Kate Middleton’s Most Controversial Moments

From her fashion choices to taking a (much-deserved) holiday

One minute Kate Middleton was a college student in Scotland, the next she was one of the world’s most talked-about figures thrust into the royal family following news of her relationship with Prince William. Adjusting to such a change is arguably no easy feat, bound by the trials and tribulations that come with navigating such a public role. 

Unlike sister-in-law Meghan Markle, who had been acting in Hollywood for over a decade, the Duchess of Cambridge had to figure it all out on her own. And while the royal remains a much-loved figure in the world, it didn’t come without a few controversies along the way – unsurprisingly, many to do with her fashion choices. 

Below, a look back at the Duchess of Cambridge’s most controversial moments over the years. 

Her Legal Battle With Tatler 

Not a day goes by that a story isn’t written about the royal family, but rarely does the Palace issue a formal response. When Tatler wrote a cover story about the Duchess for which it allegedly spoke to several of her close friends, sources claimed the royal was upset about her workload following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s exit as senior members of the Firm. 

In a rare response, Kensington Palace said in a statement that the article included “a swathe of inaccuracies and false misrepresentations.” 

Kate and William even sent legal letters demanding the story be taken down from Tatler‘s site, but the publication dismissed them.


Her Private Dressmaker 

When the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out wearing a yellow lace dress while on tour in the Pacific in 2012, royal fans quickly tried to track down the designer – but to no avail. A year later, the palace revealed that Kate wore a peach maternity dress made by her “private dressmaker”, which many fans took issue with. 

It wasn’t the fact that Kate actually had a dressmaker, but more so that many believed it stopped British businesses benefitting from the “Kate Middleton” effect, whereby sales for particular styles and designers increase when she is spotted in one of their pieces. 


Choosing A Half-Up-Half Down Hairstyle For Her Wedding Day

With a royal wedding comes many traditions that presumably must be followed. For her 2011 wedding to Prince William, Kate opted to wear her signature waves in a half-up-half-down style, but some royal commentators mentioned she was advised to wear it up as Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana had done for their weddings. 

“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,” said royal reporter Ashley Pearson in the documentary William & Kate: The Journey. “However, Kate had her heart set on wearing her hair down with long flowing curls, which is her favourite way to wear it and actually William’s favourite as well. They ended up compromising on her look.”


The Engagement Dress 

When Kate and William announced their engagement, it was front-page news everywhere. In particular, everyone wanted to get their hands on the soon-to-be royals stunning blue Issa dress. But, so many people wanted it that the designer admitted the high-demand was what contributed to the brand’s downfall. 

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Daniella Helayel revealed that the high demand for her designs turned out to be disastrous for her business. Sales nearly doubled and she and her 25-person staff couldn’t keep up with the demand, going out of business two years later. 


Wearing A Pair Of Diana’s Earrings For Archie’s Christening Portrait 

For baby Archie’s christening, Kate chose to pay tribute to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana by wearing her Collingwood Pearl Earrings – the same pair she wore to Harry’s christening in 1984. At the time, royal fans accused Kate of “upstaging Meghan” and wondered why Meghan, as the new mother, wasn’t wearing a special heirloom from her mother-in-law. 

(Credit: CHRIS ALLERTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Leaving The Hospital Just Hours After Giving Birth 

After a royal baby is born, royal mothers make an appearance for an official photocall on the steps of the hospital. For the birth of her third child, Prince Louis, Kate appeared outside the hospital mere hours after welcoming the newest royal. Many, including high-profile names such as Keira Knightley, criticised the Duchess of setting unrealistic expectations for new mothers. 

“Look beautiful. Look stylish, don’t show your battleground, Kate. Seven hours after your fight with life and death, seven hours after your body breaks open, and bloody, screaming life comes out. Don’t show. Don’t tell. Stand there with your girl and be shot by a pack of male photographers,” Knightley wrote in an essay titled ‘The Weaker Sex‘. 

The Duchess of Sussex was later praised for choosing to miss the photocall and wait longer before stepping out with baby Archie for the first time. 


Choosing Not To Wear Black To The BAFTA Awards

For the 2018 BAFTA Awards, the Duchess of Cambridge chose to wear green instead of Time’s Up/Me Too-sanctioned black. Royal protocol prohibits members of the family from making any sort of political statement or showing bias, but many called her out for disregarding the important movement.

However, some could argue she was making a subtle nod by choosing to add a black sash around the dress. 


When She And William Wore The Wrong Outfits 

In an accidental incident, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wore the wrong traditional outfits to dinner on the Solomon Islands during their 2012 tour. They were wearing clothing from the Cook Islands by mistake. 

Clarence House released this statement: “We saw they weren’t the same design of the traditional clothes we were told would be gifted. So we checked with the Solomon Islands government to ensure the right ones were worn. We were reassured the clothes were correct, and so the Duke and Duchess wore them to the event. It was not learned until later in the evening that the clothes weren’t from the islands. But it was understood that the Duke and Duchess intended to wear traditional Solomon Island clothes and this was appreciated. No offence was caused.”


When The New Parents Decided To Take A Holiday 

Kate and William welcomed Prince George in 2013, and just eight months later the couple decided to take a vacation to the Maldives without the baby. While it’s perfectly acceptable for parents to get a break, many Internet critics didn’t see it that way, criticising the pair for doing so. 


When Kate Wore Yellow Shorts And A Sparkly Top

While she and Prince William decided to take a break from their relationship in 2008, Kate stepped out at a charity event wearing bright yellow shorts and a flashy green sequin top. According to the Daily Mail, Buckingham Palace courtiers were “appalled” by Kate’s appearance, and said it was the “most unladylike display” they’d ever seen. 

Although, considering Kate was only 26 at the time (and given it was a fancy dress event), maybe royal fans could have cut her some slack on the fashion department front. 

kate middleton

Kate’s See-Through Runway Dress

Kate wore this sheer brown dress for a charity event in college, and reportedly, it was this thing that caught Prince William’s eye. Designer Charlotte Todd has since called it “a part of fashion history.” However, as you can imagine royal watchers weren’t pleased with the revealing outfit. 


When Kate Wore Red (But All The Other Royals Were In Neutrals) 

When the Duchess wore a bright red ensemble to board the royal barge “Spirit of Chartwell” for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, many called her out for “stealing the spotlight” as the rest of the royal family wore muted colours.


Kate’s Marilyn Monroe Moment 

Before her wedding to Prince William, the couple toured North America and as Kate was stepping off the plane in Canada her dress got caught int the wind. But hey, the Duchess can’t be expected to control the wind! 


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