Birthdays at the Middleton home were always marked with a keen sense of occasion. Long before the family business Party Pieces - a party supplies and themes online business - was born, Carole Middleton convinced her friend George Brown of the importance of children's birthdays - even if the child was only one year old.
Mum of three Mrs Brown had decided she wasn't going to mark her youngest, Nicola's birthday. Upon hearing this, a surprised Carole insisted they celebrate and brought Kate (who was just a baby at the time) over with cake and hats, and a splendid day was had by all.
|© George Brown|
Each and every childhood birthday would have been a day of fun, games and enjoyment at the Middleton family home. In fact, birthdays were such a special time, when the family moved to Jordan in 1984, Kate learned to sing Happy Birthday in Arabic before English, much to the amusement of others around her.
|The Middleton Family Flickr|
Over the years, details from childhood birthday parties have surfaced, including Kate's interview for the Party Pieces website back in 2010, in which she reveals her favourite childhood party memory was the "amazing white rabbit marshmallow cake that Mummy made me for when I was seven" and her love for dancing. The future Duchess also revealed she thinks a camping party is the ideal party theme for boys, no doubt a possibility for little George as he gets older.
Party Pieces: What was your best party memory?
Catherine Middleton: The amazing white rabbit marshmallow cake that Mummy made for me when I was seven.
PP: And your worst party memory?
CM: I remember being very upset that the pink fluffy shoes I won in pass the parcel didn’t fit so I had to give them to my little sister — not a great party memory!
PP: Did you have a favorite party game?
CM: Musical statues — I have always been a keen dancer!
PP: What makes a good party bag?
CM: Anything that Mummy would normally never allow me to have. They were always such a treat.
PP: What was your best dressing up outfit?
CM: By far the best dressing up outfit I ever had was a wonderful pair of clown dungarees, which my Granny made. They were white with big red spots and she used a small hula hoop for the waistband — genius!
PP: Have you had any cake disasters?
CM: I tried making my brother’s cake one year but I forgot to add the self-raising flour. Obviously the cake never rose so I used the flat sponge and turned it into a trifle cake! We still managed to use candles and it’s a great alternative for anyone who doesn’t like cake. Not sure my brother agreed at the time!
PP: What was your favorite party food?
CM: Definitely jelly. Every time I have it now it reminds me of my childhood.
PP: What party foods would be in your shopping basket?
CM: Grapes, carrot sticks, fruit juice boxes, popcorn, mini cupcakes, home made sandwiches — with crusts off!
PP: What is the best party theme for boys?
CM: A camping party. A great way to get daddies involved and it can all take place outside. Ask your guests to bring a sleeping bag and warm clothes. Spend the day camp building and have a small fire with marshmallows and warm soup. Be prepared for a move inside when it comes to bedtime!
PP: What is the best party theme for girls?
CM: A cooking party. Although they can be messy they are great fun and there are some fantastic little kits around to help with these sorts of parties. Keep numbers relatively small so that everyone can be involved at the same time. Bake little cupcakes, cookies or even mini pizzas which can then be taken home as going home gifts.
PP: What are the coolest party accessories?
CM: Music - it’s a great ice breaker for any party and gets everyone in the mood. Create your own play list before the party so you don’t have to worry about it on the day.
I dare say, many of our readers with small children might be interested in baking that White Rabbit Marshmallow Cake, if so there's some fabulous recipes and variations at The Cupcake Blog.
|The Cupcake Blog|
Pippa Middleton's book Celebrate offers further insight:
'Some of my fondest childhood memories are of birthday parties at home or at friends' houses playing all our favourite games, enjoying party treats and, of course, judging the greatness of the event by the size of the birthday cake and the contents of the party bags.
I used to love to help Mum prepare for my birthdays at home: writing the invitations, helping fill the party bags the day before and blowing up balloons to decorate the house. Choosing a favourite dress to wear and being involved in the decisions and preparations was all part of the excitement.'
As we get older, we tend to mark only milestone birthdays with the same sense of anticipation and excitement as we did as children. Not many birthdays are quite as special as one's 21st, entering adulthood and a decade that should be among the most fun in your life: your twenties. Kate's 21st birthday coincided with her return to St. Andrews University in Scotland, and because she very much wanted to celebrate with her family in Bucklebury, she decided to hold off until the following June.
Opting for a fancy dress party, Kate chose the elegant and dramatic flair of the 1920s and wore a beautiful flapper dress for the champagne reception at her parent's home. Prince William quietly arrived after the other guests. I imagine the Middleton family album is full of dozens of memorable photos of that special night. Indeed, it was the last birthday Kate marked before the world found out about her relationship with Prince William.
It was very much a different scene for Kate on her 25th birthday.
As Kate prepared to leave her London home to make her way to Jigsaw - where she worked as an accessories buyer - almost fifty newspaper photographers and paparazzi swarmed outside. Although Kate smiled and dealt with the situation well, it was clear from her demeanour that it was a daunting experience, as it would be for anyone. The scenes prompted Prince William to express his concern at the "ongoing harassment" of his girlfriend, saying he wanted "more than anything" for her to be left alone.
It was a family affair for Kate's 26th birthday as she enjoyed dinner with the Middletons at Tom Aikens restaurant in London's Chelsea area. The popular eatery first opened its doors in 2003 to critical acclaim owing to Tom's innovative style and creative interpretation of modern cuisine.
|Tom Aikens Facebook Page|
Following the meal, Kate and Pippa enjoyed drinks at Kitts Club. Kate looked tanned and stylish in her much loved Reiss 'Olivia' coat.
Prince William whisked his girlfriend off to a remote log cabin on the Balmoral estate in Scotland for her 27th birthday. William prepared a romantic candle-lit supper and arranged for them to dine at the isolated lodge on the banks of the River Dee. The hideaway was once favoured by The Queen Mother. Below we look at a different cottage which sits close by.
|Choose A Cottage|
For Kate's 28th birthday, it was widely reported Prince William gifted his girlfriend with cultured pearl earrings. Naturally she was delighted, although it was short lived. The Telegraph reported:
'Days later, the antique earrings were eaten by her pet dog. The cocker spaniel had chewed the jewellery so much that they were unwearable. A friend said: "Kate flew into a panic. She noticed that a couple of things on her bedside table had been moved around and a tube of hand cream had tooth marks on it.
Kate was really upset and embarrassed. But when she told William he burst out laughing and said he would buy her another pair.'
As for the validity of this story, of course, we can never be sure. The original article named the dog in question as 'Otto' but it was later revealed the Middletons' cocker spaniel was actually named 'Ella' - Lupo's mother. Whether it's true or not (and quite possibly it is not), I always thought it a funny story, having been in a very similar situation myself :)
Kate spent her last birthday weekend before becoming a member of the Royal Family at the wedding of the couple's friends Harry Aubrey-Fletcher and Sarah Louise Stourton. The bride-to-be looked very elegant in the Libelula Dulwich coat and with wedding plans at the forefront of her mind, I imagine birthday celebrations were not top of the list.
Kate turned 30 in 2012 and opted for a low-key evening. A Palace aide said, "The Duchess had a quiet gathering with family and friends on Monday evening. The dinner was held within private quarters at one of the properties situated by their home at Kensington Palace". The night before the Duchess braved the red carpet for the première of War Horse.
Last year, Kate was recovering from a severe bout of morning sickness but ventured out to mark her 31st birthday with the Middletons and friends at Cirque du Soleil's new show Kooza. They watched the spectacle from the Royal Box at the Royal Albert Hall.
It is being reported the Duchess is planning a quiet dinner with William, George and the Middletons tomorrow night. William is currently commuting to Cambridge University by rail, although there is no doubt the Prince has a special gift chosen for his wife, and I expect more details as to how Kate marked the event will emerge in coming days. I'm sure I speak for you all in sending HRH the happiest of birthday wishes!
We'll be continuing with our polls next; if you haven't voted for Kate's best dress and coat of 2013, you can do so by visiting our Polls Page :)