The Duchess of Cambridge Biography
Kate Middleton and H.R.H. Prince William of Wales officially announced their engagement on 16 November 2010, but many people are still asking themselves what is truly known about Prince William's fiancee, Catherine Elizabeth "Kate" Middleton, (born 9 January 1982).
Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, better know to the media and the world at large as "Kate Middleton", was born at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, Berkshire. She is the eldest of three children born to Carole Elizabeth (born 1955, née Goldsmith), a flight attendant, and Michael Francis Middleton (born 1949), a flight dispatcher in 1980 and an airline officer in 1982 for British Airways. In 1987 Michael and Carole Middleton founded Party Pieces, a mail order company that sells party supplies and decorations.
Kate has two younger siblings: Philippa Charlotte, born 6 September 1983, and James William, born April 1987.
As a girl, Kate was heavily involved in sports and other extracurricular activities at school, both at primary school and as a secondary student. She studied piano as well, gaining a grade three piano certificate and grade five theory according to her former piano teacher Daniel Nicholls of Chapel Row in Bucklebury. Mr. Nicholls taught Kate from when she was 11 until she was 13. He said: “Nobody expected her to be a concert pianist, but she was good and always did as she was asked. She got her grade five theory.”
In May 1984, at the age of two, Kate moved with her family to Amman in Jordan, where her father worked for two and a half years. Kate attended a nursery school in Amman from the age of three. In September 1986, the Middletons returned to their home in Bucklebury and Kate spent her primary years at St Andrew’s School in Pangbourne. After leaving primary school Kate attended the prestigious Catholic all-girls boarding school Downe House in Wiltshire, but in 1995 after two terms at Downe House, bullying caused Kate's concerned parents to transfer her to Marlborough College in the middle of the term.
At Marlborough Kate blossomed. Friends remember her being exceptional at high jump, beating all the boys in her year. She played hockey for the school, was in the first pair for tennis and completed her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. Kate also performed reasonably well academically, all the while doing nothing more discreditable to her long-term reputation than mooning boys out of a dorm window. After being elevated to the rank of prefect, it was said that Kate carried out her duties with vigour and authority. One girl four years younger than her still distinctly remembers the mortification of being told by Kate to ‘jolly well tuck your shirt in’. At prize day, Kate was awarded so many honours for the excellence of her conduct that she could not return to her seat, and had to remain blushing on stage throughout. Despite her 'goody-two-shoes' behaviour, Kate was considered to be a fun, popular and well liked girl who, even then, would never overstep the boundaries. The portrait of a princess in the making emerged as Kate's Year Book, compiled by students at Marlborough to celebrate their graduation in 2000, was opened up to the newsmedia.
Inside the Yearbook were several photographs which depict Kate (who was always called Catherine by her friends) as a fun, popular girl. ‘Catherine was really good for a laugh,’ recalls one former classmate. ‘She was always raising people’s spirits and could be very goofy but was very sweet and quite shy at times.’ Kate’s only vanity while at school – according to her Year Book entry at least – was a very teenage obsession with her changing body. Her peers wrote: ‘Catherine’s perfect looks are renowned … but she is often found squinting down her top screaming, “They’re growing!” One pupil recalled. ‘But apart from a couple of snogs she never went out with anyone. I got the very distinct impression that Catherine was the kind of girl who wanted to save herself for someone special.’ Among her tight-knit group of friends were several with close links to Prince William, although the pair never actually met until they enrolled as History of Art students at St Andrews University.
Kate graduated from Marlborough College in July 2000 with eleven GCSEs and three A-level exams in Chemistry, Biology and Art under her belt, and then undertook a gap year in which she studied at the British Institute in Florence, undertook a Raleigh International programme in Chile, and crewed on Round the World Challenge boats in the Solent. In 2001, Catherine enrolled at the University of St Andrews, Fife, where she met her future husband, Prince William.
Catherine Middleton met H.R.H. Prince William when they both lived in St. Salvador's Residence Hall at university. According to accounts from former fellow students, Kate was an instant hit with Prince William and the group of “Sallies boys” that he was friendly with. Prince William's room was close to the room of an Old Etonian friend, Fergus Boyd, who eventually became one of the flatmates that shared space with William and Kate, along with Olivia 'Livy' Bleasdale. Again according to former classmates, there were a lot of girls vying for Prince William's attention, but Kate wasn't one of them. During the autumn of 2001 William and Kate were only friends who were reading for the same major, History of Art, and who often times met up either in the common room of their residence hall, or when William would pass Kate's room at the foot of the stairs.
In March 2002 Kate, along with 23 other students, took part in the Don't Walk Fashion Show. At this point they were halfway through their first year at university and were good friends. Kate was at the time involved in a relationship with Rupert Finch (who is now engaged to another of William's good friends, Lady Natasha Rufus-Isaacs, daughter of the Marquis of Reading). Finch was genteel, sporting, handsome and popular, and a member of the University Cricket Squad. In 2002 he acted as tour manager for the team on a tour of South Africa - managing a squad which included William and Kate's soon-to-be flatmate, Fergus Boyd. Rupert was considered by many to be exactly Kate's 'speed'.
It wasn't until the Don't Walk Fashion Show that, according to various media reports, William first noticed how pretty Kate was. His "eyes popped out on stalks" and he declared "Kate's hot!" whilst watching Kate walk down the catwalk in black underwear covered by a sheer, lacy, see-through dress. The rest, as they say, is now history. In their second year Prince William and Kate Middleton moved into the townhouse at 13a Hope Street with flatmates Fergus and Livy Bleasdale. In their third year at university Prince William and Kate Middleton moved from the Hope St. townhouse to a place on the outskirts of Fife, a £750,000 four-bedroom farmhouse tucked away on the Strathyrum estate. They also had new flatmates, two of William's good friends; Ally Coutts-Wood and Ollie Baker.
During the young couple's years as university students living together at the farmhouse they kept a low profile, but despite their best efforts, by the autumn of 2003 there were strong rumours about a relationship between the Prince and Kate. Their romantic relationship became public when they were photographed skiing together at the exclusive Swiss resort of Klosters. Back in Fife and away from the cameras, the university and their fellow students rallied around the couple and vowed to keep them out of the public eye.
According to one former student who was there at the time, Prince William and Kate were "just another couple".
The student, speaking to a journalist on condition of anonymity stated: "They were very much left alone by everyone during this time. We all knew who William was but, to us, he was just another student trying to get on with his life. Yes, he may have been second-in-line for the throne but he was just a stand-up guy to us. "He and Kate would be seen all the time hanging around together, doing what any other couple, what any of us, would normally do. They would go to Tesco together, order a takeaway pizza, go for a drink in the town or just head out for a walk." "There were never any big shows of public affection but it was clear to all of us that they were close and really enjoyed each others company. "A lot of the couples who meet and get together at St Andrews end up getting married and some people did think that was what was going to happen to William and Kate."
As if to illustrate the point made by Kate's fellow students, during the graduation ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor of St Andrews told students, ‘You will have made lifelong friends — you may have met your husband or wife. Our title as the top matchmaking university in Britain signifies so much that is good about St Andrews. So we rely on you to go forth from St Andrews and multiply.’
Catherine Middleton has several years experience in the fashion industry, she worked for a brief period at Belle and John Robinson's Jigsaw company. After graduating from university in June 2005, Catherine attempted to start her own mail-order business, with an online children's clothing store with the clothing company Viyella as her business partner.
In the summer of 2002 Kate worked at one of the biggest social events of the season, by serving drinks at the Henley Regatta for up-market catering firm Snatch, a business owned by her friend and fellow Old Marlburian Rory Laing.
According to Laing, he only hired former public-school pupils to work for him.
In Laing's own words Kate ”fit their profile brilliantly.” Laing described Kate at the time as “Berkshire’s most beautiful woman” and “a superb barmaid,” adding: “I pay her only £5.25 an hour. But she’s pretty so she takes plenty in tips.”
In July 2004 when she was 22, Kate worked as a model for Really Wild clothing company, a clothing business based at the Royal Berkshire Shooting School, owned by Dylan Williams. Kate appeared in their 2004 catalogue and also modeled the clothing in person at the 2004 Games Fair, held that year at Blenheim Palace. Kate also worked for Alistair Parker-Swift, founder of the Crew Clothing chain of 33 shops, which he started out of a hut in Salcombe in Devon.
After her relationship with Prince William was rekindled, Kate appeared at a number of high profile official events including Prince William's RAF 'wings' presentation ceremony in April 2008, and the wedding of the Queen's grandson Peter Phillips in May. During their engagement interview Prince William stated that it was at Peter Phillips wedding reception that Kate officially met with the Queen and had an extended conversation with her. In June 2008, Kate attended the Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle to watch Prince William being made the 1000th member of the Order, and she caused a stir, first by arriving in a car with Prince Harry and Helen Asprey, the princes' Personal Assistant, and secondly by giggling with Prince Harry when Prince William appeared in his Garter robes, complete with an ostrich feathered cap. Other than taking a tumble during a charity Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco which she co-organised with her close friend Sam Waley-Cohen to benefit the charity Tom's Ward named after Sam's brother Thomas Waley-Cohen, (Thomas died of a rare juvenile cancer) Kate chose to stay out of the limelight and focus on her work with her family's business.
Kate maintained this low profile throughout the years of 2009 and 2010, only being seen publicly at a few events, almost always by the side of Prince William. Kate appeared at the Prince's side in January 2010 when the royal attended a military ceremony to mark his completion of an advanced flying course on his way to becoming an official RAF Search and Rescue helicopter co-pilot, and she was also by his side at social occasions - on the slopes in the French Alps with her partner in March and at a wedding in October, just prior to the announcement of their engagement.
Prince William proposed to Kate while they were on holiday on a 10-day safari, just prior to their much heralded appearance at the society wedding of Harry Meade and Rosemarie Bradford in October 2010. Reportedly William asked Kate to marry him in an isolated log cabin in the mountains, kilometres off from the beaten track. They were enjoying a 24-hour stop over at the spartan Rutundu Log Cabins during their Kenyan holiday when he popped the question, slipping his mother’s diamond and sapphire engagement ring onto Kate's finger and asking her to be his wife as they watched the sunset on the veranda of their cabin. Prince William revealed in their engagement interview that he'd been carrying his mother's £28,500 engagement ring around in a rucksack for the duration of their three week holiday, trying to decide the best time and place to propose. He said he chose that time and place because it just 'felt right'. Prince William also revealed during the interview that the ring was 'a perfect fit and did not need resizing', and that he asked Kate’s father Michael for her hand only after she said yes.
William and Kate chose to keep the engagement a secret and for a time only Kate's father Michael knew about the engagement. Kate told her mother and siblings only hours before the official announcement. William did telephone the Queen for permission the day before the announcement was made, and informed his father Prince Charles himself only a few hours before. The couple also made the decision to delay the announcement until the 16th of November because Kate’s beloved grandfather, Peter Francis Middleton, died on 2 November, 2010, and she wanted to give herself and her family time to mourn his passing before sharing the happy news. With the announcement of their engagement, Catherine Elizabeth 'Kate' Middleton's future is now set on a course to be entrenched in history. In just a few short weeks she will become HRH Princess William of Wales, and barring any unforeseen circumstances, she will one day be Queen.
The couple married 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey, on that day Catherine Middleton assumed the style of Her Royal Highness and the title of Duchess of Cambridge. By virtue of her marriage to Prince William she officially became a Princess of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.