Duchess of Cambridge Catherine, commonly known as Kate, is the wife of Prince William, who is second in line to the British Throne. Born on January 09 1982 as Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, Duchess will become the Queen Consort of United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms when Prince William ascended the throne – “Consort” being the official title of the reigning Monarch’s spouse.
Catherine was born at Royal Berkshire Hospital and raised in a small village ‘Chapel Row’ in Berkshire, England. Coming from Upper-Middle Class British Family, Catherine is the eldest children of Michael and Carole Middleton. Michael and Carole both worked for British Airways as Flight Dispatcher and flight Attendant respectively. Michael’s family is reported to have ties to British Aristocracy and his relatives were supposedly used to host royals since 1926.
Catherine spent a few years of her childhood, from May 1984 to September 1986, in Amman Jordan, when her father Michael was working there for British Airways. When Michael and Carole came back to the UK, the couple established their own mail company ‘ Party Pieces‘ that sells party supplies and decorations. Although the Party Pieces is a private company, it is believed to have a net worth of £30 million.
Catherine received privately funded education through the family funds established by her paternal family. She started her education in Amman by attending an English language nursery.
In 1986, the four-year-old Catherine was enrolled at St Andrew’s School, a private school near Pangbourne in Berkshire. She was a weekly-boarding student at St. Andrew’s in her later years. Since her early childhood, Catherine was a sporty student. During her time at St. Andrew’s, she played many sports i.e. including field hockey, tennis, and rounders.
Later on Catherine was enrolled at Downe House School, but she studied only two-terms at the school before moving to Marlborough College. It was reported that Catherine was being bullied by the students at Downe School due to her skinny health so Carole and Michael decided to pull her out.
Catherine shined like a star at Marlborough College, a co-educational independent boarding school in Wiltshire. Catherine was the captain of the field hockey team and also played tennis during her term at the school.
The amusing fact is that it was Marlborough College that gave her famous nickname Kate. Before her time at Marlborough, she was being called Catherine by family and relatives, her friends at the Marlborough – some of them are still part of her life (Emilia Jardine-Patterson and Hannah Carter who are God-mothers of Prince George and Princess Charlotte), started calling her Kate.
Catherine graduated from Marlborough College in 2000. In 2000 Catherine decided to take a gap year and went to Chile to participate in a Raleigh International programme. There were rumours that she took admission at a University in Scotland but instead of joining she went for a gap year. Another fun fact is 2000 was also Prince William’s gap year and he also went to Chile to participate in the same programme but with a difference of few months. Catherine also studied at the British Institute of Florence in Italy during her gap year and spent time with her cousin Lucy Middleton (who is one of Prince Louis’ God-mother).
In 2001, Catherine started University education at the University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland. She met Prince William, her future husband, at the University. She studied Art and History and lived in St Salvator’s Hall at the University of St Andrews during her first year where Prince William was also living. She graduated from the University in 2005 as a student of History of Arts with an Honours Degree.
William first time saw Catherine at the fashion show held at the University for a charity in which Catherine participated. At that time both William and Catherine were dating someone else.
William and Catherine shared an independent apartment during their second year at University with two other friends. The royal love story began when Catherine and William started dating in 2003 but public confirmation never came. Throughout their University years, a couple was seen at skiing vacations, William invited Catherine to Balmoral many times where she met his father Prince Charles also.
In November 2006, Catherine started working part-time for clothing line Jigsaw as an accessory buyer and worked there until November 2007. Then she worked for her parents’ company in catalogue design and production, marketing, and photography until 2011. Before her marriage, Catherine was sharing an apartment in Chelsea London with her younger sister Pippa Middleton and brother James Middleton.
By the end of 2006, Catherine was seen more out and about with Prince William and his close friends.
Her relationship with Prince William was never officially confirmed but the unofficial confirmation came when she attended Prince William’s passing out parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on 15 December 2006. By 2007, Catherine was fully hounded by the media due to the royal wedding predictions. Many leading newspapers were calling her next Princess.
On her 25th birthday, when Catherine left her apartment for work, she was swarmed with more aggressive paparazzi than ever before making Prince Charles and Prince William to intervene. Next day Prince William asked his Press Secretary to release a statement on William’s behalf, reading,
‘He wants more than anything for it to stop. Miss Middleton should, like any other private individual, be able to go about her everyday business without this kind of intrusion. The situation is proving unbearable for all those concerned.’
In early 2007, William was stationed most of the time outside of London leaving very less time for the young couple. Like any young couple who were figuring out their lives and relationship, the time apart put a strain on their relationship. Prince William and Catherine broke up during their vacations in the Swiss resort of Zermatt that year.
After breakup Catherine along with her mother Carole went to Ireland to see Gemma Billington’s private exhibition of her paintings. They also visited the National Gallery of Ireland. Catherine started participating in charitable causes and accepting social invitations. She signed up for a charity challenge with an all-female dragon boat racing crew called the Sisterhood, who called themselves: A-Team – ‘An elite group of female athletes, talented in many ways, toned to perfection with killer looks, on a mission to keep boldly going where no girl has gone before.’
“Although she was heartbroken, she wasn’t going to show it. For her breakup diary, her dresses were shorter, her tops lower and her outfits racier. There were numerous nights out to hotspots where she had been a regular with William, and her swirl of brunette hair and carefully folded bronzed limbs as she entered and exited taxis was a common sight throughout April and May. She attended some diverse events. She and Pippa were at luxury jeweller Asprey for the launch of Young Stalin – a biography written by Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s brother-in-law Simon Sebag Montefiore. Kate also went to a party to promote the film Rabbit Fever, which was about women obsessed with the infamous vibrators. A world away from the frumpy ageing tweeds of two months ago, Kate wore a slinky off-the-shoulder top and silky skirt with a bare midriff, caramel tan and sunkissed hair. Inside the party she wore pink silk bunny ears, danced and ‘teased all the boys’.
Although Kate embarked on a breakup social whirl, inside she was in pain. Training with the Sisterhood helped distract her and also make her feel better. The twenty-one girls involved were aiming to row across the channel to raise money for the Ben Hollioake Fund, who raise money for the CHASE Hospice Care for Children, and another children’s hospice charity, Babes in Arms. Kate got involved through her old school friend Alicia Fox-Pitt, and fellow rower Emma Sayle recalls, ‘Kate was very down and I think the training became her therapy. Kate had always put William first and she said this was a chance to do something for herself.’
The team trained on the Thames in the leafy London borough of Chiswick from 6.30 a.m., and Kate threw herself into training. She very quickly proved herself. ‘It wasn’t a question of, “Oh, she’s Kate Middleton so she makes the team,”’ Emma told the Daily Telegraph. ‘She has had to prove herself. We launched the challenge in November and Kate joined in April. Our coach said she could only join if she was up to it.’ Thanks to years of sporting training, and an ongoing regime of tennis and swimming, Kate was more than up to the task. In her engagement interview, she said of the breakup, ‘I think at the time I wasn’t very happy about it, but actually it made me a stronger person, you find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realized. I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you’re younger … I really valued that time for me as well, although I didn’t think it at the time!’
She was still licking her wounds when she headed to Ibiza for some sun and headspace with her brother James and friends, including Marlborough classmate Emilia d’Erlanger. Once more, they stayed at their Uncle Gary’s villa, and it was noted by Gary’s wife that Kate spent a lot of time on the phone.”
About their break up, William later said,
“We were both very young … We were both finding ourselves and being different characters. It was very much trying to find our own way and we were growing up so it was just a bit of space and it worked out for the better.”
William and Catherine were back together by June and in July Catherine attended the Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium with James Middleton while seating two rows apart from William. In 2008, Catherine attended the wedding of Peter Philips and Autumn Kelly as well as William’s RAF Graduation Ceremony.
By early 2010, Catherine was spending more and more time at William’s Angelsey residence where he was posted at that time as RAF Pilot.
The couple got engaged on October 2010 during a 10-day trip to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to celebrate Prince William’s passing the RAF helicopter search and rescue course vacation in Kenya.
William chose a remote Kenyan log cabin, Rutundo Lodge, away from the limelight, to have the biggest moment of their life. Accessible by air, horseback or 15KM walk, the cabin surrounded by the natural beauty of Kenya was the peaceful and romantic place to be on his knee.
The same month the couple attended the society wedding together. It was the first time William and Catherine arrived together at some event, fueling the rumours that they might already be engaged.
Clarence House announced the engagement on 16 November 2010. William proposed to his girlfriend with his Mother’s Oval Sapphire and Diamond Engagement ring that he was carrying in his backpack for 3 weeks while looking for a perfect moment.
Although the world already knew who is Catherine Middleton, on November 16, 2010, Catherine made her first official appearance as a future royal in front of the world media at St. James Palace.
On her first appearance Catherine made it clear that she is here to mark an impact not only on royal family but on the world also. She started it by wearing Issa wrap dress -a high street brand that gave birth to a new term in the fashion world – Kate Effect. The dress was such a big hit that the Company Issa was not able to cope up with the demand and eventually closed down.
The newly engaged couple released two official engagement portraits one formal and one casual, taken by Mario Testino in the council chamber of the St. James Palace’s state apartment, on December 12 2010. The pictures were taken after the week they announced their engagement. Catherine wore Reiss Nannette dress paired with Links of London Hope Egg Earrings for the formal portrait and cream silk whistle blouse for casual portrait. Speaking about his experience with Duke and Duchess the photographer Mario later said,
“They are a young couple in love. The Duchess looked fabulous and even helped to do her own make up. Everything is compacted into such a short time because we have to produce these pictures. It’s more like me screaming and trying to get everything to go.” He also told the informal portrait was actually a spontaneous moment that he was lucky to capture at the end of the photo shoot.
Catherine made a first public appearance with Prince William following the announcement of their engagement at a fundraising event organised by the Teenage Cancer Trust on December 20 2010 wearing Temperley London’s Titan dress. But her first official appearance was on February 24, 2011, in Wales when William christened a lifeboat in Trearddur, Anglesey. Catherine wore Katherine Hooker Herrringbone Coat that she has in her wardrobe for many years with Russell and Bromley Aquatalia Boots, L.K. Bennett Clutch and Vivien Sherriff Millinery headband.
A day later they appeared in St Andrews to launch the university’s 600th-anniversary celebrations. In March 2011, the couple toured Belfast. Their last public engagement before the wedding was a visit to Darwen Aldridge Community Academy. Catherine was invited by the Queen for family Christmas celebrations at Sandringham estate in 2010, but she politely declined the invitation stating she wanted to spend her last Christmas before the wedding with her family.
Final wedding rehearsal took place on 28th April 2011 at Westminster Abbey after which Catherine spent her last night as a single woman with her family at Goring Hotel.
She left for the Westminster Abbey in State Rolls-Royce with her father on April 29 2011.
The couple married in Westminster Abbey on Friday 29 April 2011 (St. Catherine’s Day). A bank holiday was announced for their wedding day. Catherine stepped out in front of the world in an ivory lace dress designed by the head designer of Alexander McQueen Sarah Burton and Cartier Halo Tiara on her big day. Her wedding dress was concluded as one of the iconic royal wedding dresses.
The wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey was followed by a reception given by the Queen at Buckingham Palace and later in the night a reception given by the Prince of Wales, Charles. The newly wedded couple appeared in the balcony of the Buckingham Palace with immediate family members.
In March 2011, the Duke and Duchess set up a gift fund held by The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry to allow well-wishers who wanted to give them a wedding gift to donate money to charities they care about instead. After the engagement Clarence house released the statement
‘Having been touched by the goodwill shown to them since the announcement of their engagement, Prince William and Miss Middleton have asked that anyone who might wish to give them a wedding gift consider giving instead to the charitable fund’.
It was reported that the wedding gifts estimated $1.52 million.
On April 30, 2011, the couple was seen leaving Buckingham Palace hand-in-hand. It was announced that the newly wedded couple will make Angelsey their first home as William had a full-time job with RAF and will be travelling to London and other places to carry out the royal engagements. In May 2011, the couple left for Seychelles Island for their 10-day long honeymoon.