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British RoyalsThe Cambridges

Happy birthday, Catherine! 39 facts about the Duchess of Cambridge

The Cambridges are spending lockdown at Anmer Hall and a low-key family celebration is sure to be happening this weekend as Kate starts the last year of her thirties. Born on 9 January 1982 at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, the Duchess marks her 39th year today. Read on for 39 facts about the Duchess (in no particular order).

  1. Catherine Elizabeth Middleton was christened at St Andrew’s Bradfield on 20 June 1982.
  2. In 2018, the Duchess became the first royal patron of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
  3. Kate met William at the University of St Andrews where they lived in the same dormitory, St Salvatore’s Hall.
  4. The Duchess still frequently wears a pair of brown Penelope Chilvers boots she first modeled in a 2004 photo, and Princess Charlotte even has a little girl’s version of the style.
  5. As a child, her nickname was “Squeak.”
  6. After graduating from St Andrews, Kate got a job as an accessories buyer for high street retailer Jigsaw.
  7. She spent her early years in the Berkshire village of Bradfield before moving to a more upscale home in the picturesque village of Bucklebury, where her parents still live today.
  8. Kate was a member of her local Brownie troop as a girl and today works as a volunteer with The Scout Association.
  9. When Kate was a toddler her family moved to Amman, Jordan for two-and-a-half years for Michael Middleton’s job with British Airways.
  10. A keen photographer, Kate often takes the photos of her children released by the palace, and she serves as patron of the Royal Photographic Society.
  11. In school, Kate excelled at hockey, tennis, swimming, and netball. Today, the Duchess believes “playing sport has the power to engage, educate and inspire and change lives for the better,” according to the Royal Family website.
  12. In 1987, her mother founded the mail-order party supply company Party Pieces, and Kate worked with the family business for a time after graduation.
  13. Kate is a fan of the shows Downton Abbey, Homeland, and Game of Thrones.
  14. About their 2007 breakup, Kate said she ultimately became “a stronger person” having spent time away from William.
  15. The Duchess actually attended two schools called St Andrews: Her education began at St Andrew’s School, a co-ed preparatory school in Pangbourne. Kate held the school’s high jump record of 1.50 m, which as of her return visit to St Andrew’s in 2012, remained unbroken.
  16. Kate received excellent A-level results in biology, chemistry, and art.
  17. William and Catherine both volunteered for Raleigh International in Chile as part of their gap years, with the two missing each other by just weeks.
  18. During her gap year, Kate also traveled to Florence, Italy where she studied art and Italian at The British Institute.
  19. She graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2005 with upper second-class honors in art history.
  20. Kate’s first patronages, announced in January 2012, were East Anglia’s Childrens Hospices, the National Portrait Gallery, The Art Room, and Action on Addiction.
  21. Young Catherine enjoyed flute and piano, singing, and performing in theatre, playing roles such as Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady.” 
  22. Kate loves sailing and watersports and took part in an all-female dragon-boat crew team called The Sisterhood in 2007.
  23. London hairdresser Richard Ward is responsible for her signature bouncy blow-dry.
  24. The Duchess is a big fan of tennis, so it’s only natural The Queen passed down the patronage of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, which hosts the Wimbledon championships, to Kate in 2016.
  25. After moving on from St Andrew’s School, Kate experienced extreme bullying at Downe House, an elite all-girls boarding school. She left to attend Marlborough College, the same school Princess Eugenie later attended.
  26. Kate’s brother, James, breeds cocker spaniels and gave her and William a dog called Lupo as a wedding gift. Sadly, Lupo passed away in 2020.
  27. It’s been rumoured Kate’s Alexander McQueen wedding gown cost £250,000, which her parents covered.
  28. In their engagement interview,  William said she has “a really naughty sense of humor.”
  29. As revealed in a 2020 photo, Kate keeps copies of beautifully-bound Penguin classics on her desk, including three Jane Austen titles: Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park.
  30. Kate also enjoys Anne of Green Gables and told the young actress playing Anne on the Cambridges’ 2011 trip to Prince Edward Island that she planned to read it again.
  31. The famous sapphire and diamond engagement ring the Duchess wears formerly belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales and features a 12-carat centre stone.
  32. While attending Marlborough, Kate discovered a lump on her head and had to undergo emergency surgery. She has a small scar along her hairline from the operation.
  33. Jo Malone’s orange blossom scent is said to be Kate’s favourite fragrance and the brand’s candles were used at the royal wedding.
  34. Kate favours designer Kiki McDonough when it comes to earrings and has worn her citrine drop pair more than 30 times, according to the blog Kate Middleton Review.
  35. In 2012, the Duchess gave her first public speech at the opening of the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices Treehouse facility.
  36. She enjoys cooking and baking with her children and is a Mary Berry devotee, sharing that one of Prince Louis’s first words was “Mary.”
  37. The Middleton family crest features acorns and oak leaves, and Kate wore diamond earrings with dangling acorns on her wedding day – a gift from her parents.
  38. During a BBC Breakfast interview last year, Kate admitted she lied to her kids about the Easter holidays and kept homeschooling them over the break.
  39. The Duchess does the school run herself “in her gym clothes, or a dress and sneakers, very little makeup, apologising as she’s late for the school run before dashing off,” a friend recently told People magazine.

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.