These days, Kate Middleton is known for her effortless elegance, regal style and her tiara-topped royal title as the Duchess of Cambridge.
But before her royal days, she was just like any other person paving their path in the big wide world—a rare new photograph from her college days proves as much.
Renowned British royal photographer Arthur Edwards, who has worked with UK newspaper The Sun for more than four decades, has shared an unsuspecting never-before-seen snap of the Duchess taken back in 2005.
The photographer had been headed to the royal family’s estate in Sandringham where William was hosting friends for the holidays. There, he snapped a photo of the guests as they arrived—little did he know at the time he was taking his very first photograph of the future queen consort of England.
“I didn’t know who on Earth she was,” he told The Sun this week in a special feature published a couple of days before Kate’s 40th birthday.
“Back then you would never have credited that the young woman who walked through those gates would turn out to be our future queen.”
In the picture (which you can view here), Kate walks alongside a friend wearing a casual ensemble consisting of a khaki jacket, flared jeans and kitten heels.
William and Kate first met back in 2001 while they both attended St Andrews University in Scotland. In 2005, details of their relationship emerged and it wasn’t long before Kate was thrust into the limelight.
The pair actually split up for a short period in 2007, but William has previously explained the separation made them stronger.
“I had to be sure this was the right woman for me because I want this marriage to last forever,” he described of the brief breakup.
In 2011, they married and went on to have three children, Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3.
While pictures of the family aren’t uncommon these days, it’s always special to catch a glimpse of the royals from old times—particularly when it provides a window to another life, in this instance, Kate’s pre-royal days. Prepare for more when the Duchess turns 40 on Sunday, January 9.