Kate Middleton is like few royals anyone has ever seen. For starters, she's only a royal by choice and spent the first 29 years of her non-royal life traveling freely, without cameras documenting her every move, getting the best education, and interacting with ordinary folks — within reason. Let's not get crazy here, she still comes from a privileged, upper middle class family with a $50 million net worth. Still, in her time since becoming a royal, Kate Middleton has done plenty to break the mold.
By royal standards, Middleton is as middle class as a diner and a chocolate shake. I'm imagining three of the biggest reasons why royalty often stick with marrying royalty are: 1) Intense familial pressure and who in the hell wants to deal with all that? 2) Royals hang out with other royals so there's a better chance of hooking up. 3) A non-royal is going to try and impose her middle class will on everyone and drag them, kicking and screaming, out of the 18th Century with her fun times.
Middleton deserves an award for the number of times she has managed to break the royal mold and give the traditional family a "first" it never knew it needed. Here are nine of her finest "first" moments.
1. When She Visited A Women's Jail
As part of her work as a patron of Action on Addiction, Middleton visited female prisoners who have suffered from drug addiction at HMP Send near Surrey earlier this week. The 33-year-old sat and spoke with several former addicts to learn about how their addictions played a role in their offenses and how she can help. It was the first time any royal visited a prison and was an amazingly human move on the part of the Duchess of Cambridge.
2. When She Became The Oldest Bride In Royal Family History
Middleton married Prince William in 2011, when she was 29 — hardly a spinster, but nine years older than her mother-in-law Princess Diana was at the time she married Prince Charles and seven years older than Queen Elizabeth at her wedding. Sign of the times, for sure, but also a sign that Kate don't give a damn about old-timey royal tradition if it gets in the way of her education and career.
3. When She Got Cozy With A Basketball Star
When Prince William and Middleton hung out with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2014, they were so cool they inspired LeBron James to "break protocol" and put his arm around Middleton, proving these two can make anyone feel comfortable in their presence. The look on Middleton's face says it all: Big whoop. Haven't you ever had a basketball legend throw his arm around you?
4. When She & Will Spent Christmas Alone
Gone are the days of feeling like they have to do everything their family says in order to make everyone else happy. When Middleton was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum while pregnant with Charlotte, Prince William reportedly put his foot down and informed the Queen that he and Middleton would be spending most of the Christmas holiday alone in their country estate so that he could give his wife a relaxing, "low-key" holiday.
5. When She Wore A Sheer Dress At A Fashion Show
It's difficult to imagine it now, but rumor has it that Prince William fell for Middleton after she walked in a runway show at St. Andrew's University wearing this totally sheer lingerie top and black panties. The outfit, which sold in an auction for $125,000, would never get the Queen's approval these days.
6. When She Did Her Own Wedding Makeup
After taking private lessons with makeup artist Arabella Preston, it seems Middleton is so freaking chill that she decided she'd have oodles of time to wake up on her wedding day and do her own makeup. Seriously, who does that? Is she even real?! She's kind of like the indie rock star of princesses. While I don't have evidence that no other member of British royalty ever opted to apply her own eyeshadow on the biggest day of her life (believe it or not, this isn't the sort of info that just pops up after an intensive online search), I'm willing to bet lots of money on it. Any takers?
7. Everything About George's Christening
Prince George's christening marked one of the first times the royal couple made it plain and clear they would be sticking with some traditions and discarding others in favor of more modern choices. They chose friends as his godparents and held the ceremony at the Chapel Royal in St. James's Palace rather than at Buckingham Palace, where Princes William and Harry were baptized.
8. When She & Will Let The Public Take Part In Princess Charlotte's Christening
There were quite a few beautiful, traditional moments at Princess Charlotte's christening, because tradition can be wonderful, after all. But again, Middleton's influence was felt in the venue. This time around they christened their baby at St. Mary Magdalene in Sandringham, Norfolk, again decided to choose friends and a cousin as Charlotte's grandparents instead of straight-up royals, and welcomed the public to a field outside of the church where they happily posed for photos.
9. When She Chose Her Mom Over A Nanny
With no disrespect intended to all of the amazing nannies out there in the universe, the royal nannies must be vetted in a way that makes me sweat just thinking about it. While Middleton would surely have nothing to worry about leaving George and Charlotte in the care of a trusted nanny, she asked mom Carole Middleton to help out instead after Charlotte's birth — something that certainly isn't typical among the royals. She and Prince William also reportedly made the call not to hire a second nanny to assist in their care because they want to be as hands-on as possible.
Middleton isn't outright trying to destroy everything the royals have known for hundreds of years, but her "middle class" input is refreshing, inspirational, and far more inclusive.