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Sweet baby Kate: Seen for the first time, remarkable snapshots of the Duchess of Cambridge when she was a baby, revealed by one of her mother's oldest friends
The photographs show Kate between the ages of six and 12-months-oldThey belong to George Brown, the mother of Kate's first 'pram buddy'
George said: 'Catherine was a good baby… always very well turned-out'
23:07 GMT, 8 December 2012
Portrait of a princess: Just a few months old, Kate is oblivious to the camera as she sits on mother Carole's knee
Perched on her mother’s knee, nibbling intently on her treat, she looks just like any other chubby-faced baby. Yet this little girl would marry the future King of England.
Taken nearly three decades ago, this charming collection of photographs, showing the Duchess of Cambridge between the ages of six and 12 months, is published here for the first time.
We have only ever seen a handful of pictures of Kate as a baby before, as a newborn and at her christening when she was five months old. But as these images show, she was a calm, contented little bundle, her trademark thick eyebrows already well defined, her eyes a piercing blue.
Whether sitting up in her pram or at a
first birthday party with pretty dress and party hat on, she seems
perfectly at one with the world.
pictures belong to George Brown, now 68, mother of the other little
girl shown in the snaps, Nicola, who was Kate’s first ‘pram buddy’.
and her husband, a director for an American computer company, lived in
Bradfield Southend, the village near Reading, Berkshire, where Michael
and Carole Middleton bought a modest Victorian semi in 1979. The couples
met through mutual friends and, in 1981, George and Carole became
pregnant; Carole with her first child, George with her third. Carole
and Michael were guests at Nicola’s christening, while George and her
husband were there to see little Catherine baptised.
Speaking for the first time, and in the week that news of Kate’s pregnancy was announced, George said: ‘The Middletons were friends of ours and, when Carole and I were pregnant together, we got together to exchange notes, as you do.
‘I was a bit older, and already had two children. But as they were born in Germany, where I’m from, it was all quite a different experience for me – I’d never even had a scan before.
‘It was nice to share it with someone
and then to have the girls together. There were only four days between
the two of them. Catherine was born on January 9 and Nicola was born on
‘I remember it
was a really cold winter with lots of snow. It was a little bit of a
race between us. Mike rang me one morning and said Carole had given
birth. I was so envious as by then I had really had enough. I was quite
angry . . . you know what it’s like at the end of a pregnancy. In the
end, I had to be induced.’
Royal carriage: Kate (left) shares a pram with Nicola, Kate's first 'pram buddy', who lived in Bradfield Southend, the village near Reading, Berkshire where Michael and Carole Middleton bought a modest Victorian semi in 1979
George is ten years older than Carole and her first two daughters were aged 13 and seven when Catherine was born, yet she says that Carole never needed to ask for any help.
‘Carole was always very, very competent. She came over to me and lifted up the kids and read with them. She was a natural. She didn’t need any tips. I can’t remember her ever coming to me for advice. She took to motherhood like a duck to water. She established a routine with regular eating and sleeping times with no problem at all.
‘Catherine was a good baby. She was always very well turned-out and there weren’t any problems. She was very content. Carole and I would often take the girls for walks together and have a coffee, and there was never much crying.’
It was Carole who often took the lead in their friendship, insisting that George should give Nicola a first birthday party.
Baby bubbies: Kate (left) and Nicola at the Browns' house in summer 1982. There were only four days between the two of them
George explained: ‘I remember I went to Carole’s a few days before Nicola’s first birthday. It was different in those days – you didn’t have big parties like you do now. I wasn’t going to do anything, I had the two older girls and the school run and so on, but Carole said, “No you can’t do that. You must give her a party.” So we got some hats and Carole came over with Catherine and we had a little party at our house.’
In time, Carole would turn that love of entertaining into a multi-million- pound business, Party Pieces, a web-based party supplies firm.
George said: ‘Carole and Mike had lots of dinner parties. She used to say I had the “big house” but her home was lovely. It was a very loving home and Carole was always a great hostess. She always made you feel very welcome.
‘They were both very nice people to be with. I liked Mike a lot too. He was a hands-on dad despite still working for BA at the time.
Hardly a crown: Kate dons a novelty hat at Nicola's first birthday party – held at the suggestion of Carole Middleton – in January 1983. Nearly three decades on she would go on to marry the future King of England
‘He was very handy. A good carpenter – he’d do jobs for people. They’re a lovely couple.’
In 1987, when the girls were five, Carole decided to set up Party Pieces. George said: ‘I remember going to her house one day and she was in her shed, putting little things in boxes and bags, making up goody bags for children’s parties. Then she’d take them all down to the post office and send them off to the mothers who didn’t want to make them themselves.
‘She said she had to make some money because she wanted to educate the children.’
Carole’s other daughter, Pippa, was born two years later, in 1983, and her son James in 1987.
Carole, a former air stewardess, has always been viewed as a socially ambitious, pushy mother, but George says this couldn’t be further from the truth.
‘The papers always say she had big hopes for her children but I never found her very ambitious in that way. She wasn’t pushy. She was a hard worker who just wanted to do the best for them. She wasn’t afraid of hard work and always mucked in.’
Party people: Kate being held by her mother Carol, while birthday girl Nicola is held by an older sister. Nicola's mother George Brown said: 'Catherine was a good baby… always very well turned-out'
Claudia Joseph, author of Kate: The Making Of A Princess, agrees. ‘Carole was very involved in village life and would take her children to the local playgroup, taking her turn like everybody else as a mothers’ helper, making teas and coffees, washing children’s hands and mopping up puddles on the floor. It was there that she first got the idea of making party bags.
‘She taught her children to bake cakes, took them to Brownies, swimming and music lessons and even let them slide down the stairs on trays. Carole was a very hands-on mother and I am sure Kate will be exactly the same.’
However, there are bound to be generational changes in the way mother and daughter do things. Kate was born before the era of the yummy mummy and George agrees that parenting styles were very different back then.
She said: ‘Mothers are concerned about too much nowadays. It wasn’t like that then, we just got on with that. Having said that, I think Catherine will be very good if the Royal Household allow her to be.
Mother's meeting: George (left) and Carole at Nicola's christening at the village church in Bradfield southend in the spring of 1982
Mum to be: Kate as she leaves Edward VII's Hospital with Prince William by her side on Thursday
‘Obviously it will be very different for her than it was for Carole, but I’m sure she’ll do a good job.’
George and her husband moved away from Bradfield Southend in 1987, although she and Carole stayed in touch, calling each other every now and again.
George said: ‘Funnily enough Nicola ended up going to the same school as Kate, Downe House, but by the time she started there, Kate had already left for Marlborough.’
When Kate began a relationship with Prince William at St Andrews University, George didn’t initially twig that it was Carole’s daughter.
She said: ‘When it first came out in the paper, I thought, “Kate Middleton, hmmmm.” Then my eldest daughter called up the same day and said, “You know that’s Catherine.”
‘We’ve always known her as Catherine.
It wasn’t until she went to Marlborough she became Kate. The family
always referred to her as Catherine but they went along with Kate.’
George last saw Carole and Michael at
a party a week after the Royal Wedding. George says: ‘It was a mutual
friend’s 60th birthday party. I was so pleased to see them and they
seemed pleased to see me.
28 years later: Mother Carole and daughter Kate on the eve of the Royal Wedding last year
Man and wife: Kate and Prince William kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day in April last year
‘I told them that Kate had looked lovely. And I said to Mike, “I feared for you so much going down that long aisle.”
‘Mike is quite shy, he’s not terribly outgoing. He said he was really worried but once Catherine was on his arm he didn’t think about anything. And he said that the next morning it all felt like it had been a dream – until he opened the newspaper.’
She insists they were no different, despite the fact their son-in-law will one day be King.
George said: ‘None of this has changed them. They’re a very nice, normal family who have worked hard for everything they’ve got.
‘I’m sure Kate will be a great mother, as Carole was. And I’m sure that Carole will make a fantastic grandmother.’