The Future Queen


By Katie Nicholl

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From the bestselling author of William and Harry and renowned Royal Family news correspondent Katie Nicholl, comes the first in-depth biography of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.

Katie Nicholl, bestselling author and royal correspondent for The Mail on Sunday, gives an inside look into the life of the future Queen of England, Kate Middleton. Since becoming Duchess Catherine of Cambridge in 2011, Middleton has captivated royals fans around the world and now, Nicholl delivers the story of her early life, first romances, and love with Prince William. Nicholl will reveal new details on Middleton’s initiation into royal life and, of course, her first pregnancy.



When Catherine Elizabeth Middleton married Prince William, the future King of the United Kingdom, a new chapter of royal history was written. Kate, as she is best known, was the first “commoner” to marry into the royal family since the seventeenth century. Since her arrival, she has revitalized the British monarchy, whose members in turn have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity they feared might never occur following the death of Diana, the Princess of Wales, in 1997.

Now we have Kate. On July 22, 2013, at 4:24 P.M., she delivered a son, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, an heir and future King. She has, both metaphorically and literally, breathed new life into the British monarchy, producing the first Prince of Cambridge for over a century, and securing the lineage of the House of Windsor. Great Britain now has three generations of heirs awaiting the throne for the first time since Queen Victoria’s reign, 150 years ago.

Royal constitution dictates that King Charles and possibly Queen Camilla will reign before King William V and Queen Catherine, but it is most likely that it will be Kate and William who will continue to drive and revitalize the monarchy over the coming years.

While Diana reignited the royal family, she also rocked the royal institution to its core. Kate, however, has taken to her role seamlessly, embracing the royal rule book. She is adored by the Queen and has won the admiration of the rest of the family. Now the world will wait to see how she and William raise their firstborn. Those close to the couple believe it will be with a hands-on approach, with as little stuffiness as possible. Although this child will always be His Royal Highness, destined to rule and be raised in palaces, Kate, along with her close-knit loving family, will enrich this future monarch’s life considerably.

For the very first time, the direct heir to the throne has middle- and working-class blood coursing through his veins. With his mother’s ancestry rooted in the mines of Durham and the textile mills of Leeds, this is a prince descended from coal miners as well as kings and queens. Kate is a middle-class girl, one of the people. She is truly a “people’s princess.” Certainly, since her and William’s fairy-tale romance and now the birth of their first baby, Kate has enchanted her future subjects. She is that iconic British girl from the Home Counties who got her prince and is now the mother of the future King.

This is the story of a young woman who now calls Kensington Palace home and is reshaping the future of the world’s most famous royal family. This is the story of Kate: The Future Queen.


Once Upon a Time

AS SHE LISTENED to the silence across the white snow-carpeted fields outside her window, Carole Middleton began to feel uneasy. On the radio, the Met Office was issuing a severe weather warning, and she knew that one more heavy snowfall would mean that her village would be cut off. Inside, the log fire offered warmth and some comfort, but Carole, who had been in the first stages of labor since the early hours, decided she had waited long enough to make the call.

Her husband, Michael, a flight dispatcher with British Airways, was working shifts at the airport, a forty-minute drive away, and had asked Carole to call him as soon as the contractions started. Not knowing how they would feel and aware that first babies can take their time to arrive, Carole had held off speaking to him until she was sure that the pains were not false alarms. She had called the local GP, who put her mind at rest by reassuring her that he would send an air ambulance if Michael wasn’t back in time to drive her to the labor ward. Carole wasn’t quite sure if he was joking.

Carole’s friend and neighbor, a woman who was known to everyone in the village as George Brown, who was also due to give birth that same week, remembered the morning well, “It was a bitterly cold winter, there was lots of snow and we were both worried we would not make it to the Royal Berkshire Hospital because the snow was so heavy. Carole was really very concerned, but the doctor said he would get a helicopter to land in the field if need be.”

In the event, Carole and Michael did get through the snow and to the hospital in time, and their baby, Catherine Elizabeth Middleton—known today as Kate—was born on January 9, 1982. The birth went smoothly; Carole delivered her firstborn naturally, recovered well, and was home within several days, with her precious newborn daughter.

“I saw Carole a week later,” recalled Mrs. Brown. “She had had an easy and natural birth, which didn’t surprise me. Carole was fit and competent from the word go. She seemed to take to motherhood amazingly well, and when I went round to see her, she was happily breastfeeding and seemed to know exactly what she was doing. Catherine was a lovely little baby, cherubic and chubby cheeked and so good. I remember she didn’t cry much at all. I think that was probably because Carole was so relaxed.”

She had always wanted to be a mother and shortly after she found out she was pregnant, Carole, a flight attendant for British Airways, decided to leave her job. Although she loved her career, she knew that globe-trotting, working shifts, and spending days and nights abroad were not conducive to raising a family. So it was with some sadness that she gave up work, as she had dreamed of being a flight attendant since she was a schoolgirl. A university education had not been an option for her because there was simply not enough money, and no one in her family had ever gone on to further their education. After leaving school at sixteen and working for a while in the clothing store C & A, Carole enrolled in a training program with British Airways. It was 1974 and air travel was still a novelty—the majority of the British public had never even been on a plane—and being a flight attendant was seen as prestigious and glamorous. Working for a high-profile airline such as British Airways was a feather in Carole’s cap. Slim and pretty, she cut an elegant figure in her tailored blue jacket and skirt, red cravat, and smart pillbox hat, a uniform that she wore with great pride.

Carole was excited about the prospect of jetting around the world. Coming as she did from a modest background, family holidays were always spent in Britain on the south coast or walking in the countryside, and so the prospect of a job flying to exotic corners of the globe was wonderfully tantalizing. Her younger brother, Gary Goldsmith, recalled how she would practice flight announcements to perfect her technique. “I remember her training,” he told the Mail on Sunday. “She used to practice doing her announcements on a tape recorder, much to my amusement.”

When Carole qualified, her parents, Ron and Dorothy Goldsmith, were “over the moon,” according to Gary. At school she had worked hard to pass her exams and now she was truly making something of her life. According to Jean Harrison, Dorothy’s cousin, “When Carole became an air hostess, Ron and Dorothy were thrilled. It was a big job. I worked for British Airways at the same time Carole was there, but I was on the computer side. It was a big, exciting business to work for and a very respectable role.”

The only daughter of Ron Goldsmith, a painter and decorator from Southall, and Dorothy Harrison, a shopkeeper from Hetton-le-Hole, a Durham coal-mining town, Carole came from humble roots. She had her parents to thank for the fact that she was given a decent education and a loving family home. Their upbringing had not been nearly as comfortable as hers.

Dorothy—Kate’s maternal grandmother—was born into abject poverty. She was the daughter of Thomas Harrison and Elizabeth Temple. Thomas grew up in northeast England, close to the historic town of Durham, where his father and several generations before him had been coal miners. One of six siblings, Thomas was just fourteen years old when his father, John Harrison, was killed during World War I, a few weeks before armistice. The loss of her husband and the brutality of coal mining impelled Thomas’s mother, Jane, to try to carve out a different path for her son, and she apprenticed him to her carpenter father, determined that at least one of her children would learn a trade.

It turned out that she was tremendously forward thinking, for during the Depression of the late 1920s, as the demand for coal decreased, the industrial areas of the northeast were badly hit and mining no longer offered the job security it had for so many previous generations in Thomas’s family. Fortunately, there was a construction boom after the war, and tradesmen were in great demand. Thomas was therefore able to put his carpentry skills to use and spent the interwar years working in different parts of the northeast. It was while living in Easington Lane, a village near his mother, that he met Elizabeth Temple, the daughter of a farmworker. She already had a daughter, Ruth—scandalously born out of wedlock—a sweet child who Thomas took to at once.

Kate’s great-grandparents, Thomas and Elizabeth, married in 1934 and moved back to his home village of Hetton-le-Hole. A year later Elizabeth gave birth to her second daughter, Dorothy, and life passed by uneventfully until the outbreak of World War II, when Thomas was called up to fight. Unlike his father, Thomas survived the war, and on his return, fearing that there wouldn’t be enough work in the north of the country, he moved his family down to Southall on the outskirts of London, where he hoped to find enough employment to support his family.

Life postwar was tougher than Thomas had ever experienced. He found it hard to make ends meet and was forced to live in a dilapidated house in Bankside at the edge of the Grand Union Canal. Elizabeth contributed as much as she could, raising chickens and growing vegetables on a small farm nearby, but Ruth and Dorothy often had to go without. Despite their poverty, the two parents worked extremely hard, and Dorothy came to admire them and appreciate the values they instilled in her. As she grew into adolescence, she turned out to be a feisty girl with a steely determination to achieve. She dressed well and went out to earn money as soon as she was able, finding work as a sales assistant in local shops. It was while working in a branch of Dorothy Perkins that the teenage Dorothy met a young man named Ronald Goldsmith at the wedding of a mutual friend and fell head over heels in love.

Jean Harrison recalled, “Dorothy had met Ron when she was just sixteen. She used me as an excuse to go to a dance so that she could meet him again and they started courting. Ron was a very nice and easygoing person. He would always say hello and stop for a chat whenever I saw him.”

At the time, Ronald Goldsmith—Kate’s maternal grandfather—was working for his brother-in-law’s haulage company, though his real love lay on the more creative side, in painting, baking, and making things. Ron was a kind, gentle man, liked by all who knew him, and, much like Dorothy, he had come up the hard way. His father, Stephen Charles—known as Charlie—worked as a construction laborer and, later, in a factory. Although he had managed to survive World War I, he died in 1938 of acute bronchitis at only fifty-three, leaving Ron’s mother, Edith, with their six children. Fortunately, by this time four of the children were of working age, but Ron and his sister Joyce were still youngsters and needed a roof over their heads. Edith was penniless, so when Charlie died she had no choice but to move to a condemned apartment on Dudley Street, Southall. She took a job working on the production line in the local Tickler factory, which manufactured jams and jellies, but the wages never lifted her above the poverty line. Her older children helped look after Ron and Joyce, but even so, life was relentlessly harsh and food had to be stretched and shared in order to feed the ever-expanding family of brothers and sisters-in-law. When the going got really tough, the ever-resourceful, razor-sharp Edith resorted to pawning various items in order to raise money to feed her younger children. Ron was very close to his mother, and the whole family stayed within a few streets of each other throughout World War II, which was a great support through the hard times.

At seventeen, just after the war had ended, Ron got his call-up for national service and was sent to Aqaba in Jordan, where he worked as a baker, a skill that stayed with him for life. He returned a year later and went to work for his brother-in-law’s haulage company. After a few years spent courting Dorothy, he proposed, and they were married on August 8, 1953, at the Holy Trinity Church in Southall. The wedding of Kate’s grandparents was traditional and simple. The bride wore an Elizabethan-style lace gown with a taffeta underskirt and an embroidered veil pinned to her hair with orange blossoms. According to Jean Harrison, who attended the ceremony, “They were married when Dorothy was eighteen. She was very young, but she knew Ron was the man she wanted and that was that. The wedding was lovely and they held the reception at the Hambrough Tavern, which was the pub at the top of the road.”

To begin with, the couple moved into Edith’s tiny apartment on Dudley Road, a stone’s throw from the busy Uxbridge Road, but it wasn’t long before Dorothy—or “Lady Dorothy” as Edith and her family referred to her—called on her quiet ambition and moved them out to a nearby council house.

Over the next few years, with a lot of careful saving and some help from Ron’s extended family, Dorothy and Ron were able to afford a deposit on a house of their own and moved to a small house on Arlington Road, to the north of Southall. By this time, they were proud parents of a daughter, Carole, and while Ron worked hard—taking evening classes to hone his skills—Dorothy took part-time jobs that she could work around motherhood. “We used to go and see Ron and Dorothy a lot when Carole was a baby,” recalled Jean Harrison. “Dorothy was a very good mother, and very proud of her baby. She stopped working when Carole was born, but she went back to work once she could. She got a job at a jeweler on Hounslow High Street. I lived nearby, so I would often pop in to see her. She didn’t work full time, but she wanted to get back to work. Money was sparse in the early years and she and Ron weren’t well off. Dorothy liked nice things, she always did as a little girl.”

Dorothy spent hours walking Carole around in a Silver Cross baby carriage—the same upscale brand used by the royal family—which she and Ron had been saving for ever since she got pregnant. It took some years before another baby graced the prized carriage, for it was not until eleven years later that Dorothy and Ron were blessed with another child. They had been trying for a baby for some time and were overjoyed when Gary arrived. “There was a big age difference between Carole and Gary,” said Jean Harrison. “It’s quite possible Dorothy miscarried, but things like that weren’t talked about in those days. Ron and Dorothy were very old-fashioned people.” With their family now complete, the Goldsmiths were happily married and earning decent money, and they invested everything in their children.

By the late 1960s, Ron and Dorothy had saved enough money to move to a larger house on Kingsbridge Road in Norwood Green—a newly built semidetached house with three bedrooms. At this point Ron decided to leave the haulage firm and set up as a builder. He had always loved working with his hands and he was talented, having once made a violin for Dorothy from scratch. Dorothy supported his career change; she believed he had the vision and ability to make a success of going it alone.

It was a vision that his children had also inherited. Carole was a hard worker, and like both of her parents, she was determined to do well in life. It was at British Airways that she met Michael Middleton, a handsome flight dispatcher who had one of the best paid and most important management jobs at the airport—the same rank as captain, though confined to the ground. At Heathrow, Michael was responsible for coordinating British Airways arrivals and departures, managing flight schedules, and occasionally handling passenger- and cargo-related matters. In his navy uniform and red cap, the well-spoken and always immaculately turned out Michael was considered quite a catch among the coterie of air hostesses. But it was Carole who caught his eye. Eventually he plucked up the courage to ask her on a date, and within a matter of months, they were in a serious relationship. Carole, who had never had a long-term boyfriend before, found Michael charming, thoughtful, and fun. Jean Harrison recalled that it was love at first sight, just as it had been for Ron and Dorothy: “Perhaps it is something in the Harrison bloodline. Dorothy’s mother, Elizabeth, who we called Auntie Lily, had a long marriage and lots of children, Dorothy fell in love and married her sweetheart, and so did Carole.”

Carole’s job often took her overseas, so in order to make the most of the time she was in the country, she and Michael decided to move in together. They rented an apartment in Slough, a sprawling industrial town twenty-two miles from Central London and conveniently close to Heathrow Airport. They lived there quite happily for several years, and before long they were engaged to be married. “I remember Carole coming in and showing off her ring,” recalled one of her oldest friends, Martin Fiddler, who runs the Bladebone Butchery in the village of Chapel Row in Berkshire. “Carole, like many of the airport industry, was living nearby and my wife, Sue, and I got to know her well as she often dropped in. She was always smiling and happy and there was just something lovely and fresh about her; she used to leave a scent of perfume in the shop. She was always chatty, bubbly, and lots of fun. She was delighted to be engaged, and I remember one day she brought Mike in and introduced him. She was a stunning lady and they were a great couple, a really good mixture.”

Michael and Carole were married the following year on June 21, 1980, at the Parish Chapel of St. James the Less in the village of Dorney in Buckinghamshire—two years to the day before Prince William was born. Ron and Dorothy contributed to the wedding, but the amount they gave was a fraction of the total cost, because the Middletons were in a different league. Kate’s father, Michael, was comfortably middle class and well off, having had a very different start in life than his bride. His family had the security that money can afford, and like his father and his grandfather, he was fortunate enough to have gone to a private school, receiving a good education and the attendant privileges of boarding school.

Michael also had all the benefits of being part of a close family—Peter, his father, and Anthony, his uncle, had married twin sisters and had four children each—and the eight cousins lived on neighboring streets in the well-to-do Roundhay district in Leeds, where they grew up together. Michael was proud of his father, an airline pilot and flying instructor, and was deeply appreciative of his mother, Valerie, who had spent part of her childhood in Marseilles and had stayed at home to bring up her four sons.

Michael’s forebears were wealthy; his mother’s father, Frederick Glassborow, worked in a bank, and his paternal grandparents, Olive Lupton and Noel Middleton, were the descendants of two of the most prosperous families in Leeds. Noel—Kate’s great-grandfather—came from a line of famous and successful Leeds solicitors and received an inheritance following the death of his father, John Middleton, that was worth the equivalent of close to $4 million. Noel’s wife, Olive Lupton—Kate’s great-grandmother—descended from a long line of wealthy Yorkshire wool merchants, and her lineage was equally impressive. An Edwardian society beauty, she had a number of illustrious family members through marriage, including the children’s writers Arthur Ransome and Beatrix Potter, and she could trace her lineage way back to Sir Thomas Fairfax, an attendant at the Tudor Court and a Parliamentarian general in the English Civil War. It is through Sir Thomas Fairfax that the Middleton family can, in fact, trace their lineage to royalty.

Olive’s grandfather, Frank Lupton, a forward-thinking man, had expanded the family cloth business by buying an old mill and a finishing plant, thereby enabling his clothing merchants to own all parts of the production process. Philanthropic by nature, he gave back some of his wealth by helping to clear the slums of Leeds; his contribution was recognized by the town council, which named two streets after him. Frank was able to send his sons to public school, and as a result of his fine education, Olive’s father, Francis, attended Cambridge University. Tragically, all three of Olive’s brothers were killed in World War I, decimating her family, but it was of some relief that her mother had not lived to know of their senseless deaths. Olive and her sister inherited the family wealth on the death of their father and became enormously wealthy, with a personal fortune that amounted to the equivalent of nearly $15 million today. The trust fund Francis established was set up to ensure the stability of his descendants, and the trustees were instructed to pay the beneficiaries and fund the education of their children. When Olive died, she left behind an estate worth the equivalent of $13 million, to be divided among her four children. That meant Michael’s father was a very wealthy man indeed.

According to members of the Harrison family, Dorothy was delighted that Carole had not only fallen in love but was marrying into money. On her wedding day, Carole had arrived at the church with her father in a horse-drawn carriage. She had four bridesmaids and wore a beautiful white gown, and she had asked her brother, Gary, who was fifteen at the time, to be an usher.

Unlike Ron and Dorothy’s wedding reception at the local pub in 1953, Carole and Michael celebrated their wedding day in June 1980 in considerably more style with a sit-down luncheon at the exclusive Dorney Court, a Grade 1–listed Tudor manor house near Windsor in Berkshire. Unlike the Hambrough Tavern, which was on a busy main road, Dorney Court was set in the middle of the countryside with beautiful views of the surrounding fields and the River Thames. It was quite a step up from Southall. Guests were asked to wear dresses and lounge suits, and at the champagne reception, canapés were served from silver platters. Carole’s brother, Gary, recalled, “It was a real departure for our family, and everything my mother could have wished for. It was natural, informal, and classy, but it wasn’t pretentious or ostentatious.” The party continued after the reception at Michael’s brother Simon’s house for homemade chili, drinks, and dancing. Michael’s family was close and welcoming—that was one of the things that had immediately drawn Carole to him.

Both Michael and Carole wanted a family of their own, and at twenty-five, Carole felt ready. Shortly before their wedding, they had begun house hunting in the nearby Royal County of Berkshire. Carole loved its picturesque villages—among them Bradfield, a sleepy rural hamlet surrounded by beautiful English countryside and offering a charming central green where there was an annual summer fete and, above all, a friendly community.

According to their friend Dudley Singleton, a real estate agent who has known the couple for more than thirty years, they immediately fell in love with West View, a pretty redbrick semidetached cottage on Cock Lane, a winding country way just a short distance from the village. The house had four bedrooms, a pretty country kitchen with an Aga range, and a sitting room and dining room, each with working fireplaces. It was exactly what they were looking for, and they were delighted when their offer was accepted, according to Mr. Singleton: “They moved to West View to start a family, and Bradfield is a pretty desirable spot to live. Theirs was a modest country cottage and they did some nice things to it. It was a very comfortable home with plenty of character. Carole made it very pretty. She has a lot of style and arranges things very nicely. It was intrinsically pretty, with lovely sash windows and open log fires in the two reception rooms. When they moved in, they didn’t have oodles of money, but Carole made it look great. She has a great eye for color and fabrics. She was always a very stylish woman and very traditional.”

In the spring of 1981, Carole found out she was pregnant. The baby, due in early January, was to be Ron and Dorothy’s first grandchild, and they were, as were Michael’s parents, ecstatic. As her pregnancy progressed smoothly, the Middletons enjoyed the summer, joining with the rest of the country in celebrating the marriage of the Prince of Wales and the shy and enchanting Lady Diana Spencer. Carole, who came from a family of “complete royalists,” according to her brother, and Michael were among the 750 million people worldwide who watched the wedding on their televisions. Diana, in her beautiful bridal gown with its twenty-five-foot-long train, was the epitome of a fairy-tale princess, and the wedding of the future King of England at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Central London was a cause for celebration.

Now that she was expecting a baby, Carole decided it was the right time to leave British Airways. By a stroke of luck, the company was axing jobs at the time and she was offered a $7,000 redundancy package, enough money to put toward her planned loft conversion and kitchen expansion. George Brown remembered that the original kitchen was small, and Carole, who was an accomplished cook and an enthusiastic baker, was grateful for the extra space once the work was done. “Carole made the house a home. She had given up working as an air hostess, but Mike was still working at the airport and I remember by then he had had enough, he didn’t like it much.”


  • Praise for Kate: The Future Queen

    "Part modern fairy tale, part royal love story, Kate: The Future Queen is the definitive account of how commoner Kate Middleton met her prince and became the Duchess of Cambridge."
    Vanity Fair

    "[I]f like us you're obsessed with all things K-Mid, you need this book in your life."
    New Magazine

    "You'll be glued to [Kate: The Future Queen] — and simultaneously wish Kate — ahem, Catherine — was your best friend. With all the juicy details about her life (many of which have never before been revealed), maybe you can just pretend she is!"

    Praise for The Making of A Royal Romance

    "An entertaining, richly photographed book . . . Chattily and fondly Ms. Nicholl chronicles the boys' lives and gives Kate ample treatment."
    New York Times Book Review

    "Reveals juicy tidbits ahead of a royal wedding."
    USA Today

    "Talk about perfect timing! Just as news of Prince William's engagement broke, royal watcher Katie Nicholl's book about the future king hit the stores. Full of insights and juicy details about both young men, it's a must for any fans of the royals."
    Life and Style

On Sale
Mar 31, 2015
Page Count
384 pages
Hachette Books

Katie Nicholl

About the Author

Katie Nicholl is a journalist, broadcaster, and Royal Correspondent at Vanity Fair and NBC. Katie works with the BBC and Sky News in the UK, CBC in Canada, and as royal expert for Entertainment Tonight in the US. Katie is the author of bestselling royal biographies William and Harry, The Making of a Royal RomanceKate: The Future Queen, and Harry and Meghan: Life, Loss, and Love. She lives in London, England.

Learn more about this author