From mining stock to a major royal – the rise of Kate Middleton

 

For all the photos taken and column inches accrued, Kate Middleton remains an enigma. Having spent the decade since she met her Prince doing, well, not a huge amount, she found herself, at the beginning of this year, turning 28 and still living with her parents. Nicknamed "Waity Katy", her chief occupation seemed to be readying herself for the inevitable – a royal engagement.

Undoubtedly moneyed, Miss Middleton is not that posh. Born in Berkshire in January 1982, educated at the plummy Marlborough College, she comes from a line of normal, non-aristo folk. She has one sister, Pippa, now an employee at Table Talk catering, and one brother, James, who runs a cake company. Both are younger than her. Her grandfather was a coal miner, and her parents both worked for British Airways before setting up Party Pieces, a mail-order firm catering for children's celebrations.

It's because of her relative ordinariness that Kate's mother, Carole, has garnered almost as much attention as her daughter. Much has been made of her middle-classness. We know that she was seen chewing gum while watching William's passing out parade at Sandhurst. And that when her back was turned, the Prince's hooraying friends would mutter "doors to manual" as a jibe at her "trade" past. And we think we know – despite the lack of evidence – that she was the one who encouraged her daughter to attend St Andrews University, in the hope of a royal encounter.

"Probably, like all parents, she wanted the best for her children," says Catherine Ostler, editor of the society bible Tatler. "So she gave them a good education and taught them good manners. But anything more than that would be a bit of a long shot, wouldn't it?"

Still, by accident or design, the couple met. By their second year they were living together with friends. Miss Middleton, it has been said, cooked dinner for William almost every night. On leaving university with a respectable 2:1, she moved to London, where her parents bought her a King's Road flat (thought to be worth well over £1m). Not long afterwards, she landed a covetable job as accessories buyer at Jigsaw, and began life as the woman we have come to recognise: well-groomed, much photographed, and a little bit dull.

Externally, the transition was a smooth one. Internally, it must have been less so. Shunted into the limelight after the blanket press ban that had existed at St Andrews was lifted, Miss Middleton began a rigorous process of up-keep. She went for weekly blow-drys at Richard Ward's Chelsea salon. She applied make-up before heading out. And she replaced the scruffy bootleg jeans of her student days with a collection of Jigsaw, LK Bennett and Issa. The result proved winning. "She always looks groomed, has that wonderful hair and a great figure," says Ostler.

And for a while, we loved it. Photographed taking the bins out one day and out on the town the next, Miss Middleton offered a refreshing combination of down-to-earth ordinariness and glamour. She hung out at Boujis, South Kensington's sloaney nightclub, but never looked unruly. When she left the venue in a monochrome Topshop dress, the item sold out. Her endorsement had a similar effect on Issa's "lucky" dress, spawning imitations across the high street.

The problem was that she was a little too photographed. The complaints to the press mounted, as did the reports of an imminent, and expensive, security detail. At the same time she gave up her job at Jigsaw. Rumoured, variously, to be training as a photographer or setting up a shop, she decided, eventually, to move in with her parents and help out with their business. The decision made her look at best old-fashioned – waiting, like a good girl, for her Prince – at worst workshy.

Lately, Miss Middleton has been less on the social pages, perhaps in preparation for yesterday's announcement. She gave her first interview in March, to promote her parents' business and, typically, gave little away. It's a tool which will, says Claudia Joseph, author of Kate Middleton - Princess in Waiting, come in handy over the next few years. "Discretion is absolutely crucial. I think that's the key for William. She is, I think, primed for the role."

Q&A: The royal wedding at a glance

When will it happen?

Spring or summer next year. Bookmakers agree that August is the likely month, with Paddy Power quoting 3-1 for 13 August (which would clash with Cowes Week and the third Test against India).

Where will it happen?

In London. Westminster Abbey is favourite; other options include Windsor and St Paul's.

Will we get a bank holiday?

The marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 was accompanied by a national holiday. Princess Anne was similarly honoured but Princes Andrew and Edward were not. Downing Street is already making space for an extra holiday in 2012 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

How big will it be?

A state of national hysteria is guaranteed. Charles and Diana's wedding was watched by 28.4 million in the UK and 750 million worldwide, and was credited (not altogether convincingly) with boosting a flagging economy.

Will they live happily ever after?

The success rate for royal first marriages over the past 30 years is 50 per cent. But they will live in idyllic surroundings in North Wales, where Prince William rents a cottage. And, in contrast to many previous royal couples, they are reasonably grounded – each has a proper job: he is a flight lieutenant with the RAF's Search and Rescue Force, while she works for her parents' party accessories business.

What will they be called?

Four dukedoms are in suspension: Windsor, Connaught, Sussex and Cambridge. It is likely that they will become Duke and Duchess of one of these, with Cambridge a slight favourite.

What will the bride wear?

Diana's choice of David and Elizabeth Emanuel was the making of that label. British designers will be dreaming of being chosen this time. Susannah Frankel, Fashion Editor of The Independent, names Issa and Alice Temperley as two likely candidates. "But in my dreams," she adds, "it would be Vivenne Westwood."

Will it really happen?

Betfair offers 14-1 for Prince William getting cold feet.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior SQL DBA (SQL Server 2012, T-SQL, SSIS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior SQL DBA...

C# Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, MVC-4, HTML5) London

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Web Develop...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution