Catherine Elizabeth Middleton. Aka Kate. The ‘commoner’ who will, one day be Queen. It’s been an eventful 15 years (or so) since the pretty, smart daughter of former flight attendants turned party goods entrepreneur caught the eye of the then “World’s Most Eligible Bachelor’ , Prince William at St. Andrew’s University, the school they both attended.
The media – and the rather curious world – is never easy on a girl who dates a Prince, but they’ve been especially tough on Kate. Her beau’s mother was, after all, one of the most admired women of the 20th century. Living up to the legend of Princess Diana, her style, her beauty and her huge public popularity was never going to be easy.
But Kate’s always done it, and done it with class, style and charm, as these 20 rather jaw dropping snaps demonstrate admirably while also chronicling her fairy-tale romance with her Prince.
1. Disco Queen Catherine
Long before she became a Duchess and consort to an heir to the British throne Kate Middleton was already a queen; a teenage disco queen down at the local roller rink anyway.
2. THAT Runway Dress
Kate was just 19 when she agreed to walk in a university fashion show wearing a see-through dress created by a close friend. Although they did know one another already, it was that night that made the Prince realize Kate was more than just a nice girl to chat to, as he reportedly turned to a friend as she walked the runway and told him, quite simply: “Wow, Kate’s hot!”.
3. Gorgeous Graduates
Now established as an official couple, Kate and William glowed in this 2005 snapshot taken on their joint graduation day from St Andrew’s University. taken by Kate’s proud mother Carole and later officially shared with the world by the Palace.
4. Princess Ahoy!
Months before her big day a very proper looking – but also very pretty – Kate made her first official appearance as working royal, launching a ship in Trearddur Bay in North Wales. She charmed both the press and the crowds with her easy demeanor and effortless style and demonstrated she as definitely the right girl ‘for the job’.
5. The Big Day, the Big Dress Reveal
On April 29, 2011 Kate and William , watched by hundreds of guests in person and million on TV, headed to St. Paul’s Cathedral to get married. After months of speculation many were dying to see THE DRESS and when Kate stepped from her carriage it as revealed to be a stunner.
Reminiscent of the wedding dress worn 50 years earlier by Princess Grace of Monaco, the Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen creation was an international hit, with copies being made and sold practically before the couple had left the church.
6. Royal Duty Calls
Just a month after their wedding the new royal couple undertook their first official engagement as a married couple; welcoming Barack and Michelle Obama to Buckingham Palace. And in what has become a trend, copies of Kate’s beige bandage dress were flying off the shelves in hours.
7. The ‘Uni Girl’
Months after Kate’s runway appearance, the paparazzi began catching on to the fact that William and Kate were dating. Unlike Princess Diana however Kate was not shy when it came to posing for a few pictures to ‘get the press off her back’ as shots like this stunner demonstrate.
8. Suited and Booted in Style
By the time William graduated from the Royal Airforce Training School in April 2008, it was obvious that Kate was now an established member of the royal ‘squad’. Her position apparently confirmed the press began turning her attention to her changing style, including this white suit and trendy boot combo that most agreed was as groundbreaking (for the slightly stuffy royals) as it was gorgeous.
9. The Big News is Finally Revealed
On Nov. 16, 2010, the press were called to St. James’ Palace in London so that Prince William could announce the big news that he had (finally) proposed to Kate and she had said yes. Wearing a deep blue wrap dress (that then sold out in minutes as women the world over rushed to copy her style) and Princess Diana’s engagement ring – which was now hers of course – Kate beamed beautifully throughout the now iconic photo shoot.
10. The Honeymoon
Due to William’s work commitments with the Search and Rescue team he now worked for the royal couple initially only took a ‘mini moon’ after their wedding. And although they tried to keep their location secret the press still found them, snapping this rather stunning shot of the new Duchess of Cambridge in a rather skimpy bikini. The couple were not happy about the intrusion though and made that clear in a harshly worded official statement.
11. Kate’s Olympic Style
The Olympics came to London in the summer of 2012 and all of the young royals – William, Kate and Prince Harry especially – showed up to most of the events to cheer the athletes on. And Kate’s easy casual style and the couple’s unusual for the royals PDA was hailed as a real breath of fresh air and a change in direction for the sometimes stuffy British monarchy.
12. There’s a Baby on the Way
In December of 2012 the Duchess of Cambridge was hospitalized, so her husband was forced to reveal something he had not quite intended to yet. Kate was almost 12 weeks pregnant but was suffering from severe morning sickness, thus the trip to the hospital. Somehow though, when a pale Princess was discharged a few days later she still managed to look truly stylish and stunning.
13. Pregnancy the Princess Kate Way
As stylish as she could be, many of Princess Diana’s maternity fashions wee rather frumpy and dowdy. That was not the case for Princess Kate though, who made being an expectant mom a very chic thing to be.
14. On the Way to Baby Number Two
In 2014 it was announced that young Prince George would be getting a new baby sister or brother in 2015. And although the very serious morning sickness struck again this time the Duchess took it in her stride and made a trip to New York with her Prince, where she dazzled even the most jaded of Manhattan fashionistas.
15. A Return to Klosters..As a Family of Four
Now a happy family of four, with Princess Charlotte now added to the ‘squad’ William and Kate returned to the scene of their early romantic trips, Klosters in Switzerland, but this time they invited the press to photograph them all officially, leading to wonderful pictures like these.
16. Kate the Cover Girl
To celebrate its 100th edition in 2016 Vogue UK chose a very special British cover girl; Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. And in keeping with her laid back style the Princess actually drove to the photoshoot in curlers and also helped do her own make up ahead of the photos being snapped.
17. The Real Princess of British Style
It’s been generally agreed that 2016 has been the year the Duchess of Cambridge really came into her own as a style icon. This rather risque for a royal evening gown is a great example of that and it even made the normally critical fashion editors at WWD and Vanity Fair swoon.
18. The Ski Trip and the Confirmation
In 2004, after reportedly living as roommates with other St Andrews students for several months, a stylish Kate and William were snapped on vacation at one of his favorite ski resorts in Klosters, Switzerland. And this time neither the Prince or the Palace denied that they were a couple, although William was quick to add that he didn’t want to get married until he was ’28 or 29′ and so all the talk of wedding bells should stop.
19. The Beautiful Couple Break Up
Although she looks every inch the happy Princess in waiting in this photo the fact is that just a few weeks after this happy photograph was taken at the glitzy Cheltenham Festival horse race it became very public knowledge in April 2007 that Kate and William had decided to call it quits, although they reportedly agreed to ‘remain friends’.
20. A Stylish Return to the Ski Slopes
According to gossip the breakup didn’t last too long, but Wills and Kate decided to stay out of the spotlight for a while. However, by March 2008 a far more polished looking Kate joined William, his father Prince Charles and his brother Prince Harry, back at Klosters and by agreeing to pose for press photos it seemed the romance was very much back on.