Princess Kate has fast become one of the nation’s most beloved members of the Royal Family.
Married to Prince William in 2011, she is the first to hold the Princess of Wales title since the death of Princess Diana in 1997, and will become Queen Kate when William eventually takes the throne.
She is also mother to three heirs to the throne — Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five.
But before she married into the royal fold, Catherine Middleton had a life brimming with fun and activity, and enjoyed a close relationship with her family and friends.
Here is a look at 16 moments from the life of a future queen before everything changed, from university days to hitting the London club scene, to one very public break-up and eventual reunion — one with a fairytale ending.
Kate spotted out and about with her father, Michael Middleton, during her time at university in Scotland, 2005.
The Middleton family are famously close — Michael and Carol have three children, Catherine, Pippa and James, the youngest.
Before the Middletons crossed paths with royalty, they still enjoyed links to the aristocracy — Michael was born into a wealthy Yorkshire family, and his paternal grandmother, Olive Middleton, belonged to the Lupton family, a well-known political dynasty.
After attending Clifton College in Bristol, he worked as a flight dispatcher for British Airways, where he met and married Kate’s mother, Carole Goldsmith.
Kate and her mum, Carole Middleton, enjoy some mother-daughter time shopping in London just before Christmas, 2005.
While her daughter might now be the future Queen, Carole has her own links to royalty — she is actually a very distant relative of the Queen Mother.
Carole met Michael while working as a flight attendant for British Airways, and they married on June 21, 1980, at the Church of St. James, in Buckinghamshire. She founded Party Pieces, a mail-order party supply and decoration company, which she sold in 2023.
The future Princess of Wales on her graduation day at the University of St Andrews in Scotland on June 23, 2005.
She graduated with a 2:1 in History of Art, also achieving a gold Duke of Edinburgh Award during her time at the college.
Kate started the DofE programme during her time at Marlborough College and was presented with the award at St James’s Palace during university, long before Prince Philip became her grandfather-in-law.
A 23-year-old Kate clutches a glass of fizz at a party in London, 2006.
Much like many young women, Kate was often spotted out and about at different events in her early 20s. At this time, she was becoming more and more popular in the media thanks to her very famous boyfriend.
A friend of the pair’s confirmed to PEOPLE at the time that their romance had “been going on for a bit. She is his girlfriend.”