Has it really been eight years since “commoner” Kate Middleton married Prince William? The Duchess of Cambridge was always poised and polished but since becoming a royal, she’s evolved from a reserved new bride to one of “The Firm’s” most relatable and engaging members. We covet her closet and marvel at her post-pregnancy resiliency, but, most of all, we admire the way she’s stayed true to herself and helped humanize and modernize Britain’s royal family. Here are the 17 ways she’s changed—all for the better—since marrying her college boyfriend and the future King of England. And for more about this stylish royal, check out the 36 Reasons to Celebrate Kate Middleton on Her 36th Birthday.
She’s more confident.
Catherine came into the royal family as Prince William’s girlfriend, cruelly dubbed “Waity Kaitey” by the British tabloids for enduring a long courtship before getting engaged to William. When she married into the family, she had worked as an assistant buyer at Jigsaw, a High Street fashion retailer, and also worked for her parents’ successful online company, Party Pieces. She had no experience as a public figure, unlike Meghan Markle, so she had a bit of a learning curve. She didn’t do her first solo television interview until 2016 (and it was a tribute to Queen Elizabeth). But seven years after her wedding at Westminster Abbey, Catherine is much more poised and relaxed on official state visits. In fact, she is the most outgoing family member on most royal walkabouts and usually game for anything involving playing sports—in heels. And for more on the royal family, check out these 30 Crazy Facts About Royal Marriages.
She’s a mother of three—and she’s raising her royal brood her way.
She has, in short order, had three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and new baby Prince Louis—currently all under the age of five. Like Princess Diana before her, she is a hands-on mother who relies mainly on her mother Carole Middleton when she needs help. She has kept the same nanny since George was born and doesn’t plan to add to her staff now that she has three little ones to look after. When it comes to handling pregnancy, Catherine is something of a superwoman to new mothers everywhere. Who else could appear on the steps of a hospital in heels and a fresh blow-out mere hours after giving birth? When Louis was born last month, the Duchess of Cambridge was up and out of the hospital—and smiling for photographers and well-wishers in record time. Give this woman a medal. And for more on The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s expanding family, check out these 14 Fascinating Facts about William and Kate’s New Baby.
Her style has evolved—and she’s been a boon to British fashion.
Yes, she was always fashionably dressed, but now she is a bonafide style icon. Before her marriage to William, her wardrobe consisted of affordable dresses from brands like Reiss and DVF. Now, she consistently wows in high fashion labels like Alexander McQueen, Erdem, and Emilia Wickstead. And no one wears hats better than the Duchess—which is saying a lot. Her support of the British fashion business is worth a reported £1 billion to the industry. But we love that she still shops her closet. She wore a three-year-old Alexander McQueen coatdress to Meghan and Prince Harry’s wedding, so as not to take any attention away from the bride. Now that’s confidence.
She got William and Harry talking more about Diana.
Catherine reportedly played a pivotal role in getting both William and Harry to open up more about their feelings over the loss of their mother. One royal source told me, “She is a very calm, very reassuring presence in William’s life and is incredibly close to Harry. Catherine was a great listener when both men finally opened up about Diana’s death and helped both of them get to a place where they could talk about it with other people in a way that honors their mother’s memory and not envelope them in sadness.” And for more on her royal patronage, Watch Kate Middleton’s Emotional Remarks on Children’s Mental Health.
She’s become a royal patron.
Catherine has become deeply involved in many organizations and charitable causes as a member of the royal family and plays an active role in supporting them. Together with William, Harry and now Meghan, Catherine works with The Royal Foundation which oversees the “Fab Four’s” philanthropic work. She is extremely involved in Heads Together, which she created with William and Harry to de-stigmatize conversations about mental illness.
Her photography has become part of royal history.
Having once interned for famed British portrait photographer Allistair Morrison, Catherine has been behind the camera for many of the official milestones of her young family, most notably to mark her children’s birthdays. Her most recent shots of George and Charlotte tenderly kissing their new baby brother, Louis, demonstrated her wonderful eye for detail, composition, and light.
We’ve heard her speak a lot more.
Most royal wives are seen more than heard (something we expect to change a great deal with Meghan in the family) and in the early years of her marriage, Catherine didn’t speak publically very often. Last year, she spoke out on the importance of mental health awareness in schools in a video last year and has increased the number of speeches she has given as representative of the royal family in recent years.
She’s a regular in the royal box at Ascot.
As a member of the royal family, Catherine is a regular at the most posh events on London’s social calendar. At Ascot, for instance, she is always among the best-dressed women at the race.
She’s got her own staff.
It’s not a big one, but Catherine has a private secretary and a stylist, Natasha Archer, who helps her keep everything running smoothly.
Her homes have gotten a lot swankier.
The Brits like to say Catherine grew up in “a middle class” family, but the Middleton’s stately (and large) family home in Bucklebury looks anything but to us. Still, now she calls the 21-room Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace home (like Meghan and Harry, Catherine and William first lived in the “starter home” Nottingham Cottage) and also has Anmer Hall, a sprawling country estate with ten bedrooms, which was a gift from the Queen as a retreat for when she and William want to escape the London fishbowl. Kate oversaw the extensive multi-million dollar renovations on both properties. The couple hosted Harry and Meghan at Amner Hall at Christmas last year.
She’s got different vacation plans.
Before marrying William, Catherine went on annual vacations to Mustique with the Middletons. Now, destinations are more family-friendly and less exotic. The family often goes skiing in the Alps.
More four-legged friends.
Catherine got Lupo, a cocker spaniel, from her brother, James Middleton, as a wedding present. Marvin, a hamster, became part of the family two years ago.
She has a quieter social life.
Before joining “The Firm,” Catherine and her sister Pippa Middleton, were regular fixtures at clubs when they lived together in London’s Chelsea neighborhood. Now, Catherine prefers quiet nights at home with William and some very close friends. You rarely see her out with anyone other than family—and then it’s usually just for a walk in the park.
She can no longer spend all the holidays with her parents.
It was an adjustment for Catherine, who is very close to her family, not to be able to spend every holiday with her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, at their family home. But unlike Diana and other royal brides, Catherine has made sure her parents have stayed in the picture. Two years ago, William broke with tradition and spent the Christmas holiday with the Middletons.
She no longer shops alone on Kensington High Street.
Before becoming the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine would frequently pop into her favorite stores to shop, but now that she has Archer to keep her looking camera-ready and fabulous at all times, clothes are usually called into the palace.
She has new royal neighbors.
Harry and Meghan are just next door, at “Nott Cott” (Nottingham Cottage), so now Catherine and Meghan can take turns cooking roast chicken dinner for the guys.
She no longer the royal family newbie.
Now Meghan and Harry are married, Catherine is no longer the newest member of the royal family from the outside world and is considered to be one of its most popular members. “There’s an expectation that Catherine can help Meghan with ‘Duchess Lessons,'” said one royal insider. “She handled the transition very well and could be a valuable resource to Meghan.” While the two are now family, they still differ in numerous ways. To see all of these differences, check out 10 Ways Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle Are Nothing Alike.
Photo by Ben Birchall – WPA Pool/Getty Images
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