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Carole Middleton's journey from builder's daughter to royal baby's grandmother

18 JULY 2013

When the royal baby won't settle for the night, is teething or, later, wants to stay out past his or her curfew, Carole Middleton may well be the first port of call for Kate Middleton and Prince William. As such, the Duchess of Cambridge's mother will play a vital role in shaping the monarchy in the 21st century. After all, what could be more important than influencing the upbringing of the child who will eventually become as famous as the Queen?

It's a remarkable turn of events in a life that began in humble circumstances in a council flat in London.
 

Carole Middleton

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Carole proudly showing off her first-born Kate 


While wealth and status have made Carole a little more polished, the values that guide her are the same ones she learned growing up as the daughter of builder Ronald Goldsmith in the city's Southall district: hard work, good manners, and above all family.

Ronald and his wife Dorothy, who was by all accounts a strong, purposeful character, aspired for more. By the time their little girl was 11, the Goldsmiths had enough money to buy their own house in a more prosperous area of town.

As a teenager Carole had a Saturday job at C&A. From there she moved on to a job as an air hostess with British Airways.

She fell in love with a fellow steward Michael Middleton, who later became a flight dispatcher. Their wedding in 1980 at Dorney Court, a Tudor mansion in Buckinghamshire, foreshadowed the elegance that is associated with all the Middleton ladies.

Her brother Gary described it as a "natural, informal and classy". "The house had a minstrel’s gallery and people wandered around with champagne flowing and canapés," he told the Daily Mail.
 

William and Kate

Little did she know the royal destiny in store for her daughter


When Carole became pregnant with Kate she took redundancy from British Airways and searched for ways to earn an income that wouldn't take her away from home. Party Pieces was born.

The business provides pre-filled party bags for celebrations and is said to be worth £30 million, allowing the Middletons to afford private school education for Kate and her siblings Pippa and James.

Holidays in Mustique and skiing trips are a regular occurrence, while the close-knit clan also attend Ascot, Wimbledon and Palace parties, quite often at the personal invitation of the Queen.

When you see Carole in the presence of the royals, she seems at ease, deferential but not obsequious. It helps that she shares many of their interests of course: the one time city girl is very much a country lady now and totally at home in wellington boots. The self-made millionaire even owns a share in a racehorse.
 

Carole Middleton and Queen

Carole shares many qualities with her royal in-laws



More importantly, the Queen may have recognised that Carole shares many of her own qualities. Neither is given to extravagant displays of emotion, but both are clearly warm and caring individuals underneath their cool exterior. 

Meanwhile, she enjoys a happy, stable partnership with Michael much like the monarch and Prince Philip. The strength of the Middleton marriage bodes well for the future of the Cambridge union, a boon after several divorces in the previous generation.

The Queen, a royal recycler who carefully keeps her garments for years, will approve of Kate's reputation for thriftiness – surely another habit learned from her mother. If any of this rubs off on Baby Cambridge, the sovereign can rest assured that her legacy will be in safe hands.