Catherine, Princess of Wales

Catherine, Princess of Wales (born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton;[a] 9 January 1982), is a member of the British royal family. She is married to William, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the British throne.

Catherine
Princess of Wales
Photograph
Catherine in 2023
BornCatherine Elizabeth Middleton
(1982-01-09) 9 January 1982 (age 42)
Reading, Berkshire, England
Spouse
(m. 2011)
Issue
HouseWindsor (by marriage)
FatherMichael Middleton
MotherCarole Goldsmith
Alma mater
Signature

Born in Reading, Catherine grew up in Bucklebury, Berkshire. She was educated at St Andrew's School and Marlborough College before earning a degree in art history at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where she met Prince William in 2001 and graduated in 2005. She held several jobs and pursued charity work before their engagement was announced in November 2010. She became Duchess of Cambridge by her marriage on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey. The couple have three children: George, Charlotte, and Louis.

Following her marriage, Catherine has undertaken royal duties and commitments in support of the British monarch. She has represented the royal family on official overseas tours and has played a significant role in various charitable activities by undertaking projects through the Royal Foundation, with her charity work primarily focusing on issues surrounding early childhood care, addiction, and art. Catherine holds patronage with over 20 charitable and military organisations including the Anna Freud Centre, Action for Children, SportsAid, and the National Portrait Gallery. To encourage people to discuss their mental health problems, she envisioned the mental health awareness campaign Heads Together, which she launched with her husband William and brother-in-law Harry in April 2016.

Catherine's relationship with the media has been closely scrutinised, particularly regarding her efforts to maintain privacy amidst significant media attention and public interest. The media have referred to her impact on British and American fashion as the "Kate Middleton effect". Time listed her as one of the most influential people in the world in 2011, 2012 and 2013. On 9 September 2022, she became Princess of Wales when William was created Prince of Wales by his father, King Charles III.

Early life and education

Catherine Elizabeth Middleton was born on 9 January 1982 at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading into an upper-middle-class family with ties to the landed gentry.[6][7] Her parents, Michael Middleton[8] and Carole (née Goldsmith),[9] were a flight dispatcher and flight attendant at British Airways, respectively. She was baptised at St Andrew's Bradfield, a local parish church, on 20 June 1982.[10][11][12] She has two younger siblings, Philippa ("Pippa") and James.[13][14] Her paternal family benefited financially from trust funds; her great-grandparents Noël and Olive Middleton, played host to members of the British royal family in the 1920s through to the 1940s.[15][16][17] Her maternal family are descended from coal miners and have been described as working-class.[18][19]

Middleton's family moved from Bradfield Southend, Berkshire, to Amman, Jordan, in May 1984, where Catherine attended an English-language nursery school.[20][21] When her family returned to Berkshire in September 1986, she was enrolled aged four at St Andrew's School, a private school near Pangbourne in Berkshire.[22] She boarded part-weekly at St Andrew's in her later years.[23] In 1987 her mother founded Party Pieces, a privately held mail order company that sold party supplies and decorations.[24][25] In 1995 Middleton's family moved to the village of Bucklebury[26][27] where she studied at Downe House School.[28] She was a boarder at Marlborough College, a co-educational boarding school in Wiltshire,[29][30] where she showed talent in sport and was captain of the girls' field hockey team.[31] While attending the school, she was awarded a gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.[32][33]

Despite being offered a place at the University of Edinburgh,[34] Middleton took a gap year, studying at the British Institute of Florence in Italy and travelling to Chile to participate in a Raleigh International programme.[35] She worked as a deckhand at the Port of Southampton in the summer preceding university.[36] She subsequently enrolled at the University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, where she initially studied psychology before focusing solely on art history.[37] She worked part-time as a waitress during her studies.[33] Middleton was an active member of The Lumsden Club, which held fundraisers and community projects each year.[38] In 2005 she graduated from the University of St Andrews with an undergraduate MA (2:1 Hons) in Art History.[39]

Personal life

Relationship with Prince William

 
With Prince Harry (left) at William's Order of the Garter investiture, 2008

In 2001 Middleton met Prince William while they were students in residence at St Salvator's Hall at the University of St Andrews.[40][b] She reportedly caught William's eye at a charity fashion show at the university in 2002 when she appeared on the stage wearing a see-through lace dress.[42] The couple began dating in 2003.[43] During their second year, Middleton shared a flat with William and two other friends.[44] From 2003 until 2005, they both resided at Balgove House on the Strathtyrum estate with two roommates.[45] In 2004 the couple briefly split but later rekindled their relationship.[46]

After her graduation, Middleton and her family faced intensive tabloid press scrutiny due to her relationship with William.[47] In November 2006, she commenced part-time work for twelve months as an accessories buyer with the clothing chain Jigsaw.[48][49] She also worked as a project manager in the family business, where she was responsible for the website and catalogue.[50][51]

Middleton attended William's Passing Out Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in December 2006.[52][53] In April 2007, they ended their relationship.[54] It was subsequently reported that the couple had reconciled.[55] In May 2008, Middleton attended the wedding of William's cousin Peter Phillips to Autumn Kelly in place of William, and met Queen Elizabeth II for the first time.[56][57]

Middleton attended the Order of the Garter procession at Windsor Castle in June 2008, where William was made a Royal Knight of the Garter.[58] In July 2008, she was a guest at the wedding of Lady Rose Windsor and George Gilman while William was away on military operations in the Caribbean, serving aboard HMS Iron Duke.[59] In June 2010, the couple moved into a cottage on the Bodorgan Estate in Anglesey, Wales, where William resided during his RAF search and rescue training and subsequent career.[60][61] Before her marriage, Middleton lived with her sister Pippa in an apartment owned by their parents in Chelsea, London.[62]

Marriage and children

Middleton and William became engaged in October 2010, at a remote alpine cabin on Mount Kenya[63] during a ten-day trip to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to celebrate the prince's passing the RAF helicopter search and rescue course.[64][65] Clarence House announced the engagement on 16 November that year.[66][67] William gave her the engagement ring that had belonged to his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Middleton was confirmed into the Church of England on 10 March at St James's Palace by the Bishop of London, with her family and William in attendance, preceding her wedding.[68][69]

 
With William, their children and other senior royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the Platinum Jubilee Pageant on 5 June 2022

The couple married on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey on St Catherine's Day.[70] The day was declared a bank holiday in the United Kingdom.[70] Estimates of the global audience for the wedding ranged around 300 million or more, whilst 26 million watched the event live in Britain alone.[71][72][73] Her wedding dress was designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen.[74] Catherine was styled as "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge".[75] The couple was given the country home Anmer Hall, on the Sandringham Estate, as a wedding gift from the Queen.[76] Following their marriage in 2011, the couple used Nottingham Cottage as their London residence.[77] They moved into the four-storey, 20-room Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace in 2013. Renovations took 18 months at a cost of £4.5 million.[78] Kensington Palace became William and Catherine's main residence in 2017.[79] The couple and their children officially moved into Adelaide Cottage in Windsor in September 2022.[80]

In December 2012, St James's Palace announced that Catherine was pregnant with her first child. The announcement was made earlier in the pregnancy than is usual as she had been admitted to King Edward VII's Hospital suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness.[81] She gave birth to Prince George at St Mary's Hospital, London, in July 2013.[82] The severe morning sickness returned with the subsequent pregnancies, forcing Catherine to cancel her official engagements.[83] She gave birth to Princess Charlotte in May 2015[84] and to Prince Louis in April 2018.[85][86] George, Charlotte and Louis were respectively third, fourth and fifth in the line of succession to the British throne at the times of their births. Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, they are now second, third, and fourth in line to the throne.[87] William and Catherine have owned two English Cocker Spaniels, named Lupo and Orla.[88][89]

Health

Kensington Palace announced in January 2024 that Catherine had undergone a planned abdominal surgery for an undisclosed medical condition after she had been admitted to the London Clinic the previous day.[90][91] She postponed all of her public engagements and duties through March that year.[92] The subsequent speculation about Catherine's absence from public view and her health prompted various conspiracy theories and garnered extensive media attention.[93][94] The speculation largely started after William withdrew from the thanksgiving service of his godfather, Constantine II of Greece, where he was slated to speak, due to an undisclosed "personal matter".[95]

Catherine announced on 22 March, through a video message filmed by BBC Studios, that post-operative tests had found cancer, and the palace said she had been undergoing chemotherapy since late February.[96][97] Her medical leave from public engagements was subsequently extended.[98] She made her first public appearance after her cancer diagnosis at the 2024 Trooping the Colour having mentioned in a personal letter released by Kensington Palace the previous day that she is still undergoing treatment for cancer.[99][100][101]

Public life

Within the United Kingdom

Middleton's first public appearance with William following their engagement announcement in November 2010 was at a fundraising event organised by the Teenage Cancer Trust in December 2010.[102] She made her first official public appearance in February 2011, when the couple attended a lifeboat-naming ceremony in Trearddur, near their home at that time in Anglesey, North Wales.[103][104] In March 2011, the couple toured Belfast.[105] Catherine's first official engagement after her wedding came in May that year when she and William met Barack and Michelle Obama at Buckingham Palace.[106] Reporters noted that warm words had been exchanged between the two families.[107] In October 2011, she undertook her first solo engagement at a reception for In Kind Direct, hosted at Clarence House, stepping in for Prince Charles.[108] In March 2012, Catherine gave her first public speech for the opening of a children's hospice opened by her patronage, East Anglia's Children's Hospices.[109] She and William were announced as ambassadors for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.[110] As part of her role, Catherine attended numerous sporting events throughout the games.[111] She and William also attended celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee throughout 2012 including the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in July.[112][113]

In June 2019, Catherine took the royal first salute, typically received by the Queen, at the Beating Retreat military pageant.[114] In October 2020, William and Catherine met President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and First Lady Olena Zelenska at Buckingham Palace, the first royal engagement held at the residence since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.[115] The meeting was well-received, with President Zelensky later expressing gratitude for the royal couple's solidarity with Ukraine and its people.[116] In December that year, the couple embarked on a three-day tour of England, Scotland, and Wales via the British Royal Train "to pay tribute to the inspiring work of individuals, organisations and initiatives across the country" in 2020.[117][118] Boris Johnson expressed his support for the initiative, while First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon criticised the tour, citing travel restrictions; UK, Scottish and Welsh governments were consulted before planning the tour.[119][120] Catherine and William attended the G7 summit for the first time in June 2021 in Cornwall.[121] She also met Jill Biden for the first time, marked by a warm welcome, as they toured Connor Downs Academy engaging with students and discussing early education initiatives in a roundtable discussion.[122][123]

In September 2022, Catherine and William visited Anglesey and Swansea which marked their first visit to Wales since becoming Princess and Prince of Wales.[124] In February 2023, they visited Falmouth, marking their first visit to the region since becoming Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.[125]

Outside the United Kingdom

 
With William in Ottawa during their first royal tour of Canada, 2011

Catherine and William's first royal tour of Canada took place in June–July 2011.[126] The tour's two-day trip to California was also her first visit to the United States.[127] Nicholas Witchell, writing for BBC News, noted that the tour to Canada had been an "unqualified success" for the couple as they engaged in various activities from tree planting to street hockey, with their warm interactions and thoughtful gestures enhancing their popularity and reinforcing positive sentiments towards the monarchy in Canada.[128] In September 2012, the couple embarked on a tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands to commemorate Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee across the Commonwealth.[129] During this overseas visit, she made her first official speech abroad, while visiting a hospice in Malaysia, drawing on her experience as patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices.[130]

The couple and their son visited Australia and New Zealand in April 2014.[131] The prime minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, referred to their tour as "one of the very best royal visits" Australia had experienced.[132] In June, they visited France to attend an event commemorating 70 years since the Normandy landings at Gold Beach.[133] The couple visited the United States in December that year.[134] The tour was a success, featuring diplomatic engagements such as a visit to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the couple's personal interests and attending an NBA match between the Brooklyn Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers.[135][136]

In October 2015, Catherine attended her first state banquet at Buckingham Palace, held to host Chinese president Xi Jinping.[137][138] In April 2016, she and William undertook a tour to India and Bhutan.[139] In October that year, Catherine made her first solo overseas trip to The Netherlands.[140] Countries visited by the couple in 2017 include France, Poland, Germany, and Belgium.[141][142][143] Their tour to Germany and Poland was successful, with author Katie Nicholl referring to it as a "P.R. victory for Britain".[144] She visited Luxembourg City in May 2017 for the Treaty of London commemorations.[145] In January 2018, the couple visited Sweden and Norway.[146] In February 2019, they carried out a two-day visit of Northern Ireland, visiting Belfast, Fermanagh, and Ballymena.[147] The purpose of the visit was to celebrate the country's youth and acknowledge the progress made in overcoming the region's divisions over the past twenty years.[148] The couple visited Pakistan in October 2019; it was the royal family's first visit to the country in 13 years.[149] The tour was a success, helping promote diplomatic relations with Pakistan while also reflecting the couple's personal interests in climate change and the significance of quality education.[150] In March 2020, they carried out a three-day tour of Ireland, visiting three of the country's counties.[151]

In February 2022, Catherine visited Denmark to learn about the country's plans for the social and emotional development of young people and also to celebrate milestones of both countries' monarchs.[152] In March that year, she and William embarked on a tour of Belize, The Bahamas and Jamaica to commemorate Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee.[153] Reparations for slavery emerged as a major demand of public protesters during the couple's visit.[154]

Charity work

Patronages

Catherine has been involved with charity work both before and after her marriage. In 2007 she curated a photography exhibition to mark the book launch of Time to Reflect by Alistair Morrison to raise funds for UNICEF.[155] In 2008 she visited Naomi's House Hospice, where she spent time with children.[156] Later that year, she organised a 1980s-themed roller disco fundraiser which raised £100,000, split between Oxford Children's Hospital and the mental health charity Place2Be.[157] While working for her parents' company, she began organising events for the Starlight Children's Foundation, which helps terminally ill youth.[158] She also helped coordinate the Boodles Boxing Ball, which raised money for the charity.[159]

Following her marriage, Catherine assumed royal duties and commitments in support of the British monarch.[160] In March 2011, she and William 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.[161] The gift fund supported 26 charities of the couple's choice, incorporating the armed forces, children, the elderly, art, sport and conservation.[162][163] In June 2012, The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry was renamed to reflect Catherine's contribution to the charity.[164] It is now known as The Royal Foundation of The Prince and Princess of Wales.[165]

 
With William attending a Commonwealth Big Lunch at St Luke's Community Centre in Islington, March 2018

Catherine's charity work primarily focuses on issues surrounding young children, mental health, sport, addiction and art.[166] Her impact on charitable donations and project visibility has been called the "Kate effect".[167][168] She holds a number of charitable patronages.[c] Catherine, being an art history graduate, also takes an interest in art and handpicked The Art Room, which helped disadvantaged children access art therapy before its closure,[172] as well as the National Portrait Gallery.[173] She acquired patronage of the Lawn Tennis Association, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Action for Children, and the Royal Photographic Society after they were passed down by Queen Elizabeth II.[174][175][176] She became patron of the Foundling Museum, a museum to commemorate the Foundling Hospital, in 2019.[177] Catherine was also a local volunteer leader with The Scout Association in north Wales,[178] of which Queen Elizabeth II was patron, before being made co-president in September 2020, alongside the Duke of Kent.[166][179]

Sport

 
Presenting the ladies' singles trophy to Elena Rybakina at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships

Catherine is a keen sportswoman and attends Wimbledon annually.[180][181] She has been patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club since 2016.[182] Catherine, who enjoys sailing, has occasionally taken part in the sport to raise money for charity.[183] In 2012 together with her husband and his brother Harry, Catherine launched Coach Core. The programme was set up following the 2012 Olympics to provide apprenticeship opportunities for people who desire to pursue a career as a professional coach.[184] In 2014 she and William were awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Marylebone Cricket Club.[185] In July 2019, she lent her support to Backyard Nature, a campaign created to inspire "children, families and communities to get outside and engage with nature".[186] In February 2022, she became patron of the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League, both governing bodies that were previously supported by her brother-in-law Harry.[187]

Military and armed forces

In 2014 Catherine wrote the foreword for Living in the Slipstream: Life as an RAF Wife, whose proceeds raised money for charity.[188] In December 2015, she assumed patronage of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets[189] for youths 12–19 years of age. The Duke of Edinburgh, who had been patron of the RAF Cadets for 63 years, formally handed over during an audience at Buckingham Palace.[190] Since acquiring patronage of the RAF Cadets, she has made visits to their base in Cambridgeshire[191] and celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2016.[192] In October 2022, she became patron to Preet Chandi, a British Army medical officer who aimed to complete a 1,000-mile solo expedition in the South Pole after finishing a 700-mile journey in the continent earlier that year.[193]

Health and medical initiatives

In her capacity as patron of Action on Addiction, Catherine has occasionally made visits to its centres, spending time with recovering addicts.[194][195][196] In October 2012, she, alongside Action on Addiction, launched the M-PACT programme (Moving Parents and Children Together), one of the only UK programmes to focus specifically on the impact of drug addiction on families.[197] In June 2021, Catherine was announced as patron of The Forward Trust after its merger with Action on Addiction.[198] As patron, she launched a campaign titled "Taking Action on Addiction".[199]

In January 2018, locks of Catherine's hair were reportedly donated to the Little Princess Trust, a charity which made wigs for children diagnosed with cancer.[200] In February that year, she became patron of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.[201][202] She also launched Nursing Now, a three-year worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the profile of nurses.[203][204] She has written of her family ties with nursing; her grandmother, Valerie Middleton, and her great-grandmother, Olive Middleton, were both VAD nurses for the British Red Cross.[205][202][206] During the COVID-19 pandemic, Catherine undertook many in-person and virtual engagements supporting National Health Service workers.[207][208] She discreetly volunteered with the Royal Voluntary Service during the same period.[209]

Catherine has worked extensively in children's palliative care alongside East Anglia's Children's Hospices[210] and undertakes private visits to children's hospices and their families.[211][210] She made her first public address at the opening of their Ipswich facility in 2012 after being announced as their patron in January that year.[212][213] She has carried out engagements to raise awareness of Children's Hospice Week since 2013.[214]

Photography

Catherine has called herself an "enthusiastic amateur photographer"[215] and has taken official portraits of her children, as well as other members of the royal family.[216] In 2019 she supported workshops run by the Royal Photographic Society in partnership with Action for Children to highlight the effect of photography in expressing thoughts in young people.[217] As patron of the Royal Photographic Society she and other photographers took part in an exhibition that marked 75 years since the end of the Holocaust.[218] Photos taken by Catherine of the Holocaust survivors were later included in an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum.[219] Catherine curated an exhibition of Victorian photography at the National Portrait Gallery with a thematic focus on childhood.[220] In May 2020, she launched "Hold Still", a project to capture people's life during lockdown, which garnered 31,000 submissions.[221] In October 2020, the selected portraits were displayed on 112 public sites, including billboards, murals, and posters, across 80 towns and cities.[222] The photographs were later published in a book titled Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020, with a foreword written by Catherine, on 7 May 2021.[223]

Community causes

Catherine has been hosting a Christmas carol concert called Together At Christmas annually at Westminster Abbey since December 2021 with the theme varying each year.[224]

In March 2022 amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Catherine and William made a donation to help the refugees.[225] In February 2023, they donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) which was helping victims of the 2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake.[226] In May 2023, she hosted the first children's picnic at the Chelsea Flower Show for students from ten primary schools who were participating in the Royal Horticultural Society's Campaign for School Gardening.[227][228] In July 2024, she and William made donations to help victims of Hurricane Beryl.[229]

Mental health advocacy

 
At HM Prison High Down, September 2023

Catherine has tackled issues surrounding mental health and disabilities and has previously made visits to charities and hospitals such as St Thomas' Hospital and the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute to spend time with mothers and children who deal with these issues.[230][231] She has also been credited with raising national awareness of children's mental health; Benita Refson, president of Place2Be, has praised her work, saying that she would "shine the spotlight on child mental health", while Peter Fonagy, CEO of the Anna Freud Centre has called her one of the most important figures in the field, and stated that "to the millions of children who have been suffering in silence, she is their voice".[232][233] In recognition of their work with charities concerned with children's mental health, Catherine and William were awarded the Gold Blue Peter badge, an award previously granted to Queen Elizabeth II.[234] To encourage people to open up about their mental health issues, Catherine, William and Harry initiated the mental health awareness campaign "Heads Together" in April 2016.[235] She later voluntarily talked about her struggles as a mother, and admitted that she suffered a "lack of confidence" and "feelings of ignorance" during certain periods of time.[235][236]

Catherine has discussed her experiences with "mum guilt" in balancing work/life commitments, and described bringing her newborn home from the hospital for the first time as "terrifying".[237] She has also highlighted the importance of "a happy home" and "a safe environment" for children, and described her "passion" for the outdoors, referencing it as an asset to building childhood wellbeing and developmental foundations.[238] She launched the Mentally Healthy Schools website, which helps the students and staff with access "to reliable and practical resources to improve awareness, knowledge and confidence in supporting pupils' mental health".[239] After two years of development, the website had over 250,000 visitors accessing its resources.[240][241] Catherine guest-edited HuffPost UK as part of an effort to raise awareness for children's mental health issues.[242][243]

In 2019 Catherine worked with the Royal Horticultural Society as one of the co-designers for a garden display at the Chelsea Flower Show.[244] She designed the "Back to Nature Garden" together with Andree Davies and Adam White.[245][246] The garden was later expanded and moved to Hampton Court Palace as a part of the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show,[247] before being shown at the Back to Nature Festival at RHS Garden Wisley.[248] A playground, inspired by the "Back to Nature" garden, was built on the Sandringham Estate in 2021.[249] In May 2019, as a part of their "Heads Together" initiative, Catherine, her husband and her in-laws launched Shout, a text messaging service for those who have mental issues.[250] In March 2020, she and William started supporting a new mental health initiative by the Public Health England amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom.[251] In April 2020, the couple announced Our Frontline, an initiative providing mental health support to emergency medical workers.[252]

In February 2021, Catherine recorded a video message about the importance of positive mental health during the pandemic.[253] She made a surprise appearance on CBeebies Bedtime Stories, where she read The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson as part of the conclusion of Children's Mental Health Week in February 2022.[254] In May that year, she became patron of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance.[255] In October, to mark World Mental Health Day, she and William took over Newsbeat and interviewed four guests on topics related to mental health.[256] The following year, the couple took part in a forum for young people in Birmingham, alongside BBC Radio 1 and a charity called The Mix, called Exploring our Emotional Worlds continuing their longstanding work to promote mental well-being.[257]

Early years and childhood development

 
With Jill Biden at Connor Downs Academy, Cornwall, June 2021

During the initial years of her charity work, Catherine became interested in the connection between the first five years of childhood and conditions such as homelessness, mental health, and addiction in later life.[258] In March 2018, she hosted a symposium with the Royal Society of Medicine, focusing on children's health, and launched the Early Years Intervention Support initiative.[259] In May that year, she established the Early Years Steering Group.[260][261] In January 2020, Catherine launched "5 Big Questions on the Under 5's", a nationwide survey on development during early years.[262] The survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI and contained "further qualitative and ethnographic research" on the early years.[263] It received over 500,000 responses.[264] The results of the survey were released in November 2020.[265] The findings outlined five key topics surrounding early childhood, including parental mental health and wider community health and support.[266] In July 2020, she supported and assisted in the development of BBC's "Tiny Happy People" initiative, providing free digital resources to parents with young children.[267] In August 2020, she headed a donation drive to benefit baby banks nationwide which spurred over 10,000 donations.[268][269] In June 2021, Catherine launched the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood to conduct work, research, and campaigns with other organisations on issues surrounding the early years.[270]

In February 2022, Catherine visited Denmark on behalf of the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.[271][272][273] In June that year, she hosted her first roundtable discussion with politicians on early childhood development.[274] In January 2023, Catherine launched the Shaping Us initiative through the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, a long-term campaign aimed at raising awareness about early childhood development and its importance.[275] In November that year, she delivered the keynote speech at The Shaping Us National Symposium held at The Design Museum in London.[276]

Public image

Catherine (holding Prince Louis at right) wore dresses designed by Alexander McQueen at Trooping the Colour in 2013 and 2019 respectively.

Fashion

Catherine, prominent for her fashion style, has been placed on numerous "best dressed" lists.[277] She topped Tatler's Best Dressed List in 2022,[278] and was ranked first by the magazine on its list of the most glamorous European royals in 2024.[279] Her style has evolved from more conservative choices in the early years of her public life to a sophisticated and elegant wardrobe, often featuring designs by Alexander McQueen, Jenny Packham, Catherine Walker and international designers such as Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci.[280][281][282] The "Kate Middleton effect" is the trend that she is reported to have had in sales of particular products and brands.[283][284][285][286] In 2021 it was reported that Catherine boosted the British fashion industry up to £1 billion within a year.[283]

Public opinion and influence

Catherine's influence has made her a significant asset to the royal family's public image, enhancing their appeal and influence, a view echoed by journalist Camilla Tominey who described her as "the monarchy's greatest asset".[287][288] Rhonda Garelick of The New York Times has also noted her ability to balance modernity with traditional royal norms.[289] Speaking to The Times on Catherine's 40th birthday, her aides stated that she does not accept "advice on a PR basis" and will "never do something because she thinks the media will like it."[290] Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, her and William's former private secretary, stated that "she has that almost old-fashioned, Queen Mother attitude to drama – she just doesn't do it."[290]

Time magazine listed Catherine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2011, 2012 and 2013.[291] In 2023 and 2024, The Independent included Catherine on its "Influence List".[292][293] In December 2022, she was found to be the second most liked member of the royal family by statistics and polling company YouGov,[294] while an Ipsos favourability poll in April 2023 suggested that she was the most liked member.[295] In April 2024, YouGov found her to be the most popular member of the royal family.[296]

Privacy and the media

The death of Diana, Princess of Wales, while being chased by paparazzi in August 1997[297] has influenced Catherine's and William's attitude towards the media.[298] They have often requested that, when off-duty, their privacy should be respected.[298]

In April 2004, The Sun published pictures of Middleton with William at a ski resort and alleged that she was his girlfriend.[299] After her graduation from university, Middleton was faced with widespread press attention and was often photographed by the paparazzi.[47] In October 2005, she complained through her lawyer about harassment from the media, stating she had done nothing significant to warrant publicity and complained that photographers were permanently stationed outside her flat.[300][301] Former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter stated that her treatment by the press drew parallels to the tumultuous experience of Diana in the early years of her marriage.[302] Between 2005 and 2006, Middleton's phone was hacked 155 times according to former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, who was involved in a phone hacking scandal by the newspaper that targeted the royal family[303] In 2005, after Middleton was chased by the paparazzi on her way to an interview, William consulted her and her father and penned a legal letter to newspapers requesting that they respect her privacy.[304] In April 2006, her lawyers issued new warnings to several newspapers and picture agencies after they published photographs of Middleton on a bus during a shopping trip.[305]

Media attention increased around the time of Middleton's 25th birthday in January 2007, prompting warnings from Prince Charles, Prince William, and Middleton's lawyers, who threatened legal action.[306][300][307] Two newspaper groups decided to refrain from publishing paparazzi pictures of Middleton but continued to use photographs of her at public events.[308][309] In March 2007, her lawyers filed a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) over a photograph published by the Daily Mirror that was taken as a result of harassment, leading to a settlement and a warning from the PCC.[310][311] In July 2007, MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee stated that Middleton was the victim of "clear and persistent harassment" by the paparazzi and criticised the lack of intervention by the PCC.[311][312]

In 2010 Middleton pursued an invasion of privacy claim against two agencies and photographer Niraj Tanna for photographs taken of her playing tennis over Christmas 2009, resulting in £5,000 damages, legal costs, and an apology.[313][314][315][316] In 2011 close associates of Jonathan Rees, a private investigator connected to the News International phone hacking scandal, stated that he had targeted Catherine during her period as William's girlfriend.[317]

In May 2011, the Middleton family complained to the PCC after photographs of Catherine, Pippa, and their mother in bikinis while on holiday in 2006 were published in several newspapers.[318] One of the photographs showed Pippa topless, prompting the family to complain about newspapers breaching the editors' code of practice by invading their privacy.[318] In September 2011, a deal was negotiated for the images to be removed from the newspapers' websites and never published again.[319]

In September 2012, the French edition of Closer and the Italian gossip magazine Chi published photographs of Catherine sunbathing topless while on holiday at the Château d'Autet.[320] On 17 September 2012, William and Catherine filed a criminal complaint with the French prosecution department and launched a claim for civil damages at the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Nanterre.[321] The following day the courts granted an injunction against Closer, prohibiting further publication of the photographs and announced a criminal investigation would be initiated.[322] In September 2017, Closer was fined €100,000 and its editor Laurence Pieau and owner Ernesto Mauri were each fined €45,000.[323]

In December 2012, two Australian radio hosts, Michael Christian and Mel Greig, called King Edward VII's Hospital where Catherine was an in-patient for hyperemesis gravidarum. Pretending to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, Greig and Christian spoke to a nurse on Catherine's ward, enquiring about her condition. Following a hospital inquiry and a public backlash against the hoax, Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who put the call through to the ward, died by suicide.[324] The radio hosts subsequently apologised for their actions.[325]

 
With William being photographed by members of the press during their 2016 royal tour of Canada

In February 2013, Chi published the first photos of Catherine's exposed pregnant belly, taken during her vacation on the private island of Mustique which the British press refused to publish.[326] In October 2014, Catherine and William sent a legal letter to a freelance photographer who had put their son George and his nanny "under surveillance", asking the individual to stop "harassing and following" them.[327] In August 2015, Kensington Palace published a letter detailing what it stated were the "dangerous" and invasive efforts of the media to get paparazzi pictures of Prince George and Princess Charlotte.[328]

In March 2019, the royal family introduced new rules for followers commenting on its official social media accounts in response to the online abuse aimed at Catherine and her sister-in-law Meghan.[329] In May 2020, Kensington Palace said that the cover story of Tatler magazine titled "Catherine the Great" contained "a swathe of inaccuracies and false misrepresentations".[330] In September 2020, after pressure from the couple's lawyers, the magazine removed remarks on Catherine's family and other similar claims from the online version of the story.[331]

In early March 2024, the Associated Press, AFP, Reuters and Getty Images withdrew from publishing a Mother's Day photograph of Catherine and her children. The photograph was attributed to William and accompanied by a personal message from her.[332] The Associated Press explained it retracted the photograph because of concerns regarding digital alteration of the image at its source.[333] AFP and Reuters raised similar concerns.[334][335] The following day, in a message posted by Kensington Palace, Catherine apologised for any confusion created and said she had personally edited the family photograph that was shared publicly.[336][337] The incident occurred after she had begun chemotherapy treatment for cancer which she announced on 22 March that year.[338] In the same month, the London Clinic initiated an investigation into a potential breach of privacy law after up to three staff members were found attempting to access Catherine's private medical records following her discharge from the hospital.[339][340]

Titles, styles, honours, and arms

Titles and styles

Upon her marriage in April 2011, Catherine became a princess of the United Kingdom, as well as Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, and Baroness Carrickfergus; she also received the style of Royal Highness.[341][342] She was formally known as "Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge" except in Scotland, where she was instead called "Her Royal Highness the Countess of Strathearn".[343]

Queen Elizabeth II died on 8 September 2022, and Catherine's father-in-law succeeded as Charles III.[344] Catherine became Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Rothesay.[345][346] Thus, she was briefly referred to by the title "Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge".[347] The following day, on 9 September 2022, the King announced William's appointment as Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, thereby making Catherine Princess of Wales and Countess of Chester. She has since been known as "Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales", and as "Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Rothesay" in Scotland.[348][349]

Honours

Catherine is a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO),[350] a Royal Companion of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH),[351] and a recipient of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.[352]

Ancestry

Catherine's father, Michael, is the son of Captain Peter Francis Middleton, who, along with their Middleton forebears, were from Leeds, West Yorkshire.[353] Historian Robert Lacey describes Michael Middleton's family as having aristocratic ties, with Florence, Baroness Airedale being his distant relative.[354] Both Catherine's paternal great-grandmother Olive Christiana Middleton (née Lupton) and her first-cousin-once-removed Baroness von Schunck (née Kate Lupton) grew up at Potternewton Hall Estate, the seat of the Lupton family, who are described as landed gentry and, as such, were invited to the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.[355][356][357] Four successive generations of Catherine's ancestors had lived at Potternewton Hall Estate: Catherine's great-grandmother Olive Middleton; her father, politician Francis Martineau Lupton; his mother, educator Frances Elizabeth Lupton; and her father, epidemiologist and surgeon Thomas Michael Greenhow.[358][359][360]

Catherine's maternal ancestors, the Harrisons, were working-class labourers and miners from Sunderland and County Durham.[361] Ancestors through her maternal line include Sir Thomas Conyers, 9th Baronet, who was a descendant of Edward IV through his illegitimate daughter Elizabeth Plantagenet.[362] Other paternal ancestors include Sir Thomas Fairfax and his wife Anne Gascoigne, who was a descendant of Edward III.[357][363]

Bibliography

Book contributions

  • "Foreword", in: Bairsto, Alison; Black, Jill; Jeffers, Holly (2014). Living in the Slipstream: Life as an RAF Wife. Book Guild. ISBN 978-1-909716-24-7. Archived from the original on 3 December 2021. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  • "Foreword", in: National Portrait Gallery (2021). Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020. National Portrait Gallery Publications. ISBN 978-1-85514-738-6.
  • "Foreword", in: GCHQ (2022). Puzzles for Spies. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-0-241-57990-9.

Authored articles and letters

Notes

  1. ^ Initially, the media reported her first name as "Kate", which is a diminutive form of "Catherine".[1] The name "Kate Middleton" persisted in the public sphere despite changes in Catherine's name and titles later in life.[2][3][4] The British media opt for "Kate" in their articles as a result of search engine optimisation.[5]
  2. ^ Author Katie Nicholl suggests that the couple met before going to St Andrews through mutual friends while Middleton was a student at Marlborough College.[41]
  3. ^ Among her patronages are Evelina London Children's Hospital, Family Action, the Natural History Museum, NHS Charities Together, SportsAid, the Scouts, the 1851 Trust, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.[169][170][171]

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Sources

Further reading


Honorary titles
Preceded by Air Commandant of the Air Training Corps
2015–present
Incumbent
Preceded by Colonel of the Irish Guards
2022–present
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
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HRH The Princess of Wales
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