Believe it or not, but it’s been almost a decade since Kate Middleton married Prince William. And in the intervening years, Kate’s life has certainly been eventful. She’s become a mother to three children, for one, and has also undertaken her fair share of charitable and diplomatic duties. But that work hasn’t gone unnoticed, as the Queen saw fit to give Kate a very special gift that coincided with the eighth anniversary of the duchess’ wedding.
Naturally, Kate would be rather tricky to get an anniversary gift for if you weren’t actually the Queen herself. As the Duchess of Cambridge, you see, she likely has access to most of the material goods that a person could possibly want. And even before she married William, she came from an affluent background.
But, of course, the Queen has more wealth than even Kate and William, meaning she can hand out jewels and treasures whenever she sees fit. Still, when Kate and William’s eighth wedding anniversary rolled around in 2019, the British monarch decided to give the duchess something other than diamonds and tiaras. And the honor in question suggests just how much the Queen holds Kate in high esteem.
Before Kate married William, she was a commoner – or, in other words, a normal, non-royal person. And this fact didn’t endear her to some commentators in the media. Indeed, according to The Washington Post, royalist James Whitaker once said of William’s future bride, “I do query whether Kate Middleton has the background and breeding to be queen one day.”
And it’s true that Kate had no aristocratic upbringing. Her great-great-grandfather, for example, worked in coal mines – certainly a job no current royal has ever embarked upon. Her mother, meanwhile, had at one point been a flight attendant, and this had reportedly made Kate the target of snobbery. Allegedly, William’s upper-class peers used to murmur “doors to manual” whenever the future duchess came into the room.
But those people wouldn’t dare to do such a thing now – not least because of Kate’s position within the British royal family. Yes, as many know, on April 29, 2011, Kate married William. And just before the wedding, the Queen granted William the titles of Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. This meant that when Kate said “I do,” she automatically became the Duchess of Cambridge.
Indeed, the Queen did the same thing when Prince Harry married Meghan Markle. On the day of the wedding, Harry was given the titles of Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel, with Meghan thus becoming Duchess of Sussex upon tying the knot. Both Kate and Meghan are each entitled to be called “Her Royal Highness,” too.
And Kate and William’s nuptials arguably marked a turning point for the royal family. After years of controversies and troubles – not least the death of William’s mother, Princess Diana – suddenly the royals were young and cool again. Kate was not only relatable as a commoner, you see, but she was also poised and sophisticated enough to be a good match for William.
The wedding ceremony itself, meanwhile, certainly didn’t go unnoticed. The event was massive in Britain, with thousands of street parties held to mark the occasion. A million people also crowded around Buckingham Palace to catch a glimpse of the bride and groom; worldwide, at least 36 million others additionally watched the service.
And the Queen was on hand to provide gifts for the happy couple. In addition to the royal titles she granted the pair, she also presented them with some more tangible items. One prestigious gift was an entire house, known as Anmer Hall, which falls within the Sandringham estate. These days, it serves as a second home for Kate, William and their children.
Not only that, but the Queen also provided the beautiful tiara that Kate wore on her wedding day. This particular accessory, known as the Cartier Halo tiara, has a long history. The Queen’s father, King George VI, originally purchased the headpiece for his wife, after which the Queen Mother passed it down to the then-Princess Elizabeth when she turned 18. And the stunning item has been in the monarch’s collection ever since.
In fact, the Queen seems more than happy to loan jewelry to Kate. When the duchess visited Canada not long after her wedding, for example, she wore a brooch shaped like a maple leaf – another piece passed down to the Queen from her mother. And it should come as no surprise to anybody that the brooch is also extremely valuable.
What’s more, Kate has even been allowed to wear the Queen’s wedding jewelry on occasion. A beautiful diamond piece was spotted around the duchess’ neck when she visited the National Portrait Gala in 2014, and this had been a wedding present given to the Queen by the monarch of Hyderabad. As a result, then, the item is known as the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace.
But it appears that jewelry isn’t the only gift that is fit for a queen. Indeed, in a 2016 British documentary titled Our Queen at Ninety, the duchess revealed that she had once given her grandmother-in-law a rather more down-to-earth offering.
“I was worried what to give the Queen as her Christmas present. I was thinking, ‘Gosh, what should I give her?’” Kate told the cameras. “I thought back to what would I give my own grandparents. And I thought, ‘I’ll make her something,’ which could have gone horribly wrong. But I decided to make my granny’s recipe of chutney.”
Fortunately, though, the Queen appeared to appreciate the gesture. “I was slightly worried about it, but I noticed the next day that [the chutney] was on the table,” Kate added. “I think such a simple gesture went such a long way for me. And I’ve noticed since [that] she’s done that on lots of occasions, and I think it just shows her thoughtfulness, really, and her care in looking after everybody.”
But homemade chutney aside, the royal Christmas celebrations aren’t necessarily what you might think. Reportedly, the Queen prefers that family members give each other silly gifts rather than expensive and luxurious ones. And it seems that the funnier the present is, the better. Harry apparently once gifted the Queen with a shower cap that was emblazoned with the slogan “Ain’t Life a B****.”
Unfortunately, details of any wacky gifts that Kate may have given the Queen remain undisclosed at this time. Nevertheless, reports have claimed that before Harry met Meghan, Kate gave her brother-in-law a “Grow Your Own Girlfriend” kit – although his reaction upon receiving the present is sadly something we may never know.
And over the years, the public has seen snippets of what appear to be a touching friendship between Kate and the Queen. At the very least, when the two are pictured together, they are often laughing and seem to be having fun. In fact, when the royal duo visited King’s College London in March 2019, they were even seen sharing the same blanket.
Months before the trip to the college, however, it became obvious that the Queen had granted a very special honor to Kate. When the duchess attended a Buckingham Palace state dinner in October 2018, she was dressed to the nines in not only a stunning gown and suitably resplendent jewelry, but also an intriguing new accessory.
Fixed to Kate’s Alexander McQueen dress, you see, was the badge of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II. This item can only be worn at special events – meaning you won’t see it on Kate during a walkabout – and it has an important meaning. Specifically, the Queen dispenses the award to members of her family in honor of exemplary service.
And the badge of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II is practically impossible to miss on a person. It features a small picture of the Queen that is usually applied onto ivory, while the image itself is also decorated with diamonds and put onto a ribbon – a yellow one, in Kate’s case. On the reverse side of the badge, meanwhile, is St. Edward’s crown and the royal cypher.
Interestingly, though, Kate’s badge was made from glass instead of ivory, as sporting the latter material would have been very inappropriate. After all, her husband actively campaigns for animal rights and the end of the ivory trade with the charity Tusk Trust. It’s true, too, that Britain has very strict laws about ivory sales.
And it’s unsurprising that the bestowal of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II received no fanfare prior to the October 2018 event, as the Queen does not make any sort of announcement about the matter. In fact, it later transpired that Kate had actually received the award in 2017 and had worn it to the Diplomatic Corps reception. Since no photographs of the occasion had been made public, though, nobody had known of the honor at that time.
That said, the Royal Family Order isn’t the highest award that Kate can receive from the Queen. And in April 2019 this became clear when it was reported that Kate had been given an even more special honor for her eighth wedding anniversary: the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.
The Royal Victorian Order has a history dating back to the 19th century; as the name suggests, it was first created by Queen Victoria herself. And according to the official website for the British royals, “Awards in the Royal Victorian Order are made personally by the Queen for services to the sovereign.”
What’s more, the honor is perhaps even more significant owing to the fact that Kate will be queen consort one day. Reportedly, the Queen and Kate have been secretly meeting each other so that the duchess can be taught the intricate details of her future role, which will come with even more responsibilities than her current position.
And the role of a queen consort is indeed complex. In the past, it was primarily focused on providing heirs for the male ruler; luckily, though, times have since changed. Yet while Kate won’t share any military or political authority with William when he becomes king – British monarchs have little political clout anyway – she will have a higher status than she does at present.
According to anonymous insiders, moreover, Kate’s meetings with the Queen are going well. “Sometimes they’ll casually catch up over afternoon tea,” a source told Us Weekly in 2019. “But other times, they’ll have more formal meetings, where the Queen will give intense one-on-one training about taking the crown.”
The source went on, “[The Queen has] told her a lot about her own experiences. She’s really taken Kate under her wing. The two of them will often spend hours discussing royal life and the future of the monarchy.” In addition, Kate is apparently being taught to perfect her ability to speak to audiences.
However, if Kate is ever nervous in front of crowds, she does an excellent job of not showing it. And since becoming duchess, she’s had to take on many public engagements – not least through her work as the patron of many charities. These include Action on Addiction, Place2Be and East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice. Her favored causes, it seems, usually relate to kids’ issues or addiction aid.
And along with her husband and Harry, Kate has also spearheaded a campaign called Heads Together. This was aimed at getting people to talk about mental health issues and thus raise awareness and reduce stigma. Kate herself opened up in 2016 about the problems she had faced upon becoming a mother.
Plus, during the course of her career, Kate has also served as an ambassador, having traveled all over the globe to meet with both world leaders and regular people alongside her husband. This means attending everything from parties to memorials. Kate has done a lot of work, in fact – and now she has a badge to honor her endeavors.
It should be noted, though, that the badge of the Royal Victorian Order is different to that of the Royal Family Order; the mark of a GVCO is a Maltese cross with the Royal Cypher of Queen Victoria on it. And now that Kate has the medal, she should wear it on a sash whenever an occasion to display it arises. She’s also gained the title of Dame Grand Cross, so she can have the letters GVCO follow her name.
Needless to say, titles can be a big deal to royals. Reportedly, Diana was devastated when “Her Royal Highness” was taken away from her after her divorce from Prince Charles. But according to Diana’s butler Paul Burrell, William once promised his mother that he would reinstate her title after beginning his reign as king.
And when William and Kate began to have their own children, they too were given titles. From the moment of his birth, for example, Prince George has been known as “His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.” Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis similarly possess the “HRH” honor.
However, Harry’s son, Archie, won’t be referred to as “His Royal Highness” – for the time being, anyway. Harry and Meghan chose not to give their child a title, you see, as reportedly they want him to have a regular life. That said, the seventh in line could have been an earl or a lord.
And such are the complexities of royal titles that Archie’s status may well change when he gets older. When Queen Elizabeth passes away and Charles takes the throne, everything will be shaken up a little. For example, as the grandchild of the monarch, Archie may indeed be known as “His Royal Highness”; Kate’s title may differ eventually, too.
Then, although it’s a long way away, ultimately George will likely have the crown. If, for whatever reason, he chooses not to take it, however, it would go to Charlotte. Either way, if one of Kate’s children becomes monarch during her own lifetime, she could call herself Queen Catherine, the Queen Mother.
Yet such things are probably far away from Kate’s mind at the moment. Her children are still very young, after all, and William probably won’t be king for a long time yet. And while the duchess’ role will naturally change after her husband ascends the throne, it seems that her grandmother-in-law considers her more than up to the job.