top of page
  • Writer's pictureAdmin

The Duchess of Cambridge: A History

Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth

It can be hard to imagine now but, before marrying the future King of the United Kingdom and becoming one of the most famous women on the planet, Catherine Middleton lived a fairly normal life. She was born in Berkshire in 1982 as the oldest daughter of Carole and Michael Middleton, a flight dispatcher and flight attendant respectively. Michael Middleton has ties to the British Aristocracy through his grandmother and Carol is reportedly descended from Edward IV through a great-great-grandmother but the family grew up upper-middle class.

Photo: The Middleton Family

Her younger sister, Philippa Charlotte Middleton was born in September 1983 and the Middleton's moved to Amman Jordan the following year where Michael worked for British Airways. She attended English nursery school until 1986 when the family returned to Berkshire.

Upon their return in 1987, the Middleton's welcomed their youngest and only son, James William Middleton. The same year, her mother founded the families highly successful mail order party supply company, Party Pieces.

Catherine has always spoken very fondly of her childhood, crediting her parents for their dedication to their children. They have always been a tight knit family, supporting one another in their public and private lives. She has said that only since becoming a parent herself she has appreciated how much they sacrificed for them in order to come to every sports game and have holidays together as a family.

The future Duchess of Cambridge played sports throughout her time at St. Andrews Independent preparatory school and continued when she enrolled at Downe House School and Marlborough College. Even now, Catherine is always excited to join in on games during engagements having shown off her skills in tennis, field hockey, volleyball, basketball, archery, running and boating.

Catherine was able to enjoy a gap year after Marlborough where she traveled to Chile, where she volunteered with Raleigh International programme. She also had an opportunity to study at the British Institute of Florence in Italy before beginning her University career at St. Andrews in Scotland. She graduated with a Master of Arts in 2005.

It was during her time at St. Andrews University that she met her future husband, Prince William. The pair met in 2001 and became friends, living with some mutual friends during their second year at University. Reports surfaced the couple might be dating in 2003 but nothing was confirmed until 2004 when they were photographed together during a skiing holiday with friends.

After graduating from UNI, Catherine suffered media harassment that resulted in complaints and warnings being issued to the paparazzi between 2005 and 2007. During this period, Prince William was in Military training and Catherine worked as an accessory buyer at Jigsaw. She ended up leaving Jigsaw to work for her family's company which afforded her more privacy from media intrusion and the flexibility to see Prince William when his military scheduled allowed.

While dating Prince William, Catherine also focused heavily on charity work. She curated and hosted a book launch in support of UNICEF which featured photographs by Alistair Morrison as well as joining the an all female rowing team that raised money for Babes in Arms. In 2008 she hosted a special charitable roller disco night raising money for Oxfords Children Hospital in memory of a friend that had passed away. Catherine also volunteered with Naomi House Hospice to support children in need and attended the Boodles Boxing Ball in aid of SPARKS. Additionally she organised a working relationship between Party Pieces and the Starlight Foundation.

Photo: Associated Press

The couple briefly broke up in 2007 but got back together a few months later. Catherine attended her first royal family wedding in May 2008 when she was a guest at Autumn and Peter Philips wedding and she attended Lady Rose Windsors wedding three months later. For the next two years William and Catherine were seen together at a number of times but despite persistent wedding rumors, the couple did not announce their engagement until 2010.

Photo: Mario Testino

William proposed to Catherine during a holiday in Kenya, Catherine describing the moment as "very romantic" and a "complete surprise." The couple were married at Westminster Abbey on April 29th 2011 in front of family, friends, celebrities, dignitaries and an estimated 2 billion people around the globe. Catherine was given the title of Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Lady Carrickfergus upon her marriage to Prince William. Not only was she the first commoner to marry the future King but will be the first Queen Consort to have earned a university degree as the Queen was privately educated and neither Diana or Camilla completed University.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their first child in 2013, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. Before his birth, male primogeniture was abolished through an act of parliament so Prince George became the first royal baby who would be Monarch regardless of gender. In 2015, the couple welcomed their first and only daughter, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge. Three years later their youngest son, Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge was born. After the birth of Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte made history as the first girl in the British Royal Family not to be usurped in the line of succession by a younger brother.

Photo: PA

Catherine remained close to her parents and siblings during her time dating Prince William and her tight knit family has stayed by her side during her marriage as well. Her mother, Carole has been seen taking the kids on walks and they are rumored to sometimes spend weekends at the Middleton Grandparents home.

She has also stayed close with her younger siblings, Pippa and James despite not being photographed together as often now. Pippa had George and Charlotte in her 2017 wedding to James Matthews, her neice and nephew serving as a pageboy and bridesmaid. James has voiced his support for her sisters mental health and early years campaigns via social media, also sharing that Catherine always shows up for him when needed as he has struggled with depression and was supportive when he sought out therapy.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been adamant about protecting their children's privacy and allowing them to grow up as normally as possible. Therefore, they are not seen in public very often except at official events, milestones and on the few occasions they have joined their parents on royal tours. Catherine, an impressive photographer, takes her children's annual birthday pictures which they shared with the public each year via social media to celebrate. William and Catherine have permitted the media and public to celebrate other milestones such as their kids first days of school. George, Charlotte and Louis have attended the Queens official birthday parade, Trooping the Colour each year that they were old enough. More recently, George and Charlotte joined their parents on Christmas Day for the Royal Families annual walk to Church. Otherwise, they are usually given the privacy and courtesy their parents have asked for.

Photo: Matt Porteous/PA/Shutterstock

While Catherine spent much of her early years of marriage focused on their growing family, she has continued her charity work with a particular emphasis on mental health and the importance of the early years. In 2017 The Royal Foundation (which then consisted on Prince William, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge) launched the Heads Together campaign to change the national conversation around mental health. Both Princes have credited Catherine with connecting all of their individual charity work through the lens of mental health and wellness.

Individually, Catherine has spent much of her time in the early years, trying to learn as much as possible in order to create generational change. The goal of the early years project is to give every child the very best start in life so that they can grow to become healthy and productive adults. As Catherine has explained, many of societies biggest problems whether it is addiction, homelessness, crime or mental illness can be traced back to peoples earliest years and experiences.

Photo: Getty

In addition to her charity work, Catherine has served the Queen and the British people through dozens of royal tours, meetings with domestic and foreign diplomats, attending state visits and representing Britain at home and abroad. The Queen has thanked her for her service by awarding her the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II in 2017 (the 15th person to receive this honor) and making her a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order on her 8th wedding anniversary in 2019.

Photo: Getty

On top of representing the crown, working with dozens of charities and raising a young family, Catherine has become well known for her classic style. Items in her closet typically sell out within a day or two in a phenomenon dubbed the Kate Middleton Effect. Her modern twist on conservative style ensures she is always polished and prepared for any event whether meeting foreign Kings or Queens or playing football with school children, her style never fails to impress.

Since marrying into the British Royal Family, Catherine has carved out a distinct new path with a particular focus on mental health and early years. She has made it clear through nearly a decade of public service that her commitment is to her family, the crown and the people of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Nations. xx

bottom of page