Kate Middleton: 1 Pivotal Invitation Signaled She’d Been Accepted by the British Royal Family

It’s hard to imagine Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge as anything less than a superstar in the British royal family. Even Queen Elizabeth II is said to admire her dignity and how she carries herself with such poise and grace in public. But there once was a time when Catherine was still finding her way in the royal family. Then an invite from her future in-laws, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall signaled to the public Catherine had been embraced by the royal family and welcomed into The Firm.

Kate Middleton spent years easing into royal life

Kate Middleton attends the Cheltenham Festival, 2006
Kate Middleton | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

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Before becoming the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011 when she married Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine showed up at events on the royal family’s social calendar. In the years after she and William graduated from college together, Catherine’s appearances weren’t many but as her official entrance into the royal family came nearer her public sightings went from polo matches and garden parties to more formal events.

Her attendance at said events not only demonstrated to the public just how serious she and William were but they gave Catherine a taste of what to expect as a full-fledged member of the royal family. Not only that but she could ease into her role as a royal and learn the rules and protocol that dictated royal life.

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles invited Kate Middleton to lunch

While lunch with your boyfriend’s parents might not seem like a big deal when you’ve already been dating for years, it meant quite a lot when Charles and Camilla extended an invite to Catherine in 2006. 

Per Express, royal author Marcia Moody wrote in her 2013 book, Kate: A Biography, Catherine “was moving slowly and carefully into royal life.” She’d show up at certain “key occasions in the royal calendar,” namely the Cheltenham Gold Cup traditionally held in March, which Moody described as “a key race in the Cheltenham Festival.”

As the author wrote in her book, the future Duchess of Cambridge attended the event in 2006 with a friend “but was then invited into the royal box for lunch with Charles and Camilla.”

Kate Middleton stands in the royal box to watch the Cheltenham Races, March 2006
Kate Middleton | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

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While it might not seem like a big deal, it meant a great deal for Catherine and her status in the royal family.  As Moody put it, “William wasn’t there and so she was clearly being accepted as one of the family.” Not only that it marked her the first time she’d been seen in public with her future in-laws “in a formal setting.” 

Lunch wasn’t the end of it. Later, Catherine watched the races with Camilla’s children, Tom Parker Bowles and Laura Lopes. Also there for the festivities had been William’s closest friend, Thomas van Straubenzee.

If there’d been any doubt among the public about where Catherine stood with the William, her future in-laws, or the royal family at large, there weren’t after that day at the races. 

Kate Middleton later returned to the festival

After she had her big lunch with Camilla and Charles in 2006, the Duchess of Cambridge practically became a regular at the annual event. She showed up on the first day of the festival in 2007 with William shortly before their brief breakup. 

Kate Middleton and Prince William attend The Cheltenham Festival, March 2013
Kate Middleton and Prince William | Indigo/Getty Images

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Catherine attended the Cheltenham Festival for a number of years after and most recently showed up there in 2013 alongside William. 

Here’s hoping we get to see more from Catherine (and the rest of the royal family) soon!