As the future Queen of England, Kate Middleton’s every move is pored over whenever she makes a public appearance. So it was little surprise when the press spotted something different about the Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to a children’s hospital in London. Strangely, it seemed that her outfit was missing one vital detail – and when fans noticed the unexpected change, rumors began to fly.
Kate raised eyebrows with her appearance back in January 2020, while she was lending her support to an initiative at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital. The National Portrait Gallery runs creative workshops for patients there in order to boost their happiness and overall well-being. These classes are typically staged in collaboration with the hospital’s play specialists and will often involve the youngsters’ parents, too.
Kate wasn’t afraid to get stuck in during the royal visit, either. Yes, the duchess seemed happy to engage with the kids at the hospital as they learned about and tried their hands at photography, illustration and set design. And given her background, she was perhaps the perfect member of the royal family to take on such a duty.
The duchess graduated from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland with a degree in art history, you see. Weeks before her hospital visit, she had also showcased her own photography skills by sharing pictures of two survivors of the Holocaust that she’d taken herself at Kensington Palace. And before Kate ever became a patron of Evelina London, she had begun serving in a similar role for the National Portrait Gallery.
The duchess was apparently content to appear in photos at the event, too. On the day, Kate was pictured meeting a young girl named Anna-Victoria Amoafa-Sennie, who handed the visitor a bouquet of flowers. The nine-year-old, who has been diagnosed with a type of dwarfism, was one of several children who chatted directly with the royal.
And as well as speaking to the kids taking part in the workshop, Kate discussed its benefits with an artist teaching there. She told Jessica Rosenfield, “It’s wonderful to see what art therapy adds. To be able to paint, to draw, to be able to tell your story.”
Anna-Victoria’s mother Irene also appeared thrilled by her daughter’s close encounter with Kate. After the event, she said to the Southwark News, “It was so lovely to see Anna-Victoria meeting the duchess. She was so happy and excited! It was wonderful and something that she’ll never ever forget.”
Evelina London’s director Marian Ridley told the same newspaper, “It is a great pleasure to have the duchess with us to see our young artists letting their imaginations run wild. Art is an invaluable therapy for children and young people while they are in hospital. It helps to develop their creativity and gives them something to enjoy while reducing any anxieties they may be feeling.”
But royal fans were arguably just as interested in what Kate was wearing as they were her reasons for the visit. For the occasion, she sported a matching tweed jacket and skirt designed by Dolce and Gabbana; her hair, meanwhile, was styled in the kind of blow-dried waves that have become her trademark.
Kate’s wardrobe was also scrutinized by the press during her tour of Ireland the following month with Prince William. After some investigation, then, the Daily Mail reported that, during the brief trip, the duchess sported outfits that, in total, were worth approximately $32,000. But it wasn’t just high-end designers that Kate favored.
Indeed, Kate opted to wear items from several more affordable brands during her Ireland jaunt, including a pair of earrings from H&M. The duchess donned the jewelry for an evening event at Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse, where she also wore a bright green gown by The Vampire’s Wife – a garment that reportedly cost around $2,000.
Even when she visited a farm, Kate looked stylish in a shirt from the latest collaborative line from Barbour and Alexa Chung. But the most expensive part of her Ireland wardrobe proved to be one of its smallest. More specifically, the stunning earrings she wore as she arrived in Dublin are said to cost approximately $21,000.
During the excursion, the duchess also got everyone talking with a dress that some believed paid homage to her late mother-in-law. After all, the Oscar de la Renta outfit she sported on her second night in Ireland appeared remarkably similar to a polka-dot ensemble that Princess Diana wore on royal engagements during the 1980s. But, naturally, Kate wasn’t just in the Emerald Isle to show off her latest attire.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were first and foremost on royal duty, and while in Ireland the couple were suitably greeted by the leaders of the European nation. First, the two were honored with an audience with president Michael D. Higgins before meeting then-prime minister Leo Varadkar; at one point, Kate and William also laid a wreath at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance.
Then, on their second day in the country, the couple made their way to the Jigsaw National Centre for Youth Mental Health and traveled to the residential facility Savannah House, which is managed by charity Extern. But even with such a packed schedule, William and Kate still got the opportunity to let their hair down during the trip.
After heading to the Gaelic Athletic Association to discover more about the nation’s favorite sports, the duke and duchess had a go at the traditional pastime of hurling themselves. And Kate looked particularly impressed by William’s proficiency with a hurley – a wooden implement vital to the game.
The day before, William and Kate had also embarked on a walk alongside the picturesque Howth Cliff in Dublin. There, as they enjoyed stunning views of the Irish Sea, the couple learned how the country’s coastline had been affected by climate change. Yet while there were serious matters to be discussed, the royals still found some time to indulge in a bit of romance.
And the world later saw the couple on their jaunt when they shared a snap of their clifftop walk on Instagram. Kate and William – who can be seen sporting matching jackets in the image – look very much in love as they stand arm in arm, with the duchess beaming away as she gazes up at her husband.
As fans know, the pair wed back in 2011, meaning the duchess’ visit to the Evelina London Children’s Hospital came just a few months short of their ninth wedding anniversary. In fact, Kate would end up seemingly bonding with the mother of one patient over their respective relationships.
In particular, the duchess and her fellow mom spoke about how long it had taken for their partners to propose. Famously, William had only popped the question in October 2010 – a full nine years after he and Kate had first clapped eyes on each other and reportedly around seven years after they had begun dating.
Sarah Ibendahl, whose son Benjamin was in the hospital for an auto-immune condition, knew all too well about waiting for an engagement ring, as she was only asked for her hand in marriage nearly a decade after meeting her husband Ralph. And according to Sarah, she had connected with the duchess over their spouses’ apparent lack of urgency when it came to tying the knot.
Touchingly, Sarah told the Daily Mirror, “We… bonded over the fact it took our husbands like nine years before they asked us to marry them. When I mentioned it, she laughed politely and gave a knowing smile.” But following that hospital trip, Kate’s marriage became a further source of debate – all thanks to one notably missing piece of jewelry.
You see, during the day, the duchess wasn’t sporting her engagement ring – a piece famously once owned by Princess Diana. And the 12-carat sapphire ring wasn’t the only item conspicuous by its absence, either. On the hospital visit, Kate was also without the 18-carat white gold diamond eternity ring that William had reportedly given her to celebrate Prince George’s arrival.
That said, the royal didn’t turn up to Evelina London entirely jewelry-free, as she could still be seen wearing her Welsh gold wedding ring on her fourth finger during her visit. Talk soon turned, then, to why the future queen had attended such a public event without such important mementos of her relationship with William.
So, why did Kate leave the rings at home? Well, it seems as though she was merely adhering to protocol, as guests at Evelina London are asked to wear as little jewelry as possible to reduce the risk of spreading germs. This also explains why the duchess – who like any visitor had to wash her hands thoroughly before visiting vulnerable patients – didn’t have her nails painted.
Of course, there could have been additional reasons why Kate had chosen to take off her engagement ring. As she was intending to participate in an art class at the hospital, she may have wanted to avoid any potential damage being done to something so precious. It would have been a disaster, after all, if the ring had been somehow spattered in paint or glue.
And any fears of marital trouble within the royal household may have been dispelled pretty quickly. Just a day after visiting the hospital, the duchess turned up at a nursery in South London, and on this occasion, the famous diamond-and-sapphire engagement ring was in full view of onlookers.
Furthermore, royal watchers may already know that Kate left her ring at home for a 2018 engagement – and arguably for a similar reason. Back then, the duchess was attending the official opening of a new medical center at the world-famous Great Ormond Street Hospital. And as the prestigious facility also treats children, the rules on hygiene and jewelry may have been similar to those at Evelina London.
The ring itself had been chosen personally by Princess Diana in the early 1980s, and, interestingly, its selection went against royal tradition at the time. Most notably, while the item may have been relatively expensive, it wasn’t specially made for the royal – meaning anyone with $60,000 to splash could have got their hands on it first.
Even so, the heirloom remains one of the duchess’ most recognizable – and attractive – pieces of jewelry. And she seems to appreciate it, too. Appearing alongside William shortly after they announced their engagement in 2010, Kate said of the ring, “It’s beautiful – I hope I look after it. It’s very special.”
Yet if things had been different, the engagement ring may have graced Meghan Markle’s finger. According to former royal butler Paul Burrell, Prince Harry had chosen the item from his mother’s collection after the princess’ 1997 death; in a selfless act, however, he passed it on to his brother after learning that he was to propose to Kate.
And going further back, it’s worth noting that Diana did stick with royal protocol when it came to her wedding ring. Ever since Elizabeth Bowes Lyon married the future King George in 1923 with a ring made from Welsh gold, all other royal brides have followed suit. This includes the Queen, her sister, Princess Margaret, and her daughter, Princess Anne, as well as Diana and Kate.
Even the reportedly most rebellious member of the royal family has kept the near-century-spanning practice. Yes, Meghan’s wedding band was also fashioned from Welsh gold that came as a gift from the Queen herself. Harry, meanwhile, chose a wedding ring made from platinum.
And if you’ve ever wondered how such precious items are carefully cleaned, then we’ll let you into a little secret. In 2019 the Queen’s dressmaker of 25 years, Angela Kelly, wrote a book about her experiences of working with the monarch, and there she revealed that one very unusual ingredient is used to keep the jewels spotless.
In The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, The Dresser and the Wardrobe, Kelly writes, “A little gin and water come in handy to give the diamonds extra sparkle. Just don’t tell the jeweler.” So, if you have a bottle to hand, you too can polish any precious stones in the same way – safe in the knowledge that the method has the royal stamp of approval.
Kelly also advises using nothing more than a splash of dish soap and water to remove any stains caused by hairspray. And when it came to creating a replica of the traditional gown used for royal christenings, she revealed that she simply immersed each lace piece in a blend of tea and water to obtain the right hue.
Kelly has admitted, however, that when it comes to the most splendid items in the royal collection, a little more professional assistance is occasionally required. She wrote in her book, “The Queen’s jeweler will give the stones a deep clean when necessary. So for me, it’s just a matter of a quick polish, and [then] they’re sparkling once more.”
As for Kate? Well, her own jewels made further headlines during a trip to Northern Ireland and Scotland in February 2020. There, she displayed her latest must-have fashion accessory – a pair of earrings designed by Catherine Zoraida. Apparently, the duchess has been a fan of the London-based label for years.
And Kate had further opportunities to show off these earrings and other items of jewelry in early 2020, as she and William appeared at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey. That same day, the pair also staged a Buckingham Palace reception to celebrate the 25th anniversary of charity Place2Be.
Perhaps we’ll even find out what Kate picked for one of the biggest royal events of the year: Princess Beatrice’s wedding. As fans now know, in July 2020 Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s daughter tied the knot with Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi behind closed doors in Windsor. And while few images of the day have emerged since the news of the nuptials broke, we may just see the duchess in all her finery yet.
From time to time, Kate also gives us more private insights into her own life. She may divulge a tidbit or two to wellwishers at events, for example, or spill a secret during an interview. But when she chose to reveal a rare snap on Instagram, the image in question showed something particularly remarkable.
Every Mother’s Day, tributes flood onto social media in honor of moms across the globe. And in 2020 even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took time to share cherished photos of themselves with their respective mothers. William, of course, uploaded an image of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, who can be seen in the snap alongside the prince and his brother Harry. But it was actually an unexpected photo of Kate Middleton’s mom, Carole, that caught many people’s attention – and that’s because the resemblance between mother and daughter is truly uncanny.
Now, the picture was surprising to some extent because the public doesn’t get to see much of Kate’s side of the family. Neither do the Middletons speak publicly about their famous relative. And Omid Scobie, the host of royal-centric podcast The HeirPod, has confirmed as much to listeners, saying, “It’s very rare we actually even see her family members mention Kate’s name in public.”
Carole, her husband, Michael, and their children, Pippa and James, have been this way since Kate became Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Scobie explained, “They’ve been extremely quiet for obvious reasons ever since she married into the royal family.” But that doesn’t mean the Middleton clan aren’t spotted spending time together.
And Carole has actually earned somewhat of a reputation as a devoted grandmother. Yes, while she may not speak to the media about her royal ties, she has been known to help look after Kate and William’s three children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – from time to time.
William and Kate have actually made their children’s care a priority throughout their time as parents. Their decision to take on only one nanny, Maria Borrallo, was an unprecedented decision as far as royal child-minding goes, too. But when Borrallo’s not around and the duke and duchess can’t do the job themselves, the pair enlist Carole and Michael to look after their children.
And Carole has done so on a number of occasions. In December 2019, for instance, photographers captured her departing from Kensington Palace, where she was thought to be babysitting while her daughter and son-in-law prepared for an event at Buckingham Palace. Kate’s mom also reportedly watched the kids when their royal parents went on tour to India and Bhutan in 2016.
But that’s virtually about as far as Carole’s public appearances go. Perhaps, then, that decision to remain out of the spotlight is precisely why the duke and duchess’ Mother’s Day post got so many people talking. In any case, the snap gave a small glimpse into the lives of the future queen and her mother.
So, what else do we know about the Middleton clan? Well, as royal fans may remember, Kate came into the world on January 9, 1982 – and experienced a childhood that was undoubtedly rather different to that of her future husband. And while her father Michael’s side of the family did have links to the British aristocracy, both he and his wife, Carole, originally worked in aviation.
Michael’s career as a flight dispatcher took his wife and children from their home in Berkshire, England, to Amman, Jordan, when Kate was only two years old. Then, once the future duchess turned three, she spent her days in the Middle Eastern nation at an English-speaking nursery school. But the Middletons wouldn’t stay in Jordan for long, making their return to the United Kingdom just over two years after their arrival.
When the clan were back in England, Kate’s life resumed as normal. In time, her parents signed her up to attend St. Andrew’s School – a private institution near their Berkshire home. And those early years both in and out of education seemingly proved idyllic for the royal, as she explained on an installment of the podcast Happy Mum, Happy Baby in February 2020.
Kate said, “I had a very happy childhood. It was great fun, and I’m very lucky I come from a very strong family. My parents were hugely dedicated. I really appreciate now as a parent how much they sacrificed for us. They came to every sports match, they’d be the ones on the sideline shouting, and we’d always have our family holidays together.”
And Kate’s teachers at St. Andrew’s remembered Michael and Carole’s daughter as a down-to-earth, dedicated student. In February 2020 Kevin Allford, who had taught the duchess physical education, told the Press Association that Kate had been a “hard worker and very conscientious.” He also noted that the royal had been “a tremendous athlete and swimmer” – as had her sister, Pippa.
The young Kate and Pippa also took part in a Berkshire Brownies club, where they picked up new skills, earned badges and went on trips together. In 2011, however, pack leader June Scutter recalled to People that the future Queen of England and her sister had been “just ordinary children – nothing different from any others.”
Kate’s humble upbringing also allowed her to explore an interest in the performing arts – most notably in theater. At 11, she starred in St. Andrews’ production of My Fair Lady as the lead character, Eliza Doolittle, following that up two years later with a part in a version of the Victorian-era drama Murder in the Red Barn.
Not every moment of Kate’s childhood was as pleasant as these, though. She experienced bullying, for one, after attending the Downe House School for a short period. Consequently, she may have been happier after transferring to Marlborough College, where she studied art, biology and chemistry and played a full rota of sports.
Then, after graduating from the college, Kate went on to travel the world during a pre-university gap year. During that period, she not only took studies at the British Institute in Florence, but she also trekked to Chile and rowed the Solent – a strait that separates mainland England from the Isle of Wight. Ultimately, though, Kate returned to school, embarking on a course at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Fans of the royal family will know what happened next, of course. Kate moved into St. Salvator’s Hall, where Prince William also lived while studying at the same institution. The pair started dating soon after their initial meeting in 2001, in fact. And four years later, the duchess graduated with a degree in art history, turning her tassel alongside her future husband.
Then, in November 2010, life changed forever for the entire Middleton family when Kate and William announced to the world that they were engaged. The future King of England had even given his bride-to-be a ring that his mother, Diana, had once worn. And, famously, the couple went on to exchange vows at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011.
Over 300 million people across the world watched William and Kate’s wedding, and they got to know the bride’s close-knit family in the process. Most notably, Kate’s sister, Pippa, served as her maid of honor; her parents and brother naturally attended the ceremony, too.
Then, gradually, William and Kate welcomed three children of their own: George, Charlotte and Louis. And becoming a mother seemed to give Kate a new perspective on the time she had spent with her siblings and parents in Berkshire. The duchess certainly suggested as much during her appearance on the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast.
There, Kate said, “What resonates the most is the simple things. I see that now with my own children. Life now is so busy and distracting, and sometimes simple things like watching a fire on a really rainy day provide such enjoyment. I remember that from my childhood – the simple things, like going for a walk together, I try to do this with my children.”
Those quieter moments also apparently helped Kate’s royal brood to retain some sense of normality. The duchess added, “It totally strips away complications and pressures. I think those experiences mean so much to children and the world they’re in, which is a real adventure at that age.”
And Kate hoped to inspire other parents to get as involved with their kids. She explained, “As children, we spent a lot of time outside, and it’s something I’m really passionate about. I think it’s so great for physical and mental wellbeing and laying those foundations. It’s such a great environment to actually spend time in, building those quality relationships.”
It seemed, too, that Kate’d had a good relationship with her grandmother. The duchess recalled during the podcast, “I had an amazing granny who devoted a lot of time to us. [She was] playing with us, doing arts and crafts and going to the greenhouse to do gardening [as well as] cooking with us.”
Of course, the public has yet to learn exactly what Carole and her royal grandchildren like to do together. But in any case, it seems that Kate’s mom is close to the brood – not to mention her daughter. And in 2020 the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge duly decided to celebrate Carole with a sweet Mother’s Day post.
In March – the month in which Mother’s Day falls in the U.K. – William and Kate shared four photos on Instagram to commemorate the occasion. The first snap shows Kate in the foreground, carrying her daughter, Charlotte, on her back while William appears behind her giving a piggyback ride to George.
The second photo, meanwhile, shows a much younger William and his brother, Harry, huddled around their mother, the late Princess Diana. This was followed two slides later by a shot of a very sweet Mother’s Day card that had been crafted by George. But in between those two snaps, there was one other photo featuring Kate’s mom, Carole, cradling the duchess as a baby.
And the image highlighted something that stunned fans: the mother and daughter looked very much alike. One commenter wrote in response to the photograph, “Wow! I never noticed such a strong similarity before.” Another exclaimed, “Omg they look so alike,” while a fellow Instagram user added praise to the post, writing, “Good genes run in the family!”
Other royals similarly shared their well wishes on Mother’s Day, with Harry and Meghan posting their own tribute to moms everywhere. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex wrote on Instagram, “No matter what you call your mum, this Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom, we honor the mums all over the world who do so much every single day.”
Princess Eugenie – cousin to William and Harry and tenth in line to the throne – shared some touching words, too. First, she mentioned her mother, Sarah Ferguson, the former Duchess of York, writing, “Today, I want to celebrate my mumma but also all the amazing mothers out there.”
Then Eugenie turned her thoughts to healthcare workers in particular, adding, “I would like to celebrate all the mothers that can’t be with their children today because they are saving lives… Today and every day, we should tell our loved ones how much we love and cherish them.”
And even the Queen paid tribute to moms on her official Instagram account. There, the monarch shared an image of both her and her mother in 1951, when they were Princess Elizabeth and Queen Elizabeth, respectively. She also accompanied the photo with the message, “Mothering Sunday is a chance to thank and celebrate all mothers and caregivers – wherever they may be.”
The moving photo of the young Princess Elizabeth and her mom provided a rare glimpse into what seemed to be the monarch’s sentimental side. Usually, you see, the Queen keeps her own expressions of affection private – ostensibly because of her role as a figurehead.
And since Mother’s Day, Kate and the other royals have been keeping themselves busy. The future queen has even begun to step into the spotlight more after years of working on her charity causes behind closed doors. Marlene Koenig, an expert in the royal family, talked to the Daily Express about this change.
Koenig revealed that Kate “has been doing behind-the-scenes work for several years now, meeting with her charities to discuss projects.” The author added, “I think she prefers the slow and steady kind of work – taking on work more slowly but surely.” One of the duchess’ main causes is early childhood development, for which she launched a nationwide survey in order to improve best practice in the United Kingdom.
Kate has apparently studied the subject, too, and become somewhat of an expert in the process. That’s according to a source who spoke to The Daily Telegraph in March 2020, explaining, “She doesn’t just want to talk about this issue, but [also] to build an evidence base for action.”
And that desire explains why Kate has spent so much time honing her child-development knowledge. The insider continued, “She understands the science, and she’s now respected by the people in the sector because she’s spent years trying to work it all out. So, it is only natural for people to want to hear more from her about it.”
It could be good that Kate has people listening, too, as the source claimed that the duchess’ chosen field of study is highly important. They said, “It’s easy to dismiss work on child development as nice and cuddly, but the social side of this is as significant as climate change.”
For Kate, the issue may be at least a little personal; she has three young children of her own, after all. And with two of her little ones enrolled in school, the future queen has more time to dedicate to her patronages. Still, Koenig added to the Daily Express, “Family life matters to William and Catherine [even] as they juggle an increasing number of engagements.”
And, of course, it was Kate’s upbringing that showed her just how important these childhood moments and milestones are. She learned those lessons from her parents, Michael and Carole, who seemingly serve as doting grandparents to her children – and judging by the duchess’ Mother’s Day post, she hasn’t taken her mom for granted.