The Duchess of Cambridge: 40 years in 40 pictures

To mark the Duchess of Cambridge’s landmark birthday today, we’ve gathered a history of her life in photographs. From her baby Polaroids to snaps of family and friends, they give an intimate portrait of our future Queen. By Claudia Joseph

kate middleton baby

1982 Special delivery
Fifteen days after giving birth at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, Carole Middleton cradles her firstborn in the bedroom of the family home in Bradfield Southend on 24 January

kate middleton baby

1983 One is one
Kate (in green stripes) attends the first birthday party of family friend Nicola Brown on 13 January. Carole and Nicola’s mum George became friends after they gave birth within four days of each other.

kate middleton as a child

1986 Ancient history
When flight dispatcher Michael Middleton was posted to Jordan, he took his family with him. Kate (aged, four, left, with younger sister Pippa) spent two years at the Assahera nursery school in Amman.

kate middleton as a child

1985 In the ascendant
Wrapped in a stripy jumper, her hair in bunches, Kate, aged three and a half, tries a spot of fell climbing during a family holiday in the Lake District

kate middleton as a child

1987 Model behaviour
After returning to Britain and giving birth to son James, Carole Middleton set up Party Pieces, which made goody bags for children’s parties. Both Kate, aged five, and Pippa modelled for the catalogue.

kate middleton as a child

1988 Good sport
Kate’s first school photo, aged six, at St Andrew’s prep school in Pangbourne, Berkshire, where she excelled at sport, breaking the school record in her age group for high jump.

kate middleton as a child

1989 Close encounter
Kate, aged seven, poses with her class in the year she first set eyes on her future husband when William – a pupil at Ludgrove prep school near Wokingham – came to St Andrew’s for a hockey match.

kate middleton as a child

1990 Badge of honour
At the age of eight, Kate enrols in the 1st St Andrew’s Brownies pack, which held its meetings in the local church hall. She and Pippa went on a pack holiday to Macaroni Wood, in the Cotswolds, where she got her toymaker and house orderly badges.

kate middleton as a child

1991 Team player
The Duchess of Cambridge returned to St Andrew’s in 2012 to open a new hockey pitch. Kate had captained the school’s under-12/13 hockey team (centre), played for the under-13 netball team and was the highest scorer of the season in the under-12/13 rounders team.

kate middleton as a child

1994 Baby love
With braces on her teeth, 12-year-old Kate grins at the first birthday party of Angharad Allford, the daughter of her St Andrew’s housemaster Kevin, who taught her French and German. He and his wife Denise, who was Kate’s PE teacher, had an ‘emotional’ reunion with the Duchess when she and William visited Wales in 2020.

kate middleton as a child

1995 Future foretold?
In her final year at St Andrew’s, Kate, then 13, appears in the end-of-term play, a Victorian melodrama with an unusual twist – her leading man is called William. In one prophetic scene, he drops on to his knee and asks Kate: ‘Will you marry me?

kate middleton as a teenager

1998 Miss congeniality
According to her school yearbook, Kate was the ‘person most likely to be loved by everybody’. During the summer holidays at the end of lower sixth form, she went on a summer sleepover with fellow pupils Ruth Currie (left) and Rebecca James (centre).

kate middleton as a teenager

1999 Funny girl
When she began attending the private Marlborough College in Wiltshire, Kate studied for A-levels in maths, English and art, and was made a prefect. But that didn’t stop her larking around for the cameras when she was with her friends.

2000 Sisters stick together
At Marlborough, Kate joined the girls’ hockey team along with her sister Pippa (pictured here with Kate), who is 18 months her junior and was one school year below. In this picture Kate is in her final year at college.

young kate middleton

2000 Ciao, bella!
After leaving Marlborough with an A in A-level art under her belt, Kate, 18, spent three months in Florence where she took a course in Italian at the world-renowned British Institute. One of her favourite haunts was the trendy Antico Caffè del Moro, known as the Art Bar.

young kate middleton

2002 Catwalk catch
Wearing a sheer lace dress over a black bandeau bra and knickers, the 20-year-old St Andrews University student sashays down the catwalk at a charity fashion show–and attracts the attention of the world’s most eligible bachelor.

young kate middleton

2004 Suited and booted
A laughing Kate, now 22, poses for photographers at Blenheim Palace during the summer holidays before her final year at St Andrews. Wearing a tweed miniskirt, matching coat and leather boots, she presented a modern twist on the Royals’ favourite country casuals

young kate middleton

2005 Love match
When William and Kate graduated, the university’s vice-chancellor said: ‘I say this every year to all new graduates: “You may have met your husband or wife.” Our title as the top matchmaking university in Britain signifies so much that is good about St Andrews.’

young kate middleton

2005 The graduate
At her graduation ceremony on 23 June, Kate looks happy to have gained an upper second in history of art. It was the institution’s most high-profile ceremony – not only were William and Kate’s parents present but it was witnessed by the Queen and Prince Philip

young kate middleton

2006 The first kiss
William and Kate, 24, kiss in public for the first time during a skiing holiday in Klosters, Switzerland. During an off-guard moment, as they made their way down Casanna Alp, they stopped briefly for a touching embrace.

young kate middleton

2007 Uncharted waters
After her shock split from William, Kate, 25, joined The Sisterhood, a female rowing crew led by her friend Emma Sayle. The group planned to cross the English Channel in a dragon boat to raise money for charity. Kate and William reconciled after a couple of months.

young kate middleton

2008 Skatey Kate
Kate poses with Sam Waley-Cohen at the Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco in Vauxhall, South London. The 26-year-old had been at Marlborough with Sam’s brother Tom, who died in 2004 from a rare bone cancer. The charity ball was raising money in his memory.

kate middleton engagement

2010 The engagement
Standing arm-in-arm with William in a state room at St James’s Palace, Kate, 28, shows off her engagement ring, which once belonged to Princess Diana. William had proposed to Kate three weeks earlier on a safari holiday in Kenya.

READ MORE: Sarah Vine’s letter to Kate on her 40th birthday

kate middleton wedding

2011 The balcony scene
It’s the moment the world has been waiting for: after getting married at Westminster Abbey on 29 April, William and Kate, 29 – wearing a Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen wedding gown, inspired by Grace Kelly – kiss for the crowds.

kate middleton with the queen

2012 The chosen one
With William posted to the Falklands with the RAF, the Queen invites the Duchess to join the launch of her Diamond Jubilee Tour. On 8 March, they travel by train from London St Pancras to Leicester, where they watch a fashion show at De Montfort University.

kate middleton olympics

2012 Olympic joy
William and Kate watch champion cyclist Sir Chris Hoy win gold (his fifth) in the men’s team sprint at the London Olympics. This equals the number of golds won by Sir Steve Redgrave – at this point the most won by any Briton at the Olympics.

kate middleton birth

2013 A new arrival
After the birth of Prince George, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pose on the steps of the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington on 23 July. The announcement is pinned to a golden easel outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.

kate middleton baby george2014 Grand tour
Arriving at Wellington Airport’s military terminal in April, for the start of a three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand. Following in the footsteps of the late Princess of Wales, William and Kate take seven-month-old George on his first royal trip.

kate middleton charlotte birth

2015 A historic baby
Wearing a Jenny Packham dress, the 33-year-old Duchess leaves the Lindo Wing with William after the birth of Princess Charlotte on 2 May. Following recent changes to royal succession, Charlotte makes history by becoming fourth in line to the throne.

kate middleton skiing

2016 Snowflakes
Wrapped up warmly, in March the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pose with Prince
George and Princess Charlotte on their first skiing holiday in the French Alps.

kate middleton kids

2017 Flying visit
Dressed in complementary shades, the Cambridges depart from Hamburg Airport on the last day of their official visit to Poland and Germany on 21 July. William and Kate, 35, take George and Charlotte to view helicopter models before catching the flight home

kate middleton christmas

2017 The fab four
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stand alongside Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle during their first Christmas at Sandringham, Norfolk, at the traditional service at St Mary Magdalene church.

kate middleton louis birth

2018 Heavyweight record
Dressed in a red Jenny Packham dress with a white lace collar, Kate, 36, celebrates the arrival of her third child, Prince Louis, on St George’s Day – 23 April. Weighing 8lb 7oz, he makes history as the heaviest royal baby for more than 100 years.

kate middleton louis christening

2018 Christening day
In the garden of Clarence House on 9 July, newly christened Louis beams for the camera. Louis wears a replica of the christening gown created for Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter Victoria in 1841, and Kate looks stunning in a white Alexander McQueen dress.

kate middleton

2019 The diplomatic duchess

Kate wears a traditional shalwar kameez and matching dupatta, hand-embroidered in gold silk thread, by Pakistani designer Maheen Khan. The Duke and Duchess are following in the footsteps of both his parents as they visit the Badshahi Mosque in the heart of Lahore’s Walled City, during their royal tour of Pakistan in October.

kate middleton queen

2019 Chelsea girl
Showing the Queen around the Back to Nature garden she helped to design for the Chelsea Flower Show, Kate, 37, highlights the importance of the great outdoors. The garden was inspired by the Duchess’s own childhood as well as her three children

2019 Wimbledon doubles
The Duchess of Cambridge, who is patron of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, takes the Duchess of Sussex to watch the women’s singles final at Wimbledon on 13 July. Romania’s Simona Halep beats Meghan’s friend Serena Williams to lift the trophy.

kate middleton family

2020 Clapping for carers
In a surprise appearance for the BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief’s Big Night In on 23 April, the Cambridges are snapped clapping for NHS heroes and those on the Covid front line. Earlier in the show, William joins Stephen Fry in a Zoom call spoof of the sitcom Blackadder.

READ MORE: Kate Middleton’s style evolution

kate middleton

2021 Climate concerns

William and Kate chat to the winners and finalists of his Earthshot Prize awards at Glasgow’s Clydeside Distillery on 1 November, during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference. William was inspired by US President John F Kennedy’s Moonshot– which aimed to put a man on the moon – to create a prize centred on five Earthshot goals for the planet to prompt people and businesses to drive change.


kate middleton gold sequin dress

2021 Gold standard

Wearing a bespoke Jenny Packham evening dress, Kate outshines the celebrities at the world premiere of the latest James Bond film No Time To Die at the Royal Albert Hall in September. Bond star Daniel Craig tells her: ‘You look jolly lovely.’ In a rare public appearance, she and William are joined by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.