Times Kate Middleton Didn't Seem Like Her Normally Poised Self

Princess Catherine might seem like the most poised person in the world, but she was not always known for her composure. Before she became a princess, Catherine was a middle-class girl who had no idea how to submit to the royal mold. However, once she started going out with Prince William, the world expected Catherine to emit the same level of composure as Queen Elizabeth II — and many critics doubted her ability to do so. As royal expert James Whitaker opined in the Mirror in 2010, "I do query ... whether [Catherine] has the background and breeding to become queen one day." This criticism came even though it's known that British royals, like Prince Philip, have made inappropriate comments

Due to this classism, Catherine had to work extra hard to exude the poise expected of a future monarch. As explained in the documentary "William and Kate: Too Good To Be True?" (via YouTube), British aristocrats, in particular, were so critical of Catherine's middle-class background that she had to change everything from her sense of fashion to her accent in order to fit in. As royal expert, Tom Quinn, told filmmakers (via YouTube), "I think it was Kate starting to behave in ways which would be seen as more appropriate for a future queen."

Despite Catherine's efforts to maintain her composure, the princess is only human. From her wild university days to her current role as a working mom, these are the instances when Catherine lost her poise. 

When she wore a sheer gown at a fashion show

Before Princess Catherine had any titles or fame, she was a typical college girl enrolled at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. During this time, she was free to live as she pleased, with no obligation to the crown. This was perhaps most evident on March 27, 2002 when the future princess participated in a charity fashion show. Showing no concern for issues of poise or decorum, Catherine marched down the catwalk wearing a sheer dress designed by Charlotte Todd. The piece, which cost only $40 to make, revealed the model's full bra and underwear to the world. As event attendee, Ben Duncan, confirmed to E! News, "She was in a very daring dress, in a sheer, stocking-like dress."

Although, in many ways, this dress demonstrated the freedom that Catherine experienced before becoming a royal, it also, ironically, paved the way for her to join Britain's most elite family. Prince William had, indeed, secured front-row seats to the fashion show. Apparently, he was quite struck by Catherine's beauty. Speaking to E! News, Duncan noted that the prince's "eyes were like stalks" as he watched his future wife saunter down the catwalk. And, according to royal expert, Rebecca English, William might have even verbalized his interest in Catherine on the spot. In the documentary, "William and Kate: Too Good To Be True?" (via YouTube), English explained, "Urban myth suggests that he said to his friend there: 'Wow, Kate's hot!'"

Princess Catherine was spotted lounging in the grass

Once Princess Catherine and Prince William started dating, their lives inevitably changed. For one thing, Catherine started attending William's polo matches, just as previous royal girlfriends, like Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson, had done in the past. However, unlike Diana or Fergie, who were often photographed in the stands, Catherine was less poised. Once, at the Chakravarty Cup charity polo match in 2006, the prince's then-girlfriend was captured sitting in the grass with her legs crossed, pretzel-style — even though she was wearing a sundress. That wasn't the only royal rule that Catherine broke. She was also caught slouching — a position that was not considered fit for the future queen.

During William's courtship of Catherine, the aristocracy questioned whether or not she was regal enough to be with a prince. Thus, Catherine had to change her ways leading up to her engagement. As Tom Quinn explained in the documentary, "William and Kate: Too Good To Be True?" (via YouTube), "Once you've burned your boats and married the future king, you've got to learn these things." These days, Catherine occasionally still sits in the grass but not with her legs crossed, pretzel-style. Instead, she is often spotted sitting with both of her legs extended in front of her and her ankles interlocked. Catherine also sometimes sits with her legs tucked to the side. According to royal protocol, these positions are more suitable for someone of Catherine's stature. 

When paparazzi snapped a picture of Catherine on the London bus

Because the British royal family has such high standards for decorum, their idea of "losing composure" is much more all-encompassing than most people's. Thus, when the future Princess Catherine was caught taking the bus and forlornly staring out the window, senior royals were aghast. Speaking to the documentary, "William and Kate: Too Good To Be True?" (via YouTube), royal expert, Richard Palmer recalled, "I remember she was photographed on a London bus going down the King's Road. And, to me, it's a historic photo. This is a photo of, probably, someone who is going to be our queen in the future sitting downstairs on the London bus. [The] palace didn't like it."

Indeed, the photograph showed Catherine, not as a perfectly poised royal, but as a normal British girl. A 2005 piece published in the Daily Mail even commented, "Prince William's girlfriend, Kate Middleton, has shown that she is no stranger to the routine of everyday life as she was spotted out and about in London ... catching the Number 19 bus and shopping alone."

Unfortunately, the photo of Catherine taking the bus fueled the flames of the classist conversations about her "suitability" for Prince William. When the pair split up, just a year after the photo was taken, an LA Times piece posited, "Middleton was, sorry to say, way too middle class [for the prince]." Later, it added, "The Middletons weren't royal in-law material."

During her break-up with Prince William

These days, Prince William and Princess Catherine are known as Buckingham Palace's power couple. But that doesn't mean they've never had their issues. In the spring of 2007, the pair parted ways, while they tried to decide what they really wanted. During this time, Catherine lacked her typical royal poise, instead trying to party through the pain of the breakup. On the eve of April 20, 2007, the newly-single gal was spotted at the Mahiki nightclub in London. There, she danced the night away in the company of her friend, Charles Morshead. Photos of the evening show Kate looking like a normal, non-royal girl on a night out. She was photographed grinning at the cameras, with her bra accidentally peeking out from her dress (via Daily Mail). Free of the requirements to appear perfectly composed, Catherine went home at 2:30 in the morning. 

Of course, just because Catherine was out having fun, does not mean that she was happy about the break-up. A piece in the Daily Mail even posited that she specifically partied at Mahiki nightclub to show William what he had lost. After all, just days earlier, the prince had hit that same venue, where he was said to have celebrated the separation. Per the same report, William was rumored to have yelled, "I'm free," before telling his friends, "Let's drink the menu!" Luckily, the prince eventually realized his mistake and reconciled with Catherine just weeks later. 

Catherine shrugs William's hand away on camera

Perhaps because Princess Catherine has faced so much scrutiny over her middle-class background, the future queen has tried extra hard to fit in with the British elite. Over the years, Catherine has made huge changes to her public persona, even altering her original accent to blend in with the upper crust. As royal expert, Tom Quinn, told the makers of "William and Kate: Too Good To Be True?" (via YouTube), "Kate now speaks in this wonderfully R.P. [posh] British accent, which her parents don't have." Ultimately, Catherine's royal transformation worked. In the same documentary, royal biographer, Anna Pasternak, affirmed, "The Kate we see today ... absolutely embodies her royal role" (via YouTube).

That being said, due to Catherine's struggle to gain the acceptance of the aristocracy, it is possible that she feels particular pressure to maintain her composure. We can see this in the documentary "A Berry Royal Christmas" (via YouTube), when Prince William broke protocol and showed his wife some P.D.A. The prince placed a hand on his wife's shoulder, but she quickly shrugged it off — perhaps even as a way to regain decorum. As body language expert Judi James told the Express, "this was less of a personal rejection and more like a 'not right now' signal."

Unfortunately, however, Catherine's reaction made it seem like she lacked poise. Following the release of the video, media outlets like Entertainment Tonight (via YouTube) began speculating about the couple's marriage. 

Catherine rolled her eyes during an official visit

For the most part, Princess Catherine is applauded for her poise, and even her critics have to admit that she is dedicated to maintaining decorum. One 2010 Mirror article by royal expert James Whitaker, who used classist arguments to critique Catherine, also admitted, if not somewhat ruefully, "Kate has been the epitome of discretion. She has never done anything, or said anything that has been an embarrassment to anybody."

Consequently, it was a surprise to some when Catherine accidentally lost her poise on a 2014 trip to New York City. The trouble started at the Northside Center for Child Development, where the princess went to wrap presents for children in need. During the official visit, Catherine was trying her best to connect with each of the local volunteers that stopped by her table. Unfortunately, however, not everyone was charmed by the princess's conversation. One individual felt the need to urge Catherine on, bellowing, "So, this is speed wrapping," (via YouTube). Surprised by the interruption, Catherine visibly rolled her eyes. She quickly recovered her composure, smiling and nodding, as she continued to wrap her gifts. 

Although the interaction between Catherine and the unnamed New Yorker was sour, most people at the event seemed to enjoy the princess's company. One attendee even told the Daily Mail that they and the princess were "chatting like old friends." Another volunteer, Mary Dawkins, told the outlet, "We sat together wrapping gifts — she's my girl."

When she met Jenna Lyons

One of the perks of being a British royal is meeting all kinds of people. Over the years, Princess Catherine has met A-list celebrities, like Beyoncé, and influential politicians, like Barack Obama. However, when she met American fashion designer, Jenna Lyons, the princess lost her royal composure. According to some, Catherine even fangirled a bit over the former J. Crew president. 

The women met in 2014 at the Creativity Is GREAT reception in New York City. Hosted by NeueHouse, the event was meant to celebrate all the British artists, actors, and creators who were living in the Big Apple. As the guest of honor, Catherine greeted British fashion designer, Georgina Chapman, and business mogul, Alexander Gikes. Even so, the guest that she seemed to take the most interest in was Boston-born Lyons. 

As she chatted with the designer, Catherine seemed genuinely intrigued by the line of conversation. She was photographed several times with her mouth wide open and even grinning at Lyons' commentary. It didn't take long for the American press to pick up on Catherine's excitement. A piece in the now-defunct outlet, Racked, claimed that the princess was "freaking ecstatic" in the designer's presence. Meanwhile, Glamour presented a more moderate view, "That's a very excited duchess."

When Sophie of Edinburgh almost fell off a carriage

Many of Princess Catherine's least composed moments have come with a whole lot of societal pressure, but that has not always been the case. The Duchess of Cambridge has also been known to lose her poise, simply because she cannot control her laughter. Such was the case at the 2020 Royal Ascot when Catherine shared a carriage with Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh. While Sophie was still standing in the coach, the vehicle suddenly moved forward. Surprised by the unexpected movement, the duchess almost fell over — prompting Catherine to lose her poise and laugh in astonishment. 

According to body language expert, Judi James, Catherine does not usually serve up such an expressive reaction. "This was one of the only moments that Kate has lost her composure at a formal royal outing," James told the Express. Nonetheless, the body language expert posited that both royals bonded at that moment. "The women share a sense of humor, as their mouths are both thrown open in a very mirrored display of laughter."

The time Catherine corrected William in public

Normally, Princess Catherine does a good job of taking everything in stride, but on one occasion, Prince William said something so ludicrous that she couldn't help but react. Following the birth of Prince Archie on May 6, 2019, Catherine and William were approached by The Sun with inquiries about their new nephew (via YouTube). When asked if it felt good to be an uncle, William responded that it was actually his second time becoming someone's uncle. Indeed, Pippa Middleton's oldest child, Arthur Matthews, had been born the year before. All was well in the interview until William proceeded to imply that it was also Catherine's second time being an uncle. The surprising comment prompted Catherine to lose her poise. "I am definitely not an uncle," she exclaimed, gasping for breaths between giggles. 

While this moment started out lighthearted, both William and Catherine regained their composure with alarming speed. William did go on to tell one more joke, but he delivered it with a calm expression: "I'm very pleased and glad to welcome my brother to the Sleep Deprivation Society that is parenting." Then, in a truly royal fashion, the proud elder brother wished Prince Harry and Meghan Markle "all the best." 

Catherine, meanwhile, remained as composed as possible for the remainder of the interview. She politely told interviewers, "I so look forward to meeting him and finding out what his name is going to be ... It's really exciting."

She giggled during Charles' speech

As a working royal, part of Princess Catherine's job is to attend royal banquets. On these occasions, she is expected to behave with the utmost attention to protocol. In November 2022, however, the princess accidentally lost her poise during a banquet for South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa. 

During the event, King Charles III gave a speech in which he spoke of his late mother's affection for South Africa. In order to establish his personal commitment to recognizing the diversity of the country, Charles incorporated six greetings from nine South African languages into his talk. Ramaphosa, who was seated next to Catherine, voiced his appreciation for Charles' efforts. Every time he heard the king express a new greeting, Ramaphosa turned to Catherine in a mixture of astonishment and delight. Moved by the president's positivity, Catherine broke decorum and shared in his joy. As the king spoke, Catherine and Ramaphosa were spotted exchanging smiles and even laughing together. 

While Catherine's choice to laugh alongside Ramaphosa was not traditional, it certainly was not in poor taste. Even Charles himself made jokes during his speech, sharing "President Mandela told me that he had conferred on my mother a special name –- Motlalepula, meaning 'to come with rain.' I have been reassured that this was a mark of the particular affection President Mandela felt for the queen, rather than a remark on the British habit of taking our weather with us!" (via The Mirror).

When Prince George misbehaved at Pippa's Wedding

Princess Catherine is known for being a stellar parent. Not only has she been said to discipline her kids through firm conversation, but she also has earned a reputation for being quite affectionate. As nonverbal communication expert, Judi James, revealed in an interview with the Express, "Kate has some overall body language traits with her children that we can see giving a balanced blend of loving attention and reassurance or 'soothing' rituals, like patting, hair-stroking and mimed hugs." The body language specialist added that the princess employs "intense listening and conversational skills" to reach her kids. 

Just because Catherine is a fabulous mother, though, does not mean that she never loses her cool. When her sister, Pippa Middleton, got married on May 20, 2017, the princess let her composure slip — all thanks to Prince George's wedding antics. As per the Daily Mail, the young prince surprised his aunt Pippa when he stomped on the train of her £40,000 wedding dress. Catherine, naturally, removed George from the situation, pulling him and his sister, Charlotte away from the other children. She then proceeded to scold him for his poor behavior. 

Interestingly, Catherine was not the only royal to lose her poise at the big event. Photos published in the Express reveal that George was displeased with his mother's cross words — the boy was spotted in tears. Even so, the family quickly regained their composure and carried on with the event.