About The Princess of Wales
The Princess of Wales, born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, married Prince William, The Prince of Wales, at Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011. Their Royal Highnesses have three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. The family's official residence is Kensington Palace. As well as undertaking royal duties in support of The King, both in the UK and overseas, Her Royal Highness devotes her time to supporting a number of charitable causes and organisations, several of which are centred around providing children with the best possible start in life.
Early Childhood Support
Through her work over the past decade The Princess of Wales has seen first-hand how some of today’s hardest social challenges have their roots in the earliest years of a person’s life. The Princess is committed to raising awareness of the importance of early childhood experiences and of collaborative action in order to improve outcomes across society.
In March 2018, Her Royal Highness convened a steering group to look at what could be done to bring about long-lasting change to the lives of children, by focussing on their earliest stage of life from pre-birth to 5 years of age. The steering group's recommendations, on behalf of The Princess, have formed the basis of The Royal Foundation's strategy for developing her work in this area in years to come.
In January 2020, The Princess launched ‘5 Big Questions on the Under Fives’ – a landmark survey which aimed to start a nationwide conversation on early childhood. The findings of the survey were unveiled later that year, alongside in-depth qualitative and ethnographic research conducted by Ipsos MORI.
In June 2021, Her Royal Highness highlighted her dedication to the cause by launching The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, which will drive awareness of and action on the extraordinary impact of the early years, in order to transform society for generations to come. In February 2022, Her Royal Highness visited Denmark to learn about the Danish approach to early childhood development and to explore how The Centre for Early Childhood can take learnings from this world-leading work.
“I have seen that experiences such as homelessness, addiction, and poor mental health are often grounded in a difficult childhood. But I have also seen, how positive protective factors in the early years can play a critical role in shaping our futures too.” - The Princess of Wales
Children's Mental Health
As part of Her Royal Highness's work around early childhood, The Princess of Wales is a committed champion of issues related to children’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. Her Royal Highness has worked to bring wider public attention to the fact that issues facing children today such as addiction, poverty, abuse, neglect, loss and illness of family members, can have a long-lasting and traumatic impact if left unsupported. Moreover, academic research has shown conclusively that early childhood trauma will affect mental health long into adulthood, with significant costs to individuals, their families, society and the economy.
In particular, Her Royal Highness has highlighted the need for open and honest conversations about the subject of mental health to try and combat stigma, and also the importance of early intervention mental health support for young people, to tackle these issues at the earliest possible stage so that children have the brightest possible futures.
In 2017 The Princess of Wales championed the Heads Together mental health campaign with The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Sussex. Together, they lead a coalition of eight mental health charity partners to change the national conversation on mental health: Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families; Best Beginnings; CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably; Contact (a military mental health coalition); Mind; Place2Be; The Mix; and YoungMinds. The campaign aimed to build on existing progress nationwide in tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health problems.
Heads Together was privileged to be the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon Charity of the Year giving the campaign a positive platform to raise funds for the charity partners and to start millions of conversations about mental wellbeing.
Since then The Prince and Princess of Wales have continued to spearhead and support a range of mental health programmes through The Royal Foundation, including the Mentally Healthy Schools and Mental Health at Work initiatives, and Shout 85258, a free crisis text line providing 24/7 support for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis.
Sport and the Outdoors
The Princess of Wales strongly believes that spending time outdoors plays a pivotal role in children’s future health and happiness, building foundations that last through childhood and over a lifetime.
The Princess is also keen sportswoman and strongly believes that physical health not only complements mental health, but also has the power to engage, educate and inspire and change lives for the better. Her Royal Highness's passion for sport, nature and the outdoors stems from her own experience and enjoyment of playing tennis and hockey and sailing from a young age.
In 2019, The Princess designed and built a series of Back to Nature gardens which were displayed at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival. The gardens aimed to highlight how spending time outdoors can enrich a child’s early development by encouraging active exploration and providing the opportunity to form and strengthen positive relationships. The project culminated in the creation of a permanent Back to Nature play garden at RHS Wisley, which Her Royal Highness officially opened in September 2019.
Her Royal Highness has continued this work by showing her support for those organisations working to ensure young people have access to get outdoors to enjoy the natural world and take part in physical activity. She is Royal Patron of several sport-related institutions: SportsAid, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, The Lawn Tennis Association, and The 1851 Trust.
The Princess of Wales has a longstanding interest in the visual arts, photography, design and textiles, having studied History of Art at St. Andrews University. Her Royal Highness is Patron of several arts organisations, including the National Portrait Gallery, the V&A and the Royal Photographic Society.
A passionate photographer, The Princess has shared many of her photos with the public over the years. In January 2020 she took part in a special photography project to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, contributing two powerful photographic portraits of Holocaust survivors and their families.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in May 2020 Her Royal Highness created Hold Still, a photography project launched in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, which invited members of the public to share photographic portraits they had taken during lockdown, providing a unique record of the nation’s shared and individual experiences as the pandemic took hold.
From over 31,000 entries a final selection of 100 portraits were chosen to form a digital exhibition, which was later brought to the streets of the UK as part of a community exhibition. The project culminated in the publication of the Hold Still book, proceeds of which were shared between leading mental health charity Mind and the National Portrait Gallery to support arts and mental health projects across the UK.
The Princess of Wales is Patron of a number of organisations which have close association with her specific charitable interests, and where she feels her support can make a difference. These broadly reflect her desire to help the most vulnerable children, young people and their families, as well as to promote opportunities though sport and the outdoors, and showcasing national institutions which reflect her love of the visual arts.
As their Royal Patron, Her Royal Highness will support their key projects and initiatives, spotlight their work through her programme of official engagements and where appropriate by convening organisations to work in support of each other.
The Royal Foundation
The Princess of Wales, like her husband, also directs her own philanthropic work through The Royal Foundation.
The Foundation develops programmes and charitable projects based on the interests of Their Royal Highnesses by working with organisations which are already making a proven impact in their respective fields. The Royal Foundation mobilises leaders, businesses and people so that together we can address society’s greatest challenges. The organisation’s work is built on world-class research, long-term partnerships, and measurable, scalable impact.
The Princess of Wales became a member of the Royal Family in 2011, upon her marriage to Prince William. Since that time, she has taken on Royal duties in support of The Queen, and now The King, through engagements at home and overseas, alongside a portfolio of charitable work and patronages.
Following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, The King announced in his address to the Nation and Commonwealth that his eldest son will now be known as The Prince of Wales, and his wife will be The Princess of Wales.
The Royal Highness's charitable work is driven by a personal desire to help make a difference in some key areas, where she feels her support can help. In recent years, The Princess has drawn attention to the importance of supporting the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children, the impact of addiction on children and families, and the necessary measures to support children suffering from family breakdown.
Catherine Elizabeth Middleton was born to Michael and Carole Middleton at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, on 9 January 1982. The Princess of Wales is the eldest of three children, and was christened at the parish church of St. Andrew’s Bradfield in Berkshire on 20 June 1982. In May 1984, at the age of two, The Princess moved with her family to Amman in Jordan, where her father worked for two and a half years. Her Royal Highness attended a nursery school in Amman from the age of three.
In September 1986, the Middletons returned to their home in West Berkshire, and Her Royal Highness started at St. Andrew’s School in Pangbourne, where she remained until July 1995. Her Royal Highness went on to Marlborough College in Wiltshire, where she studied Chemistry, Biology and Art at A-level. Her Royal Highness also took part in sport on behalf of the school, playing tennis, hockey and netball and participating in athletics, particularly high jump.
Leaving Marlborough College in July 2000, The Princess of Wales undertook a gap year in which she studied at the British Institute in Florence, undertook a Raleigh International programme in Chile, and crewed on Round the World Challenge boats in the Solent.
In 2001, Her Royal Highness enrolled at the University of St. Andrews, Fife, from where she graduated in 2005 with a 2:1 in History of Art. Her Royal Highness continued with her interest in sport at University, playing hockey for the University team. The Princess first met Prince William when studying at the University.
On 29 April 2011, Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton were married at Westminster Abbey. The couple are now known as The Prince and Princess of Wales, having formally been known as The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge.
They have three children; a son, George Alexander Louis, born on 22 July 2013, a daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, born on 2 May 2015, and a son, Prince Louis Arthur Charles, born on 23 April 2018. Their official residence is at Kensington Palace.
Supporting the Monarch
The Princess of Wales worked in support of The Queen in carrying out Royal duties both at home and overseas. She has been hugely inspired by the leadership The Queen has provided for 70 years and going forward will continue to play her part in supporting and celebrating The King in the UK and around the Commonwealth wherever possible.
Her Royal Highness supported The Queen and the Royal Family in a number of ways. Her Royal Highness regularly undertakes Royal engagements in towns and cities across the United Kingdom, joining other members of The Royal Family on occasions. She also plays a full role at annual Royal events. These include:
• Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace
• Celebrating Trooping the Colour
• Joining members of the Royal Family in welcoming Heads of State on State Visits to the UK
• The Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London
The Princess of Wales joined her husband and members of The Royal Family to lead moments of national commemoration for the two World Wars in Europe. Together Their Royal Highnesses attended the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Arromanches in June 2014 where they met veterans and their families. They also led the August 2014 services commemorating the centenary of the First World War in Liege, joining Prince Harry at a service in Saint Symphorien cemetery near Mons, Belgium.
In 2016, The Princess of Wales joined other members of The Royal Family at events in France to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. In July 2017, Her Royal Highness joined The Prince of Wales (then The Duke of Cambridge) and The King and Queen of the Belgians at the commemorations to mark the centenary of Passchendaele – The Third Battle of Ypres, in Belgium.
Since 2011, The Princess of Wales has carried out a number of overseas visits with her husband including to Realm and Commonwealth nations on behalf of The Queen, or to undertake an official tour to represent Britain at the request of the Government. Her Royal Highness's first official overseas tour was to Canada in July 2011. For their second tour, in 2012 The Prince and Princess of Wales visited Malaysia, Singapore, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu as part of Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee year celebrations.
Their Royal Highnesses, with Prince George, then visited New Zealand and Australia in Spring 2014, followed by New York in December 2014. The couple also visited India, Bhutan and Canada in 2016 and Paris, Poland and Germany in 2017. The Princess made solo visits to the Netherlands in October 2016 and, at the request of Her Majesty's Government, to Luxembourg in May 2017 to participate in the official commemoration of the 1867 Treaty of London. During the visit, Her Royal Highness also attended a series of engagements to celebrate the cultural and historic ties between the UK and Luxembourg.
In 2018 Their Royal Highnesses visited Sweden, where they met Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, and Norway, meeting Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit for a series of engagements in the country.
National Sporting Events
The Princess of Wales, herself a keen sportswoman, also represents The Royal Family at major national sporting events to reflect the nation's support, in particular when Great Britain is acting as the host nation of a major event. Along with Prince Harry, The Prince and Princess of Wales were Official Ambassadors for Team GB and Paralympic GB in the lead up to, and during, the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Again at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, Their Royal Highnesses joined the thousands of fans watching the sports at the venues and also meeting the athletes. They joined forces again in 2014 to witness the spectacular Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire, where they signalled the start of the race, and in 2015 supported Prince Harry in his role as President of the Rugby World Cup.
Her Royal Highness is an enthusiastic tennis fan and has regularly attended the Wimbledon Championships, including the men's final in 2014 and 2016, and the semi-final in 2015. At the end of The Queen's 90th birthday year, in 2016, Her Majesty stepped down as Patron from a number of national organisations – at this time The Princess of Wales became Patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association. Her Royal Highness's first visit to The Championships as Patron of the AELTC was in July 2017.