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Catherine, Princess of Wales

In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of Catherine, Princess of Wales in detail. From its origins to its impact on modern society, this topic has captured the interest of people of all ages and walks of life. Over the years, Catherine, Princess of Wales has evolved in various ways, influencing culture, technology, science, and much more. Through an exhaustive analysis, we will delve into the most relevant aspects of Catherine, Princess of Wales, analyzing its importance and implications in today's world. With a critical and reflective perspective, we will examine the multiple facets of Catherine, Princess of Wales and its relevance in the contemporary context, offering the reader an informed and enlightening perspective on this exciting topic.

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

Catherine, Princess of Wales (born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton; 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.

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

Catherine holds patronage with over 20 charitable and military organisations including the Anna Freud Centre, Action for Children, SportsAid, and the National Portrait Gallery. She undertakes projects through the Royal Foundation, with her charity work focusing on issues surrounding early childhood care, addiction, and art. To encourage people to discuss their mental health problems, Catherine envisioned the mental health awareness campaign Heads Together, which she launched with her husband William and brother-in-law Harry in April 2016. The media have called Catherine's impact on British and American fashion the "Kate Middleton effect". Time listed her as one of the most influential people in the world in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and as a finalist in 2018. On 9 September 2022, she became Princess of Wales when her husband was created Prince of Wales by his father, King Charles III.

Early life, education and career

Catherine Elizabeth Middleton was born on 9 January 1982 at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading into an upper-middle-class family. She was baptised at St Andrew's Bradfield, a local parish church, on 20 June 1982. Her parents, Michael Middleton and Carole (née Goldsmith), were a flight dispatcher and flight attendant at British Airways, respectively; she is the eldest of their three children. In 1987 her mother founded Party Pieces, a privately held mail order company that sold party supplies and decorations. Following her mother's retirement and the buyout of her majority shareholding, the new business management at that stage encountered difficulties after axing the quarterly product catalogue. Party Pieces was subsequently rescued from administration in 2023 by millionaire entrepreneur James Sinclair.

By the early 20th century, the Middleton family had married into British aristocracy and benefited financially from trust funds which they had established over a century ago. Her Middleton relatives, including her great-grandparents Noël and Olive Middleton, played host to members of the British royal family in the 1920s through to the 1940s. Her mother's family are descended from coal miners, and have been described as working-class. She has a younger sister, Philippa, and a younger brother, James.

The family moved from Bradfield Southend, Berkshire, to Amman, Jordan, in May 1984, where Catherine attended an English-language nursery school. 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. She boarded part-weekly at St Andrew's in her later years. In 1995 her family moved to the village of Bucklebury where she studied at Downe House School. Middleton was a boarder at Marlborough College, a co-educational boarding school in Wiltshire, where she showed talent in sports and was captain of the women's field hockey team. She obtained three A-Levels in 2000, with an 'A' in mathematics, an 'A' in art, and a 'B' in English.

Despite being offered a seat at the University of Edinburgh, 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. She worked as a deckhand at the Port of Southampton in the summer preceding university. She subsequently enrolled at the University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, to study art history. She briefly studied psychology before focusing solely on art history. She worked part-time as a waitress during her studies. While attending university, she achieved a gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. Middleton was an active member of The Lumsden Club, which held fundraisers and community projects each year. In 2005 she graduated from the University of St Andrews with an undergraduate MA (2:1 Hons) in Art History.

In November 2006, Middleton commenced part-time work for twelve months as an accessory buyer with the clothing chain Jigsaw. In 2007 she curated a photography exhibition to mark the book launch of Time to Reflect, by Alistair Morrison, to raise funds for UNICEF. In 2008 Middleton made several trips to Naomi's House Hospice, where she spent time with children. Later that year, she organised a 1980s-themed roller disco fundraiser which raised £100,000, split between Oxford Children's Hospital, for the construction of Tom's Ward to treat pediatric cancer, and Place2Be, an organisation which provides mental health counselling to school children. Before her marriage, she also worked as a project manager in the family business, where she was responsible for the website and catalogue. While working for the company, she launched the firm's junior brand for toddlers, and began working with the Starlight Children's Foundation, which helps terminally ill youth, providing party essentials for sick children. Middleton also helped coordinate the Boodles Boxing Ball, which raised money for the charity. Prior to her marriage, she lived in an apartment owned by her parents in Chelsea, London, with her sister.

Initially, the media reported her first name as "Kate", which is a diminutive form of "Catherine". The name "Kate Middleton" persisted in the public sphere despite changes in Catherine's name and titles later in life. The British media opt for "Kate" in their articles as a result of search engine optimisation.

Personal life

Pre-marriage relationship with Prince William

Middleton in conversation with Prince Harry outside St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
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. 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. The couple began dating in 2003. During their second year, Middleton shared a flat with William and two other friends. From 2003 until 2005, they both resided at Balgove House on the Strathtyrum estate with two roommates. In 2004 the couple briefly split but later rekindled their relationship.

After her graduation, Middleton and her family were faced with intensive tabloid press scrutiny. She attended William's Passing Out Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in December 2006. In April 2007, they ended their relationship. She and her family attended the Concert for Diana in July 2007, where she and William sat two rows apart. It was subsequently reported that the couple had then reconciled. In May 2008, Middleton attended the wedding of William's cousin Peter Phillips to Autumn Kelly in William's stead, and met Queen Elizabeth II for the first time.

Middleton attended the Order of the Garter procession at Windsor Castle in June 2008, where William was made a Royal Knight of the Garter. 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. 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.

Marriage and children

Catherine and William with their children on the balcony of Buckingham Palace
With William and their children at Trooping the Colour 2019

Middleton and William became engaged in October 2010, at a remote alpine cabin on Mount Kenya, during a 10-day trip to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to celebrate the latter passing the RAF helicopter search and rescue course. Clarence House announced the engagement on 16 November 2010. William gave her the engagement ring that had belonged to his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Middleton, who was christened as a child, decided to be confirmed into the Church of England preceding her wedding. The confirmation service was conducted on 10 March at St James's Palace by the Bishop of London with her family and William in attendance.

The couple married on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey (St Catherine's Day), with the day declared a bank holiday in the United Kingdom. Estimates of the global audience for the wedding ranged around 300 million or more, whilst 26 million watched the event live in Britain alone. Her wedding dress was designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. Catherine assumed the style "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge". The couple was given the country home Anmer Hall, on the Sandringham Estate, as a wedding gift from the Queen. Catherine keeps bees on the grounds. Following their marriage in 2011, the couple used Nottingham Cottage as their London residence. 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. Kensington Palace became William and Catherine's main residence in 2017. The couple and their children officially moved into Adelaide Cottage in Windsor in September 2022.

On 3 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. Prince George was born at St Mary's Hospital in London on 22 July 2013. The severe morning sickness returned with the subsequent pregnancies, forcing Catherine to cancel her official engagements. She gave birth to Princess Charlotte on 2 May 2015 and to Prince Louis on 23 April 2018. 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. William and Catherine have owned two English Cocker Spaniels, named Lupo and Orla.

Health

Kensington Palace announced on 17 January 2024 that Catherine had undergone a planned abdominal surgery for an undisclosed medical condition that was not cancer, after she had been admitted to The London Clinic the previous day. She postponed all of her public engagements and duties through March that year. The subsequent speculation about Catherine's absence from public view and her health prompted various conspiracy theories and garnered extensive media attention. 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".

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. Her medical leave from public engagements was extended.

Public life

Duchess of Cambridge

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. She was formally introduced to public life in February 2011, when the couple attended a lifeboat-naming ceremony in Trearddur, near their home at that time in Anglesey, North Wales. A day later they appeared in St Andrews to launch the university's 600th anniversary celebrations. In March 2011, the couple toured Belfast. Catherine's first official engagement after her wedding came in May, when she and William met Barack and Michelle Obama at Buckingham Palace. William and Catherine's first royal tour of Canada took place in June-July 2011. The tour's two-day trip to California was also Catherine's first visit to the United States. 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.

Catherine and William waving to the crowds behind the camera
With William in Ottawa during their first royal tour of Canada, 2011

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. She and William were announced as ambassadors for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. As part of her role, Catherine attended numerous sporting events throughout the games. 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. 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. The couple attended further celebrations of the Jubilee throughout the year, including the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in July.

The first engagement that Catherine carried out after the birth of Prince George was in August 2013, when she accompanied William to meet runners preparing for an ultramarathon in Anglesey. At the beginning of March 2014, it was announced that the couple would be accompanied by their son on an upcoming tour of New Zealand and Australia from 16 to 25 April. The tour itinerary included visiting the Plunket Society for children and visiting fire-damaged areas in New South Wales. In June 2014, the couple visited France to attend an event commemorating 70 years since the Normandy landings at Gold Beach. In July 2014, it was announced that Catherine would be making her first solo trip, visiting Malta in September 2014, when the island was celebrating its 50th independence anniversary. Her trip was cancelled, with her husband taking her place, after the announcement of her second pregnancy in early September. In December 2014, the couple visited the United States and attended a charity dinner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In October 2015, Catherine attended her first state banquet at Buckingham Palace, held to host Chinese president Xi Jinping. In April 2016, she and William undertook a tour to India and Bhutan. Later that month, the couple met again with the Obamas at Kensington Palace. The couple toured Canada again in September 2016. In October 2016, Catherine made her first solo foreign trip to The Netherlands. Countries visited by the couple in 2017 include France, Poland, Germany, and Belgium. She visited Luxembourg City in May 2017 for the Treaty of London commemorations. In January 2018, the couple visited Sweden and Norway. In February 2019, William and Catherine carried out a two-day visit of Northern Ireland, visiting Belfast, Fermanagh, and Ballymena.

In June 2019, Catherine took the royal first salute, typically received by the Queen, at the Beating Retreat military pageant. She accompanied her husband on a tour of Pakistan in October 2019, the royal family's first visit to the country in 13 years. In March 2020, the couple carried out a three-day tour of Ireland, visiting County Meath, Kildare, and Galway. 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. 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. 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. In May 2021, the couple returned to Scotland for an extensive tour of Edinburgh, Fife and Orkney. William and Catherine attended the G7 summit for the first time in June 2021 in Cornwall. Catherine visited primary students alongside Jill Biden and participated in a roundtable discussion focusing on early childhood education.

Catherine, William and their children stand with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles on the balcony of Buckingham Palace
With William, their children and other senior royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the Platinum Jubilee Pageant on 5 June 2022

In February 2022, Catherine visited Denmark to learn about the country's plans for social and emotional development of youngsters and also to celebrate milestones of both countries' monarchs. In March 2022, she and William embarked on a tour of Belize, The Bahamas and Jamaica to commemorate Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee.

Princess of Wales

Queen Elizabeth II died on 8 September 2022, and Catherine's father-in-law succeeded as Charles III. The following day, William was created Prince of Wales by his father, making Catherine Princess of Wales. In September 2022, Catherine and William visited Anglesey and Swansea, which marked their first visit to Wales since becoming Princess and Prince of Wales. In February 2023, they visited Falmouth, marking their first visit to the region since becoming Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.

Charity work

Patronages and interests

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

Catherine and William talking to people over lunch
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. Her impact on charitable donations and project visibility has been called the "Kate effect". She holds a number of charitable patronages: Action for Children, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, the Anna Freud Centre, East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH), Evelina London Children's Hospital, Family Action, the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, the National Portrait Gallery, the Natural History Museum, NHS Charities Together, Place2Be, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, SportsAid, the Scouts, the 1851 Trust, the Foundling Museum, the Lawn Tennis Association, the Royal Photographic Society, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. 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, as well as the National Portrait Gallery. 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. In December 2015, she assumed patronage of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets 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. She became patron of the Foundling Museum, a museum to commemorate the Foundling Hospital, in 2019. Catherine was also a local volunteer leader with The Scout Association in north Wales, of which Queen Elizabeth II was patron, before being made co-president in September 2020, alongside the Duke of Kent.

In her capacity as patron of Action on Addiction, Catherine has occasionally made visits to its centres, spending time with recovering addicts. 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. In June 2021, Catherine was announced as patron of The Forward Trust after its merger with Action on Addiction. As patron, she launched a campaign titled "Taking Action on Addiction". Catherine has worked extensively in children's palliative care alongside East Anglia's Children's Hospices and undertakes private visits to children's hospices and their families. She made her first public address at the opening of their Ipswich facility in 2012. Catherine officially opened their Norfolk hospice in 2019, after previously launching their financial appeal in 2014, which raised £10m. She has carried out engagements to raise awareness of Children's Hospice Week since 2013.

Catherine presenting a trophy to a female tennis player at Wimbledon
Presenting the ladies' singles trophy to Elena Rybakina at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships

Catherine is a keen sportswoman and attends Wimbledon annually. She has been patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club since 2016. Catherine, who enjoys sailing, has occasionally taken part in the sport to raise money for charity. 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. In 2014 she and William were awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Marylebone Cricket Club. 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". In August 2019, the couple competed in the King's Cup yachting regatta to raise money for eight different charities. 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. In August 2022, it was announced that Catherine and Roger Federer would attend the Laver Cup Open Practice Day on 22 September, which she had to pull out from due to the mourning period following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, but the proceeds from the event were donated to her patronages Action for Children and the Lawn Tennis Association.

In 2014 Catherine wrote the foreword for Living in the Slipstream: Life as an RAF Wife, whose proceeds raised money for charity. Since acquiring patronage of the RAF Cadets, she has made visits to their base in Cambridgeshire and celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2016. In January 2018, locks of her hair were reportedly donated to the Little Princess Trust, a charity which made wigs for children diagnosed with cancer. In February 2018, Catherine became patron of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She also launched Nursing Now, a three-year worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the profile of nurses. She has written of her family ties with nursing and that both her grandmother, Valerie Middleton, and her great-grandmother, Olive Middleton, were VAD nurses for the British Red Cross. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Catherine undertook many in-person and virtual engagements supporting National Health Service workers. She discreetly volunteered with the Royal Voluntary Service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Catherine has called herself an "enthusiastic amateur photographer" and has taken official portraits of her children, as well as other members of the royal family. 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. 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. Photos taken by Catherine of the Holocaust survivors were later included in an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. Catherine curated an exhibition of Victorian photography at the National Portrait Gallery with a thematic focus on childhood. In May 2020, she launched "Hold Still", a project to capture people's life during lockdown, which garnered 31,000 submissions. In October 2020, the selected portraits were displayed on 112 public sites, including billboards, murals, and posters, across 80 towns and cities. 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.

In May 2021, Catherine received her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by NHS staff at the Science Museum in London, encouraging use of the vaccine and thanking the staff for "playing a part in the rollout". 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.

Catherine has been hosting a Christmas carol concert at Westminster Abbey called Together At Christmas annually since December 2021.The 2021 concert honoured those who made significant contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the event was dedicated to honouring the efforts of individuals, families, and communities across the United Kingdom, and it also paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. The 2023 service celebrated those who support babies, young children, and families across the United Kingdom.

In March 2022 and amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Catherine and William made a donation to help the refugees. In February 2023, they donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) which was helping victims of the 2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake. In May 2023, Catherine 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.

Mental health advocacy

Catherine speaks with authorities outside a men's resettlement prison
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. 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". 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. 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. The campaign was first envisioned by Catherine earlier that year. "Heads Together" reportedly resulted in over one million people speaking out about their mental health, and an investment of £3m in mental health innovations. 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.

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". 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. 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". Catherine held sessions for the programme at the Mental Health in Education Conference in 2019. After two years of development, the website had over 250,000 visitors accessing its resources. In February 2016, she travelled to Edinburgh to promote the work of Place2Be, and launch the Children's Mental Health Week, which she commemorates annually. Catherine guest-edited HuffPost UK as a part of the Young Minds Matter movement, an effort "to raise awareness for children's mental health issues".

In 2019 Catherine worked with the Royal Horticultural Society as one of the co-designers for a garden display at the Chelsea Flower Show. She designed the "Back to Nature Garden" together with Andree Davies and Adam White. The garden was later expanded and moved to Hampton Court Palace as a part of the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, before being shown at the Back to Nature Festival at RHS Garden Wisley. A playground, inspired by the "Back to Nature" garden, was built on the Sandringham Estate in 2021. In May 2019, as a part of their "Heads Together" initiative, Catherine together with her husband and in-laws, launched Shout, a text messaging service for those who have mental issues. In October 2019, Catherine, together with some of her royal relatives, voiced a PSA video for Public Health England "as part of its Every Mind Matters program". 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. In April 2020, the couple announced Our Frontline, an initiative providing mental health support to emergency medical workers. In May 2020, the couple's recorded radio message for Mental Health Awareness Week was broadcast across all the stations in the United Kingdom. In June 2020, Catherine hosted an online assembly to 80 elementary school students across the United Kingdom, focused on the importance of self-care and expressing one's feelings openly.

In February 2021, Catherine recorded a video message about the importance of positive mental health during the pandemic. In May that year, she and William, with other prominent personalities, voiced 2021 Mental Health Minute, a one-minute record delivered by Radiocentre and Somethin' Else to mark 2021 Mental Health Awareness Week. In May 2022, Catherine became patron of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance. The same month, she and William voiced the Mental Health Minute message again, which was broadcast on every radio station in the United Kingdom on 13 May and asked people to help individuals around them that suffer from loneliness.

In February 2022, Catherine 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 October 2022, to mark World Mental Health Day, she and William took over Newsbeat and interviewed four guests on topics related to mental health. 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.

Early years and childhood development

Catherine and Jill Biden engage with school children at a table while wearing masks
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. 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. In May that year, she established the Early Years Steering Group. In January 2020, Catherine launched "5 Big Questions on the Under 5's", a nationwide survey on development during early years. The survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI and contained "further qualitative and ethnographic research" on the early years. It received over 500,000 responses. The results of the survey were released in November 2020. The findings outlined five key topics surrounding early childhood, including parental mental health and wider community health and support. 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. In August 2020, she headed a donation drive to benefit baby banks nationwide which spurred over 10,000 donations. 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.

In February 2022, Catherine visited Denmark on behalf of the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood. In June that year, she hosted her first roundtable discussion with politicians on early childhood development. 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. In November that year, she delivered the keynote speech at The Shaping Us National Symposium held at The Design Museum in London.

Public image and style

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

Catherine, prominent for her fashion style, has been placed on numerous "best dressed" lists. The "Kate Middleton effect" is the trend that she is reported to have had in sales of particular products and brands.

In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Catherine was listed as one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World. Catherine was also named in the International Best Dressed Hall of Fame List in the same year. In 2023 and 2024, The Independent included Catherine on its "Influence List". In December 2022, she was found to be the second most liked member of the royal family by statistics and polling company YouGov, while an Ipsos favourability poll in April 2023 suggested that she was the most liked member. In April 2024, she was found to be the most popular member of the royal family by statistics and polling company YouGov.

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." 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."

Privacy and the media

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

In April 2004, The Sun published pictures of William and Middleton at a ski resort and alleged that she was his girlfriend. After her graduation from university, Middleton was faced with widespread press attention and was often photographed by the paparazzi. 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. 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. 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 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. In April 2006, her lawyers issued new warnings to the Daily Mail, the Daily Star and The Sun and the picture agencies Big Pictures and Matrix after they published photographs of Middleton on a bus during a shopping trip.

Media attention increased around the time of Middleton's 25th birthday in January 2007, where twenty photographers and five television crews photographed her leaving for work. Warnings were issued by Prince Charles, Prince William, and Middleton's lawyers, who threatened legal action. Two newspaper groups, News International, which publishes The Times and The Sun; and the Guardian Media Group, publishers of The Guardian, decided to refrain from publishing paparazzi pictures of Middleton, but continued to use photographs of her at public events. In March 2007, her lawyers filed a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) over a photograph published on the Daily Mirror that was taken as a result of harassment. In April 2007, Middleton reached a settlement with the Daily Mirror, which was followed by a warning by the PCC over her treatment by the press. In July 2007, MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee stated in a report on press regulation that Middleton was the victim of "clear and persistent harassment" by the paparazzi and criticised the lack of intervention by the PCC, who circulated a letter from her solicitors on the issue of press harassment but said they were not directly asked by her lawyers to act.

In 2010 Middleton pursued an invasion of privacy claim against two agencies and photographer Niraj Tanna, who took photographs of her playing tennis over Christmas 2009 while on holiday in Cornwall. She was awarded £5,000 damages, legal costs, and an apology from the photographic press agency Rex Features Ltd and announced that the money would be donated to charity. 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.

In May 2011, the Middleton family complained to the PCC after photographs of Catherine, her sister, and their mother in bikinis while on holiday in 2006 on board a yacht off Ibiza were published in the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, News of the World, and Daily Mirror. One of the photographs showed Catherine's sister topless, which prompted the family to complain about newspapers breaching the editors' code of practice by invading their privacy. In September 2011, Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, and Daily Mirror all agreed to have the images removed from their website and never publish them again following a deal negotiated by the PCC.

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 (a private château on a 260-hectare estate 71 km north of Aix-en-Provence). Analysts from The Times believed the photographs were taken from the D22 (Vaucluse) road half a kilometre from the pool—a distance that would require an 800-mm or a 1000-mm lens. 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. The following day the courts granted an injunction against Closer, prohibiting further publication of the photographs and announced a criminal investigation would be initiated. Under French law, punitive damages cannot be awarded but intrusions of privacy are a criminal offence carrying a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to €45,000 for individuals and €225,000 for companies. In September 2017, Closer was fined €100,000 and its editor Laurence Pieau and owner Ernesto Mauri were each fined €45,000.

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. The radio hosts subsequently apologised for their actions.

Catherine and William waking past a group of photographers
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. The British press refused to publish the paparazzi shots. While Catherine was visiting the Blue Mountains in Sydney, a picture was taken of her bare bottom as her dress blew up. Many newspapers outside the United Kingdom published the picture. 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. On 14 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. Jason Knauf, communications secretary to the Cambridges, wrote the letter to media standards organisations in various countries.

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. 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". Despite the palace's statement that most of the material was not given to them before publication, the magazine's editor-in-chief announced that he would stand behind the story as the palace had been aware of it for months. 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.

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. The Associated Press explained it retracted the photograph because of concerns regarding digital alteration of the image at its source. AFP and Reuters raised similar concerns. 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. The incident occurred after she had begun chemotherapy treatment for cancer which she announced on 22 March that year. 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.

Titles, styles, honours, and arms

Titles and styles

Upon her marriage in April 2011, Catherine automatically became a princess of the United Kingdom, gained the style Royal Highness and the titles Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, and Baroness Carrickfergus. She was normally known as "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge" except in Scotland, where she was instead called "Her Royal Highness The Countess of Strathearn".

On her father-in-law's accession on 8 September 2022, Catherine also became Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Rothesay. Thus, she was briefly referred to by the title "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge". 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.

Honours

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

Arms

Coat of arms of Catherine, Princess of Wales
Notes
Catherine bears the arms of her husband impaled with those of her father. The family arms were granted to her father by the College of Arms on 19 April 2011. Thomas Woodcock, then Garter King of Arms, the senior officer of the College of Arms, helped the family with the design. Meanwhile, the princess's entire heraldic achievement was approved by royal warrant by Queen Elizabeth II after the princess's marriage. The newly-approved arms included the addition of a new element specifically for the princess: a hind (female deer) supporter.
Escutcheon
Quarterly first and fourth Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or armed and langed Azure second Or a lion rampant Gules armed and langued Azure within a double tressure flory counterflory third Azure a harp Or stringed Argent, with over all a label of three points Argent, and on an inescutcheon ensigned by the coronet of the heir-apparent, quarterly, Or and Gules four lions passant guardant counterchanged, ensigned by the coronet of William's degree; Impaled with a shield per pale Azure and Gules, a chevron Or, cotised Argent, between three acorns slipped and leaved Or.
Symbolism
The dividing line (between two colours) down the centre is a canting of the name 'Middle-ton'. The acorns (from the oak tree) are a traditional symbol of England and a feature of west Berkshire, where the family lived. The three acorns also denote the family's three children. The gold chevron in the centre of the arms is an allusion to Carole Middleton's maiden name of Goldsmith. The two white chevronels (narrow chevrons above and below the gold chevron) symbolise peaks and mountains, and the family's love of the Lake District and skiing. The white hind supporter echoes earlier royal heraldry, such as the white hind heraldic badge of Joan of Kent, Princess of Wales.
Previous versions
Catherine's coat of arms prior to her marriage depicted the shield from her father Michael Middleton's coat of arms shaped into a lozenge suspended from a ribbon symbolising her unmarried state. Her sister, Philippa, also used the same coat of arms prior to her 2017 marriage. Her brother, James, will in due course inherit his father's coat of arms. The arms granted to her following her marriage were depicted without the Royal Victorian Order circlet, to which she was appointed in 2019.
Other versions
In February 2013, Queen Elizabeth II approved the conjugal arms of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, consisting of their individual arms displayed side by side, beneath a helm and coronet denoting the duke's status as grandson of the sovereign. These were released in September of the same year.

Ancestry

Catherine's father Michael Francis Middleton is the son of Captain Peter Francis Middleton, who, along with their Middleton forebears, were from Leeds, West Yorkshire. Historian Robert Lacey describes Michael Middleton's family as having aristocratic ties, with Florence, Baroness Airedale being his distant relative. 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. 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.

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

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. ^ She is also known in the media as "Kate", which is a diminutive form of "Catherine".
  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.

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