Tragic Details About Kate Middleton's Mother Carole

In 2011, Carole Middleton acquired the ability to boast that her daughter is an actual princess, but no fairytale would be complete without some tragedies for its characters to overcome. While Carole can take comfort in knowing that real life isn't like a Disney fairytale, where mothers of future princesses usually don't survive to see them become royals, she reportedly suffered a minor humiliation upon becoming the mother-in-law of a future monarch.

According to Tina Brown's book "The Palace Papers," Carole had hoped to invite some of her friends to William, Prince of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales' wedding reception. "The Middletons found that none of their guests made the cut," Brown writes, adding that Carole was embarrassed by the slight.

Kate Middleton has always had a close bond with her mom. While speaking to SheerLuxe about her Party Pieces business, Carole revealed that Kate even used to work with her. But when she became a royal, Kate's duties required her to spend a lot of time with her husband and in-laws. "My biggest fear was that I'd lose my family," Carole told The Telegraph in 2018, "but we've stayed close." According to a 2016 Daily Mail report, Carole is also close with her royal grandchildren; sources claimed that the amount of time she spends with them even started making King Charles III jealous. When Carole learned this, one insider said, "She was devastated." Little did she know how much worse her family drama was going to get.

Kate Middleton's surgery happened right before her mom's birthday

On January 17, 2024, Kensington Palace announced that Kate Middleton had undergone abdominal surgery. The palace's statement said that she would have to spend up to two weeks recovering in the hospital and had a long convalescence ahead of her. Kate was released from the hospital two days prior to Carole Middleton's 69th birthday on January 31, so it's unlikely that the princess felt up for partying with her mom and the rest of the family. Carole has gone all-out when celebrating her birthday in the past, so it had to be hard on her to have a dark cloud hanging over her special day.

Of course, Carole's top concern was surely her daughter's health, not missing out on a Caribbean getaway or a big family get-together. According to royal expert Jennie Bond, Carole likely busied herself making sure that Kate was comfortable as soon as she returned home. "Carole must have been very worried about her daughter and has probably been clucking around like a mother hen," Bond told OK! According to the "Kate Middleton: Heir We Go Again!" documentary, Carole previously cared for Kate when she was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness, during her first pregnancy. "It was to Carole that Kate went when she was so poorly, she didn't want to face the world," said royal biographer Katie Nicholl.

The party was over for the business owner in 2024

Months before Kate Middleton's health crisis, Carole Middleton faced a devastating business crisis: She was forced to sell the party supplies company she started herself. Carole launched Party Pieces in 1987, telling SheerLuxe that she got the idea after realizing how few themed paper plate options there were for children's birthday parties. At the time, she was shopping for Kate's fifth birthday party. "I love what I do, and I can't see a future where I won't be involved in Party Pieces," Carole said. But after Party Pieces went bankrupt in 2023, it was sold to entrepreneur James Sinclair. "Carole is understandably upset and deeply disappointed in this situation," a source told the Daily Mail after the sale.

When the business failed, several creditors were left in the lurch. This became a favorite topic of the British press, which wrung every scandalous drop from the documents detailing the company's financial woes. In June 2023, the Daily Mail reported that Fiona Cairns was among those owed money. Cairns baked and decorated the cake that William, Prince of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, served at their wedding, so it's no shocker that Carole was reportedly "mortified" that the baker — who has also whipped up decadent desserts for other royal occasions — hadn't received full payment for her services. "It definitely doesn't reflect well on the royals, but Kate will mostly just be worried about her mother," a source told The Standard.

Her unflattering portrayal in The Crown

On the Netflix series "The Crown," Carole Middleton is portrayed by actor Eve Best. The dramatized version of Carole is a Machiavellian matriarch who schemes to make her daughter a princess by pushing her to attend St. Andrews with Prince William — and using her legs to entice him. Tina Brown makes a similar suggestion about Carole helping her daughter social climb. "It's unlikely Kate would be where she is today without her mother's canny help in negotiating a royal romance," she writes in "The Palace Papers." Carole's "Crown" depiction outraged her brother, Gary Goldsmith. "I don't understand why Carole hasn't taken legal action 'cause literally, it was that bad," he said on "The Crown: Fact or Fiction" podcast. "Carole isn't that manipulative evil person, sat in a dungeon, coming up with ways by which she can actually force her way into the royal family."

Historian Clare McHugh told Business Insider that "The Crown" is unfair to Carole in another way. The royal expert claimed that the pursuit of Prince William wasn't something Carole pushed on Kate — it was a joint effort between mom and daughter.

One scene where William's friends are snobbish about Carole's past working as a flight attendant serves as a painful reminder of some old media reports about her. After William and Kate's 2007 breakup, a source told the Daily Mail, "[William's friends] openly mocked her mother's air-stewardess credentials, greeting Kate with a whispered chorus of 'Doors to manual.'"

Carole Middleton was a hacking victim

In 2014, the Daily Mail reported that Carole Middleton was among the targets of an extensive phone-hacking operation. In its desperation to get salacious details about the royals, Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World hacked the phones of anyone who might know about them — including the royals themselves. The tabloid's royal editor, Clive Goodman, was hit with a four-month prison sentence for his involvement in the illegal enterprise in 2007, while its top editor, Andy Coulson, received a sentence of 18 months. Goodman was put on trial again in 2014 for other charges related to the hacking scandal, and he admitted that Kate Middleton's phone was hacked 155 times.

This wasn't the only time that News of the World caused the Middleton family a royal headache. In 2011, Carole and her other daughter, Pippa Middleton, issued complaints to the PCC over photos of the women that were taken during a 2006 Ibiza getaway with Kate and Prince William. Per The Guardian, they were published by multiple British media outlets, with News of the World teasing them under the title "Oh buoy it's Pippa... and she's topless inside."

In 2009, News of the World also published a report claiming that Carole's brother, Gary Goldsmith, had offered cocaine and sex with prostitutes to reporters conducting a sting operation. In response to the story, a source told the Daily Mail that Carole had deemed Goldsmith "unreliable and a waste of space."