- In honour of Kate Middleton‘s 37th birthday on January 9, INSIDER rounded up a few things you may not know about the royal.
- The Duchess of Cambridge is a patron of numerous charities and a mental health advocate.
- Kate is passionate about sports and the outdoors, having grown up sailing and playing hockey and tennis.
- She once trained for two months to race across the English Channel with an all-female dragon-boat crew.
- Before she met Prince William in college, the duchess worked as an accessories buyer for a British clothing retailer.
On January 9, Kate Middleton celebrates her 37th birthday.
In the nearly eight years since she married Prince William in 2011, the Duchess of Cambridge has become a patron of numerous charities, launched a mental health campaign, showed off her photography skills, and much more.
While Kate has been a household name for quite some time now, the royal was once a normal student who grew up playing hockey and tennis and modelled for her parents’ company’s catalogues.
Below, find out 21 things you may not know about the duchess’s life, both before and after she met Will.
Kate Middleton has a younger brother named James.
Kate’s younger sister Pippa has been in the public eye for quite some time, but the youngest Middleton sibling, James, has stayed mostly out of the spotlight.
James is perhaps best known for launching a company called Boomf, a service that lets customers print graphics and personal photos on marshmallows.
Currently, the entrepreneur works as a tour guide at Pippa’s father-in-law’s hotel in Scotland.
The Duchess of Cambridge and the queen share a name.
Kate’s full name is Catherine Elizabeth Middleton. Her middle name, Elizabeth, is the same as the queen’s first name.
Kate is both a duchess and a princess.
When Kate married Prince William in 2011, the queen conferred her with the official title Her Royal Highness (HRH) the Duchess of Cambridge.
HRH is an official style used to address princes (His Royal Highness) and princesses (Her Royal Highness) in the royal family.
But in the UK, only women who were born as princesses – like the queen’s daughter, Princess Anne – can be styled by their own name, as royal historian and academic librarian Marlene Koenig previously told INSIDER.
Women who obtain princely status through marriage take on the stylised titles of their husbands, explained Koenig, who runs the blog Royal Musings.
Her parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, own a successful company called Party Pieces.
Party Pieces, an online retailer of party supplies, is worth an estimated £30 million(about $US39.5 million USD), according to Money magazine.
According to Town & Country, Carole and Michael met while the former was working as a flight attendant for British Airways and the latter as a flight dispatcher. The couple married in June 1980.
As a child, Kate used to model for her parents’ company.
According to Claudia Joseph, the author of “Kate: The Making of a Princess,” Kate and Pippa both used to model for Party Pieces’ catalogues. The two would wear “T-shirts with their ages on them and [hold] cupcakes” in the photos, Joseph told CNN Money in 2011.
In August 2018, Carole also wrote a blog post for Party Pieces’ 30th anniversary in which she said her three children “have played a huge part” in the company, including modelling for its catalogues.
The duchess also launched a division of Party Pieces in 2008.
As Joseph previously told CNN Money, Kate launched a section of the company called First Birthdays in 2008, focused on providing party supplies for babies.
Carole also confirmed that Kate created First Birthdays in her blog post for Party Pieces’ 30th anniversary.
Growing up, Kate enjoyed sailing and playing tennis and hockey.
According to the royal family’s official website, Kate loves sports, nature, and the outdoors – a passion that “stems from her own experience […] of playing tennis and hockey and sailing from a young age.”
She went to the same boarding school as Princess Eugenie.
Kate turned “bright red” when she first met Prince William in college.
The two met while they were both attending the University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland. In the couple’s official engagement interview in 2010, Kate said she “went bright red” when she met the prince and “scuttled off feeling very shy.”
Kate and Will were roommates before they started dating.
In the couple’s official engagement interview, Will said he and Kate were friends for more than a year, and even lived in the same flat with a few other people, before they started dating.
According to the prince, his relationship with the duchess “blossomed” after they became flatmates. “We just spent more time with each other, had a good giggle, had lots of fun, and realised we shared the same interests and just had a really good time,” Will said in the 2010 interview.
“[Kate’s] got a really naughty sense of humour, which kind of helps me because I’ve got a really dry sense of humour,” the duke added.
She graduated with a degree in art history.
According to the BBC, the duchess graduated with upper second-class honours, or a 2:1, in art history in 2005.
After college, she worked as an accessories buyer for British clothing retailer Jigsaw.
In December 2006, a spokeswoman for the retailer confirmed to the Daily Mail that Kate had recently joined the company’s staff as an accessories buyer for Jigsaw and Jigsaw Junior.
She and Will briefly broke up in 2007.
In April 2007, The Sun reported that the couple made an “amicable agreement” to part ways, according to the BBC. Kate and Will reportedly got back together three months later in July, according to The Sun.
In the couple’s official engagement interview, the two confirmed they had “split up for a bit.”
“We were both very young,” Will said about the breakup. “We were both finding ourselves […] and being different characters and stuff. It was very much trying to find our own way, and we were growing up.”
Kate said that while she “wasn’t very happy” about the split at the time, it ultimately made her a “stronger person.”
“You find out things about yourself that you maybe hadn’t realised,” the duchess said. “You can get quite consumed by a relationship when you’re younger, so I really valued that time.”
That same year, she spent two months training to cross the English Channel on a dragon boat.
In the summer of 2007, Kate joined an all-female dragon-boat crew called The Sisterhood, who was training to race across the English Channel against an all-male crew to raise money for charity.
The duchess later withdrew from the race, reportedly due to safety concerns stemming from increased press attention, according to the Daily Mail’s former royal correspondent, Richard Kay.
“[Kate] was our helmsman, very strong and very sporty. It’s a huge loss,” one unnamed Sisterhood member said at the time, according to the Daily Mail.
Kate’s engagement ring belonged to the late Princess Diana.
In 1981, the late Princess Diana chose her own engagement ring from a selection by Garrard & Co., then the crown jeweller for the royal family.
The ring she chose – a 12-carat sapphire stone surrounded by 14 diamonds set in white gold – was passed down to her children after her tragic death in 1997.
Nearly three decades later, Prince William proposed to Kate with the famous sapphire ring in 2010.
Kate’s wedding dress had a secret blue ribbon sewn onto it.
On her wedding day in 2011, the duchess followed the time-honored bridal tradition of wearing “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue,” according to the BBC.
Kate’s “something old” was the traditional Carrickmacross lace-making technique used to create her gown, designed by Alexander McQueen’s creative director, Sarah Burton.
Her “something new” was a pair of diamond earrings gifted by her parents. Her “something borrowed” was a Cartier halo tiara, on loan from the queen. And her “something blue” was a blue ribbon sewn into the interior of her wedding dress.
She also changed into a second gown for her wedding reception.
For her evening wedding reception, Kate chose another Alexander McQueen design: a strapless satin gown with a sweetheart neckline and embellished belt.
The duchess layered the dress under a cropped mohair jacket.
In 2016, she started a mental health campaign called Heads Together with Will and Harry.
The royal trio launched Heads Together in May 2016 to help “end stigma around mental health.” The campaign works with various charities to raise awareness about mental health issues and help people ask for and find support.
“We must tackle the stigma that stops people asking for help in the first place,” Kate said in a speech on World Mental Health Day in October 2016. “We want to encourage people to talk to one another.”
Her favourite TV shows include “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” and “Homeland.”
In a 2017 interview with BBC Radio 1, Will said he and Kate are “quite keen on box sets” and particularly enjoy watching HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Showtime’s “Homeland.”
In 2015, Will also revealed during a special tribute to ITV’s “Downton Abbey” that the drama was one of his and Kate’s favourite television programs.
She has a passion for photography.
According to the royal family’s official website, Kate is a “keen photographer” and an honorary member of the Royal Photographic Society.
The duchess also has an interest in the visual arts, design, and textiles, which inspired her to become the first royal patron of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in March 2018.
Over the years, Kensington Palace has shared some of Kate’s professional shots online, which are often of her children,Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.
She and Prince William have pet dog named Lupo.
In a 2014 interview with “Good Morning America,” Kate’s younger brother James revealed that he gave Lupo, a cocker spaniel, to Kate and Will as a wedding gift.
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
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