Ensconced in the family apartments at Kensington Palace in London, Kate Middleton has much more than her 40th birthday coming up in 2022.
Set to turn 40 on January 9 with what will probably be a small, family celebration in light of surging Omicron numbers in the UK, the Duchess of Cambridge’s milestone year will also feature Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee on February 6, and a rumoured move to Windsor to be closer to the ageing monarch, who is spending more time there.
Kate’s 2022 will also be filled with more public engagements and events as she takes over some of the royal patronages that were taken away from Prince Harry, and more duties. However, this year also looks set to be turbulent for the British royal family, which Kate, as one of the lynchpins of “The Firm”, will be dealing with.
As she celebrates her birthday, we take a look at what her life is like, from her day-to-day duties as a wife and mother, to her role as an ambassador on the world’s stage.
Scroll through the gallery above for some highlights of Kate Middleton’s life so far.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s 2022: ‘She’ll come into her own even more’
Not only are the reverberations of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s January 2020 exit from the royal family, as well as their 2021 tell-all sit-down with Oprah Winfrey still being felt, there’s also Prince Andrew’s ongoing sexual assault lawsuit for the royal family to contend with this year.
“In recent years, we’ve seen her leadership in the wake of Megxit, throughout which she’s kept calm and carried on,” royal author Kate Nicholl told Closer about the duchess. “I think this year she’ll come into her own even more, especially as it’ll be a tough year for the royals.
“Harry and Meghan’s interviews have caused chaos for the royals, and Harry’s new memoir will likely reveal even more intimate details about the royal family, and cause further issues,” Nicholl said.
“And Andrew’s court case will, too. Kate will step up and I know the queen hugely values her support, and will rely on her more than ever.”
A vital member of the ‘streamlined’ royal family
It’s long been known that Prince Charles plans to streamline the royal family when his mother dies and he becomes king. With Prince Andrew all but retired from public life, it’s likely that Charles’s siblings, Princess Anne and Prince Edward, as well as Edward’s wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, will continue to carry out official events while remaining in the background of “The Firm”.
While smaller roles may be offered to Andrew and Edward’s children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, now that Harry and Meghan have left the family, the focus will be firmly on Charles, Camilla, William and Kate.
“I would say that the queen has great trust [that] the future Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Catherine, will be one day, you know, in the fullness of time … [be] King William and Queen Catherine,” Majesty magazine’s managing editor, Joe Little, told Us Weekly.
“Kate has found her own niche within the royal family,” Little said. “And she focuses on things that mean a great deal to her that she feels that she can give something to the charity … in a great way.”
Kate’s daily routine: school run, food shop, gym
The duke and duchess’s household is a “normal, busy family home with kids running around and knocking things over. There’s no airs and graces,” a source close to the family recently told People.
Having moved back to London from Anmer Hall in Norfolk, Kate remains committed to taking on many day-to-day household and childcare duties herself. Regularly dropping the children at school and doing the daily food shopping on nearby Kensington High Street, the duchess also prefers to swap the indoor gym at the Palace for runs in Kensington Gardens.
“There are no blow-dries – it’s always hair up in a ponytail,” the source told People. “She’s either in her gym clothes, or a dress and sneakers, very little make-up, apologising as she’s late for the school run before dashing off. It’s the life of a working mum with three young children – just a different sort of day job to most.”
Hands-on mum to George, Charlotte and Louis
The duchess spoke about experiencing “mum guilt” on Giovanna Fletcher’s Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast last year, saying: “I think anyone who doesn’t as a mother is actually lying.
“Even this morning. George and Charlotte were like, ‘Mummy, how could you possibly not be dropping us off at school this morning?’
“It’s a constant challenge – you hear it time and time again from mums, even mums who aren’t necessarily working and aren’t pulled in the directions of having to juggle work life and family life.”
Admitting that motherhood is “a huge challenge – even for me who has support at home that most mothers do not”, Kate has often spoken candidly about life with her three children Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3.
She has channelled her experiences with motherhood into her legacy Early Years project, last summer announcing the launch of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood aimed at drawing attention to the first five years of a child’s life to “change the way we think about early childhood”.
“When you see her behind closed doors with the children, she’s a very confident mom, and she’s no pushover,” said the source to People. “The children get told off if they act up.”
“She is doing that to help her children be more grounded and keep their reality in check,” another added. “That’s what really matters to her.”
Loyal inner circle
Kate has cultivated a tight-knit group of friends, many of whom she’s known since her school and university days. Over the years, she has also made some of them godparents to her three children.
From her school days at Marlborough College, Kate counts Emilia Jardine-Paterson, Trini Foyle, Hannah Carter and Alicia Fox-Pitt, who she rowed with on the school team, as close friends.
Kate is also close to Lady Laura Meade, the wife of one of William’s best friends, James Meade, who gave the best man speech at their 2011 wedding, with James and Laura godparents to Charlotte and Louis respectfully.
Norfolk resident Sophie Carter, as well as Zoe Warren, daughter-in-law to the queen’s racing manager, John Warren, and Oliver Baker, who Kate and William met at St Andrews and who is godfather to Prince George, are also trusted members of Kate and William’s inner sanctum.
More duties, more responsibilities
When restrictions are relaxed once again, the duchess will face a heavier schedule than ever. Already patron to many organisations and charities, including the Scouts, the Victoria and Albert Museum, SportsAid, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, The Lawn Tennis Association, and The 1851 Trust, Kate has inherited more responsibilities from the queen and since Prince Harry quit as a working member of the family.
“The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family,” said a statement from the royal family after Harry left.
Kate is also rumoured to be taking over as patron of the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League from Harry, and will also be further immersed in her Early Years project.
“She always arrives with loads of notes and ideas and articles that she’s seen, but she’s very self-deprecating and funny, too,” a source told The Sun. “She’s had a bit more time in the last couple of years with the kids getting a bit older. She gets a lot out of it.”
Updated: January 9th 2022, 7:17 AM