Happy birthday to the Duchess of Cambridge! From unassuming St. Andrew’s student to future queen, Kate Middleton has lived out her fairy tale with Prince William in the public eye, impressing royals and civilians alike with her grace and steadfast commitment to her royal role. (No, that’s not a dig at Meghan Markle, though it is an area where they differ.) But Kate wasn’t the regal mom of three we know her as today when she first caught William’s eye in college — and that’s the Kate whose identity we’re trying to uncover. From royal biographers, close friends, and more, here’s what you never knew about Kate Middleton’s early life before she met William.
From the second that Kate was first linked with William that fateful night at St. Andrews, her past has been ogled and evaluated by anyone with a curiosity for who might capture the future King’s heart, and the list isn’t short. We know that Kate mysteriously decided to switch her university choice to St. Andrews at the last minute, after finding out that William would be attending, and we know that she came from an aristocratic yet hard-working family. We also know that, when William made the brief decision to take a break, that Kate swelled into her own as a socialite party-hopper and toned rowing champion so quickly he had no choice but to return to her. So, who is this determined, potentially strategizing gem of a woman who would go on to steal William’s heart? When you met Kate Middleton at age 18, before she had ever kissed her future husband, who did you meet?
Read on for things you may not have known about pre-royal Kate Middleton.
A version of this story was originally published in 2021.