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  • Rachel Burchfield

Happy (early) birthday Kate + see you in two weeks!

CREDIT: HELLO! Kate's constantly affable, happy nature is one of the many things that attracted William to her.

First things first – I am going out of the country next week! And as such, The Duchess Commentary will take a slight break, resuming posts on Friday, January 17 – two weeks from today.

But in the middle of my vacation, a very special duchess turns 38 on January 9! In honor of that, here are 38 facts you might not know about the woman formerly known as Kate Middleton – the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine.

1. Her full name at birth was Catherine Elizabeth Middleton.

2. She and only daughter Charlotte share the same middle name and the same first two initials.

3. She was born on January 9, 1982 in Berkshire to Michael and Carole Middleton, who met while both were working at British Airways.

4. She is the oldest child of three Middleton children – younger sister Pippa was born in 1984, and younger brother James was born in 1987.

5. She is even older than her husband, Prince William, by six months.

6. Kate, as she was known growing up, was baptized on June 20, 1982 – the day before her future husband was born.

7. While still working at British Airways, Michael’s job transferred the Middleton family to Amman, Jordan, where they lived from May 1984 to September 1986.

8. In 1987, her parents founded Party Pieces, a mail-order company that sells party supplies and decorations – and became self-made millionaires. The company is valued today at over $39.5 million.

9. Kate and Pippa both used to model for Party Pieces’ catalogs.

10. Kate was a shy child and was reportedly bullied in school.

11. A keen theater lover, in a school play Kate played a woman whose love interest, funny enough, was named William. Foreshadowing, perhaps?

12. Kate attended prestigious Marlborough College in Wiltshire, where Princess Eugenie also attended – but they did not know each other, as Eugenie is significantly younger than Kate.

13. It has been said that while at boarding school, Kate had a photo of William on her wall; she denies it.

14. During her gap year, Kate studied abroad in Florence and in Chile, participating in the same program William did, though not at the same time. They missed one another in the South American country by just a few weeks.

15. Never to worry though – they met as first-year students at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and the first time they met, Kate turned bright red and scuttled off, embarrassed.

16. They eventually became friends and even roommates before their relationship officially began around Christmas 2003, after they’d been friends for over two years. She caught his eye for the first time after she walked in a see-through lace number in a charity fashion show at St. Andrews. William, who had seen Kate many times, leaned over to a friend and whispered “Kate’s hot!” The rest is history.

17. The first time the two were spotted as a couple was in Switzerland in April 2004.

18. She graduated from St. Andrews with a degree in art history in 2005.

19. From 2005 to 2010 – when she and William’s engagement was finally announced – Kate earned the nickname “Waity Katie” because she seemed to take on the role of a professional girlfriend, hopping from job to job and not establishing a firm career so she could be there for William in between his duties in the military.

20. Some jobs Kate held during these years were working for Party Pieces, where she helped launch its “First Birthdays” collection, and for clothing company Jigsaw.

21. William and Kate broke up for three months in 2007.

22. After nearly seven years together and nine years of knowing one another, William proposed in Kenya in October 2010. Their engagement was announced on November 16, 2010 at St. James’s Palace, and the blue Issa wrap dress she wore instantly sold out – the beginning of the “Kate Middleton effect” on fashion.

23. Her first engagement as a (soon-to-be) Royal was on February 24, 2011 when she and William launched the lifeboat “Hereford Endeavour” in Wales.

24. Very traditional and keen on a pattern, Kate chose Alexander McQueen to design her wedding dress on April 29, 2011, and she has worn the line steadfastly since. She also wore the same designer, Jenny Packham, for the first appearance after the births of all three of her children.

25. As a wedding gift, Boris Johnson gave William and Kate a tandem bike.

26. After her wedding, Kate became known by three titles – the Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn when in Scotland, and (love this one) Lady Carrickfergus when in Northern Ireland.

27. We saw Kate quite a bit after her engagement announcement in November 2010, but it wasn’t until March 2012 that she gave her first speech while visiting the East Anglia Children’s Hospice Facility in Ipswitch.

28. Kate was due to make her first solo Royal Tour to Malta in September 2014 but had to cancel because of her acute morning sickness early in her pregnancy with Charlotte. She has yet to go on a solo Royal Tour.

29. In addition to children George, Charlotte, and Louis, the Cambridges have a dog, Lupo, a gift from James Middleton, Kate’s younger brother.

30. Before all of the drama, one of Kate’s best friends was Prince Harry. I hope, for their sake, they still have a relationship today.

31. You’ll never find Kate riding horses with the Royal Family – she’s allergic.

32. She is quite the outdoorswoman and athlete, though. She was an athlete as a child, playing hockey and tennis and sailing, and she also enjoys tennis, swimming, and walking.

33. She likes to paint and cook, but her favorite hobby is one we see her do quite often – photography. She is a keen photographer and has taken portraits of all of the members of the Cambridge family.

34. She once trained for two months to race across the English Channel with an all-female dragon-boat crew.

35. Kate’s passion projects through her work in the Royal Family mostly center around children, addiction, art, and mental health.

36. Her favorite TV shows are Homeland, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, and Strictly Come Dancing, the British version of Dancing with the Stars.

37. Kate stands 5’9’’ and wears an 8.5 shoe.

38. When William ascends to the role of Prince of Wales, Kate will become Princess of Wales, and when he becomes king, she will become his queen consort.

Happy birthday, Catherine! May 38 be the best year of your life – so far.

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