana. The ring, made by crown jeweler Garrard, features a 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire set in white gold and surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds. The ring was reportedly inspired by a brooch created in 1840 for Prince Albert as a wedding present for Queen Victoria, which she wore on her wedding day as her “something blue.” The design is now available for anyone to buy at Garrard. "It’s beautiful—I hope I look after it! It’s very special," Middleton said in the couple’s official engagement interview.
The couple then announced plans to live in North Wales, where William was stationed with the Royal Air Force, after their marriage.
Kate Middleton and Prince William’s Wedding
At her April 29, 2011 wedding to William, Kate Middleton wore a dress designed by Sarah Burton — a fact that remained a closely guarded secret until the big day. She also donned a tiara that the Queen Mother received from her husband, King George VI, in 1936, which Queen Elizabeth II lent to Middleton for the event. Shortly before the wedding, Queen Elizabeth conferred Kate with the title of Catherine, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge.
The wedding reportedly cost close to $34 million, $32 million of which was for security. Guests included Sir Elton John and David and Victoria Beckham; 23 million people watched the ceremony live on television.
Kate Middleton’s Children with Prince William
On July 22, 2013, at 4:24 p.m. local time, Middleton gave birth to her son, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, weighing in at 8 pounds and 6 ounces. Prince George is second in line to the British throne, following Prince Charles and William.
St. James Palace officially announced that Middleton and William were pregnant with their first baby on December 3, 2012, after almost a year of baby rumors and much speculation. On the same day of the announcement, Middleton, with William by her side, was hospitalized at King Edward VII hospital in London with acute morning sickness.
Anticipating the arrival of Middleton and William's first born, by July 2013, international media outlets began establishing a regular presence in front of St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London. St. Mary's was the same hospital where Princess Diana gave birth to William and later Prince Harry.
On May 2, 2015, Middleton gave birth to a daughter, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces, at 8:34 a.m. local time at St. Mary's Hospital. The baby was the Queen's fifth great-grandchild and the third in line to the throne after her brother, Prince George. This second pregnancy was announced in September 2014.
On April 23, 2018, Prince Louis Arthur Charles was born, weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces, at 11:01 a.m. local time at St. Mary's Hospital. Prince Louis is fourth in line to the throne after Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, and before Prince Harry. Big sister Charlotte remains a spot ahead thanks to a recent change in succession rules that gives preference to birth order over gender.
Kensington Palace announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were expecting their third child in September 2017. The statement revealed that the Duchess of Cambridge was suffering from severe morning sickness, known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, as she had during her pregnancies with Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
Middleton’s full-time job is as Duchess of Cambridge. However, before marrying William and after graduating college, she worked in other endeavors.
Finding a job was difficult as the girlfriend of the prince; the position had to be considered respectable by the royal family, while also allowing Middleton the flexibility to take off at a moment's notice to be with the prince. In November 2006, Middleton finally found an acceptable position as an assistant accessories buyer with the British clothing chain Jigsaw in London. It was later reported that she left the company in order to study portrait photography.
In 2010, it was revealed that Middleton had been working on plans to start a new bakery business with her brother, James, who ran The Cake Kit Company. The business had the goal of encouraging kids to cook and making it easier to bake party cakes.
Topless Tabloid Controversy
Middleton made headlines in September 2012 when photos of her sunbathing topless in southern France were published by a French magazine, Closer. Soon after, the photos were reproduced in publications in Ireland and Italy.
As soon as the news broke about the photos in Closer, the British royal family became involved in a legal battle to attain the rights to the photos, in hopes of preventing other publications from printing them. According to the Los Angeles Times, the photos weren't picked up by any news organizations in Britain.
Shortly after Closer published the photos, on September 18, 2012, the royal family won their copyrights in court: A judge ordered the French magazine to hand over the photos within 24 hours of the court's decision, according to the L.A. Times. Closer faced daily fines of $13,000, as well as fines for any reprints of the photos, if it failed to meet the 24-hour timeline.
Foundation and Mental Health Advocate
Through The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Middleton teamed up with her husband and his brother Harry to form the Heads Together initiative to raise awareness of mental health issues. In January 2018, they announced the launch of a website designed to provide resources for teachers and schools seeking help in that area.
"We know that mental health is an issue for us all – children and parents, young and old, men and women – of all backgrounds and of all circumstances," Middleton said. "I see time and time again that there is so much to be gained from talking of mental health and taking the mental health of our children as seriously as we do their physical health. When we intervene early in life, we help avoid problems that are much more challenging to address in adulthood."
In April 2020, following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the Duke and Duchess pledged to use their foundation to support frontline responders and families during the health crisis.
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