Kate Middleton, what's not to love? She’s elegant, stylish, intelligent, compassionate, and famously won the heart of what was then, arguably, England’s most eligible bachelor, The handsome Prince William. In many ways, Kate is the perfect woman to fill the shoes of the late Princess Diana, who was loved for her kindness, compassion, and beauty.
Kate Middleton was thrust into the public spotlight, back in her 20's, when she and Prince William began dating as university students. Their relationship was followed closely by the media, everyone wondering if the slender, brown-haired beauty might, one day, become the Duchess. By the time the couple got engaged, the public seemed enamored with Kate's poise, her grace, her warmth and her kindness.
But what do we know about Kate before she met, and fell in love with, a prince?
Like Princess Diana, Kate was born into a relatively average family. Her parents were self-made millionaires, thanks to a successful business they started from the ground up. We know she attended exclusive boarding schools, loved sports and the outdoors, had a close relationship with her mother and little sister, and dreamed of becoming a princess from a young age.
We also know that she loved art and photography, was a model pupil and had a mysterious operation that left her scarred. In addition to what we do know, Kate was treated unkindly by children in one of her schools and founded a special club that the Queen likely would have frowned upon.
Here are 15 things we bet you didn’t know about Kate Middleton’s childhood.
15 The Duchess Was Born To "Commoner" Parents
Kate may be the wife of a prince, and mother to the future King of England, but Kate Middleton's beginnings are decidedly ordinary.
Catherine Elizabeth Middleton was born to "commoner" parents - albeit upper-middle class ones - in Reading, England in 1982.
Michael Middleton, Kate’s father, came from a wealthy family with aristocratic roots and became a flight dispatcher. It was while working for British Airways that he met Carole, his future wife, and mother of Kate, who was working as a flight attendant. Together, they had three children: Kate, Philippa (we know her as Pippa), and James.
The couple started a mail-order party supply business, called Party Pieces, in 1987. Their business quickly took off, turning the couple into self-made multi-millionaires. In 2011, the Daily Mail estimated their business to be worth £30million – around $50 million CDN or $42 million US.
14 Kate Lived In Amman, Jordan
Kate's got a little international travel cred under her belt, thanks to a couple years spent living in the Middle East, as a tot.
The Middleton family called Amman, Jordan home for two years. They moved to Amman in 1984 when Kate was two and little sister Pippa was eight months old.
At the time, Michael Middleton was working for British Airways and accepted a new position working for the company's Amman headquarters. Kate was enrolled in an English preschool, while her mother Carole - who was on maternity leave, stayed home looking after baby Pippa. Pictured above is Kate, her sister Pippa, and their father Michael at the Roman ruins in Jerash.
The Middletons returned to England in September 1986, bringing an end to the family's adventure in the Middle East.
13 Time To Roast Some S'mores!
Kate and her sister, Pippa, were only a year apart and were said to be close as kids. One of their favorite games was to host camping parties, in the backyard of their picturesque Victorian childhood home, according to AOL.com.
Perhaps, it has something to do with their proximity in age, or maybe just the bond of sisterhood, but Pippa asserts she, and her sister, have remained close throughout adulthood, too.
"We do we have a very normal, sisterly relationship," Pippa said in a 2014 interview, with Matt Lauer, on the Today Show. "We're very close. And, you know, we support each other and get each other's opinions and things. I think that's really the heart for all of us is having a really close family that we can sort of be normal with each other, treat each other normally.”
The sisters were even roommates for some time, living together in their parents' million dollar apartment, in London's Chelsea neighborhood.
12 Rocking A Childhood Scar
Unless you use a magnifying glass to a picture of Kate Middleton (or click zoom on your keyboard), the Duchess has a three-inch scar on her left temple, just beneath her hairline.
The source of the scar has never been made public. However, a spokesperson for the Duchess said it was related to a childhood operation, without elaborating on what type of operation it was, according to The Daily Mail.
John Scurr, a consultant surgeon at the Lister Hospital in London, told the Daily Mail that the scar may have been a result of an "arteriovenous malformation – a birthmark – being removed.”
“It is remarkable, given the measurement, that no-one has noticed before,” he added.
Her husband, Prince William, also bears a striking, zig-zag shaped scar on his left forehead, a result of being whacked in the head with a golf club when he was 13. He calls it his "Harry Potter scar."
11 Born With Politically Famous Ancestors
So, here's a nifty bit of trivia to put in your back pocket: Kate Middleton is distantly related to the founding father of the United States of America - George Washington.
According to the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, which has published a book on Kate's ancestry, Kate Middleton is the eighth cousin seven times removed of George Washington. Before you try to wrap your head around that math, here's some helpful info: Their common ancestor was a man named Sir William Gascoigne, who died way back in 1487.
Not only that, she's also related to Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote the U.S. national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.
It turns out that the Middleton family includes seven families that immigrated to the United States - Virginia, to be specific - during the end of the 17th Century. Which, according to Tom Champoux, marketing director of the genealogical society, means that "tens of thousands of everyday Americans" are distant cousins of Kate Middleton.
10 Attended Exclusive Boarding Schools
Thanks to the success of the Middleton family's party supply business, Kate, and her younger siblings were given the opportunity to attend exclusive boarding schools, with some pricey tuition fees.
Kate's first school was St. Andrew's Prep School in Pangbourne, Reading, where she started as a day boarder. Set in 54 acres of grounds, the school charges a fee of up to £16,950 a year for weekly boarders ($23,731 US and $30,281 CDN). Other well-known St. Andrew's pupils included writer, John le Carré, and author, Adrian Liddell Hart.
During a recent meet-and-greet with students at St. Andrew's, Kate revealed that she loved attending the school so much that she had hoped to return as a teacher, according to the Mirror.
"I absolutely loved my time here, they were some of my happiest years, which makes it so incredibly special to be here today," she told the young pupils. "In fact, I enjoyed it so much that when I had to leave, I told my mother that I was going to come back to be a teacher.
After St. Andrew's, the Duchess attended Downe House School, an all-girls' school. She later attended Marlborough College, a co-ed day and boarding school, in Wiltshire, and one of the more expensive private schools in the U.K., according to the school's own Wikipedia page.
9 Lost Her Childhood Friend
Kate Middleton's childhood friend Isobel Kennerley passed away from brain cancer in 2017, at the young age of 34.
The two had been members of the 1st St Andrew’s Brownie pack, in the early 1990s. The girls even went on a pack holiday together - along with Pippa Middleton - at a rural adventure getaway camp called Macaroni Wood, in the Cotswolds. According to Hello Magazine, the girls shared bunk beds and spent the trip collecting eggs, watching chicks hatch, bottle-feeding lambs, and tending to other animals.
Isobel, who had cerebral palsy, grew up to study educational practice in university and went on to become a teaching assistant, working with autistic children. She married her husband, Scott Kennerly, in 2010.
Tragically, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma, for which there was no cure. She passed away in May 2017.
8 Had Been Nicknamed "Squeak"
Kate might have prestigious titles right now - Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, and Baroness of Carrickfergus - but in her school days, Kate Middleton was nicknamed "Squeak".
It was classmates at St. Andrew's in Pangbourne, Berkshire, who came up with the name "Squeak" for Kate, and "Pip" for her younger sister Pippa (Pip and Squeak - get it?) - names that were also bestowed upon the school's pet guinea pigs.
"There was one called Pip and one called Squeak because my sister was called Pippa and I was Squeak," Kate is quoted as having told children at her alma mater, St Andrew's School, according to the Mirror.
Despite all of Kate's monikers - quirky or otherwise - she'll never be called "princess", which is a title only bestowed on children born into the royal family (like Kate and William's daughter, Princess Charlotte). When (or if) William becomes King, Kate will become the Queen Consort, rather than the Queen of England, as she has married into the royal family.
7 A Bullied Duchess
It may be hard to believe right now, but the stylish, beautiful, and evidently warm-hearted Duchess of Cambridge was bullied in school.
It's alleged that Kate left the exclusive, all-girls Downe House school - where she only studied for two terms - at 14, because of being mercilessly bullied and taunted by classmates, according to the Daily Mail.
It's said that borders at the school tended to be cliquey and high up in the pecking order, and Kate - who was a day student - was mocked for being meek and skinny.
"When she used to go to lunch she would sit down with people and they all used to get up and sit on another table," said former classmate, Jessica Hay.
It didn't get much better for Kate when she enrolled at the co-ed prep school, Marlborough, where it's said that boys rated in-coming students and ranked Kate with a measly 2 out of 10.
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, Kate asked royal wedding guests to donate to anti-bullying charity Beatbullying, one of 26 organizations guests were asked to donate to, instead of giving gifts.
6 Total Sports Superstar
Former teachers speak often of Kate's academic achievements, but many people may not realize she was also (and likely still is) a gifted athlete.
According to The Daily Mail, Kate excelled in swimming, tennis, field hockey and netball. At St. Andrew's School, she was named the highest scorer on the under-12/13 rounders team, was captain of her field hockey team (where she was the leading scorer), and was given a trophy for outstanding sporting achievement overall. She held the joint record for the 4 x 100 m relay, and the high-jump record she set, in 1995, still remains unbroken to this day.
"Some of you may know that I love sports," Kate said during a speech at SportAid's 40th Anniversary dinner in 2013.
"I love cheering on teams and athletes that I am passionate about. I love the physical challenge sports presents and the mental strength it gives us all. And I love the way it so often brings people together to work as part of a team."
5 She Had A Big Crush On Tom Cruise
The internet is full of rumors, and one of those rumors is that Kate Middleton used to have a poster of Prince William on her wall when she was a young girl (wait, what? There are prince posters out there?).
Well, Kate has long since insisted that the poster was really of the "Levi's guy", but it's not out of the question to wonder if there was also, perhaps, a poster of the movie Cocktail up there, too.
You see, it turns out that Kate Middleton had a crush on Tom Cruise growing up, according to AOL.com. She once claimed that Cocktail was her favorite movie, according to Katie Nicholl, a contributor to Vanity Fair and author of the book Kate: The Future Queen.
It's not clear if Tom Cruise still counts as her top celebrity crush - I certainly wouldn't want the crushes I had in my teen years known - but most of us probably agree that she landed an even better crush when she married Prince William. Sorry, Tom Cruise fans.
4 Lived In Florence
If and when Kate Middleton becomes Queen, she'll be the first to have attended university, and also to have taken a year off - a year off school between graduating high school and starting university.
In September 2000, after finishing her studies at Marlborough College, then-18-year-old Kate left for Florence, Italy where she studied Italian and art history through the British Institute of Florence in Palazzo Dello Strozzino. Kate lived in an apartment with her three roommates and took three hours of Italian lessons a day.
The second part of Kate's gap year took place in 2001, when she headed to Chile with sustainable development charity Raleigh International, to volunteer on environmental and community projects with underprivileged children.
Fun fact: Prince William had taken part in the same program just weeks before Kate arrived. Maybe she tried to arrange her participation in the program just to be closer to him? Well, maybe... Read on.
3 Met William At School
Because Kate and William attended school together at the University of St. Andrew's in Fife, Scotland, most people presume they met in a class or at a party. The truth, however, may be a bit more complicated.
According to royal biographer Katie Nicholl, and author of Kate: The Future Queen, it's more likely the pair met before starting university. Nicholl, who had been interviewing some of Kate's old classmates from Marlborough, said that Kate and William actually met before enrolling in college, through some mutual friends.
In fact, Kate had plans to attend university in Edinburgh but abruptly changed her plans, taking a gap year, and enrolling in the University of St. Andrew's instead. It's even said that applications shot up by 50 percent after it became public that Prince William would be attending the school. Some people speculate that Kate changed her plans to be closer to William. If that's the case, it worked.
In their first years at the college, Kate and William quickly became friends, despite both being in relationships with other people. That is, until the fashion show, and the little see-through dress...
2 Wore A See-Through Dress At A Fashion Show
You know the dress. We all do.
In 2002, Kate appeared in a fashion show fundraiser at the University of St. Andrew's, wearing a see-through dress that everyone, who has Internet, has seen. The garment has even been described as the dress that "caught a prince's eye and then his heart" (yes, William was in the audience at the fashion show).
The black mesh dress with teal details was originally intended to be a skirt worn over a slip, according to The Daily Mail, and was made by the University of the West of England fashion student, Charlotte Todd.
The infamous outfit was sold in an auction in 2011 for £78,000 - a whopping 139,272 CDN or $109,224 US. Charlotte Todd said the dress cost her £30 to make. She also told The Daily Mail she would likely use the money from the sale of the dress to put toward buying a house.
Good plan, Charlotte!
1 Co-Founded An All-Female Drinking Society
Here's a royal tidbit we bet you didn't know: When Kate was in university, she was the co-founder of an all-female drinking society, according to The Guardian.
Apparently, she was frustrated that all the old drinking clubs excluded women. And so, Kate created a club that was less about getting drunk and more about promoting inclusiveness and empowering women. That's my kind of club.
Despite the premise of the drinking society and rumors that Kate was a party girl in her 20's, it's said Kate was never really known for getting drunk. Although, according to GameofGlam.com, she was often seen partying at Kensington's nightclub, Boujis, in her 20's, and her favorite drink was called the ‘Crack Baby’.
She even has a pub named after her! When she received her royal title, the Duchess of Cambridge, a pub in Windsor was renamed for her.
Nowadays, the Duchess is now known for drinking tea, rather than alcohol.