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Inside Kate Middleton's childhood: Brownies, boarding school, growing up in Jordan and more

The royal spent her early years with her family in Amman, Jordan

kate middleton childhood
Gemma Strong
Online Digital News Director
18 February 2020
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The Duchess of Cambridge recently opened up about the birth of her children and life as a mother-of-three in her most candid and personal interview to date. The 38-year-old spoke about the joys and challenges of motherhood on Giovanna Fletcher's podcast, Happy Mum, Happy Baby, in which she also shared some touching memories from her own childhood. "I had an amazing granny who devoted a lot of time to us, playing with us, doing arts and crafts and going to the greenhouse to do gardening, and cooking with us," she explained. "And I try and incorporate a lot of the experiences that she gave us at the time into the experiences that I give my children now."

Kate Middleton speaks on Giovanna Fletcher's podcast

Kate, who is mother to six-year-old Prince George, four-year-old Princess Charlotte and one-year-old Prince Louis, also recently launched a month-long survey, titled 'Five big questions on the under fives', designed to look at the importance of children's early years through first-hand experiences. With that in mind, we take a look back at Kate's own childhood…

MORE: 7 things we learnt from Kate Middleton's revealing motherhood podcast with Giovanna Fletcher

Growing up in Jordan

Catherine Elizabeth Middleton was born to Carole and Michael Middleton at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading on 9 January 1982. She is the eldest of three children; sister Pippa was born in September 1983, while her younger brother James arrived in April 1987. When the future royal was just two, she moved with her family to Amman in Jordan, where her father worked for two and a half years, and from the age of three attended a nursery school there. Speaking on the podcast, Kate revealed: "I had a very happy childhood. It was great fun and I'm very lucky I come from a very strong family. My parents were hugely dedicated. I really appreciate now as a parent how much they sacrificed for us. They came to every sports match, they'd be the ones on the sideline shouting, and we'd always have our family holidays together."

kate middleton aged 3

Kate spent the first years of her life living in Amman

Junior school in West Berkshire

In September 1986, the Middletons returned to their home in West Berkshire, and Kate started at St. Andrew's School in Pangbourne, where she remained until July 1995. Earlier this year, Kate reunited with two of her teachers from St Andrew's; Denise Evans-Allford was the Duchess' PE teacher, while Kevin Allford taught her French and German. Mr Allford told the Press Association that Kate was a "hard worker and very conscientious." He added: "Obviously she was the same in sport. She was a tremendous athlete and swimmer. I used to be in charge of swimming and she was very, very good, as her sister was."

MORE: Kate Middleton's pregnancy stories and births with George, Charlotte and Louis

kate middleton child

The Duchess is the eldest of three children

Brownies club with sister Pippa Middleton

In 1990, Kate and Pippa both joined the local Brownies club, where they went on field trips, played sports, did needlework, and earned badges. "She was quite easygoing," Brownie pack leader June Scutter told People. "They were just ordinary children, nothing different from any others." During her time at St. Andrew’s prep school, Kate also started to show an interest in the theatre, taking on the role of Eliza Doolittle when she was 11 in the school's production of My Fair Lady, and later, aged 13, starring in the Victorian melodrama, Murder in the Red Barn.

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Kate Middleton aged 13 in her school play, Murder in the Red Barn

Boarding school

After a brief stint at Down House all-girls boarding school, when she has revealed she was picked on by other girls, Kate enrolled at the co-ed boarding school, Marlborough College in Wiltshire, where she studied Chemistry, Biology and Art at A-level. Kate also took part in sport on behalf of the school, playing tennis, hockey and netball and participating in athletics, particularly high jump.

MORE: When Kate Middleton and mum Carole are mother-daughter goals! See the best photos

Reflecting further on her youth, the Duchess added: "What resonates the most is the simple things. I see that now with my own children. Life now is so busy and distracting and sometimes simple things like watching a fire on a really rainy day provides such enjoyment. I remember that from my childhood, the simple things, like going for a walk together, I try to do this with my children. It totally strips away complications and pressures. I think those experiences mean so much to children and the world they're in which is a real adventure at that age."

kate middleton school

Kate represented her school in a number of sports

She continued: "As children, we spent a lot of time outside and it's something I'm really passionate about. I think it's so great for physical and mental wellbeing and laying those foundations. It's such a great environment to actually spend time in, building those quality relationships without the distractions of 'I've got to cook' and 'I've got to do this'. And actually, it's so simple."

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Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding

Gap Year and University

In July 2000, Kate left Marlborough College and embarked on a gap year in which she studied at the British Institute in Florence, undertook a Raleigh International programme in Chile, and crewed on Round the World Challenge boats in the Solent. In 2001, she enrolled at the University of St. Andrews, Fife, from where she graduated in 2005 with a 2:1 in History of Art. It was here that the Duchess first met her future husband, Prince William, and their fairytale romance began. The couple first met while living at St Salvator's Hall in 2001, and romance quickly followed. After a brief split, they announced their engagement in November 2010, with William presenting his future wife with the striking sapphire engagement ring that had belonged to his late mother, Princess Diana. They were married in Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011, with 26million people tuning in to watch the wedding in Britain, and an estimated global audience of more than 300million.

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