The Truth About Queen Elizabeth's Relationship With Princess Catherine

Correction 9/12/22: An earlier version of this article referred to Princess Catherine as Kate Middleton. This has been updated.

It has been over a decade since Prince William married Princess Catherine in Westminster Abbey in April of 2011. Since becoming a part of the royal family, Catherine has gone above and beyond to impress the grandparents of her beau (royals — they are just like us!). As it is highly likely that Catherine will be Queen of England someday, she has spent quite a bit of time attending royal engagements with Queen Elizabeth II. As royal expert Duncan Larcombe told OK!, via The Observer, this quality time spent with the queen made it possible for the pair to forge a "fantastic relationship." While the pair shared a closeness that may have seemed detached to some, Queen Elizabeth showed her fondness for the princess by awarding her special privileges, like a direct line to speak with her at any time. According to Larcombe, Catherine uses this direct line to ask the queen for advice and give her updates about her great-grandchildren.

After Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding, it appeared as though the then-Duchess of Cambridge used this close relationship to her benefit when she approached Queen Elizabeth with her concerns regarding Markle's "behavior." Authors Andy Tillett and Dylan Howard revealed in their book, "Royals at War," that the pair made a pact to guide Markle through her new role in the royal family (per Marie Claire).

Queen Elizabeth trained Catherine to one day take on the crown

Two years after Princess Catherine and Prince William got married, they moved from Anmer Hall in Norfolk to Kensington Palace. Due to the fact that Kensington Palace is within walking distance of Queen Elizabeth's residence, Buckingham Palace, the pair was able to meet with one another often. A royal family insider told Us Weekly that Queen Elizabeth and Catherine would often "casually catch up over afternoon tea." However, these meetings were also business-minded, as Queen Elizabeth was aware that Catherine will likely become Queen of England in the future. "Other times, they'll have more formal meetings, where the queen will give intense one-on-one training about taking on the crown," the insider told Us Weekly.

Royal duties aside, Catherine has often spoken about the queen's adoration of her great-grandchildren. Back in 2016, Catherine revealed that her eldest son, Prince George, called his great-grandmother, Her Majesty, "Gan-Gan." "She always leaves a little gift or something in their room when we go and stay, and that just shows her love for her family," Catherine said during ITV's "Our Queen at Ninety" documentary, according to Entertainment Tonight

Queen Elizabeth supported Catherine's relationship with Prince William

Many admire Princess Catherine and Prince William's relationship, and even Queen Elizabeth approved. Catherine and William started dating while attending university, and their romance withstood the test of time, despite the doubts of some royal family members.

Stepping into the royal family can't exactly be easy, but according to royal biographer Andrew Morton, the couple's relationship had the queen's stamp of approval because she realized Catherine wasn't in it for the fame or the status. "The thing about Kate is, the queen was impressed she adored and loved William for himself, not for his title," Morton told OK!, adding that the queen made an effort to show her support. "She spends a lot more time supporting and nurturing the relationship between William and Catherine than she did with Charles and Diana. It's pretty clear she wasn't going to make that mistake again," Morton said. 

He added that the queen very much saw Catherine and William as the future of the monarchy. In his book, "The Queen," Morton recalls how excited Her Majesty was on the day of Catherine and William's wedding. "The queen was positively playful on the day of her grandson's nuptials, 'practically skipping' according to one observer, absolutely thrilled at the way the public had reacted to the royal newlyweds," Morton wrote (via the Mirror).

They enjoyed spending time together

Queen Elizabeth and Princess Catherine had a very special relationship, and the two clearly enjoyed spending time in each other's company. After marrying Prince William in 2011, Catherine was spotted accompanying the queen on her Diamond Jubilee tour in 2012. Not only did the tour serve as a means to officially introduce Catherine as one of the royal family members, but it also revealed the special bond she shared with the queen, with various photographs showing the two of them laughing while in conversation (via Harper's Bazaar).

Her Majesty and the then-duchess continued to grow closer, and in 2019, they went to visit King's College London and were photographed sharing a blanket in the back of the car — more proof of their close friendship. An inside source told Us Weekly that Catherine and the queen "always had a special bond, but they developed a deeper friendship after she and William moved from Anmer Hall, Norfolk, to Kensington Palace, which is within walking distance of Buckingham Palace." Catherine also apparently had a very sweet nickname for the queen. The editor of Majesty magazine, Ingrid Seward, reportedly revealed that Catherine called the queen "mama" (via British Heritage).

Another source told Us Weekly that Catherine frequently asked the queen's advice when she was working on speeches or wanted to know more about royal protocols. "The queen's more than happy to impart her wisdom — she's proud to be Catherine's go-to adviser about royal life," the source revealed.

They sometimes disagreed

Even though Princess Catherine and Queen Elizabeth shared an amazing bond, they didn't always see eye to eye on everything.

Catherine and Prince William failed to follow royal protocol when they went on a trip in the summer of 2022. In a video on his YouTube channel, royal expert Neil Sean explained that the queen was upset that the Duke and Duchess traveled together in a helicopter with their children in tow. "It is a royal protocol for not all people to be traveling in one aircraft for very obvious reasons," Sean explained. He added that the queen also preferred that William give up flying helicopters because it made her concerned for his safety.

While Catherine and William likely didn't feel like they were taking a major risk, the queen definitely didn't agree. In fact, The Sun reported that a close source to the royal family revealed that the queen was terrified of something going wrong in the air. She also didn't see helicopters as the safest mode of transport. "It keeps the queen awake at night and she is understandably very worried," the source revealed, adding, "She knows William is a capable pilot but does not think it is worth the risk for all five of them to carry on flying together and can't imagine what would happen. It would spark a constitutional crisis." Catherine and William likely got a very stern talking to after their trip.

Princess Catherine learned a lot from Queen Elizabeth

Princess Catherine has learned a lot from Queen Elizabeth since she became a member of the royal family, and it shows. According to Sally Bedell, the queen's biographer, Catherine and Prince William have grown to become the kind of royal representatives the queen was proud of. "Catherine has learned by observing," Bedell told People (via ET Canada). "She knows what resonates. She will have absorbed a lot from this queen."

Sarah Gristwood, author of "Elizabeth: Queen and Crown," agrees with Bedell, telling People, "The queen has always preferred to do rather than to say," adding, "With her audiences, with her prime ministers, if there has been actual advice, it would be a discreet 'I think that went rather well' rather than actual instruction." This appears to be in line with the speculation that the queen never actually formally tutored Catherine on how to become a future monarch, but she's learned the ropes nonetheless. According to Bedell, Catherine shows "quiet stoicism, unerring discretion, and firm loyalty," all qualities the queen possessed and valued (via ET Canada).

It's also been clear over the years that Catherine borrowed from the queen's style. Her Majesty was known for wearing bright colors on public outings, and Catherine followed suit, even borrowing some of the queen's jewels on occasion, according to People.

The queen gifted Catherine the Royal Family Order

There's no doubt that Queen Elizabeth was fond of Princess Catherine, and she showed her affection by gifting the then-Duchess of Cambridge the Royal Family Order, a rare honor that is bestowed solely on the female members of the royal family — and it's not awarded to just anyone. "It's something that is only given to the female members of the royal family who have been around for quite some time and are deemed to be of great support to the queen," Majesty magazine editor Joe Little told the Royally Us podcast (via Express). "So, not every member, not every female member of the royal family has got it but Kate now has." Little added that the queen honoring Catherine in this way meant that she had "great trust" in her.

Catherine has since proven that she is deserving of this rare honor multiple times. An inside source told Us Weekly that the queen knew she could rely on Catherine and Prince William no matter what, and that Catherine was a great comfort to Her Majesty when the pandemic hit in 2020.

Catherine wasn't able to visit the queen before her death

On September 8, 2022, the royal family headed to Balmoral Castle after doctors informed them that Queen Elizabeth's health was rapidly declining, but many noticed that Princess Catherine didn't join the rest of her family.

While it seemed odd at first, People reports that Catherine likely stayed behind so she could be there for her kids, who had just started attending their new school. Since Catherine and Prince William moved to Windsor, Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte, and Prince George are now attending Lambrook. It's natural that Catherine wanted to be there for them as they start this new journey. However, the princess did recently spend time with the queen when her family visited her during the summer at Balmoral.

Catherine and William took to their official Instagram account to announce the queen's death. "The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon," the caption reads. "The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow."