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Carole Middleton: A portrait of the glamorous grandma at 60

30 January 2015
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It's hard to imagine what Carole Middleton's family will give the millionaire Berkshire businesswoman for her 60th birthday on 31 January. For the mother of the Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, really does have everything her heart could desire: a rock solid marriage to husband Michael, a thriving business, three grown up children who are doing well, an adorable grandchild in Prince George and another on the way.

carole main © Photo: Rex

Carole Middleton will celebrate her 60th with an exclusive party on Mustique

Carole is also one of the most recognisable 'glammies' – glamorous grannies – in the land, known for her impeccable grooming, still fabulous figure and cool demeanour. Her daughters Kate and Pippa share her style and sometimes raid her wardrobe.

This week, along with the rest of the family, Kate, Prince William and George will toast the milestone birthday on the island of Mustique, the luxury retreat that has been a Middleton home from home for about ten years. Its pristine beaches, turquoise waters and discreet charm have long attracted the glitterati.

carole middleton 1 © Photo: Rex
Carole Middleton and her lookalike daughters on the eve of the royal wedding in 2011

Carole and co are made so welcome that the guest list for royal wedding of 2011 included several Mustique locals, among them the owner of Basil's Bar, Basil Charles. No one will be happier to join in the celebrations than Carole's royal son-in-law. William appreciates what a pillar of support she has been during Kate's transition from royal sweetheart to the most photographed woman in the world. Mother and daughter are closer than ever. After the Duchess gave birth the first time, she stayed at Kensington Palace for just 24 hours before heading to where she feels most able to let down that famous brunette mane – the Middleton family home in Bucklebury, Berkshire. Those who have met her say that Mrs Midi, as she's called fondly in Berkshire circles, is discreet but friendly and fun too. She is given to chatting about fashion and horses.

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Carole Middleton and Kate share a similar dress sense

William is so fond of his in-laws that over Christmas they stayed two weeks at Anmer Hall, the Cambridges' newly renovated home. He included them in shooting parties at Sandringham and at the traditional expedition to church.

Their arrival gave a clue as to why Carole is so popular with the Queen, who has invited her to Ascot and other public occasions. The Middletons slipped quietly in to church, stylishly turned out but without diverting the limelight from the royals.

When you see Carole with the Windsors, 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 2 © Photo: Getty Images

Carole Middleton gets on well with Kate's royal in-laws

Life hasn't always been like this. Carole grew up in a London council flat, the daughter of builder Ronald Goldsmith, learning the values that guide her to this day: hard work, good manners, and above all family. Ronald and his wife Dorothy, who was by all accounts a strong 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, where she met Michael Middleton, who was a flight despatcher. When the couple started a family, Capable Carole looked for a business she could run from home. Party pieces was born and it allowed them to send their children to public school and good universities. When Kate's relationship with her fellow St Andrews graduate William ran in to trouble her mother most probably told her to keep her cool; the Prince didn't stay away long. And to this day the future Queen still relies on her advice. Soon she will have two children under two and Carole, who loves her special outings with George, will be more needed than ever.

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