Kate Middleton's Lavish Life

Kate Middleton — aka Catherine, Princess of Wales — has stepped up to her new role in the royal family following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. King Charles III announced the change for Kate and her husband, Prince William, in early September 2022. "Today, I am proud to create him Prince of Wales, Tywysog Cymru, the country whose title I have been so greatly privileged to bear during so much of my life and duty," Charles said of his eldest son, according to Hello!. "With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations."

While the couple has carried the concept of working royals into the modern era, they've also gone through major hurdles. Their 2022 royal tour to the Caribbean was fraught with drama, including a cancellation of part of the trip because of protests. Then there was, of course, the huge hiccup around Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's departure as working royals, changing the Fab Four to a twosome. Even royal dramas that had nothing to do with William and Kate, like the scandal involving Prince Andrew, ended up showing how badly the royal family needed the Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge

But it's not all grim work for Kate Middleton. A life in the royal family also means access to major money — something she had before, but not to the extent of the monarchy — but there's so much more to her luxurious life than dollar signs.

How Kate Middleton's mother changed the future of the family

Kate Middleton was actually the inspiration for her parents' business. Carole and Michael Middleton launched a business called Party Pieces, which supplied all of the accessories needed to host a party. "It was my children who inspired Party Pieces," Carole told SheerLuxe in February 2022. "I was planning Catherine's fifth birthday party and all I could find were some basic 'clown' plates." Carole explained that she wanted to create something affordable for parents that was also festive and fresh, to create a beautiful atmosphere at celebrations.

Thanks to her and Michael's hard work, the business took off. "Party Pieces was literally born at our kitchen table, so I suppose the 'big break' moment came when I [realized] there were lots of other parents looking for more affordable and imaginative partyware," Carole said.

While her parents were launching a business that became a multi-million-dollar company, Kate has shared as an adult that her home life was very child-focused. "I had a very happy childhood," she said on the "Happy Mum, Happy Baby" podcast. "It was great fun. I'm very lucky I come from a very strong family," she went on. "My parents were hugely dedicated." Kate said that her mom and dad showed up at all of her and her siblings' sports games and that they made sure to have holidays together. Sounds like both the family finances and the family spirit were top notch.

Catherine, Princess of Wales, worked at the family business

When Carole and Michael Middleton started the family business, they made sure that their three children, Kate, Pippa, and James Middleton, were very involved. Carole explained to SheerLuxe that Party Pieces blossomed in their family home. "Party Pieces has literally grown alongside my family, and I'm very proud of that," she said. "Pippa wrote our 'Party Times' blog, James did the cakes when he first left school and Catherine developed our first birthday and baby category."

One of the perks of having young children at the same time as launching a business catered to children's birthday parties was that Carole's kids, especially Kate and Pippa, were featured faces. "They did a lot of [modeling]," Carole told The Telegraph in 2018 about her children. "Catherine was on the cover of one of the [catalogs], blowing out candles." Her children's input has grown with the business, too, with their proud mom later saying, "I still value their ideas and opinions."

So, the future royal had her very first job as a little kid, and while job might be a generous title here, the family business afforded the Middletons access to all of the things that paved the way for Kate's royal life. It meant that she attended the prestigious Marlborough College and later to the University of St. Andrews, as Vanity Fair pointed out. Without such a sturdy financial background on the part of her family, Catherine, Princess of Wales may not have met Prince William.

Kate Middleton got a job with the fashion brand Jigsaw

Following her graduation from the University of St. Andrews, Catherine, Princess of Wales, got a job at the London-based clothing company Jigsaw as an accessories buyer, according to Hello!. In fact, the idea was largely encouraged by the late Queen Elizabeth II, who reportedly felt that Kate Middleton needed some more worldly work experience to seem approachable. "Privately [the queen] had grave concerns and believed that Kate needed to have a job and an identity in her own right before an engagement was announced," Katie Nicholl wrote in 2011's "The Making of a Royal Romance." As the story goes, the queen was discussing the future princess with a pal and asked, "What is it exactly that Kate does?"

In 2007, when Prince William and Middleton briefly broke up, he allegedly broke the news to her while she was working at Jigsaw — not exactly an ideal way to pull the plug on a relationship. As Christopher Andersen wrote in his book "William and Kate: A Royal Love Story" in 2010, William apparently made the call, and his future wife ran to a conference room to have privacy: "'I can't ...' [William] stuttered. 'It just isn't going to work. It isn't fair to you.'" William's reasons were seemingly largely based around the hounding paparazzi already beginning to surround Middleton's every move; the future Princess of Wales left work early at 3:00 p.m., Andersen wrote, and used a back door to avoid the oppressive gaze of the paparazzi.

British elites were snobby about the Middletons' wealth

By worldwide standards, the Middleton family is wealthy. As self-made multi-millionaires, Carole and Michael Middleton haven't exactly earned chump change. However, according to some British elites, the Middletons represented — at least for a time — members of the nouveau riche. One insider in this elite world said to Vanity Fair: "Her parents have a tarmac drive, for God's sake." For the uninitiated in the driveway details of British snobbery, apparently only the truly wealthy in England have gravel driveways. Smooth, paved roads are, we presume, too common.

A big part of the criticism targeted at the Middleton family, especially as Kate Middleton's relationship was forging with Prince William, was that certain members were apparently social climbers, especially, it would seem, Carole. Geoffrey Levy and Richard Kay wrote for the Daily Mail that Kate comes from "generations of steely social-climbing matriarchs" and alleged that this was precisely how she was able to stick with William through the many years of being called "Waity Katie" by the press. "[Carole's] anxious to better herself and to make sure she is financially secure — you only get that when you're born with nothing," Levy and Kay wrote. "She is ambitious, very ambitious for her family. And why not? It didn't surprise me at all to read that she and Mike are now looking at country houses in the £5 million bracket." 

Clearly, Catherine, Princess of Wales, understood from her mother that success, in any arena, takes work.

Kate Middleton begins life as a working royal

After years of waiting to join the royal family, Catherine, Princess of Wales, married Prince William on April 29, 2011, per CBS News. She did begin working right away; however, she and William didn't dive into royal duties with the same zealousness as someone like, say Princess Anne, specifically at William's request. Vanity Fair noted that the late Queen Elizabeth II offered Kate Middleton and William two years of lighter workloads so that they could bond as a couple.

Nevertheless, the Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge still got to strut her stuff as a working royal during this time with some major events. In May 2011, for example, she and her new husband had their first royal engagement with none other than then-President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, according to CBS News. They also participated in other standard royal activities, like the Trooping the Colour ceremony that year in June, and paid respects to Britain's Armed Forces later that same month. William and Kate also visited Canada that summer for nine days, including a visit to the Calgary Stampede, complete with cowboy hats and blue jeans. Kate also began working as a patron for a charity: the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry. 

All things considered, it was still a pretty rigorous schedule, and while the future Princess of Wales didn't take home a paycheck, per se, she did sing for her supper.

The Princess of Wales' royal residencies

The upside of being a working royal, and as prominent a one as Catherine, Princess of Wales, means that you get some wildly lavish homes. When Kate Middleton and Prince William were first married, they lived on the island of Anglesey in Wales because William was working in the Royal Air Force as a search and rescue pilot, Vanity Fair noted.

Eventually, they moved to Kensington Palace in Apartment 1A. While this sounds quaint and potentially cramped, Apartment 1A is actually four stories and boasts 20 rooms, per Vogue. Initially, they lived there just with son Prince George, before his siblings came along, and an insider told E! News about the vibe of the place in 2013. "It doesn't feel like a palace, more just a lovely townhouse, but there will be plenty of room for Prince George to run around," the source said. "The rooms are vast and the garden is wonderful for a little boy."

The couple also received Anmer Hall, located in Norfolk — a wedding gift from the late Queen Elizabeth II — as their country home, according to People. The Wales' famously holed up there during the pandemic and waved from the front door with their four children (as pictured above). In August 2022, Hello! announced that William and Kate were also gifted Adelaide Cottage in Windsor, shortly before Queen Elizabeth II died. The four-bedroom home is smaller than their other residencies but does offer a more rural upbringing for their children than life in London did.

Kate Middleton's major economic influence

The so-called "Kate effect" is a major reality when it comes to shopping trends, with garments selling out in a matter of hours after Catherine, Princess of Wales, steps out in a particular look. In fact, the effect is so powerful that several designers spoke to Marie Claire about the unbelievable shift in sales when Kate Middleton wears one of their pieces. 

"I'm so flattered when the Duchess chooses to wear our shoes and bags, she has so many, many choices," Jimmy Choo creative director Sandra Choi said in 2016. "I was especially thrilled when the Vamp generated so much interest in our stores after she wore them to the LA BAFTA gala." The same went for the brand Beulah. "I was so excited the first time I found out that the Duchess had chosen to wear one of our dresses," co-founder Natasha Rufus Isaacs explained. "We were a relatively unknown and young label, and it definitely helped spread the word about us and the cause that we support."

The attention can apparently be too much for some brands to support, though. Kate wore a blue Issa dress following her engagement to Prince William, and the dress was in such high demand that the brand unfortunately folded. "Issa was a niche brand, we had a loyal following but in 2008 and 2009 we were in serious financial trouble," founder Daniella Helayel told the Daily Mail in 2017. "When Kate wore that dress everything changed."

Her interests center around early childhood development

Kate Middleton's work as a royal has an interesting connection to one of her earliest jobs. When Catherine, Princess of Wales, was working for her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, at their company Party Pieces, one of the first things that she worked on was developing a children's party launch and baby campaigns, as her mom proudly told SheerLuxe in February 2022.

The theme of children and babies has come through into Kate's work as a royal, too. In June 2021, she announced that she was launching The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood. "I've spoken to psychiatrists and neuroscientists, to practitioners and academics and parents alike," Kate explained in a Twitter video. "And what has become clear is that the best investment for our future health and happiness is in the first five years of life." She went on to say that her goal was to raise awareness and come up with initiatives to create a society with strong mental health and a nurturing outlook.

"The Duchess has made the observation that the more you learn about the science of early childhood, whether it's brain development, social science, what it means for our adult mental health, the more you realize that this is the social equivalent to climate change," a royal aide said, per People, "but it is not discussed with the same seriousness or strategic intent that that issue is." While it's a different muscle than party supplies, the theme is still the same.

Kate Middleton and Prince William's online influence

Catherine, Princess of Wales, and William, Prince of Wales, launched their YouTube channel in May 2021. Their inaugural video got over 5 million views, and they quickly racked up more than 600,000 subscribers. While this is great news for the couple's many royal patronages and projects, like The EarthShot Price, which awards innovative ideas for combating climate change, their blossoming online presence is also a quantifiable commodity. 

The Wales' potential financial clout was even noticed by content marketing agency Rise at Seven. PR director Will Hobson told Forbes, "Kate and William's move to YouTube has taken the world by storm this week, but could it be a money move." He added, "Once you hit over 1,000 subscribers on YouTube you can then monetize your content and Kate and Wills are set to rake it in within the next 12 months." Hobson estimated that they could bring in $6.1 million from both their YouTube and Instagram accounts, thus boosting the royal couple's already impressive finances.

Whether they're hoping for the financial gain or for greater online exposure, William and Kate posted the news that they were hiring a digital lead, per The U.S. Sun, in July 2022. "The successful candidate will lead the strategy and management of the official social media channels of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook)," the job posting read. It's unclear whether the position's already been filled, but it certainly looks like these two are set to make their online presence a major undertaking.

Kate Middleton's luxury taste

Catherine, Princess of Wales, is frequently spotted in accessible clothing, with her favorites and most frequent coming from places like Reiss, Superga, & Other Stories, and Zara. While these brands are more affordable, some of her looks are of a much more luxurious vein. 

Kate Middleton's wedding dress, for example, by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen cost £250,000 (around $323,732), according to the Daily Mail. Meanwhile, when she visited Canada in 2016, she wore a coat by British designer Catherine Walker & Co valued at $4,000, per Elle. Kate is also a huge fan of Jenny Packham and often wears custom made clothes by the designer, including a $5,000 blue dress and an iconic shimmering gown that's estimated to be worth a little over $3,710, as reported by Elle. The Daily Mail noted that her wardrobe cost roughly £174,000 — or $190,361.57 — that year alone. 

So, who's paid for all of this? As The Telegraph noted in 2018, the sum would have been paid for by King Charles III when he was still the Duke of Cornwall; the future monarch also paid for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wardrobes when they were still senior royals. Now that Charles is the king, however, Prince William has taken over the Duchy of Cornwall estate, according to Fortune. We'll dive into the specifics of that below, but for now, it seems safe to say that Kate can order all the dresses she wants, designer or otherwise.

The Prince and Princess of Wales inherited a lucrative estate

Things majorly changed for Kate Middleton and Prince William, aka the Princess and Prince of Wales, when they inherited their new titles following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022, and the change came precisely because of the Duchy of Cornwall estate. As previously mentioned, the $1.2 billion estate, as Newsweek pointed out, was what funded much of William and Kate's lives when they were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Interestingly though, the estate went entirely to William — the newly titled Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge — because the "property portfolio ... belongs to the office rather than the individual," per Newsweek. It's a cash cow, for sure. As Forbes noted, the Duchy made around $27 million from 2021 to 2022 alone.

The Duchy would also provide the Wales' funds to keep their initiatives and royal projects going strong. "We might see a big new project but I don't think it will be immediate," royal biographer Ingrid Seward told Newsweek. "I'm sure there will be something, William will want to make the role his own and it will be something big." 

But it's not like King Charles III lost anything in the climb of becoming king. The former Duke of Cornwall inherited the queen's private estates, which Forbes estimated at $500 million. Basically, all members of the royal family are sitting pretty.

Despite all of this, Kate Middleton keeps things down-to-earth

While Catherine, Princess of Wales, seems to have access to everything she could dream of, she still catches a lot of attention for keeping things simple. Kate Middleton has famously done much of the family photography, including sweet shots of Prince George's first day at school or Princess Charlotte's baby photos, according to Glamour. Her talent with photography also meant that she became a patron of the National Portrait Gallery, so she works within her passions, for sure.

Kate has also charmed fans by how much she does by herself. Of course, for a normal person, this might not be all that laudable, but in the era of glam-squads, the fact that the royal did her own wedding makeup is indeed impressive. Kate also, as Vogue noted, is known to repeat her outfits over and over again. And when the Princess of Wales was on the cover of British Vogue? She drove by herself to the shoot.

When it comes to parenting, especially, Kate likes to keep things as down-to-earth and hands-on as possible in lieu of any royal pretension. In July 2022, for example, an insider told Hello! that she brought Princes George and Louis to a local trampoline park in London over the weekend. "She ... took her shoes off like everyone else, and was walking around the edge of the trampolines following her sons," the source said. "It was a very down-to-earth mum moment, very sweet."