Kate Middleton Moments That Prove She's The Most Athletic Royal

Princess Catherine is one of the most famous people in the world, and the public scrutinizes everything she does to an almost unfathomable degree. As a member of the royal family, she holds a number of titles: She's Princess of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, and the presumptive future queen. She's also the mother to the heir, a style icon, and an activist who supports numerous causes.

On top of all that, she's also an impressive athlete! Princess Catherine's royal duties take her around the world, where she frequently has the opportunity to participate in many different games and customs. At a charity dinner for SportsAid, an organization she works with regularly, Princess Catherine explained her love of sports and all the benefits they can bring to a person's life. "I love cheering on teams and athletes that I am passionate about," she said, according to Kensington Palace. "I love the physical challenge sport presents and the mental strength it gives us all. And I love the way it so often brings people together to work as part of a team."

Read on for a look back at 14 times Princess Catherine proved herself on fields, courts, and tracks all over the globe. When all of her various activities are tallied up, she just might be the most athletic royal of all.

She has a history with hockey

When Princess Catherine attended Marlbrough College, she was on the hockey team, playing what Americans know as "field hockey." However, a source told The Daily Mail that Catherine's sister, Pippa, was actually the star player, recalling, "Pippa was renowned at school for being a fine hockey player. The boys would flock to the AstroTurf on Saturday to admire her fine technique and posture."

Still, Catherine has shown off her own skills on the field over the years. In 2012, as part of her duties as an ambassador to the London Olympics, the future queen requested to meet with the British field hockey team. During the visit, she kicked off her high heels, changed into sneakers, and joined the women on the field. 

This was early in Catherine's sporty royal life, so the princess expressed some trepidation about having to demonstrate her athletic ability in public. "This is going to be so embarrassing. My brain thinks I can do all these wonderful things, but my body just doesn't play ball," she told the team (via ABC News). However, she apparently did quite well. "She got low and her shots were really sweet," Olympic team captain Kate Walsh said.

She played tennis with Emma Raducanu

Princess Catherine is a big tennis fan. In addition to attending matches at Wimbledon, where she serves as the patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, the princess regularly plays the game with her children. As a source told The Sun, "Much shouting and scurrying is seen. Kate plays almost daily with the children and they like their practice sessions with her."

In 2021, Catherine sent a message of support to teen tennis star Emma Raducanu. A tweet from the royal's official Twitter account reads, "What an incredible achievement at this year's #USOpen @EmmaRaducanu! We will all be rooting for you tomorrow. Wishing you the best of luck! C." (The initial confirms that Catherine herself composed the message.) The Princess of Wales later played a game of doubles tennis with the young pro. According to People, match official Sam Richardson was very complimentary of the future queen. While Richardson noted that Catherine seemed nervous to play with several Grand Slam champions, he claimed that "she held her own — she was brilliant. I think she hit two shots that landed plum on the line. That's a pretty good shot. She looked like she was having a good time, and was playing well."

Raducanu later told People what an inspiration Princess Catherine is. "It was a pretty surreal experience to be playing tennis with the Duchess ... It was kind of crazy, but she was really down to earth and normal," Raducanu said.

She played basketball and ping-pong while pregnant

In December 2012, the royal family announced that Princess Catherine was pregnant with the child we would come to know as Prince George. Four months later, Prince William and Princess Catherine visited Glasgow, Scotland. There, they toured the Donald Dewar Leisure Centre, and the new princess tried a couple of the activities that the center offers. First, she sparred against William in a game of ping-pong. Then, Catherine shot some hoops. We know that the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall are fans of the sport; after all, they've attended a number of basketball games together in America. In Glasgow, though, Princess Catherine proved that she can ball with the best of 'em ... even while pregnant.

During the trip, Prince William teased his wife about how her condition hindered her activity. According to E! News, he told reporters, "Catherine, who, you may have noticed, is limited a little in the sports she can play right now, has had to hold herself back from grabbing a tennis racquet and challenging me to a full game. I am far too much of a gentleman to say who would win." That same day, Catherine revealed she was due in mid-July.  Sure enough, she ended up giving birth to Prince George on July 22, 2013.

She played volleyball shortly after giving birth

In 2013, mere months after giving birth to Prince George, Princess Catherine knocked a volleyball around at Olympic Park. The Daily Mail noted that it was her first solo engagement since having a child; she was there as a patron of SportsAid, a charity that works with younger athletes. "She was very keen to learn more about the difference SportsAid meant to these young players," athlete Ade Adepitan told the outlet.

Never one to shy away from showing off her sporty side, Princess Catherine participated even though she was dressed in a blazer, skinny jeans, and cork wedges. Of particular interest to the tabloids was that, as Catherine jumped for one shot, her shirt briefly exposed her toned midriff. Royal observers marveled; the Daily Mail reported that Catherine lost her baby weight through a combination of long walks, ante-natal yoga, and rowing machine workouts. 

The headline, though, should have been that Princess Catherine is apparently a decent volleyball player, even in cork wedges! Olympic medalist Steve Williams told the Daily Mail, "She got a couple of slum dunks — I think technically they call them spikes — in there. She's very tall and athletic and we were all pretty impressed." The incident went viral on TikTok almost a decade later; "Respect," one commenter wrote. "Girl is a total champ."

The Princess of Wales wanged a welly

Not every royal responsibility has big implications. Sometimes, the royals just get to have some fun. That was the case in 2015, when Princess Catherine attended the premiere of "Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer's Llamas" alongside Prince William and Prince Harry. At the event, the royals played perhaps the most obscure sport on this list, taking part in a game of "welly wanging," which boils down to seeing who can throw a Wellington boot the farthest. The Princess of Wales is frequently photographed wearing wellies, but this time she had to chuck one at a statue of Shaun the Sheep and try to knock its head off. As you do.

Okay, technically, this sporting contest didn't end with Princess Catherine proving she's the most athletic royal. According to The Independent, she lost quite badly; the future King of England managed to wang his welly the best. Still, points to the Princess of Wales for trying, as well as for adding another sport to her already-impressive list of athletic pursuits.

She's the Royal Rugby Patron for a reason

Princess Catherine made history in 2022 when she announced on Twitter that she would be the new royal patron of England Rugby and the Rugby Football League. She is the first woman to hold the position, taking over the patronage that was left vacant when Prince Harry renounced his royal duties.

Shortly after becoming the royal rugby patron, Catherine joined the women's team at a training session at Twickenham Stadium. Wearing an athletic tracksuit emblazoned with a big red rose — the insignia of England Rugby — Princess Catherine took part in several athletic drills. In addition to learning the proper form for kicking a rugby ball, she tossed a ball in from the sidelines, though the intended recipient didn't catch it. She was also part of a line-out play, and managed to catch the ball tossed her way. As can be seen in video of the event, Princess Catherine drew cheers and laughter from her supportive fellow athletes after successfully completing the play.

Though she hasn't played it, Princess Catherine is also a supporter of wheelchair rugby. In early 2023, she hosted a reception for the Wheelchair Rugby League, which recently won the World Cup against France.

She ran on the beach in wedges

In 2014, Princess Catherine and Prince William went on a royal trip to Australia. They even brought along Prince George, at the time their only child. While there, they planted trees, petted koalas at the Taronga Zoo, took in the Canberra ANZAC Day Parade, visited the National Portrait Gallery, and tried their hands at DJing. 

But that's not all! A trip to Manly Beach gave Princess Catherine a chance to show off her athletic side, too. At the Sydney location, the Princess of Wales was supposed to kick off a competition for "nippers," or young surfers who specialize in beach safety. When the competition was due to begin, Catherine realized she had to be on a different part of the beach. According to reporters, she quickly began jogging to the starting location. Running on sand is difficult enough for experienced runners, many of whom do it as a training exercise, but the future queen managed the feat while wearing a high-heeled pair of her trademark cork wedges.

That same day marked an important occasion for Catherine, who gave her second-ever public remarks at a local children's hospice. "If I may, I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's welcomed me and George so incredibly warmly on our first visit," she said (via YouTube). "To be here as a family has been very special."

She beat Prince William on a stationary bike

When Queen Elizabeth II died in 2022, a number of royal titles were redistributed in order to prepare for King Charles III's reign. In his inaugural address, the king bestowed the titles of Prince and Princess of Wales upon Prince William and Princess Catherine. "With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the center ground where vital help can be given," he said (per the New York Times).

A few months later, the new Prince and Princess of Wales visited their namesake territory for the Feast of St. David, the patron saint of Wales. Along the way, they stopped by the Aberavon Leisure & Fitness Centre, where they took part in a friendly spin bike race. While most of the class was decked out in athletic gear, the princess wore a skirt and heels, while Prince William sported a full suit. Hardly ideal bike-riding clothes! In a video of the event posted to Twitter, an onlooker can be heard taunting Prince William, telling him, "Your wife's definitely going faster!"

Princess Catherine came out on top, winning a tiny gold trophy for the 45-second race. However, according to People, she later told well-wishers that she had a hunch about why she emerged victorious. "She told us she'd won, but that they'd felt sorry for her because she was in heels," an onlooker said.

Princess Catherine played golf for charity

When they were married in 2011, Prince William and Princess Catherine set up the Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund, inviting donations from the public in recognition of their wedding and distributing the money to charities around the United Kingdom. Ultimately, they raised more than $1.7 million. "Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted that these charities are able to benefit so positively from their special day," St. James' Palace said in a statement (via People).

One such charity was the Cheesy Waffles Project, which works with children and young people who have "additional needs," according to their website. In 2021, a decade after the royal wedding, Prince William and Princess Catherine visited the Cheesy Waffles Project and played a few rounds of golf. It seems that, despite her many athletic talents, golf may not be Catherine's game. A royal reporter for the Daily Express shared a video on Twitter that shows the princess completely whiffing her first swing. After throwing her head back and laughing, she tries again, managing a successful drive.

She began rowing during a split from Prince William

In 2007, while Princess Catherine and Prince William were on a break, the future royal took up rowing with an organization called the Sisterhood. At the time, the all-female rowing crew had been training for months in preparation for a dragon boat race across the English Channel. When Prince William's then-ex-girlfriend was photographed rowing on the Thames in advance of the event, the photos caused a media sensation. The Guardian focused on how the Sisterhood used its members' self-proclaimed "killer looks" and "cleavages" in its advertising, not-so-subtly suggesting that the association was unbecoming for someone connected to the royal family.

Still, Catherine focused on her love of the sport. "I think the training became her therapy," Sisterhood leader Emma Sayle later told Vanity Fair. "Kate had always put William first, and she said that this was her chance to do something for herself." Sayle added that Catherine was "an excellent boatman."

Ultimately, when the race was still a few weeks off, Prince William and Catherine reconciled. As a result, she had to leave the group, reportedly under orders from the Queen, who worried that Catherine's participation would be a distraction. According to The Mirror, the Sisterhood lost the race; Catherine's dragon boat was later auctioned off for charity.

Her footwear didn't stop her from showing off her soccer skills

Like many people in the United Kingdom — and, indeed, much of the world — Princess Catherine and Prince William are big fans of soccer ... or, as they (and much of the world) call it, football. Prince William is a supporter of Aston Villa; in 2023, he even took Prince George to see the club play a game. Princess Catherine, on the other hand, revealed her loyalties while talking with a young boy in 2021. An eight-year-old named Rjay Bryan told The Daily Star, "We high-fived because she supports Chelsea and I support Chelsea. I love people who support Chelsea."

Further, during a 2022 visit to a fair in Cambridgeshire, Catherine and William took turns kicking a football. Even though she wore wedges, as she often does in athletic situations, the princess' kick was reportedly quite impressive. People noted that she'd been spotted in a pair of blue heels earlier in the day, so it was good luck that she changed into her trusty wedges before participating in the game! (For the record, Queen Elizabeth II reportedly disliked Catherine's choice of footwear; the princess even stopped wearing wedges for a time.)

She sailed with Team GB

In 2022, Princess Catherine took part in a sailing race against New Zealand. In the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix, the royal teamed up with former Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie, who co-founded the 1851 Trust, a charity that uses sports as a way to get young people to care about science. On the day of the race, Catherine helped out while the children learned about seagrass and how it sustains marine life. 

After the demonstration, Princess Catherine changed into a wetsuit. "She's a really good sailor in her own right. She has sailed with me on foiling boats as well, and we're expecting a little bit of extra help," Ainslie told the Express. Sure enough, with the princess aboard the massive F50 catamaran, Team GB beat out New Zealand and won the race!

This race unfolded in public, but the princess is big on sailing in private, too. According to Vanity Fair, the royal family spent a significant amount of time out on the water in 2021, with the Princess of Wales serving as lead instructor. "They are very much a family of sailors now," a source said. "They are clearly a family that love being outdoors and in nature."

She tried lawn darts and archery in Bhutan

At this point, it should be clear that Princess Catherine is always up for a game, and always willing to prove herself against her husband. However, while she is often the most athletic royal on the field, some sports simply are not Catherine's forte. While in Bhutan, the Princess of Wales had the misfortune to try two sports she seemed unfamiliar with: lawn darts and archery. She was guided by Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, who showed the royals how the sports work. 

Archery was up first; in Bhutan, the wooden targets are significantly smaller than they are elsewhere, meaning that archers must be much more precise to score a hit. Princess Catherine had no such accuracy. When her arrow flew near a group of onlookers (via The Mirror), she reportedly apologized.

A game of lawn darts was up next. In Bhutan, the sport is called khuru; according to travel company Firefox Tours, it's extremely popular among the Bhutanese public. The darts are heavy and must be tossed onto a small target about 30 meters away. Catherine was willing to try, but yet again she nearly injured some nearby women. "So sorry," she repeated.

She's played cricket around the world

The Princess of Wales has proved that she can handle (nearly) any athletic challenge people throw her way. Some sports, though, are clearly favorites. For example, Princess Catherine has played cricket all around the world, and is never shy about swinging the bat like a true pro.

Her first public cricket exhibition took place in 2014, when William and Catherine traveled to New Zealand to promote the then-upcoming Cricket World Cup. Wearing high heels, the future queen impressed former player Debbie Hockley, who gave her impressions to The Telegraph. "She was quite nervous but she kept her eye on the ball. I thought they were great sports to take part in it," Hockley said. "I couldn't bat in high heels. She's not played before so it's a pretty good effort and she did the best she could." 

In 2016, Princess Catherine and Prince William played alongside Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar in Mumbai. William was decked out in suede boots, while his wife wore her trusty wedges; neither royal's footwear stopped them from having a blast. In Pakistan a few years later, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall traded sporting legends for a team made up of local children. This time, Prince William fared better; Princess Catherine's swings often sent the ball out of bounds. Still, the princess deserves kudos for always being game.