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Why do people call the Duchess of Cambridge “Kate”?

Charlie Proctor/Royal Central

Catherine Elizabeth Middleton. Perhaps one of the most famous women in the world. You may know her as the Duchess of Cambridge but chances are you probably refer to her as “Kate.” While her legal name is “Catherine” and that’s how she signs official documents, why has her nickname stayed?

One reason some may still call her Kate is because it’s what the public knows. Over the years as Kate made headlines, it was the name one always saw in the tabloids. Middleton met Prince William when the two were studying at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland. A true “fairy-tale” romance as Middleton did not come from a royal background.

The Duchess of Cambridge after graduating from St. Andrews when she was going by “Kate”. Photo by Middleton Family/Clarence House via Getty Images

In a 2016 Vanity Fair article, Boston University professor Arianne Chernock says that using “Kate” probably benefits the continued usage of “Middleton.”

“It doesn’t hurt her that the American press especially refers to her as Kate Middleton. It’s precisely her middle-class origins, and that name, which won her over to so many people in the first place. So that reminder can only help her.”

“Kate” might be the nickname the public gives the Duchess, but even Prince William refers to the Duchess as “Catherine” in interviews and engagements. The Duchess reportedly tried to make the name “Catherine” stick prior to her 2010 engagement to Prince William.

In 2008, there was much speculation that Prince William was going to pop the question to his then, long-term girlfriend. While it wasn’t until two years later when he officially asked, Kate was already preparing for her role as a royal.

According to columnist Adam Helliker, Kate supposedly asked her friends to start referring to her as “Catherine” prior to her engagement. Helliker told the Sunday Express:

“With Prince William’s engagement now a surefire certainty (even Ladbrokes has stopped taking bets on whether it will happen after a flurry of well-packed wagers) there are intriguing signs that Kate Middleton is preparing for her future role. “

Helliker went on to add, “it looks like she’s taking it very seriously indeed too. I hear that in the past few weeks the former accessories buyer has quietly informed friends that she would like to drop the informal ‘Kate’ and in future wishes to be known by her full name: Catherine.”

The request is said to be made by email in which she wrote in a “gentle” and “very jokey” matter. While it is reportedly royal protocol to be called by one’s full name, it seems Catherine’s nickname hasn’t budged.

Upon marrying Prince William, Her Majesty gave the couple their official title: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.