Did Carole Middleton Really Plot Kate's Marriage To Prince William?

In 2000, Kate Middleton famously ditched an offer from the prestigious University of Edinburgh at the last minute and took a gap year. She spent part of the year volunteering with the Raleigh International in Chile and part studying in Florence, Italy. Upon returning home, she applied to the University of St. Andrews, where she met Prince William and wrote her name in modern history. While the meeting of the Princess and Prince of Wales seemed predestined, some have suggested Kate's fateful choices were influenced by her mother, Carole Middleton.

Kate did seemingly change her mind about Edinburgh shortly after William announced he had decided to attend St. Andrews in August 2000. Many believe she took a year off to start her higher education at the same time as William, The Sun noted. Kate, who originally studied psychology, changed her focus to just art history, which was — coincidentally or not — William's major before he changed it to geography. It does seem Kate was at the very least interested in being around William.

But then again, many students were too, evidenced by the 44% increase in applications St. Andrews received that year. While Kate and William did indeed meet in 2001, he didn't really see her in that light until the famous March 2002 fashion show in which she rocked a see-through dress. Whatever plans Kate had in mind worked. "Kate was very strategic," author Robert Lacey told Elle in 2020. But did she have a helping hand from her mother?

Carole Middleton is known for her social-climbing skills

The sixth and final season of "The Crown" portrayed Carole Middleton as the engine behind Kate Middleton's pursuit of Prince William. The show, known for taking heavy liberties with facts, suggested Carole was the one who convinced Kate to take a year off and abandon her college plans when the now-heir to the throne announced his choice. While having poetic license on its side, the Netflix hit show didn't come up with its plot from thin air.

Carole's involvement in the making of Kate and William has been talked about for years. "[The Middletons] began orchestrating her life, ensuring she was at the right places at the right time," Omid Scobie wrote in his 2023 book "Endgame," (via Marie Claire) adding: "Carole calculatingly placed Kate right at the center of young Prince William's world." Carole had plenty of experience. Hailing from a working-class family with roots in the coal-mining communities of North East England, Carole made it her life goal to improve her condition.

And she did. After growing a small party-goods business into a multi-million dollar business, Carole became wealthy enough to send her children to prestigious schools, where they rubbed elbows with the cream of the crop. "She's anxious to better herself and to make sure she is financially secure ... She is ambitious, very ambitious for her family," a family member told the Daily Mail in 2011. Even if Carole didn't devise Kate's plan, her daughter had someone to show her the way.

Prince William admires Kate Middleton's parents

Carole Middleton may have envisaged grand plans for her family, but her son-in-law respects a different side of her. Having spent all of his life under intense scrutiny, Prince William navigated toward Kate's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton for a sense of normalcy. "He admires the way that Carole and Michael brought up Catherine, Pippa and James and that seems to be reflected in the way William is a down-to-earth father now," Rachael Andrews, host of the "Keeping Up With The Windsors" podcast told OK! in 2022.

William is said to have become particularly close with Carole in light of his own tragic circumstances. "He, of course, lost Diana when he was very young and probably looks up to Carole because he's lacked a mother figure for so much of his life," Andrews explained. The Middletons' influence on the prince was not only noticed by the royal family but also welcomed, particularly by the late Queen Elizabeth II. "She is recognizing they have a big role in the lives of her family — and she is happy with that," author Ingrid Seward told People in 2016.

Elizabeth's efforts reportedly came from the same place that drew William to the Middletons. "Because of the circumstances of William's childhood, the queen has made a big effort to include the Middletons much more than she would have done otherwise," Seward added. In doing so, Elizabeth became close with Carole, with whom she even had a picnic at Balmoral Castle in 2016.