11 times Kate Middleton and Prince William broke the royal rule book

Kate and William may be officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but as far as royal protocol and formalities go, this royal couple have got a reputation for doing things their own way.

  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have had a unique and adorable love story - and are celebrating their ninth anniversary today!
  • From meeting at university, to living in Norfolk, they've done things a little differently to historic monarchs.
  • This follows the royal news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to release ‘bombshell’ biography.

Just like his mother Princess Diana before him, Prince William has proven he is willing to put his family first - even if it means adjusting some of the older traditions of the monarchy.

Seen as the faces of the modern royal family, the Duke and Duchess have switched up a number of long-standing royal family rules. From where they live to the way they are raising their children, here’s how Kate and William have broken with tradition in the past!

1. Their university experience

Kate and William

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Kate and William met at university. They were allowed the opportunity to let their friendship, and then their romance, blossom in private, away from prying public eyes. Their university education will also make Kate and William the first joint King and Queen of Great Britain to both have a degree (of course, Prince Charles holds a degree from Cambridge University, although Duchess Camilla does not). Before the Queen, future monarchs, and members of the royal family in general, did not attain formal education - in fact, the Queen received private tuition from a professor at Eton College, rather than attending a normal school and classes.

Of course, the breaking of this old tradition has continued, as the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, is another member of the royal family to hold a university degree!

2. A love match

Unlike his ancestors before him, Prince William wasn’t going to follow the royal rule and tradition of marrying for political/royal strategy or gain. Falling for each other behind closed doors, without any public pressures or royal interference, Prince William and Kate married for love. She was also, technically, be the first Queen consort without any familial connection to British nobility.

3. Living at Anmer Hall

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Kate and William’s country home is the sprawling estate of Anmer Hall, in Norfolk. Complete with acres of land, the ten-bedroom Georgian mansion was the perfect retreat from prying public eyes, as the Duke and Duchess began their married life  with Anmer as their permanent home after their 2011 wedding.

Traditionally, the royal family have always been based in London. But Kate and William broke from this tradition by starting their family in Norfolk - they lived there full-time until Prince George started school two years ago. It allowed the family an escape from the press intrusion into their lives, before the time came when they were to take up full-time royal duties in 2017. Now, the Cambridge's call Kensington Palace home, but often return to Anmer when they have some spare time.

4. Keeping a low profile at the beginning of their marriage

As public figures, the royal family are required to fulfil a certain number of duties and appearances each year. But in the early years of their marriage, it was reported that Prince William made a special agreement with the Queen, allowing him to stay out of the limelight during that time. William chose to break the traditional route of diving straight into full-time public appearance, instead, taking up a post as a helicopter pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Of course, the couple did attend a few public engagements back then, but they were allowed to keep them to a minimum as they spent time adjusting to their new married life.

MORE: Revealed: The real reason Kate always dresses George, Charlotte and Louis in the same clothes

Of course now, the pair are full-time royals and regularly complete official royal duties, given that Prince Charles is now preparing to take to the throne.

5. What you see is what you get

Kate and William don’t keep up appearances for the cameras. In the past, the royal family have always done a good job of hiding their emotions from the public. From refraining from showing affection in public, to keeping a brilliant poker face at all official events, it was difficult to work out what might be going on behind closed doors at the Palace. William and Kate shun protocol in favour of wearing their hearts on their sleeve. From being affectionate towards each other in public, to roaring with laughter at official events.

Kate and William

Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

6. Rejecting a royal RSVP

Prince William and Kate are known for breaking the rules when it comes to the royal family Christmas tradition. Instead of spending Christmas day with the rest of the royal family and the Queen at Sandringham House, Kate and William have shunned tradition in the past in favour of spending their first Christmas after Princess Charlotte's birth at home in Anmer Hall.

One year, Kate also chose to host Christmas herself and invited her parents and siblings to join them at Anmer.

These days, its thought that the couple alternate spending Christmas with William's family and then with Kate's - just like any other normal couple!

7. A normal life for the kids

Breaking with the tradition of sending young members of the royal family to a specially selected nursery in London, Kate and William chose to send Prince George to a local Montessori nursery school in Norfolk when he was little.

And, as he got bigger, they decided to send him to Thomas's Battersea - not the royal-approved school in Kensington where Prince William and Harry went as boys. The unexpected choice was another bold move for the couple to break with royal tradition. In fact, Princess Charlotte has now joined her older brother there too! Will little Louis also attend when he's big enough? Time will tell...

Kate and William

Credit: Getty Images/Karwai Tang/WireImage

William and Kate also take turns dropping George and Charlotte off at school and picking them up. William has explained in the past that this is to ensure that they live as a, “normal family”.

8. The high-street Duchess

Unlike designer Duchesses of the past, Kate often wears clothes from the high-street, favouring items that everyone can buy, rather than only designer dresses. In addition to her bargain buys, Kate also breaks the royal fashion rules with her footwear. The Duchess has been advised in the past not to wear wedge heels because the Queen dislikes them. However, Kate defies this in favour of their practically and comfort!

9. Family snaps

Prince William isn’t shy about his dislike and distrust of the paparazzi. Especially as it is well known that he can’t help but blame them for the death of his mother, Princess Diana. So is it any wonder that the heir to throne doesn’t like lots of paps around Kate and the kids? So, breaking with royal tradition, Kate and William choose to release official photographs of their children on their own terms, usually on special occasions such as birthdays or Christmas. Often, they're taken without a professional photographer in sight! Kate has proved she’s more than handy with a digital camera. She is often the photographer behind some of the sweetest snaps to be released of her family.

10. Thrifty fashion

Credit: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

Kate’s not worried about having an extensive designer wardrobe. She’s not afraid to re-wear items, no matter how many times she’s been snapped in them! Breaking the rules about being seen in an outfit more than once, Kate will re-wear her favourite items just as many times as the rest of us.

11. Hands on parenting

Just like Princess Diana, Kate and Wills refuse to let their children be raised behind palace walls by a troop of royal nannies, as was the case with the Queen and Prince Philip's children. Although it is well known that Kate and William do have nanny Maria to to lend a helping hand, Kate is very much a hands-on mum who is bringing her children up herself and in her way! She’s been spotted by locals in Norfolk ‘popping to the butcher’ or ‘into a local toyshop’ with the kids in tow. She’s also a regular at the local farm-park with her children.

Rachael Martin

An internationally published digital journalist and editor who specialises in SEO strategy and content production, Rachael has worked as a writer and editor for both news and lifestyle websites in the UK and abroad. Rachael's published work covers a broad spectrum of topics and she has written about everything from the future of sustainable travel, to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the world we live in, to the psychology of colour.