If you had to get an anniversary gift for one of the most recognized and powerful political figures in the world who could afford anything her heart desires…what would you choose? As Kate and William recently celebrated their 8th wedding anniversary, Queen Elizabeth was asking herself this very question. Luckily, the Queen has gifts at her disposal worth far more than anything money can buy. What did she decide to give Kate Middleton in honor of her anniversary?
A Drastic Transformation
Time flies, and now it’s been almost a decade since Prince William married Kate Middleton. In the years since, Kate’s life has certainly undergone a drastic transformation. She’s had three children, undertaken a great deal of charity work and diplomatic duties, and generally become a celebrity whose face is instantly recognizable around the world. During this time, the Queen’s love for Kate has grown, which is why she awarded Kate such a prestigious gift.
The Girl Who Has Everything
If an ordinary person were tasked with getting a gift for Kate Middleton, who now has access to any material item she could possibly desire, it would be an intimidating prospect. This is someone who already had quite a bit of wealth when she married into the royal family. What to get the girl who has everything?
More Valuable Than Treasure
It’s clear that Queen Elizabeth’s wealth and power exceed Kate and William’s considerably. She has given her many valuable gifts over the years, which have no doubt been appreciated. But the Queen knew that there are things more valuable to her granddaughter-in-law than material wealth. This might have something to do with Kate’s humble beginnings as a “commoner.”
Kate The Commoner
Before Kate Middleton married William, she was considered a “commoner” – meaning, she had no royal background in her family. This fact made her a controversial choice for William to marry, as many commentators didn’t hesitate to point out. “I do query whether Kate Middleton has the background and breeding to be queen one day,” royalist James Whitaker had reportedly once said, according to the Washington Post.
As expected, Kate’s humble beginnings had made her a target of many elitist jabs from many, including William’s friends, in the early days of her and William’s relationship. Her great-great-grandfather worked in the coal mines, while her mother had once worked as a flight attendant, according to the BBC. This working-class background was certainly a first for someone marrying into the Royal family, especially the heir to the throne himself.
The Duchess Of Cambridge
Of course, the moment the couple married on April 29, 2011, those jeering voices were largely silenced. Like it or not, a commoner had now been promoted to Royal status, showing just how much the world and the concept of monarchy had changed. Leading up to the wedding, the Queen granted William the title of Duke of Cambridge, automatically making Kate the Duchess of Cambridge once they were wed.
A Wedding For The Books
Kate and William’s wedding was one of the most-watched televised events in history, and heralded in a new era for the Royal family. After all the suffering and negative associations that came with the tragic and untimely death of Princess Diana, Kate and William revitalized the image of the Royals as hip and modern contemporary adults who were committed to doing things differently.
A Generous Gift
As Britain and the world celebrated the wedding of the country’s new power couple, Queen Elizabeth naturally gave them a generous gift to start off their new life together. In addition to the royal titles she gave them, she also gifted them a house called Anmer Hall, which now serves as a second home for Kate, William, and their children.
The Royal Jewels
The Queen also established a habit of gifting and lending Kate jewelry early on. Perhaps the most memorable piece was the Cartier Halo tiara that Kate wore on her wedding day. It was a gift that had been passed down from Queen Elizabeth’s mother, who had been given the stunning headpiece by her husband, King George VI.
The Maple Leaf
Another distinguished piece of jewelry that the Queen loaned to Kate was a diamond-encrusted maple leaf brooch she wore on her trip to Canada shortly after her wedding. The brooch was originally purchased by King George VI for his wife, Queen Elizabeth, for their state visit to Canada in 1939, and has been worn numerous times since by members of the Royal family to Canada-related trips and functions.
The Nizam Of Hyderabad Necklace
Another notable piece that the Queen lent Kate was spotted around the Duchess’ neck when she visited the National Portrait Gala in 2014: the beautiful Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, which had been a wedding present given to the Queen by Asaf Jah VII, who was the ruler of Hyderabad, a province of southern India, and one of the world’s richest men at the time.
While it may seem at this point that most gifts given to Royals involve highly valuable gemstones, the Queen doesn’t exclusively deal in diamonds. In fact, in a 2016 British documentary “Our Queen at Ninety.” Kate revealed that she had once given the Queen something considerably more humble as a Christmas present.
A Humble Offering
“I was worried what to give the Queen as her Christmas present. I was thinking, ‘Gosh, what should I give her? I thought back to what would I give my own grandparents. And I thought, ‘I’ll make her something,’ which could have gone horribly wrong. But I decided to make my granny’s recipe of chutney,” Kate recalled.
Kate was relieved that the Queen seemed to appreciate her down-to-earth approach to gifting: “I was slightly worried about it, but I noticed the next day that [the chutney] was on the table… I think such a simple gesture went such a long way for me… I think it just shows her thoughtfulness, really, and her care in looking after everybody.”
A Touching Friendship
This statement reflects what appears to be a touching friendship that has developed between Kate and the Queen over the years, who are often photographed enjoying each other’s company at various functions. They were even seen sharing a blanket when they visited King’s College London in March 2018.
An Intriguing Accessory
It appears that their good relationship is not only on an informal level. At a Buckingham Palace state dinner in October 2018, Kate was seen sporting an intriguing accessory: the badge of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II. The badge, which can only be worn at special events, is awarded by the Queen to members of her family in honor of exemplary service.
Glass For Ivory
This badge features a small picture of the Queen usually applied onto ivory, decorated with diamonds and hanging from a ribbon – Kate received a yellow one. St. Edward’s crown and the royal cipher appear on the reverse side of the badge. However, as Prince William is actively campaigning to end the ivory trade, Kate’s badge was made from glass instead of ivory.
She Has What It Takes
The honor of being bestowed a Royal Family Order badge, while not publicly announced, is quite a significant one. It must have been particularly meaningful to Kate, who has certainly been working hard over the years to live up to her position and prove that although she came from humble origins, she has what it takes to be a Royal.
Going The Extra Mile
Since becoming Duchess, Kate has made extra efforts to take on Royal responsibilities, taking on numerous public engagements such as working as the patron of many charities including Action on Addiction, Place2Be, and East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice. She has gone the extra mile to prove herself as a suitable addition to the Royal household, while subtly changing the image of British royalty as one that’s slightly more down-to-earth.
This was apparent when she spearheaded a campaign called Heads Together along with her husband and Prince Harry, which aims “to build on existing progress nationwide in tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health problems,” according to the official Royals website.
Traveling The Globe
But Kate has also excelled at the more conventional aspects of her role, traveling all over the world with Prince William to meet with world leaders and common folk alike, attending everything from ceremonies to memorials to state functions. Being a member of the Royal family is hard work, and Queen Elizabeth has taken notice of Kate’s efforts.
Dame Grand Cross
So for Kate’s 8th wedding anniversary to Prince William, the Queen, rather than gift Kate jewelry, decided to give Kate a very special honor that she knew would be appreciated more than expensive jewels. It came in the form of giving Kate official validation that she really belongs in the Royal family, by making her the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.
At The Queen’s Discretion
The Royal Victorian Order was first created by Queen Victoria herself, as the name suggests. According to the official website for the British royals, “Awards in the Royal Victorian Order are made personally by the Queen for services to the sovereign.” The Dame Grand Cross is the highest rank and unlike other titles, this award is made at the Queen’s discretion alone, and not at the recommendation of Downing Street.
Kate’s new title means the letters GCVO will now appear after her name, and also means she gets to wear a blue sash for some royal occasions. The Royal Family’s website says about Kate: “She has been hugely inspired by the leadership the Queen has provided for over 60 years and will continue to play her part in supporting and celebrating the Queen in the UK and around the Commonwealth wherever possible.”
Future Queen Consort
If being named the Dame Grand Cross by Queen Elizabeth was a significant honor on its own, the fact that Kate will be Queen Consort one day adds another layer of importance. The Queen has reportedly been holding secret meetings with Kate to train her for her future role, which will add even more responsibilities to her already jam-packed schedule.
Times Have Changed
In the past, the role of Queen Consort was focused on providing heirs for the male ruler; but times have since changed, and the title will result in Kate having a higher status within the Royal family. However, since Kings don’t actually have much political clout anymore, Kate won’t share any military or political authority with William when he is made King of England.
Speaking of Kate’s meetings with the Queen, a source revealed, “Sometimes they’ll casually catch up over afternoon tea. But other times, they’ll have more formal meetings, where the Queen will give intense one-on-one training about taking the crown.” It seems that Kate being given the title of Dame Grand Cross is a sign that these meetings have been going well.
Titles Are Everything
It seems that titles may be more valued by members of the royal family than markers of material wealth. It was reported that late Princess Diana was devastated when she was stripped of the “Her Royal Highness” title after her divorce from Prince Charles. Diana’s butler Paul Burrell claimed that William once promised his mother that he would reinstate her title after becoming king.
The obsession with titles has carried over to the youngest generation of royals, with all of Kate and William’s children, as well as Harry and Meghan’s newborn son, having been given the title of “His/Her Royal Highness” from the day they were born. Eventually, if King George ends up taking the crown one day, Kate will be able to call herself Queen Catherine, the Queen Mother.
A Place Among Royals
But that day is still many years away. In the meanwhile, if there were any lingering doubts of how this “common-born” princess would fare as royalty, this title is a sign that they can finally be put to rest. Regardless of her humble origins, Kate has proven to Great Britain and its Queen that she is willing to do the hard work to earn her place among Royals.