Little-known facts of Kate Middleton's childhood -- her first kiss, celeb crush and more
Nicholl adds more adorable evidence to Kate’s apple-cheeked-childhood file: she reports that as young girls, Kate and Pippa used to have sister “camping parties” in the backyard of their family’s first home, in Royal Berkshire. They happened in the picturesque gardens at West View, the name of the legitimately fairy-tale-looking Victorian brick cottage where the girls spent their youngest years. (The Middletons, who bought West View in 1979, before Kate’s arrival, sold the home in 1995; shrewd realtors put it up for royal-mania auction in 2011.)
“Kate had a crush on a handsome sports star at Marlborough College called Woody Webster,” Nicholl tells us, of the former tennis-player B.M.O.C. at Marlborough for whom 14-year-old Kate, herself on the field-hockey team, would wait around after matches. The pair used to smooch behind something Hogwarts-ian called Merlin’s Mound, a landmark on the grounds.
Good thing he never met her—Tom has a thing for leggy, tall brunettes—but Nicholl reveals that Kate harbored a teenage love for the movie Cocktail, calling it at one point her favorite film, and that she had a crush on Tom Cruise. Wills—perhaps learn some barkeep sleight-of-hand to keep things interesting?
While Kate’s first serious high-school boyfriend is thought to have been Willem Marx, Nicholl reports that it was actually an exceptionally good-looking guy called Harry Blakelock, a classmate who was a year older than she. But when Blakelock graduated and set off for a gap year, things fell apart, leaving Kate “devastated” and “broken-hearted,” Nicholl says. Kate remained single throughout her own gap year, spent, in part, in Florence.
Nicholl reports that Kate originally wanted to attend not St. Andrew’s but Edinburgh, applying there to study art history and receiving a letter of acceptance. Several of her close friends also had plans to go there, and all seemed set, per Kate’s teachers, with whom Nicholl spoke. But Kate made the sudden decision to drop her place, opting instead to take a gap year and re-apply, this time to St. Andrew’s. As Nicholl reports, “[i]t was a big risk—applicants to St. Andrew’s had shot up by nearly 50 percent when the Palace announced that Prince William was going there.” We think you know the rest.
“Until now, it has always been believed that William and Kate first met at St. Andrew’s,” Nicholl says. “In fact, they met a couple of years before, in the summer of 1999 when Kate was at Marlborough and spending time with the ‘Glossy Posse’”—Prince William and Prince Harry’s inner circle, whom Kate encountered at a few parties through mutual friends. (She would have been 17 at the time.) While away in Florence, she told a friend she’d met the prince “once or twice”—several months before arriving in Scotland for university.
When else? A former student at St. Andrew’s who was friendly with the couple confirms to Nicholl that it was after that fashion show.
Long known for being a passionate amateur photographer—she must get it from her father—Kate was reportedly encouraged to explore the idea of having a show of her work and began compiling photos for one. She ultimately demurred, Nicholl’s sources say, because she “didn’t have the confidence to stage her own exhibition,” causing her to abandon the project. Instead, Carole would employ Kate as the house photographer for Party Pieces.
Not unlike Diana, who used to do secret hospital rounds and hospice bedside talks during the paparazzi-less hours of the night, Kate undertook shrouded volunteer work, Nicholl found in her reporting. Before she married into the royal family, but after she’d become serious with William, Kate “started carrying out charitable work below the radar—she paid secret visits to the Naomi House children’s hospice close to the Middletons’ Bucklebury home,” Nicholl says.
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In The Future Queen, out this month from Weinstein Books, royal authority and Vanity Fair contributor Katie Nicholl charts the Duchess of Cambridge's youngest days, from her schoolgirl years and bucolic upbringing to her initiation into "the Firm." (Nicholl also writes of Kate's pregnancy-read a preview of her baby-centric chapters, an October V.F. exclusive, here.) In the book, Nicholl reports on Kate's games with Pippa, her actor crushes, her teenage loves and losses, and her secret charity missions-akin to those undertaken by her late mother-in-law, Diana.
Click through to see nine new details on Kate's teenage years from The Future Queen. (Meanwhile, head here to buy your copy, filled with more than we could possibly fit here.)