11 surprising facts about Kate Middleton, and #3 is something we could see Prince George, Charlotte and Louis attempt soon

As the Princess of Wales is set to mark her 42nd birthday, on 9th January 2024, we share some little-known facts

Kate Milddleton portrait
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Princess of Wales is one of the most photographed faces in the world. But she wasn’t always destined for a royal life.

Kate Middleton, as she was then known, was just a regular teenage student when she met Prince William (having grown up in Bucklebury, in Berkshire), she attended St Andrew's University and after scenes that unfolded in the final season six of The Crown, fans started to wonder did Carole Middleton set up Kate and William?

Kate Middleton became Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, when she married Prince William on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey and they went on to have three children, Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five. Both Kate and William received new royal titles when King Charles became monarch following the death of the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2022 and they are now known as the Prince and Princess of Wales.

However, although the Princess of Wales is constantly in the public eye, there’s a lot still to discover about the sophisticated royal. As the family prepares to mark her 42nd birthday on January 9th 2024 with one of their traditional low-key family tea parties, we've discovered 11 things you might not have known about Princess Kate below...

Kate Middleton facts

1. She used to be quite the actress

Although her acting career may have started and finished at school, Kate’s confidence in performing will certainly still help her in her role as an active member of the royal family today. The Princess of Wales first appeared in a school play at the age of 11. She won the lead role of ‘Eliza’ in the classic stage musical My Fair Lady.

From meeting foreign dignitaries to making speeches in public, we’re sure Kate’s early performance experience has helped the Princess in her role today – even if she isn’t required to sing solo in public anymore!

2. She has many musical talents

We all know that the Princess of Wales is a keen sports fan, both as a player and a spectator, but did you also know that she used to be incredibly musical? The multi-talented royal used to play the flute. Kate made use of her musical talents in the St Andrews inaugural Chamber Orchestra and a senior flute group which was known as the ‘tootie-flooties’ according to the MailOnline.

Kate also debuted her piano skills in 2021 when she performed in front of a packed St Paul's Cathedral for the annual royal Christmas concert Together at Christmas, and in doing so, she accompanied Tom Walker as he performed his poignant song For Those Who Can't Be Here. Kate played the instrument as a child, achieving Grade 3 in the instrument, but had never performed in public until that moment.  

3. She is a qualified scuba diver

Kate is a qualified scuba diver. In 2015, her representatives confirmed that she passed a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Advanced Open Water Diver qualification, which will allow her to dive to a depth of up to 98 feet (30 metres). It also means she can now dive with her husband, Prince William, who has had his scuba qualifications for some time – and is the president of the British Sub-Aqua Club. A spokesperson for the Duchess told the Telegraph, "Diving is something the Duchess very much enjoys, and the Duke of Cambridge, who is of course president of the BSAC, has said in the past that he is hopeful his children will become interested in the sport."

And last year the pair shared a video of them snorkelling in The Bahamas during their visit to former Earthshot Prize winner Coral Vita.

Kate also recently opened up on a 'crazy' hobby she does in the dark admitting she is a big fan of cold water swimming. To discuss sport for Mike Tindall's podcast, The Good, The Bad and The Rugby, Kate recalled, "I can always remember being physical, using our bodies, whether it's walking, climbing the lake district, in Scotland [or] swimming from a young age." Kate continued, "[My parents] always encouraged us to be physically active and sporty and they always encouraged us into doing team sports and trying things."

Cold water swimming has many health benefits and involves swimming during the winter season in outdoor locations or unheated pools or lidos. Kate insisted, "Cold swimming - the colder, the better. I absolutely love it. Slightly to the point where William's [saying] 'You're crazy' and it's dark and it's raining. 

"I will go and seek out cold water. I love it."

4. She studied abroad before dating Prince William

A young Kate studied at the British Institute in Florence during her gap year. The Princess spent three months learning a mixture of art history and Italian. She’s also the first royal wife to hold a degree. It's not the first time that Kate's lived abroad though, as she temporarily lived overseas in Amman, Jordan between 1984 and 1986, when her dad Michael had to relocate for work.

5. She likes to make homemade gifts - and even made one for the Queen

Kate admitted in her first solo television interview that she made the late Queen Elizabeth II homemade – yes, homemade – chutney for Christmas! The girl’s got guts. At the time Kate said, "I can remember being at Sandringham, for the first time, at Christmas. And I was worried [about] what to give the Queen as her Christmas present. I was thinking, “Gosh, what should I give her?”‘ She continued: ‘I thought, “I’ll make her something, which could have gone horribly wrong. But I decided to make my granny’s recipe of chutney.” Go Kate!

6. She has a pub named after her and worked as a waitress

When Kate received her first royal title, the Duchess of Cambridge, a pub in Windsor was renamed in her honour. And now that she has the title Princess of Wales there are already some pubs in London with that name, one in Lower Clapton and another in Greater London but the latter was named after George IV's first wife, married in secret, never to become his queen.

Kate is no stranger to the hospitality industry, she previously spoke of her time as a barmaid, in the Mary Berry Christmas special A Berry Royal Christmas, Kate said, "[This] reminds me of my university days when I did a bit of waitressing." When Mary asked if she was good at the job, Kate laughed and honestly replied, "No, I was terrible!"

7. She's allergic to horses

Did you know that Kate Middleton has a crippling allergy that stopped her from playing polo? She revealed that she's allergic to horses. She said, 'I'm actually allergic to them, but the more time one spends with them the less allergic you become'." And instead of keeping away from them, Kate is still spotted hanging around horses on royal engagements and attends the horse racing alongside other members of the Royal Family.

8. She still likes to do her own make-up

Despite the grand affair watched by millions and the iconic designer wedding dress, Kate did her own make-up on her big day, so she felt as comfortable and confident on the occasion as possible. At 29, Kate Middleton was also the oldest royal bride in British history. However, the Princess of Wales has since been surpassed in that record by Meghan Markle, who was 36 when she married Prince Harry.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge greet wellwishers from the balcony next to Grace Van Cutsem (L) and Margarita Armstrong-Jones at Buckingham Palace

(Image credit: Getty Images)

9. She loves a glass of wine

Her favourite tipple is a glass of red wine – us too, Kate! The Prince and Princess of Wales visited Mission Hill Winery in 2016 as part of their tour of Canada and they tasted “a few of the vineyard’s more recent additions, including its Bordeaux-style blend Oculus 2012” and the winery’s “single-estate Chardonnay, Perpetua 2012, which is part of its legacy collection.”

During the trip, William and Kate reportedly revealed that at home, they typically drink Merlot. But it's not the first time that they visited a vineyard or commented on their appreciation for wine. Woman’s Own reports that after Prince George’s birth, Kate Middleton was spotted at a wine tasting in New Zealand with Prince William. She reportedly said that she was “really enjoying being able to drink again” after the birth of her firstborn. 

She can reportedly drink William under the table too - a woman after our own hearts.

10. She's pretty competitive

Kate Middleton is quite the competitor and has completed her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. She and her husband famously get quite competitive if they're ever out at royal sporting events together too - for example, they previously went head to head in a rowing competition - and the Princess didn't look too happy when Wills beat her.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge participate in a rowing race between the twinned town of Cambridge and Heidelberg on day 2 of their official visit to Germany on July 20, 2017

(Image credit: Getty Images)

11. She is a really keen photographer

As well as doing the official photos of her family which she releases on their birthdays, she has also snapped away for the Middleton family website, Party Pieces, helping it to become a multi-million-pound business before it was sold in 2023 for an undisclosed sum, according to the BBC.

"Her grandfather was a very good photographer," Claudia Acott Williams, curator at Historic Royal Palaces said, according to the Sunday Express. "When she was a child, he would show her his slides. It was him who taught her how to take photographs."

In other royal news, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s ‘normal’ parenting revealed as they’re spotted queuing for this iconic after-school activity, and it’s making their kids ‘popular’ and Kate Middleton’s simple trick to keep her children calm in public - and she even uses it on herself.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)