Catherine Elizabeth “Kate” Middleton (born 9 January 1982) is the fiancée of Prince William of Wales. Their wedding is to take place on 29 April 2011. Middleton grew up in Chapel Row at Bucklebury, Berkshire, England,and after attending Marlborough College, studied at Scotland’s University of St Andrews, where she met Prince William in 2001. They started a relationship, which was marred by excessive media scrutiny, leading them to break it off for several months in 2007.
They continued to be friends and later in 2007 they reunited. Since then, Middleton has attended many high-profile royal events. She has been admired for her fashion sense and has been placed on numerous “best dressed” lists. Once their relationship became public, Middleton received widespread media attention and there was much speculation that they would eventually marry. On 16 November 2010, the office of the Prince of Wales at Clarence House announced their engagement, with details announced one week later.
Middleton was born at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. She is the eldest of three children born to Carole Elizabeth (née Goldsmith), a flight attendant, and Michael Francis Middleton, who also worked as a flight attendant prior to becoming a flight dispatcher for British Airways. Her parents married on 21 June 1980 at the Parish Church of Dorney, Buckinghamshire, and in 1987 founded Party Pieces, a mail order company that sells party supplies and decorations. Middleton’s two siblings are a sister, Philippa Charlotte, known as “Pippa” (born 1983), and a brother, James William (born 1987). The family have complained about press harassment of Pippa and their mother since Kate’s engagement.
Middleton’s paternal family came from Leeds, West Yorkshire, and her great-grandmother Olivia was a member of the Lupton family, who were active for generations in Leeds in commercial and municipal work. Her ancestors include The Rev. Thomas Davis, a Church of England hymn-writer. Carole Middleton’s maternal family, the Harrisons, were working class labourers and miners from Sunderland and County Durham.
Middleton’s parents were based in Amman, Jordan, working for British Airways from May 1984 to September 1986, where Middleton went to an English language nursery school, before returning to their home in Berkshire. After her return from Amman, Middleton was educated at St. Andrew’s School in the village of Pangbourne in Berkshire, then briefly at Downe House. She continued her studies at Marlborough College, a co-educational independent school in Wiltshire, followed by the University of St Andrews in Fife, where she met William. She graduated with a (Hons) in the History of Art.
In November 2006, Middleton accepted a position as an accessory buyer with the clothing chain Jigsaw. In September 2007, it was reported that Middleton was planning to give up her job as an accessory buyer to become a professional photographer. It was announced that she intended to take private classes with photographer Mario Testino, who had taken several well-known photographs of Diana, Princess of Wales and her sons. Middleton and Testino apparently were introduced by Prince William. Testino later denied that Middleton was going to be working for him.
Middleton has been featured in several best-dressed lists and was selected by The Daily Telegraph as the “Most Promising Newcomer” in its 2006 list of style winners and losers. Tatler placed her at number 8 on its yearly listing of the top ten style icons in 2007. She was featured in People magazine’s 2007 and 2010 best-dressed lists. Middleton was named as one of Richard Blackwell’s ten “Fabulous Fashion Independents” of 2007. In June 2008, Style.com selected Middleton as its monthly beauty icon. In July 2008, Middleton was included in Vanity Fair’s international best-dressed list. In February 2011, Middleton was named the Top Fashion Buzzword of the 2011 season by the Global Language Monitor.
Middleton’s status as the undeclared girlfriend of William brought her widespread media coverage in Britain and abroad and she was often photographed on her daily outings. On 17 October 2005, she complained through her lawyer about harassment from the media, stating that she had done nothing significant to warrant such publicity. In February 2006, it was announced that Middleton would receive her own 24-hour security detail supplied by the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Department. This fuelled further speculation that she and William would soon be engaged, since she would not otherwise be entitled to this service.
No engagement occurred and Middleton was not granted an allowance to fund this security. Media attention increased around the time of Middleton’s 25th birthday in January 2007, prompting warnings from both Charles and William and from 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 photographs of her. Middleton attended at least one event as an official royal guest, William’s Passing Out Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on 15 December 2006. In December 2007, it was reported that Middleton had moved in with Prince William at Clarence House, the residence of the Prince of Wales in London. Clarence House later denied this.
On 17 May 2008, Middleton attended the wedding of William’s cousin Peter Phillips to Autumn Kelly, which the prince did not attend. On 19 July 2008, she was a guest at the wedding of Lady Rose Windsor and George Gilman. William was away on military operations in the Caribbean, serving aboard the HMS Iron Duke. In 2010, Middleton pursued an invasion of privacy claim against two agencies and photographer Niraj Tanna, who took pictures of her over Christmas 2009. Middleton obtained a public apology, £5,000 in damages, and legal costs.
Breakup and reconciliation
On 14 April 2007, The Sun newspaper broke a “world exclusive” suggesting that Prince William and Middleton had split up. Other media outlets such as the BBC confirmed the story as the day progressed. The couple decided to break up during a holiday in the Swiss resort of Zermatt. Clarence House made only one comment about the relationship’s end, according to The Times, stating, “We don’t comment on Prince William’s private life.” Newspapers speculated about the reasons for the split, although these reports relied on anonymous sources.
The original report in The Sun quoted a “close friend of the couple” as saying that Middleton felt William had not been paying her enough attention. The paper highlighted reports that William had been spending time with other young women, and said the Prince, aged 24 at the time of the split, felt he was too young to marry. A report in the Daily Mail blamed a desire by royal courtiers not to “hurry along” a marriage announcement, and William’s desire to enjoy his bachelor status within his Army career. The Mail also suggested that William’s friend Guy Pelly encouraged the Prince to take a “careless approach” to relationships. The same article suggested that Middleton had “expected too much” in wanting William to demonstrate his commitment to her.
In June 2007, Middleton and William insisted they were “just good friends” following reports of a reconciliation. Middleton and her family attended the Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium, where she and William sat two rows apart. The couple were subsequently seen together in public on a number of occasions, and several news sources, including the BBC and the Daily Mail, stated that they had “rekindled their relationship.” Middleton also joined William and Charles on a deerstalking expedition at Balmoral and attended the wedding of William’s cousin, Peter Phillips, even though William, due to a prior commitment, did not. In April 2008, Middleton accompanied William when he was awarded his RAF wings at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell. On 16 June 2008, Middleton attended William’s investiture into the Order of the Garter along with the Royal Family.
Engagement and wedding
Prince William and Kate Middleton became engaged in October 2010 in Kenya, East Africa, during a 10-day trip to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to celebrate William’s passing his RAF helicopter search and rescue course. Clarence House announced the engagement on 16 November 2010. The couple are to marry in Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011, with the day declared a bank holiday in the United Kingdom.
Title upon marriage
Unlike the majority of royal brides, and in contrast to every previous queen-in-waiting for over 350 years, Middleton does not come from a royal or aristocratic background. While she may inherit or acquire various titles bestowed on William and his family, she has no titles of her own. Similarly, William currently holds no titles other than the style of “Royal Highness”, as a British prince; the wife of a son or grandson of the Sovereign is entitled to the same style. Thus, upon marriage she will take the title of “Her Royal Highness Princess William of Wales”, also taking her husband’s name.
It is customary for royal men to receive a dukedom when they marry, whereupon Middleton would assume the title of duchess. The British media have speculated extensively on possible dukedoms for the couple, including Clarence, Cambridge, Sussex, Kendal, Strathearn and Windsor; some of which have been vacant for centuries. In November 2010 The Daily Telegraph published a summary of the Royal Dukedoms – along with a reminder that the Queen is at liberty to create new titles anywhere in the UK or the Commonwealth Realms – and concluded that the dukedoms of Sussex or Cambridge were the most likely candidates for William to receive.
Other sources have suggested that William may prefer not to accept a dukedom at all, remaining simply Prince William. The BBC suggested that the Queen could simply grant Middleton the title of Princess of the United Kingdom, continuing a precedent first established in 1957, when she issued letters patent to accord her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh “the style and title of a Prince of the United Kingdom”. In this case Middleton would be known as “Her Royal Highness Princess Catherine”.
Middleton was formally introduced to public life on 24 February 2011, two months before the wedding, when she and William attended a lifeboat naming ceremony in Trearddur, North Wales. On 16 February 2011, Clarence House announced that Middleton’s and William’s first royal tour of Canada would take place in July 2011.
Middleton shares many ancestors with Prince William. The closest relationship via William’s mother is a common descent from Sir Thomas Fairfax and his wife Agnes Gascoine. The closest relationship via William’s father is a common descent from Sir William Gascoine and his wife, née Lady Margaret Percy. The Daily Mail also contends they both are descended from Sir Thomas Leighton (ca. 1530–1610), Governor of Guernsey from 1570 to 1609, and his wife Elizabeth Knollys (1549–1605), who was a cousin of Queen Elizabeth I.
A Lifetime TV movie entitled William and Kate aired in the U.S. on 18 April 2011. Middleton is played by Camilla Luddington and William by Nico Evers-Swindell.