A Deeper Look Into Kate Middleton's Life

The following article includes mentions of suicide.

Formerly known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge — before gaining her current title as the Princess of Wales in the fall of 2022 — Kate Middleton became the subject of much fascination in the UK press when she began dating Prince William in the early 2000s. Having met while they both attended college in Scotland, their love story played out in public, their every movement documented by the ever-present media that stalked them constantly.

Royal watchers the world over were eager to learn more about the beautiful young woman who might one day marry the future king. When William proposed, Middleton-mania went into overdrive, and since then, the mother of three has wowed the world with her grace, elegance, and modern approach to royal protocol. She's also become a tough nut to crack, given her impressive ability to live a relatively low-key life. However, when you're marrying into the world's most famous royal family, you better believe that no stone shall be left unturned. 

With that in mind, keep on reading to discover some things you probably never knew about Kate Middleton.

Kate Middleton met Prince William at a prestigious university

Kate Middleton met her future husband in 2001 when they were both students at the prestigious University of St. Andrews in Scotland, but their whirlwind campus romance wasn't exactly love at first sight. They reportedly spent about a year in the so-called friend zone before they started dating.

"William wasn't [at University] for quite a bit of the time initially; he wasn't there for Freshers Week," Middleton told Tom Bradby of the UK Press Association (via ABC News) in 2010 following their engagement. "So, it did take a bit of time for us to get to know each other. But we did become very close friends from quite early." The two initially formed a bond over their art history studies and other shared interests, such as skiing — and by sophomore year, the soon-to-be couple moved into an apartment with mutual friends.

William elaborated on their relationship beginnings, saying, "It just sort of blossomed from there really. We just saw more of each other, and ... hung out a bit more and did stuff."

She didn't grow up royally rich

Kate Middleton's upbringing was far from the luxurious life Prince William and his family experienced living in the likes of Buckingham Palace. Her parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, met while they were both working for British Airways, but they decided to establish roots when daughter Kate reached school age. It was Carole who had the idea for Party Pieces, an online business specializing in decorations for kids' parties. 

In 2017, Carole celebrated the company's 30th anniversary with a blog post on the Party Pieces website, along with some of the company's first advertising photos — including one featuring Kate and her siblings as models. "It is still very much a family business today, and over the years all my children have played a huge part in it from modelling for the catalogue to developing new categories for the brand," Carole proudly wrote in part (as reported by Marie Claire). In fact, the future Princess of Wales and her siblings regularly appeared in Party Pieces marketing campaigns. "Both Pippa and Kate used to model for the catalogs, wearing t-shirts with their ages on them and holding cupcakes," Claudia Joseph, author of "Kate: The Making of a Princess," previously confirmed to CNN.

Despite the married pair's entrepreneurial success, their eldest daughter was still labeled a "commoner" in the press. In fact, Kate became the first so-called commoner to marry a future king in about 350 years.

Kate Middleton had a crush on 'the Levi's guy'

If you grew up in the 1990s, odds are you had a little crush on Prince William or knew someone who did. It was rumored that Kate Middleton took her supposed crush to borderline obsessive levels and even had a poster of her future husband on her bedroom wall. Former classmates told The Telegraph that was the case, at any rate, claiming Middleton would always say "there's no one quite like William" when their talks turned to boys.

The alleged William poster made for a good story, with Middleton painted as the girl who married the prince of her dreams — but as it turns out, it definitely wasn't true. The future Princess of Wales set the record straight in the couple's 2010 interview with Tom Bradby, revealing that there was someone else she had a crush on back then. 

"I had the Levi's guy on my wall, not a picture of William, sorry," Middleton said, referring to a popular ad campaign for jeans in the '90s.

How the future royal felt about her brief split from William

They're basically a picture of marital bliss today, but not even royal relationships are immune to setbacks. Back in April 2007 — and with rumors of wedding bells rife in the press — Prince William shocked followers when he decided he needed some space from Kate Middleton. "We both were very young ... we were sort of both finding ourselves as such and being different characters and stuff," William explained to ITV News' Tom Bradby in 2010 of the split that had dominated headlines. "It was very much trying to find our own way and we were growing up, and so it was just sort of a bit of space ... and it worked out for the better."

William was the one who briefly brought the relationship to an end, though even Middleton later admitted that it was ultimately for the greater good. "I think I at the time wasn't very happy about it," she said. "But actually, it made me a stronger person. You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn't realized — or I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you are younger — and I really valued that time for me, as well, although I didn't think it at the time." 

Of course, the royal couple reunited just a couple months after their infamous breakup, and — barring those cheating allegations made against Prince William — they have seemingly been going strong ever since.

Kate Middleton's related to the first U.S. president

She may be one of the most famous Brits around, but Kate Middleton actually has the blood of one of the most important figures in American history running through her veins, albeit in very diluted form. In 2010, the New England Historic Genealogical Society (via CBS News) uncovered that Middleton is actually related to George Washington, the first President of the United States. By "actually," we mean she's an eighth cousin eight times removed. But, hey, that's still pretty cool.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society also said Middleton is a ninth cousin seven times removed of Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark, as well as a 13th cousin three times removed of U.S. Army General George S. Patton. All of this information was compiled in a book entitled "The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton" (via CNN), which did a deep dive into the Princess of Wales' roots. Among the more surprising finds was that Middleton is also sixth cousins with British filmmaker (and Madonna's ex-husband) Guy Ritchie.

She had very difficult pregnancies

Kate Middleton was hospitalized in December 2012 for a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, an acute and severe form of morning sickness that can cause nausea, vomiting, fainting, and weight loss, among other symptoms. Bad cases require the mother to be hooked up to an IV and kept under watch. Middleton's hospitalization ultimately prompted the royal family to confirm that, yes, she was pregnant with her first child, son Prince George. 

Unfortunately for Middleton, the debilitating condition returned with full force in 2014, when she became pregnant with her second child, daughter Princess Charlotte. "Quite frankly, the comparison of hyperemesis to morning sickness is like breaking your arm in several places and then being told you've just knocked your funny bone," fellow sufferer and The Guardian writer Miriam Phillips said of Middleton's plight. "Hopefully, this increased media attention will help the poor expectant mums, who like me, were wiped out by the condition." 

The Princess of Wales' health forced the royals to announce both pregnancies sooner than they would have liked, and it all happened the same way with the September 2017 announcement of baby No. 3. Around this time, Middleton had been rushed to a hospital in Scotland while visiting Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral, months before welcoming Prince Louis the following April.

A nurse died by suicide over a pregnancy prank

Sadly, Kate Middleton's severe morning sickness wasn't the worst thing connected to her first pregnancy. After learning that the Princess of Wales was being treated for her hyperemesis at Westminster's King Edward VII's Hospital, the hosts of an Australian radio show decided to call the hospital and pretend to be Queen Elizabeth and the future King Charles III. The staff member who answered the phone was named Jacintha Saldanha, and she was fooled by 2Day FM DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian, transferring their call to the nurse in charge of Middleton. The phone call was broadcast, and a few days later, Saldanha — a wife and mother — was found dead by suicide.

"[It was] the worst phone call I've ever had in my life," Greig told "A Current Affair" (via The Guardian). "There's not a minute that goes by that I don't think about what that family is going through and the thought that we may have contributed to it is gut-wrenching," she said. Her on-air partner said, "We are shattered," following the news of Saldanha's death, claiming they never expected her to fall for their accents. "We had the idea for a simple harmless call, a call that would go for 30 seconds that we thought we would be hung up on," Christian said. 

An investigation cleared the pair of any culpability, though Greig claimed to have dealt with suicidal ideation after being labelled a "nurse killer" in the media.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Kate Middleton lived in Jordan as a child

Kate Middleton is accustomed to the press digging into her past, but one thing she managed to keep out of the papers for years was the location of her early childhood home. When her father, Michael Middleton, was still working for British Airways, he was offered the chance to move to Jordan as part of a promotion that included extended maternity leave for his stewardess wife, Carole Middleton. This interesting info was made public in 2011, when the first online biography of the Princess of Wales was released.

The family moved to Jordan's capital city of Amman in May 1984, when Kate was 2 years old and her sister, Pippa Middleton, was just 8 months old. The broods' reportedly run-down, three-bedroom rental has since become a medical center for sick children. Their former landlord apparently remembered the Middletons well. "Mike had sent his family home for Christmas and his hot water boiler broke," Nicola Nijmeh recalled to the Daily Mail. "So he knocked on my door in shorts and slippers to tell me what happened. I told him to take a shower in my house and turned on the hot water. He got his clothes, took his shower and went out for New Year's. I stayed til morning working on the boiler."

Intimate images have been published without her consent

Kate Middleton's troubles with the paparazzi really began in 2010, before she married into the royal family. Prince William's then-girlfriend was photographed playing tennis during a Christmas break in Cornwall, and the pics were bought by agency Rex Features, who syndicated them overseas after the British media refused to publish the images. Middleton took the matter to court and was awarded thousands in damages, which she donated to charity, according to a spokesperson (via The Telegraph). Unfortunately, that incident proved tame compared to what was yet to come.

In 2012, she and William were vacationing in what they thought was a secure villa in France, though one persistent pap managed to secure a photo of the Princess of Wales trying to catch an even tan on her top half. Again, the royals sued. "My wife and I thought that we could go to France for a few days in a secluded villa owned by a member of my family, and thus enjoy our privacy," William said at the trial (via Marie Claire). "The clandestine way in which these photographs were taken was particularly shocking to us as it breached our privacy." When all was said and done, Closer — the French magazine that published the images in question — was ordered to shell out around $118,000 for damages in 2017.

Unfortunately, public outrage over this incident has done little to discourage international media outlets from hounding Middleton — or her royal relatives, for that matter (just ask Meghan Markle and Prince Harry).

There's already been a movie made about her

You're probably wondering how you missed such a huge cinematic event, right? Don't worry, this low-budget romance was neither huge nor particularly cinematic. Lifetime feature film "William and Kate" aired on cable TV in 2011, just 149 days after the royal couple announced their engagement. The movie came out to very little fanfare, but when the UK's Channel 5 picked up the flick to show overseas, Brits reportedly didn't know whether to laugh or cry at what they were watching.  

"This may be made for the US, but the English will cherish it in ways its makers could scarcely have envisaged," London's Evening Standard said in its rather sarcastic review. The Guardian claimed the movie was so terrible that it could well become a cult classic: "So bad it's awful, toe-curlingly, teeth-furringly, pillow-bitingly ghastly. You begin to wonder what the happy young couple have done to deserve this. It will probably be a smash." The Telegraph, Express, and the Radio Times also trashed the movie in their reviews, but there were at least two people who were supposedly happy with it: the Prince and Princess of Wales themselves! "We heard that Will and Kate did see the film — from an insider — and they loved it," actor Camilla Luddington, who plays Middleton in the rom-com, told Access Hollywood

Well, luckily for these royals, Hallmark produced "William & Catherine: A Royal Romance" that same year, and the couple's love story is also set to be immortalized on Season 6 of Netflix's "The Crown."

Kate Middleton starred in My Fair Lady

In 2014, a video surfaced on YouTube of an 11-year-old Kate Middleton in a school production of "My Fair Lady" playing the lead role of Eliza Doolittle, a common flower girl who attempts to pass herself off as a duchess. Middleton delivers a pretty decent performance of one of the musical's hit songs, "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," in the grainy home video, singing about wanting "one enormous chair" in "a room somewhere." The irony of it all certainly was not lost on the press, who jumped all over the lyrics and compared Middleton's real-life story with that of her character.

According to the Daily Mail, the production took place in 1993 at St Andrew's School in Berkshire, a $20,000-per-year feeder school for the university where Middleton first crossed paths with Prince William. Her love interest in the production was played by none other than Andrew Alexander, who went on to make a career out of acting and is thus far best known for playing aristocrat Sir John Bullock in "Downton Abbey." 

Middleton, however, wasn't interested in the bright lights of Hollywood. She gave her final performance two years later when she starred in the school's production of Victorian melodrama "Murder in the Red Barn" at age 13.

She trained to cross the English Channel via dragon boat

In 2007, while she and Prince William were still dating, Kate Middleton joined an all-female team, dubbing themselves the Sisterhood and training to cross the English channel while rowing a Chinese dragon boat. The stunt was part of a charity race, with the women competing against a men's team called the Brotherhood.

Middleton's celebrity status may have brought the team added publicity, but the future royal had to demonstrate that she had what it took to embark on such a physically taxing challenge. "She has had to prove herself," team captain Emma Sayle told The Telegraph. "Our coach said she could join only if she was up to it." In fact, Sayle added, Middleton proved to be so phenomenal that she was given the toughest job on the team, working the tiller to keep the boat on course while also yelling out directions to the women rowing.

While Middleton had successfully demonstrated her mettle during training, she was forced to pull out of the race due to the media frenzy that had been sparked by her presence on the team. A spokesperson for the Sisterhood told BBC News that this had resulted in security concerns. "It's dangerous enough as it is, without having to take into consideration the world's [paparazzi] causing us to capsize the whole time," Sayles complained in an interview with People. "They've been a nightmare."

Kate Middleton's a talented photographer

Over the years, Kate Middleton has demonstrated a flair for photography. As her official royal biography has pointed out, she's taken numerous photos of her family, which she's then released for public consumption. In addition, the Princess of Wales is also a patron of Britain's National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Photographic Society. In fact, the latter presented her with an honorary lifetime membership in 2017.

In January 2020, reported Artnet, she contributed two photos to a special project commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, in which various photographers took portraits of Holocaust survivors with members of their family. "Their stories will stay with me forever," Middleton said, recalling the experience of getting to know the survivors and their relatives.

Later that year, Middleton became involved in another photography-related project called Hold Still. In coordination with the National Portrait Gallery, in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, Hold Still invited people from throughout the UK to submit photos, with the best chosen to become part of an exhibit and an accompanying book. "The coronavirus pandemic has affected all of us in some way, and I launched Hold Still with the National Portrait Gallery to give everyone an opportunity to share their own stories, so that together we could create a collective portrait of our nation that would record our experiences during lockdown," Middleton told The Times that August.

The Princess of Wales made chutney for Queen Elizabeth

When Kate Middleton was invited to spend Christmas at Sandringham with the royal family for the first time, she faced a dilemma when it came to deciding what she should give Queen Elizabeth II as a present. Figuring the monarch likely had everything she could possibly need and then some, Kate came up with a clever solution. "I thought back to what I would give my own grandparents," she said in the 2016 ITV documentary "Our Queen at Ninety," as reported by Town & Country. "And I thought, 'I'll make her something,' which could have gone horribly wrong. But I decided to make my granny's recipe of chutney."

According to the Princess of Wales, she was understandably concerned with how well her homemade gift would go over with the queen. However, the following day, she was relieved to notice that Elizabeth had placed her chutney front and center on the table. (Phew!) That, Kate admitted, gave her some fresh insight into her future husband's grandmother. "I think such a simple gesture went such a long way for me and I've noticed since she's done that on lots of occasions and I think it just shows her thoughtfulness, really, and her care in looking after everybody," she said.

Meanwhile, those wondering what that chutney tastes like can satisfy their curiosity by grabbing a copy of "Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends," the 2012 cookbook written by Kate's sister, Pippa Middleton, which contains their grandmother's queen-approved chutney recipe.

Kate Middleton dated William for years before meeting the queen

While Kate Middleton eventually became a favorite of the late Queen Elizabeth II, she'd been dating Prince William for quite some time before actually meeting her.

In a televised interview she and William gave on the occasion of their engagement, Middleton revealed how and when she made the acquaintance of the longtime monarch. "I first met [the Queen] at Peter Phillips and Autumn [Philipps]'s wedding ... it was in amongst a lot of other guests and she was very friendly," Middleton said, according to a transcript of the interview published in The Telegraph. Given that the Phillips' wedding took place in 2008, and the Wales' first began dating in 2003, that means the couple had been together for five years before Middleton officially met her royal boyfriend's grandmother. "She had wanted to meet Kate for a while," William said of the queen. 

In fact, Middleton got to know Queen Elizabeth even better when she accompanied Her Majesty on a royal "away-day" visit in 2012. "I went without William, so I was rather apprehensive about that," Middleton said in the British TV documentary "Our Queen at Ninety" (via PopSugar), adding, "She was very supportive. The fact she took the time to make sure that I was happy and looked after for that particular occasion, which probably in everything that she's doing is a very small element, it shows just how caring she is really." 

She set a school sports record that reportedly still stands

Dragon-boat racing isn't the only athletic pursuit that Kate Middleton has enjoyed. As her royal biography noted, her enthusiasm for sports was fostered by engaging in such activities as tennis, hockey, and sailing when she was a child. Her commitment to health and fitness was on display in 2015, when she got serious about scuba diving, earning an advanced certification allowing her to dive to depths of nearly 100 feet.

Back in her school days, Middleton also demonstrated a talent at track and field events. In fact, noted the Mirror, she set a high-jump record while attending St Andrew's School, leaping 1.5 meters — more than four-and-a-half feet. That school record has reportedly never been broken.

However, Middleton's former classmate, comedian Jack Whitehall, admitted he's a little dubious as to whether her high-jump record actually still stands. "Kate Middleton is on all the record boards and holds school records — some of which are 20 years old and have never been broken," Whitehall jokingly told The Sun in 2020. "It makes you raise an eyebrow a little as to the validity of some of those awards, bearing in mind every other school record has been broken in recent history other than Kate's. Maybe there is some lenient timekeeping going on at sports days now to make sure her name stays up there."

Kate Middleton is allergic to horses

It's no secret that the late Queen Elizabeth II was absolutely obsessed with horses. While other royals have demonstrated a similar affinity — King Charles III, for example, used to be a champion polo player, while Princess Anne earned a reputation as a world-class equestrian — Kate Middleton has never been particularly enamored of horses. "Kate doesn't ride, purely because [she] didn't do it growing up," Marcia Moody, who wrote "Kate: A Biography," explained to Town & Country. The reason for this became clear when Middleton attended a charity polo match in 2009 and was asked why she didn't play polo herself. According to the Daily Mail, she responded by revealing she had an allergy to horses.

Given that horseback riding is a favorite pastime of the rest of the royal family, Middleton decided that she should at least learn how. As The Telegraph reported in 2012, she told Paralympic equestrian Lee Pearson that she'd been taking riding lessons, despite being allergic. "I said, 'So am I — but [antihistamines] are wonderful,'" Pearson noted, recalling their conversation.

While Middleton may not have embraced riding, that hasn't been the case for her children — particularly Princess Charlotte. "I asked her how the children were and she said Charlotte is really enjoying her riding," Paralympic rider Natasha Baker told Horse & Hound in 2016 of a conversation she had with Middleton. "She emphasized that Charlotte has this passion about horses and although she doesn't echo it, she'll do her best to champion and encourage it."

She was 'terrible' at her job as a restaurant server

In addition to working for her parents' company, Party Pieces, Kate Middleton held at least one other regular job before becoming a member of Britain's royal family. 

During an appearance on a 2019 BBC Christmas special, hosted by chef Mary Berry of "The Great British Bake Off," Middleton was seen serving non-alcoholic cocktails in Liverpool, part of a charity event hosted by an organization called Action on Addiction. "It reminded me of my university days when I did a bit of waitressing," Middleton recalled (via BBC News), spurring Berry to ask if the then-Duchess of Cambridge performed well on the job. "No — I was terrible," Middleton quipped.

While Middleton may not have fond memories of her days as a restaurant server, viewers of Netflix's "The Crown" are set to enjoy a dramatic recreation in the series' sixth and final season, which will include the early days of her romance with Prince William, as previously mentioned. According to the Daily Mail, actor Meg Bellamy — who plays Middleton in the series — was spotted filming scenes in a pizza restaurant in March 2023, outfitted in an apron and a name tag reading "Kate."

The surprising similarity Kate Middleton shares with Princess Diana

Kate Middleton never had the chance to meet the woman who would have been her mother-in-law, yet she and Prince William have never been shy about honoring the memory of the late Princess Diana. That was evident when William popped the question, presenting Middleton with his mother's engagement ring. As Vogue pointed out, the ring — which features a 12-carat sapphire stone circled by 14 diamonds — was initially inherited by Prince Harry following Diana's 1997 death. When his older brother and Middleton became serious over a decade later, however, Harry swapped the ring with William's bequeathed Cartier watch. "This was my way of keeping her sort of close to it all," William told ITV News' Tom Bradby of his late mother.

Interestingly, it later came to light that the ring didn't have to be altered in any way for its new owner. In a since-deleted video posted on Instagram in April 2023, Middleton was seen greeting fans when one of them pointed out her ring. "It's the same ring and it's exactly the same size as when I tried it on," said Middleton, revealing how she and Diana share the same ring size. "It's very special. What an honor to be able to wear it."