Kate Middleton’s marriage has changed the idea that members of British royalty are unapproachable. While her wedding made us women believe in the Cinderella story of marrying a prince and being whisked away to a palace, Kate has done quite the opposite! With her public appearances and the causes she believes in, she shows genuine concern for people and a desire to make their lives better. Stylish and approachable, very similar to the late Princess Diana, it’s not difficult to imagine sitting down with her for a chat over a cup of tea.
Here are a few things you might not know about Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge including how her fashion choices were a big boom to the economy (oh if only this existed during Princess Diana’s days)!
Kate Middleton: 21 Less Known Facts The Duchess
1. She was considered a commoner before marriage:
Kate Middleton was born on January 9, 1982 as Catherine Middleton. Her dad was a flight dispatcher and her mother a flight stewardess. While her father worked for British Airways, Middleton lived in Amman, Jordan for a few years in the mid 80s. Before that, when the Duchess was 5, her parents founded Party Pieces, a mail-order party goods company.
Despite having found career success, Kate Middleton’s family was looked at with a magnifying glass on account of being a commoner.
Unlike royal spouses of prior generations, her ancestors on her mother’s side were laborers
But her father is descended from a line of solicitors and landed gentry. Tracing her roots back to the 16th century, it has been discovered that she is related to the Prince of Wales; they are 15th cousins. She transitioned to Catherine, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, on April 29, 2011.
2. Kate Middleton was a student athlete:
Kate was an athletic kid who broke the record for the high jump at St. Andrew’s School in Pangbourne, which she went to from 1986 to 1995.
A young Kate also played netball and hockey at Marlborough College in Wiltshire, which she attended from age 13 before going on to university.
3. She was also a Brownie in her youth:
One of Kate’s early volunteer roles was with the Scout Association, where she participated in activities with young people in North Wales. She says she was drawn to Scouts by her love of the outdoors and a desire to work with youth.
This thought continued as she married into the royal family, trading in her heels for boots to sit with a scout group in a hut made of sticks.
4. She graduated with an art degree, with honors:
After taking a gap year, Kate enrolled at the University of St. Andrews in 2005, where she made history while strutting down the catwalk in lingerie – this is supposedly where she caught the eye of Prince William. But a lot of people don’t know that Kate studied art history.
These days, she continues to express her interest in art, particularly photography, and she is a patron of The National Portrait Gallery and The Art Room, a charity that teaches children life skills through art.
5. She initially rejected the future king’s advances:
After her lingerie fashion show, it was reported that Kate wasn’t interested in joining the royal family- Kate was dating someone else.
In fact, she admitted in an interview that she had the “Levi’s guy” posted on her dorm wall, not a photo of the prince. After her then-boyfriend graduated in 2002, Kate and William got to know each other better and a relationship began, though it was not initially made public.
The Duke of Cambridge and Middleton lived in the same dorm, St. Salvator’s Hall, and had several of the same classes. While they were spotted together at meals and walking to class, their relationship began as a platonic one.
6. She worked in retail after graduating:
After passing her exams and graduating, Kate took a job as a part-time accessories buyer with the High Street fashion chain Jigsaw, where she worked for about a year.
Side by side, Kate also worked for the family business, Party Pieces (a mail-order party goods company). Here she was credited with starting a new line, “First Birthdays.”
After she left Jigsaw, she reportedly had plans to pursue portrait photography in addition to working with her brother to start a new bakery business. The bakery would be called The Cake Kit Company, which had a goal of encouraging kids to cook.
7. Kate Middleton is very serious about Photography:
3 years before she got married, Kate got serious about photography, even looking at London galleries as venues to display her work. Her relationship with William may have changed those plans, but not her passion for photography. She is known to take photos of her children and last year, she became the first royal patron of the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The Duchess also took over patronage of the Royal Photographic Society from the queen, and has also become a patron of the Royal Photographic Society and Action for Children. Her work with Action for Children, an agency that supports disadvantaged youth, includes hands-on photography lessons for children to both learn a new skill, and how art can be used as a form of expression.
8. What’s the ‘Kate Effect’?:
Like many influential beautiful women, people want to know, “What is Kate wearing?” as the Duchess outfits are the topic of many articles and conversations.
She’s not afraid to be seen in the same thing more than once. This fascination with her clothing has even led to a website: WhatKateWore.
9. The ‘Kate Effect’ was positive for the economy and charity:
Not only does everyone want to know what Kate is wearing, whatever she wears is in great demand and quickly sells out, all around the world. In fact, some designers have been known to double their staff to keep up with manufacturing requests!
In addition to this, the Kate Effect has also extended to fundraising efforts. A charitable foundation set up by her William and Harry saw donations grow almost tenfold after she joined the family.
10. She’s an avid gardener:
Putting her art degree to good use, Kate has designed a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, and this year also designed a new Back to Nature garden at the Royal Horticultural Society Wisley. Unlike the previous two gardens, this new garden is a permanent fixture. Her design also includes a children’s playground that, in keeping with the theme, features wooden structures, rather than man-made ones.
11. Backyard nature is important to her:
She has been a vocal proponent of getting kids outside and has frequently spoken about the health benefits of nature walks. In fact, she is a tireless advocate for children and believes that time in nature is an important and effective part of teaching lifelong skills, both physical and emotional.
She supports Backyard Nature, a campaign started by Liverpool children that has spread throughout the U.K.
12. She’s a hands-on parent:
Maintaining her beliefs in the importance of outdoor education, Kate also practices it. She takes her children outside to play as frequently as possible.
Trying to maintain a sense of normalcy, Kate, William and the children have been seen kicking around a soccer ball, running to the car for snacks and sitting in the grass to eat them. While her children are a significant focus in her life, like many moms, she also serves as a role model to her children by looking outward to the larger society in which they live.
13. She must curtsy to the queen and others:
Though Kate will almost certainly one day be queen, and her daughter Charlotte is fourth in line to the throne, she is obliged to curtsy to “Blood Princesses” unless she is accompanied by Prince William. The Order of Precedence in the Royal Household also requires her to curtsy to Duchess of Cornwall Camilla, if neither of the women’s husbands is present. (If William is present, but Charles is not, Camilla must curtsy to Kate).
14. She favors bacon as a pizza topping:
On a visit to the Islington community garden, the duchess spent some time chatting with children about what toppings they like.
15. Her accessories are affordable:
Some fashion critics call the choice “strategic,” claiming that it makes the royals more appealing to the general public, since these prices make it possible for them to dress like a princess especially when hair accessories can be found in stores such as J. Crew.
16. She goes grocery shopping!
Kate was seen shopping at the grocery store chain Sainsbury’s in King’s Lynn Hardwick where the children were browsing Halloween costumes. The young prince and princess joined her to choose their own costumes (Charlotte is reportedly a big Disney fan), though a bodyguard was on hand to make sure no pictures were taken to reveal their choices too early.
After they made their selections (while chatting casually with other shoppers) the Duchess headed to the self-checkout to pay for her items.
Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time she’s been spotted shopping for her family’s needs herself or even her first visit as royalty to budget-friendly stores; she made some holiday purchases at The Range.
17. Her thriftiness extends to air travel:
Kate and William are smart in choosing to be selective in their splurges.
According to People magazine, fellow passengers were surprised to discover the family had been on their flight on the economy airline FlyBe – most passengers did not even notice them until after they disembarked from the $89 flight to Aberdeen!
18. She doesn’t carry a phone:
A lot of women in the royal family carry legendary clutches to accompany them on trips world wide – but what’s in this? Not a phone, that’s for sure.
Kate often carries her clutch but there are relatively few things inside – compact mirror, lip balm, a handkerchief and blotting paper. Does she have an iPhone as William does? Hmm…maybe indoors?
19. Being Princess Of Wales is her choice:
On the day Kate got married, she became the Duchess of Cambridge. When William takes the throne, she will be Queen Consort but as of now, Charles will become king first and William will take his place as Prince of Wales.
According to Express UK, the likelihood of Kate rejecting the title is low unlike Meghan Markle, but it will be up to Kate to decide whether or not she wants to be called Princess of Wales. (Camilla Parker Bowles opted for Charles’s second title, Duchess of Cornwall, when they married, out of respect for Diana, the late Princess of Wales.)
20. As Queen consort, Kate will have no power:
Though Kate will one day be called queen, her official title will be Queen Consort, a title showing her marriage to the king. She will, of course, share his social rank and status, but will have no decision making power when it comes to political and military powers.
However, she is surely expected that she will continue to have influence over her family and possibly serve as an advisor to the king, but it is up to him to determine what, if any, political role she will serve.
21. Middleton was awarded an honor higher than her brother-in-law:
When Middleton was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, she became the fourth royal to receive the title, along with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (Prince Charles’ wife), Sophie, Countess of Wessex (Prince Edward’s wife), and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (the Queen’s husband).
The honor is considered to be the highest rank given by the sovereign. The award is given to “personally thank and honor people who had helped the Queen directly, or represented her across the Empire.”
Prince Harry holds a lower rank, especially now that he is walking away from royal titles.