The Most Tragic Things About Princess Catherine

The following article includes references to depression and suicide.

There is no denying that Catherine, Princess of Wales, lives a charmed life. While she may not have been born royal, she did have a very comfortable upbringing. Beautiful and privileged, the princess, formerly known as Kate Middleton, met and fell in love with the heir to the British throne at university, and the rest is history.

It's a story told all over the globe — a commoner won the heart of Prince William, becoming a royal beloved by many. Today, she's the future queen consort of England, a mother, fashion icon, and one of the most popular royals in the world.

While Catherine seems to have gotten her happily ever after, as with any fairytale, there have been some pitfalls along the way. Like any other human being, Catherine's life has not been without its heartbreaks. She has experienced some tragic things over the years, and they have helped shape her into the woman — and royal — she is now.

She was bullied as a teenager

It's hard to believe that someone as beloved as Catherine, Princess of Wales, would have been bullied as a kid. Seeing how poised and confident she is as an adult, it's easy to imagine that she was popular from her early years. But she had quite a difficult adolescence, suffering mistreatment at the hands of cruel peers. As one friend, Jessica Hay, told Celeb Now (via Express), Catherine was treated badly at Downe House, a school she attended for two years beginning at age 13. "It didn't help that she was so tall and self-conscious about her eczema," she said.

Royal biographer Katie Nicholl revealed in "Kate: The Future Queen" (via Marie Claire), "Being especially slender and a head taller than her peers, she stood out for the wrong reasons and was teased for being gangly and lanky."

The situation was so bad that Catherine ended up transferring to Marlborough College, where the evidence of the bullying was evident to her peers. "Catherine arrived suddenly during the middle of the year," a friend, Gemma Williamson, told the Daily Mail. "Apparently she had been bullied very badly at her previous school and she certainly looked very thin and pale. She had very little confidence."

Another classmate told the outlet that while Catherine would eventually gain popularity, when she first arrived, boys at her new school publicly rated her appearance by holding up scores out of ten, with all of them rating her as a one or two.

The media mocked her long courtship with Prince William

In an ideal world, people would be able to fall in love and make the decision to get married without unsolicited commentary. Privacy is a rare thing for royals, though, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, was harshly thrust into the spotlight when she began dating Prince William. Glamour notes that the relationship blossomed slowly. The two started off as friends, even sharing a house with other schoolmates while at university. They started dating in 2003, although the romance wasn't public until the following year.

A few years of dating before marriage is not out of the ordinary, especially when the couple in question met in their teens. Nevertheless, many seemed impatient for the couple to tie the knot. Catherine and William weren't in a rush to get married, though, even breaking up in 2007. Unfortunately for the young woman, the ups and downs of their relationship were widely covered by the press. Catherine was cruelly dubbed "Waity Katie" by the press as their courtship continued, the jeering nickname sticking with her until William proposed in 2010.

Her wedding didn't go as planned

For many people, a wedding is one of the most important days of their lives. There's even more pressure on a royal wedding, such as the 2011 nuptials of Catherine, Princess of Wales, and Prince William. While it may have seemed to the public that the wedding went off without a hitch, Catherine's plans for her big day were spoiled quite badly.

Details about the wedding were kept from the press, but one ended up leaking (much to the bride's dismay) — the name of Catherine's wedding dress designer, Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton. Royal author Katie Nicholl said in the documentary "Secrets of the Royal Dressmakers" (via Mirror), "Behind the scenes, I think that caused tears at the Palace because Catherine had done everything she could to keep the wedding dress a secret."

Catherine also didn't have full control over her own wedding, reportedly wanting to wear her hair down — something her soon-to-be in-laws were against. Royal reporter Ashley Pearson elaborated on the hair to-do in the documentary "William & Kate: The Journey." "Royal sources tell me that the royals indicated very strongly to Kate that they would prefer her to wear her hair up for this very special occasion," she said (via Cosmopolitan). "However, Catherine had her heart set on wearing her hair down with long flowing curls, which is her favorite way to wear it, and actually, William's favorite as well." Catherine ended up finding a compromise, wearing her hair half up and half down.

Revealing photos were taken and published without her consent

In yet another horrible intrusion into Princess Catherine's privacy, photos of her were taken and published without her consent in 2012. While she was no doubt used to being trailed by the paparazzi by this point, these photos took things even further over the line as they were taken while she was sunbathing topless while on vacation with Prince WIlliam.

The two were visiting a private home when the pictures were taken and subsequently published in a French tabloid. The pair issued a statement following the publication of the photos, saying, "Their Royal Highnesses have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner" (via ITV). The statement went on to mention the prince's late mother, who tragically died as the result of a car crash while fleeing the paparazzi. "The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to The Duke and Duchess for being so," it said.

The couple sued the magazine, which was ordered to pay €100,000 to the couple, plus another €90,000 each from two staffers involved in the incident, per Vogue.

She has sometimes been overshadowed by Princess Diana

While Catherine, Princess of Wales, is a memorable royal in her own right, she has drawn many comparisons to the former Princess of Wales, Diana. Perhaps it was inevitable that Prince William's wife would have to live up to his late mother's legacy. She was the people's princess, after all, and it was assumed she would one day be queen. It's no wonder, then, that so many eyes landed on Catherine when she became involved with the heir to the throne.

It's a difficult legacy to live up to. While Catherine hasn't complained, the public has scrutinized the connection. "Kate Middleton: trapped in Diana's shadow?" asked the Daily Mail back in 2006. In 2011, ahead of her wedding to Prince William, ABC posed the question, "Can Kate ever emerge from Diana's shadow?"

While the comparisons will likely continue for the rest of Catherine's life — particularly since she became the Princess of Wales following her father-in-law's ascension to the throne — Catherine has held up admirably under the pressure. "I don't think she seeks to emulate Diana," royal expert and author Katie Nicholl told 9Honey. "I think she was so aware of the comparison right from the outset, but despite the weight of that engagement ring on her finger, and the significance that that holds and the comparisons it inevitably draws, she is actually a very different woman. Her success has been in carving her own identity in the Royal Family as the Duchess of Cambridge and making that role herself."

A prank during her first pregnancy ended in tragedy

When Catherine, Princess of Wales, was pregnant with her first child, Prince George, she suffered from severe morning sickness. Details were leaked to the public by two radio DJs in Australia who called the hospital where she was being treated, as noted by The Washington Post. The pair pretended to be Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III (then Prince Charles) when speaking to a nurse at the hospital, Jacintha Saldanha. She transferred the call to Catherine's nurse, who went on to share details about the mom-to-be's treatment.

Saldanha expressed her guilt over the incident, blaming herself for Catherine's information being leaked. A few days later, she took her own life, per The Guardian. Prince William wrote a letter on his and Catherine's behalf. "We were both very shocked to hear about Jacintha and have been thinking about her a lot recently," it read (via BBC News). "Many of the nurses spoke highly of her and I'm sure you know how great a nurse she was."

The tragic incident shook Catherine, who reportedly refused to go to a hospital for treatment for the same condition during her second pregnancy and chose to be treated at home. As Life & Style (via International Business Times) claimed, "That episode still haunts Kate and adds to the stress she's under."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Her marriage has been plagued by cheating rumors

The fairytale romance of Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales, has captivated people across the globe, but it has also opened up a sometimes unhealthy fascination with their personal lives. Speculation about the state of their relationship has followed them since they were dating but became especially meddlesome when claims surfaced that William was cheating on Catherine with Rose Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley.

The allegations would have been troubling enough, but adding insult to injury was the fact that Hanbury is a friend of Catherine's. In 2019, an anonymous source told In Touch that Catherine confronted William about the rumors. He reportedly denied them, but Catherine allegedly told him to stay away from the Cholmondeleys. "Kate sees their friendship in an entirely different light now," said the source (via The Daily Beast). "They come across as a perfect couple who can do no wrong. But the reality is, most couples have their issues and William and Kate are no different."

The couple didn't publicly comment on the rumors, but they were reportedly a source of stress for Catherine, according to a family friend who told Us Weekly, "Kate finds the rumors hurtful, obviously, and hates the thought that one day her children will be able to read about them online." Still, there was a silver lining, claimed the friend. "It forced her and William to sit back and examine their relationship," she said, "which they realized they should have been doing more often."

She lost her beloved dog, Lupo

While the loss of a pet may not seem like much of a tragedy to some, those who have deep bonds with their pets know just how heartbreaking it can be. According to Scientific American, the pain of pet loss is often misunderstood, but the grief is very real and very painful.

In 2020, Catherine, Princess of Wales, and Prince William lost their dog, Lupo. They opened up about their cocker spaniel's death in an Instagram post, writing, "He has been at the heart of our family for the past nine years and we will miss him so much," they said.

Vanity Fair noted that Catherine's parents gave the cocker spaniel to the couple on their first Christmas as husband and wife. The loss of such an important member of the family no doubt left a void that was difficult to fill. Fortunately, Catherine was not left without a canine companion, having gotten a cocker spaniel puppy shortly before Lupo's death. 'They were devastated when Lupo passed away, as any dog owner will understand, but got the new puppy before he died," a source told the Daily Mail. "It was hoped that a younger dog would give Lupo some company and give him a little more life and energy."

She struggles with mom guilt

While the royal family has long kept a stoic front, the younger generation has been more open about mental health. Prince Harry has talked about going to therapy, while Prince William has revealed the mental toll caused by working as an air ambulance pilot. Catherine, Princess of Wales, has also gotten candid about her mental health, notably how parenthood impacts it.

In a video message posted on Twitter for the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, of which she is a patron, Catherine said, "We all know that pregnancy, childbirth and the first months and years of a child's life can be hugely demanding. Parents often feel lonely and overwhelmed by these early years. ... No one is immune to experiencing anxiety and depression during this time."

While Catherine didn't confirm whether or not she herself has experienced anxiety and depression, she has admitted that she experiences mom guilt when it comes to parenting. "Anyone who doesn't as a mother is actually lying," she said on the "Happy Mum, Happy Baby" podcast (via Marie Claire UK). "It's a constant challenge: you hear it time after time from mums, who aren't necessarily working and aren't pulled in the directions of having to juggle work life and family life." Catherine does an admirable job of balancing her many duties while also raising her family, but she admitted that juggling her responsibilities sometimes leads to her second-guessing the decisions she makes.

She lost her friend, Christine Hill, in July 2022

Catherine, Princess of Wales, suffered a personal loss in July 2022 when her friend, Christine HIll, died. Hill, an antenatal expert, had been a great help to Catherine while she was pregnant with Prince George. "She will be achingly missed," a spokesperson for HIll's family told the Daily Mail. "Her feisty, amusing, straightforward demeanor won her many friends."

Hill played a pivotal role in Catherine and William's life, helping them prepare for parenthood. Catherine reportedly attended lessons conducted by Hill, who coached her on all things motherhood. Hill had nothing but kind things to say about the couple ahead of George's birth. Speaking to The Telegraph, Hill said of Catherine, "She is a delightful girl. What you see is what you get." She also expressed her confidence in William's ability to help Catherine navigate childbirth, calling the couple a "very strong team."

She helped her brother navigate clinical depression

While mental health conditions are hardest on those who are dealing with them, those who care about them are also deeply impacted. Catherine, Princess of Wales, experienced this firsthand when her brother, James Middleton, was experiencing clinical depression. "I couldn't communicate, even with those I loved best: my family and close friends," he wrote of the difficult experience in the Daily Mail

The Middletons supported him throughout his recovery, with all of them — including Catherine — even accompanying him to therapy. "That was so important because that helped them understand me and how my mind was working," he told The Telegraph. "And I think the way the therapy helped me was that I didn't need my family to say, 'What can we do?' The only thing they could do was just come to some of the therapy sessions to start to understand."

Another thing that helped James through his depression was beekeeping — he first started the hobby after the Middletons bought him his first colony of bees. "I see it as an active form of meditation, a chance to escape from mental tumult," he wrote in the Daily Mail

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Queen Elizabeth's death shook her

The death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 devastated royal watchers everywhere, but the loss was felt most keenly by members of the royal family. Catherine, Princess of Wales, had grown quite close with her grandmother-in-law over the years. As a source told Us Weekly in 2019, "Kate and the queen have always had a special bond, but they developed a deeper friendship after she and [Prince] William moved from Anmer Hall, Norfolk, to Kensington Palace, which is within walking distance of Buckingham Palace."

Appearing in public after the queen's death, Catherine's emotions over the loss of the queen were evident, but her son, Prince Louis, offered some adorable words of advice to console his mother. As Roya Nikkhah, royal editor for The Sunday Times, tweeted, "An emotional Princess of Wales told a group children that Prince Louis said of [the queen], 'At least Grannie is with Great Grandpa [Prince Philip] now.'"