Kate Middleton's Bond With The Queen Began Long Before You'd Expect

Kate Middleton, now Princess Catherine of Wales, forged a strong, close relationship with Queen Elizabeth. "The queen very much regards Catherine as ... a safe pair of hands," Joe Little, Majesty Magazine's managing editor, told Us Weekly in 2021. Over the years, the queen and Catherine have been photographed sharing a laugh at royal outings, such as a joint appearance in 2012 during the queen's Diamond Jubilee, per Harper's Bazaar.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge recently moved their family to Adelaide Cottage to be within 10-minutes' walk of the late queen's Windsor Castle home, per NBC News. Previously, William and Catherine lived at Kensington Palace to be closer to Elizabeth when she had resided at Buckingham Palace, per Us Weekly.

The duchess and the queen took advantage of this close proximity to enjoy each other's company. "Sometimes they'll casually catch up over afternoon tea," a source told Us Weekly. "But other times, they'll have more formal meetings, where the queen will give intense one-on-one training about taking on the crown."

In recognition of her respect and esteem for her granddaughter-in-law, in 2019, Queen Elizabeth honored Catherine by naming her Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. According to British Heritage, this prestigious award honored the duchess's service to the queen. But while Catherine has officially been part of the royal family since her marriage to Prince William on April 29, 2011, her relationship with the queen began years earlier.

Princess Catherine was on her own when she first met Queen Elizabeth

"I first met her at Peter [Phillips] and Autumn's wedding. She was very friendly," Catherine, Princess of Wales, told The Telegraph in 2010, recalling her first meeting with Queen Elizabeth in 2008. Due to a schedule conflict, Prince William was unable to attend his cousin's wedding, so the Duchess of Cornwall had the daunting task of meeting the monarch on her own. "She had wanted to meet Kate for a while, so it was very nice for her to come over and say hello," William added.

During her first Christmas with the family, Catherine decided to give the queen a homemade gift of chutney. Speaking as part of the ITV documentary "Our Queen at Ninety," the Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge recalled the experience, saying, "I was slightly worried about it, but I noticed the next day that it was on the table." Catherine, who is known for promoting kindness, was impressed by the queen's actions. "I think such a simple gesture went such a long way for me and I've noticed since she's done that on lots of occasions and I think it just shows her thoughtfulness, really, and her care in looking after everybody," the Duchess of Cornwall said. 

Catherine also impressed the queen right from the beginning. "The queen was impressed [Kate] adored and loved William for himself, not for his title," royal biographer Andrew Morton told OK! Magazine