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A look back at Princess Kate's royal firsts

The Princess of Wales has marked many royal milestones

Kate Middleton close up
Sharnaz Shahid
Deputy Online Editor
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From royal tours to state banquets to the birth of her three children, the Princess of Wales has had a very eventful royal career so far. She officially joined the Firm in April 2011 after marrying Prince William at Westminster Abbey, and since then, Kate has become one of the most senior and prominent royals. 

Let's take a look at her most memorable royal 'firsts,' from her first joint engagement with the late Queen Elizabeth II to her debut at Trooping the Colour

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama meet Prince William and Kate Middleton© Getty

First official duty as a married woman, May 2011

Just one month after their wedding and returning from their honeymoon in the Seychelles, Prince William and Kate carried out their first joint engagement as a married couple. The Prince and Princess of Wales gave Barack and Michelle Obama a warm welcome at Buckingham Palace and spent 20 minutes – twice as long as scheduled – speaking to their guests.

Although the 44th President of the United States and the First Lady weren't present at the royal wedding, they chatted about how much the people of the US loved watching William and Kate tie the knot at Westminster Abbey.

Kate Middleton makes her way down the Mall during the Trooping the Colour in 2011© Getty

First Trooping the Colour, June 2011

Newlywed Kate attended her first Trooping the Colour in 2011, just two months after her royal wedding. She shared a carriage with Prince Andrew and the then Duchess of Cornwall, coordinating with Camilla in white, while her new husband William rode in the procession on horseback.  

Kate Middleton's first Wimbledon as a royal© Getty

First Wimbledon as a royal, June 2011

Kate has since become the patron of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, a patronage that the Queen passed on to her in 2016. But back in 2011, the then-newlywed attended the tennis tournament as a non-patron. Kate has always been a big tennis fan and used to go with her family as a child. She's a regular in the Royal Box, usually attending the men's singles final with Prince William.

Prince William and Kate Middleton press button © Getty

First overseas tour, July 2011

Kate and William clearly had the time of their lives during their first overseas tour in July 2011, just three months after their wedding. The pair spent 12 days in the US and Canada, and couldn't help but giggle in their matching cowboy hats as they watched a rodeo demonstration billed "The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth" on the last day of their tour in Calgary, Canada.

Prince William and Kate Middleton with Danish royals© Getty

First overseas engagement, November 2011

Kate joined Prince William on her first joint humanitarian mission to Denmark in late 2011. Wearing an L.K. Bennett coat, knee high black boots while sporting her signature bouncy waves, the then Duchess of Cambridge looked relaxed and content as she greeted Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik and his wife, Crown Princess Mary.

Kate Middleton's first royal Christmas© Getty

First Christmas as a royal, December 2011

For her first Christmas as a royal, Kate joined Prince William, Prince Charles, the then Duchess of Cornwall, Zara Tindall and Princess Margaret's son, Viscount Linley at Sandringham.

The group attended a Christmas service at St Mary Magdalene Church and several hundred well-wishers came out on the morning of the 25th to catch a glimpse of the Duchess, who smiled as she entered the church with her husband and Prince Harry.

First public speech, March 2012© Getty

First public speech, March 2012

In March 2012, Kate carried out an engagement at The Treehouse Children's Hospice in Ipswich, England, for which she is patron. The expectant hush that descended over the children's hospice preceded a monumental royal moment – the Duchess of Cambridge's first public address. Slightly nervous but intently focused, Kate began a new chapter of her career with words several weeks in the writing, which she penned herself.

"First of all, I'd like to say thank you. Thank you for not only accepting me as your patron, but for inviting me here today," she said. "You've all made me feel so welcome and I feel hugely honoured to be here to see this wonderful centre. I'm only sorry William can't be here today, he would love it here… through teamwork so much can be achieved. What you have achieved here is extraordinary."

Stepping down from the podium after her address, Kate admitted: "I find doing speeches nerve-wracking". But the poised delivery earned her thundering applause and was an indication of how much she had evolved in her role.

Queen Elizabeth II and Kate Middleton© Getty

First engagement with Queen Elizabeth, July 2012

Kate carried out her first engagement with the late Queen in 2012, alongside Prince Philip. The trio visited Leicester as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK. She looked typically elegant in a dark green suit, cinched at the waist with a black belt.

Prince William and Kate leave the King Edward VII© Getty

Announcing her first pregnancy, December 2012

Kate spent three nights at King Edward VII hospital following her struggles with acute morning sickness in December 2012. Her hospitalisation meant that news of Kate's pregnancy was released earlier than planned, but she looked in good spirits as she smiled at the crowds gathered to wish her a get well soon outside the hospital.

Princess Kate smiling whilst holding new-born Prince George at the Lindo Wing in 2013© Scott Heavey

Presenting their first royal baby to the world, July 2013

Prince William and Kate introduced their newborn son to the world outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital on 23 July 2013. The then Duchess wore a light blue Jenny Packham dress with white polka dots, and looked overjoyed as she cradled Prince George, who weighed eight pounds six ounces.

The pair still hadn't decided on a name for their new bundle of joy at that point, with William telling well-wishers: "He's got a good pair of lungs on him that's for sure. We're still working on a name for him."

Chinese President Xi Jinping raises a glass with Princess Kate© Getty

First state banquet, October 2015

Kate looked resplendent in a red Jenny Packham gown and the spectacular Papyrus/Lotus Flower tiara as she sat pride of place next to the Chinese President, Xi Jinping. The pair were attending a lavish state banquet – Kate's first – that was held at Buckingham Palace in honour of the royal family's Chinese guests.

Prince William and Kate attend Chelsea Flower Show press day in 2016© Getty

First Chelsea Flower Show, May 2016

Despite joining the Firm in 2011, Kate didn't attend the Chelsea Flower Show in a royal capacity until 2016. Since then, she has attended every year apart from 2018 when she was on maternity leave with baby Prince Louis. Her most memorable appearance at the annual London event was in 2019 when she brought her whole family with her. Kate had co-designed the RHS Back to Nature garden, and her children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis paid a visit to explore and play in the green space.

Princess Kate in a white lace dress at Royal Ascot 2017© Getty

First Royal Ascot, June 2016

It wasn't until 2016 that Kate attended Royal Ascot. The royal looked gorgeous in a white lace dress by Dolce & Gabbana, which cost £2,415. The following year, Kate stepped out in a strikingly similar white frock, this time designed by Alexander McQueen.

prince george education© Photo: Getty Images

Prince George's first day of school, September 2017

Ahead of the school year, Kate and her family made the move from their country home, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk to Apartment 1A in Kensington Palace. Prince William and Kate had decided to move back to the capital so that George could attend Thomas's Battersea junior school, while his sister Charlotte enrolled at Willcocks nursery.

Kate, who was pregnant with Prince Louis, was suffering from severe morning sickness and sadly had to skip George's first day of school, leaving Prince William to do the school run himself.

Kate Middleton wearing white dress and tiara© Getty

Given the Insignia of a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, June 2019

On her eighth wedding anniversary, Kate was given a very special gift from the Queen. The monarch invested Kate with the Insignia of a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, presenting her with the regalia in person at a private ceremony. Kate showed off her new sash, badge and star at the state banquet in June 2019, held in honour of visiting US President Trump. The dark blue sash edged in pink stood out against Kate's white Alexander McQueen ruffled gown.

Kate Middleton in black dress with Prince William in military dress© WPA Pool

Becoming the new Princess of Wales, September 2022

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles announced Prince William and Kate would now be known as the Prince and Princess of Wales. In his address, the King said:  "I speak to you today with feelings of profound sorrow. Throughout her life, Her Majesty The Queen – my beloved Mother – was an inspiration and example to me and to all my family, and we owe her the most heartfelt debt any family can owe to their mother; for her love, affection, guidance, understanding and example."

"As my Heir, William now assumes the Scottish titles which have meant so much to me. He succeeds me as Duke of Cornwall and takes on the responsibilities for the Duchy of Cornwall which I have undertaken for more than five decades," he continued. "Today, I am proud to create him Prince of Wales, Tywysog Cymru, the country whose title I have been so greatly privileged to bear during so much of my life and duty.

"With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the centre ground where vital help can be given."

Kate Middleton laughs with pilots at air base© Getty

First outing as Commodore-in-Chief of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA), September 2022

Just days after Queen Elizabeth 11's death, Kate paid a visit to the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton in Somerset. It came as the King announced her appointment as Commodore-in-Chief of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). During her public outing, Kate was shown around the air station where she spent time in the traffic control tower to meet staff and speak to an airborne Wildcat helicopter crew.

The Prince and Princess smiling at St Patrick's Day parade 2023© Getty

First St Patrick's Day as Colonel to the Irish Guards, March 2023

Last year marked Kate's first time attending the St Patrick's Day parade as Colonel of the Irish Guards. The Princess took over the role from her husband, Prince William, who is now Colonel of the Welsh Guards.

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