The life of Kate Middleton: From the halls of St Andrews to Princess of Wales
Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William, will be present at King Charles’s coronation at Westminster Abbey on 6 May.
The Princess of Wales became a member of the royal family after she married William, the Prince of Wales, on 29 April 2011. She is 41 years old.
Born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, Kate was born in January 1982 in Reading, England. She grew up in Bucklebury, Berkshire. She has two siblings, Pippa, 39, and James, 35.
She is the eldest of the three siblings, shared by parents Michael and Carole Middleton – a former flight dispatcher and flight attendant at British Airways.
Carole Middleton founded Party Pieces – a company selling supplies for children’s parties – in 1987, after she struggled for inspiration for Kate’s fifth birthday party. Kate’s family already had ties to members of the royal family and members of the British aristocracy but they found financial success with their party supplies business as it became increasingly popular.
Kate attended St Andrew’s School and Malborough College before attending university in 2001.
It was at St Andrews University, Scotland, where she met William. She first caught the prince’s eye when she walked down a charity show runway wearing a sheer knitted dress, which was later auctioned for £65,000. The pair lived together in an off-campus apartment with two friends and both studied the same course – History of Art.
The pair had a rocky on-again-off-again relationship as they managed William’s military commitments and moving to London, a new city for Kate, where she held several jobs in retail and marketing.
Years of speculation about whether the couple were together or not, and whether they would ever wed, followed. In 2010, after a visit by Kate’s parents to Birkhall – then King Charles’s private residence on the Balmoral estate – Clarence House confirmed that William had presented Kate with his mother’s sapphire ring and the couple were to wed the following year.
On 29 April 2011, they exchanged vows in a grand ceremony at Westminster Abbey and became known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Her Alexander McQueen wedding dress was made with ivory lace and silk, featuring rose, thistle and daffodil and shamrock motifs to represent the four countries of the United Kingdom. She walked out as The Duchess of Cambridge.
Two years later, on 22 July 2013, their first son – and second in line to the throne – Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge was born. Named after the Queen’s father and grandfather, it is expected he would reign as George VII if he ascends to the throne after his father.
The pair welcomed their second child, Princess Charlotte, on 2 May 2015. Their third child, Prince Louis, was born in April 2018. The family’s official residence is Kensington Palace.
As well as undertaking royal duties in support of the King, both in the UK and overseas, Kate, as a working royal, supports a number of charitable causes and organisations, several of which are centred around providing children with the best possible start in life.
In March 2018, Kate gathered a research group to look at what could be done to bring about long-lasting change to the lives of children, by focusing on their earliest stage of life from pre-birth to five years of age.
In June 2021, Kate launched The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, to continue her mission to raise awareness of the impact of the early years on an adults life.
She said at the time: “I have seen that experiences such as homelessness, addiction, and poor mental health are often grounded in a difficult childhood. But I have also seen, how positive protective factors in the early years can play a critical role in shaping our futures too.”
She also launched the Shaping Us campaign in 2022, to highlight the importance of early years development.
Kate asked royal fans to “spend time with your friends, colleagues and communities talking about your early childhoods and how they’ve shaped your lives” as part of the initiative.
Among her philanthropic projects, Kate has a passion for tennis, hockey, sailing and photography.
In January 2020 she took part in a special photography project to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, contributing two powerful photographic portraits of Holocaust survivors and their families.
Kate has often been praised for her sustainable approach to fashion, unlike other monarchs who would have a new outfit made or purchased for each event. She recently re-wore her 2019 dress to the 2023 Bafta awards ceremony and was also recently applauded for beating Prince William in an endurance test during a spin class while wearing high heels.
When Queen Elizabeth II died in September 2022, and Kate’s father-in-law became King Charles III, she became the Princess of Wales – the first person to assume the title after Princess Diana.
Though they never met, Kate has paid homage to her late mother-in-law – who died in a car crash in 1997 – several times. In 2022, she wore a green emerald, diamond-encrusted choker necklace that was previously worn by Diana. The choker is believed to be worth more than US$15m.
On St Patrick’s Day 2023, Kate was made the colonel of the Irish Guards, taking over the role from her husband William. She has taken part in casualty drills and braved snowy and icy conditions for exercises with the guards.
Speaking about his wife at the time, William said: “I may be stepping aside, but in Colonel Catherine you have a committed, focused and already incredibly loyal 11th Colonel.”
Kate said: “It really is a true honour to be your Colonel. I am here to listen to you, to support you, and to champion you in all you do - this is a responsibility I do not take lightly.”
As her husband William is next in line to take the throne, it is expected that she will become Queen Consort when William becomes king.