Is Kate Middleton From an Upper-Class Family? Or Is She Middle Class?

No matter how much we wish she could, Queen Elizabeth II can’t remain on the throne forever. And when her reign draws to a close, she’ll pass the baton — err, scepter — to Prince Charles. After Prince Charles’ time is up, then Prince William will sit on the throne. And beside him will be Kate Middleton, a “commoner” who suddenly became a future queen at her 2011 wedding.

Of course, Kate will technically be the queen consort, not the Queen of England. (After all, she wasn’t born into the royal family.) But you still might be wondering how she got here. Is Kate Middleton from an upper-class family? Or was she middle-class? Ahead, get all of the details.

Is Kate Middleton upper class?

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge laughs as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II gestures as they watch part of a children's sports event
Queen Elizabeth and Kate Middleton | Phil Noble/AFP/Getty Images

Kate Middleton is the Duchess of Cambridge. So it would be difficult to argue that she isn’t part of the British upper class now. But what about her family? Many people say that Kate came from a middle-class family. Biography reports that Kate “came from a decidedly working-class stock of coal miners and builders on her mother’s side.” Kate’s mother, Carole, became a flight attendant. And on the job at British Airways, she met Michael Middleton, a dispatcher. Middleton had a wealthy family that “hails from Leeds and which has ties to British aristocracy.” Together, the couple founded a mail-order party goods business. And that business eventually made them multi-millionaires.

British Heritage reports, “In British terms, the description of [Kate] as middle class just about holds, in that she was not born into old, landed, patrician wealth.” But the publication adds that “in American terms,” judging Kate’s background “on her family’s economic position,” the description isn’t quite accurate. Her parents “were self-made millionaires, and she attended one of the best private boarding schools in the country. Her Royal Highness’s accent — and accents are something of a closeted national obsession — proclaims a privileged background to the British ear.”

Some people think she’s in a class of her own

Whether you consider Kate Middleton middle-class or upper-class, Town and Country argues that she and her family belong in a class of their own: the “Upper Middleton” class. Tina Gaudoin contends that this “whole new class of Brit” consists of “non-aristocratic, comfortably off ‘already haves’ who want to ‘have’ more.” Especially when it comes to status. They acknowledge that “social acceptance and status can only be gained via marriage.” So, they “have their eyes on the prize: royalty at best, aristocracy next and then, as a last resort, the suitably loaded.”

Gaudoin explains that “The Upper Middleton class, then, is a caste born of the Zeitgeist, blending the success of the nouveaux, the quiet, submissive behavior of the middle classes, the earthy, doughty determination of the working class and the polish of the jet-set.” The Cut reports, however, that “what looks to some eyes like a story of social climbing can look to others like a true-love Hollywood fable.” The publication adds, “It’s the type of story that’s only just beginning to be possible in modern Britain, aristocrats and commoners coming together in a friendly, backslapping, frat-party sort of way.”

Class has always been a topic of royal family rumors

Britain's Prince William Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Kate the Duchess of Cambridge and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrive at the airport in Berlin
Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, and Princess Charlotte. | Steffi Loos/AFP/Getty Images

The Cut also points out that even though you’d think that the royal family “would be, by any definition, at the top of the pyramid” when it comes to class, even that isn’t cut and dried. In 1981, for instance, rumors emerged that Princess Diana’s family, the Spencers, along with many of England’s oldest families, “considered the Windsors to sit a fair way beneath them on the English class scale.”

That has nothing to do with who was in power, and everything to do with the history of the family. As the publication explains, “The Windsors only became the Windsors in 1917.” The Cut notes, “Before that they were the Saxe-Coburg & Gothas or, as my mother once put it, middle-class Hanoverians. The Spencers, on the other hand, go all the way back to the fifteenth century.” Plus, The Cut adds, “If the Spencers had a problem with the Windsors, what must the English aristocracy think of the Middletons?”

She still might be called ‘Queen Kate’ or ‘Queen Catherine’

Despite any misgivings from the English upper class, the fact remains that Kate Middleton is a member of the royal family, and will one day occupy an even more central role in the royal family than she does now. When Prince William becomes king, that will mean a title change for Kate Middleton, too.

She will be William’s Queen Consort, which isn’t the same as what happened when Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II. However, it’s entirely possible that the public will refer to her as “Queen Kate” or “Queen Catherine” when William sits on the throne, just as people called Diana Spencer “Princess Diana” even though she wasn’t actually a princess by blood.

Read more: Will Prince George Become Duke of Cambridge? How His Official Royal Title Will Change When Prince Charles Is King

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