Monday, 9 February 2015

Kate Loves: There's No Place Like Home!

One of the primary talking points regarding the Cambridges recently has been their homes and I thought it a good time to take a look back at the homes Kate's enjoyed over the years - from her childhood, university and since becoming a member of the Royal family. Pour yourself a nice cup of tea with a slice of your favourite cake and let's take a look back...

In 1979, Michael Middleton proposed to his girlfriend and British Airways colleague Carole Middleton. The couple were hardworking and doing well in their chosen fields - Carole as a flight attendant and Mike as a newly-promoted aircraft dispatcher keeping track of the airline's fleet on the ground. Looking forward to their imminent wedding and future together it seemed the perfect time to choose their first home.

The couple bought their first home, West View, on Cock Lane, in the village of Bradfield, Berkshire for £34,000. The red brick, Victorian, semi-detached house boasts four bedrooms, reception rooms, original pine doors throughout and a mature garden to match the leafy village in which it stood.


The house has been described as "cosy" and "charming" with two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor, and a loft conversion on the second floor containing two smaller bedrooms. The kitchen, which was expanded by the Middletons, no doubt holds many special memories for Kate, through birthday parties, Christmas preparations, cooking family meals and baking with Carole, including, as Kate put it, the "amazing white rabbit marshmallow cake that Mummy made when I was seven".

Mail Online

In the early 1980s, the Middleton family decided it was time for a change of scenery and when the opportunity arose for Michael to work overseas in Jordan they jumped at the chance. Kate and Pippa were not yet school age, the young family moved into a plain, one-storey, flat-roofed building in the shadow of a tower block. Because the rent was paid for by British Airways it meant they could keep their Berkshire home.

The Middleton Family Flickr

They returned to England in 1986 after two years away and remained in West View until 1995 when Kate was 13, and the family enterprise, Party Pieces, was firmly established as an up-and-coming business.

Mail Online

Estate agent Dudley Singleton spoke to The Telegraph about his memories of Kate and the Middleton family during their time there:

'Singleton first encountered 13-year-old Kate doing her homework as he was showing around potential buyers. “She would always talk to you and had great natural charm,” he recalls.
Singleton stayed in touch with the family, selling a small cottage in nearby Pangbourne to Carol Middleton’s parents when they moved from the north to be nearer the family, and selling it on again when they died.
“Both Carol and Catherine get a peck on the cheek,” he says, describing their relationship as “professionally friendly”. Mrs Middleton is “a smashing lady”, while Michael is “very pleasant, very straightforward”. “They’re not concerned with glitz,” he says. “They were happy to live here for quite some time after Party Pieces became successful.”'

Through Mr. Singleton, the property sold for £158,000 - a 355% profit on the amount they paid for it.

With the couple's business doing so well and the hefty profit they made on West View, the Middleton family moved just a few miles away to the picturesque village of Bucklebury. Their new home, Oak Acre, was purchased for £250,000. Set in one-and-a-half acres of land the large detached, five-bedroom country house was ideal.

Kate settled in quickly; opting for a blue-and-cream colour scheme in her room. Discreetly hidden from view by trees, the house can only be accessed via a private road - a most welcome security measure which served the family in good stead for the years to come.


The family later chose to have some of the walls knocked in order to create an open plan feel and Kate, Pippa and James made good use of the outhouse, entertaining friends during the weekends. Carole and Michael also purchased some old farm buildings, which meant they had a place to store more stock and expand the business.


Following a gap year, Kate made the long journey from Bucklebury to St Andrews University on the east coast of Scotland in September 2001. There, she spent her first year in Saint Salvator's Hall, affectionately known as 'Sallies'. Located in the centre of town beside the history of art block - the grey sandstone building was a hub of activity and fun. Kate's parents paid about £2,000 for a year's rent.

Wikipedia

Kate shared a room and it was very much typical, basic student accommodation with two single beds, a desk, a long mirror and a mahogany-coloured double wardrobe. Kate enjoyed her time, socialising, forging friendships and studying. Indeed, she was no doubt surprised when a week after arriving she and the other 'Sallies' residents were summoned by their hall warden who informed them Prince William would be joining them...

Laura Warshauer

Fast forward one year and William and Kate had moved off campus to 13A Hope Street, in the centre of town with friends Fergus Boyd and Olivia Bleasdale. They each paid £100 per week in rent for the two storey apartment and shared cleaning duties. Security measures included bulletproof windows and a bombproof front door. Despite their close friendship at that point, it was was the first time Kate encountered the high level of security which surrounded the future king, and which would one day surround her, too.

HMJ Properties

It was in 13A Hope Street that their friendship blossomed into something else. The apartment was minimalistic but offered large bedrooms and windows and an open plan dining and living room. It was a million miles from life at the Palace, yet William adored the normality of it. Taking turns doing mundane chores like taking out the bins, ordering pizza and organising DVD nights with Kate, Fergus and Olivia.

Middleton Family Flickr

During the engagement interview, William recalled cooking for Kate in the galley kitchen of the apartment during the early days of their relationship:

'When I was trying to impress Kate I was trying to cook these amazing fancy dinners and what would happen was I would burn something, something would overspill, something would catch fire.'

Following university, Kate accepted a position as a junior accessories buyer for British clothing chain Jigsaw. During the weekdays, Kate shared a flat with Pippa on Chelsea's Old Church Street, which was purchased by the Middletons in 2002. Since then, all three Middleton children have lived in the £780,000 property at one time or another.

John Simpson

Unlike St Andrews, which afforded the couple privacy and seclusion away from the media, Kate was bombarded on a daily basis by paparazzi as she left for, and returned from, work. It is said to have been a daunting time for Kate who found it difficult to cope with the constant media presence.


Kate soon decided to leave Jigsaw and work within the family business, meaning she spent most of her time at the family home, Oak Acre. Prince William became a regular visitor and much to the surprise of Kate's parents casually dropped by one day - and I mean quite literally - landing a multi-million-pound Chinook helicopter in the back garden.

Prince William's role as a search and rescue pilot took him to RAF Valley, Anglesey. It is understood the Prince paid £750 per month to rent a four-bedroom farmhouse on the Isle in North Wales.  The farmhouse came with access to a private beach and boasted breathtaking views of Snowdonia and a nearby forest.


It was here William and Kate had the opportunity to experience normality during a time when a media frenzy surrounded their lives. While William worked 24-hour shifts, Kate occupied herself cooking and baking in the large kitchen, and during William's time off they enjoyed sitting by the open fire, watching movies and relaxing.


Speaking about Anglesey at a reception in 2011 the Duchess said:

"I love our life in Anglesey. It's just nice to be outdoors and away from the city. As much as I love London, it's nice to get away."

William and Kate divided their life between Anglesey and London until 2013 when Prince William decided to take a gap year and leave RAF Valley. During their time in London, they stayed in Nottingham Cottage - a two bedroom house in the grounds of Kensington Palace with a couple of reception rooms and a small yard.

Meanwhile, the Middleton family decided it was time to move on from Oak Acre, which was later sold to a banker for £2.8 million. The new owner signed a contract which prevents him from discussing the sale or details about the home.

Michael and Carole chose the scenic Georgian house called Bucklebury Manor, previously owned by Morgan Stanley banker Justin Mason and his wife Jill. There was a bidding war for the much sought-after property before the Middletons gained it, paying an estimated £4.7 million in the process.


The Grade II listed house features seven bedrooms, five reception rooms, a swimming pool and a tennis court, all set in eighteen acres of land. It offers privacy for the family and for William and Kate who spent quite a lot of time there. When Prince George was born they chose to stay at the manor for several weeks.


The pretty gardens provided the perfect backdrop for Mike Middleton to take the first family portraits of William, Kate and George.

TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

When it came time for the couple to choose their royal residence, it came as surprise to few that Prince William chose Kensington Palace. Affectionately called 'KP' by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, it holds many fond memories for the Princes of times spent with their mother.

Wikipedia

It was decided the late Princess Margaret's former home, Apartment 1A, would be renovated for the couple. Since her death it had been used as office space and a vast renovation project was undertaken on the twenty-two-room apartment to include a new kitchen and several bathrooms. Although the couple personally paid for fixtures including curtains and furniture the cost to taxpayers was in the region of £4 million. Palace aides insist it was "great value for money" and will serve as the family's royal residence for many, many years to come.

PA/Mail Online

At the time it had been thought the apartment, upon completion, would serve as the Cambridges' primary residence. However, following a gap year which included an agricultural course at Cambridge University, Prince William decided he would return to flying - this time for the East Anglia Air Ambulance service - instead of taking on a full-time schedule of duties.

As Kate completed decorating, attention soon turned to the couple's new country home, Anmer Hall, which Her Majesty gifted to her grandson in early 2013.  Located on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, the late-Georgian country house features ten bedrooms and its grounds have been part of the royal estate since 1898.


Prince William has fond memories of childhood days exploring the Grade II listed property and hopes to create an abundance of happy memories to come with his wife and children. Following extensive renovations which included a gleaming £38,000 kitchen, the much talked about tile replacement, landscaping and a host of security measures, the family took up residence in time for Christmas with the Middeltons, who spent over two weeks there.


It is thought Anmer Hall will remain home to the Cambridges for several years to come with Kensington Palace remaining a London residence until then. When the couple take on a larger royal role Anmer Hall will remain a country retreat.

It would seem the perfect place for William and Kate to recapture the privacy they enjoyed in Anglesey, and a place their children will take joy in. After all, there's no place like home :)

61 comments:

  1. They have lived in so many lovely houses. What fun and how wonderful to be in that position to own lots of lovely homes. I do not begrudge them at all, just think it is great fun.I would choose Anmer Hall when my children are young and spend more time at KP as they got older and was spending more time on Royal Duties, plus the kids may be off at boarding school by the age of 10 or 12.
    Ali

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  2. Thanks for the post, Charlotte. My first thought was how priviliged they were and are. I hope one day both will live up to the expectations, until then I keep on reading your lovely posts.:)

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  3. Charlotte: What a lovely write up! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Well done! I wish the Cambridge's all the best in their new homes. While KP will always have a special place in Prince Williams heart, I feel certain that Anmer Hall will become just as special as they both grow together and raise their family at KP, Anmer Hall and of course Buckleberry. Of course, from all I have gleaned thus far, Kate is truly a "nester" and is sure to create a warm and cozy "home' where ever they might be!

    All the best Charlotte and I truly look forward to your write-ups.

    Make it a great day!

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  4. Rebecca - Sweden9 February 2015 at 07:01

    What a great post, Charlotte! :) Really informational.

    What strikes me the most is their "non-house" for a while. They jumped around. Must have been hard not having a home-base, even if the place you lay your head is luxurious.

    I think their arrengement now is perfect. People seem so short-sighted. These homes will be for them for a long time. I am not surprised they want to raise the kids out of the limelight (and let's face it, Londons pollution). But they need a London base. Maybe not today but they will need it more and more. Plus their offices is there. So I don't see the problem.

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  5. Lovely post Charlotte, I read some new stuff i didn't know! I can only say that Kate's life already was a fairytale before meeting and dating William. Now they have Anmer Hall and can start their own history on those grounds. Good for them!

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  6. Debby from Paris9 February 2015 at 14:44

    What a wonderful post!!!!! I was waiting for this post eagerly, since you promised another Kate Loves post :) Really interesting to read about all her houses along the years.
    What a wonderful idea this KP scheme is. I was wondering what appartement 1A means and what this cottage means, now I finally know :)
    Now Charlotte, I have something to ask you, and it may sound stupid, but if you can do it, I will really appreciate it. Of course, I completely understand if you don't want/can't do it. So, I'm not from England, therefore I have no idea of the distance between the places like London, Buckleburry, Berkshire etc. It will be lovely if you can post a Britain map with all the places that you mentioned in this lovely post. I'm sure a lot of not-english readers will enjoy this map as much as I will.
    Thank you so much for all your work and your dedication to this blog. I think it's the most read post about HRH :)

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    1. Hello Debby,

      That is a wonderful idea for a future post!

      Thank you all for your comments, it was very interesting to research :)

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    2. Rebecca - Sweden9 February 2015 at 16:57

      What a great idea. Maybe a more general one? That contains St. Andrews, Westminister Abbey and other "important" places :)

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    3. Debby from Paris9 February 2015 at 19:25

      Rebecca, that's exactly what I meant!! I said a map with all the places that were mentioned in this post :)

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    4. It is a fun idea. I agree! :)

      By the way, any bets on someone stating that Kate set her GPS to "Buckingham Palace?" LOL.

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    5. Jessica in Texas9 February 2015 at 21:58

      I agree, I wanted to ask for one when they returned from Anglessey with George to KP and I couldn't google map the island. I map with the major landmarks and their homes, plus university would be great to reference!

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    6. Sarah from Calif.10 February 2015 at 02:22

      Great idea Debby!

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    7. I think that's a great idea Debbie. I'd love a W&K map.

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    8. Great idea, Mademoiselle Debby. I speak français :)

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  7. Thanky you, Charlotte, for this lovely post that seems like a fairytale. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I love Kate's parents' taste in homes! My favourite one is Oac Acre.
    Have a great day!

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    1. I agree, Oak Acre is charming. The Middletons' current home is beautiful on the garden side but a bit awkward on the drive side. I also love the picture of the Anglesey house; much of its beauty lies in its surroundings and the way it fits into them.

      Thank you, Charlotte, for this post. I once suggested that those who didn't know about the Middletons' rise to success should google pictures of their homes. You have done that for us most admirably.

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  8. This is such an interesting read!Thank You Charlotte!!xoxo

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  9. yes, they are privileged - no doubt, but more often than not that comes with equally high accountabilities and expectations. Not always a fairy tale life as it may look from the outside. Of course, much better than wondering if you will ever have a home with a roof for your family, but I believe these young people understand that with all their privileges come lots of opportunities to do good. I hope they're up to it.

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    1. Words of wisdom Anon:15:37. "To whom much is given, much is expected." Thanks for reminding us of this--good things to keep in mind!

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  10. Thank you, Charlotte for this wonderful insight into Catherine's numerous homes over the years. A sense of home (whether its a place in your heart that travels with you always, an object you pull out of a suitcase to sanctify your hotel room, or four walls and a roof where you squat, rent or own) one's sense of home and one's place in it does much to ground one against life's onslaughts. Of those there will be many whether you are a princess or a pauper.

    Your posts are always full of fascinating information--and yes--great little bits that will get a reaction from your readers.

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  11. Thank you, Charlotte! You have given us a lovely summary of Kate's living arrangements throughout her life. I think this is a picture of the house she and William shared near St. Andrews:

    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2010/11/21/article-1331545-0C2A90D7000005DC-927_634x398.jpg

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  12. What an interesting and informative article! Thank you so much!

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  13. Can someone tell me what "Grade II listed" means when speaking about a home?

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    1. Grqade 2 listed is for "particularly important buildings of more than special interest", placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest or the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. A listed building (or "protected structure") can't be demolished or altered without special permission from the local planning authority. In some case, some are exempted as a building in current use for worship, & owners can be compelled to repair & maintain them & can face criminal prosecution if they fail to do so or if they perform unauthorized alterations. Buildings can be removed from the list if the listing is made in error. Other structures (bridges, monuments, sculptures, war memorials, mileposts and The Beatles' Abbey Road pedestrian crossing) can also be listed. Ancient, military, and uninhabited structures, such as Stonehenge, are sometimes classified instead as Scheduled Ancient Monuments and protected by much older legislation while cultural landscapes such as parks and gardens are currently "listed" on a non-statutory basis. So the Tower Bridge is a Grade 1 while Anmer Hall is a Grade 2+ IF it were to be listed (properties owned by the Queen cannot be listed).

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    2. Jessica in Texas9 February 2015 at 21:56

      Thank you for answering that! I've always wondered what it meant also

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  14. What about their "first home" according to the DailyMail: dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1378288/Kate-Middletons-family-Just-rich-Middletons.html

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  15. By the way, does anyone know why Kate's interview was removed from the Party Pieces website? In it she was talking about childhood memories and food preferences, pretty innocent stuff - au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/food/index/article/-/9092154/kate-middletons-lost-interview

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    1. Maybe they didn't want it to seem like Kate was endorsing Party Pieces? Even though she would obviously do so since it's her family, perhaps they thought it should be less up front?

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    2. I agree with Anon 20:06. It may be innocent enough since it is her family's business, but this way they can't be accused of using Kate's royal connection to promote it.

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  16. I enjoyed this post very much. What strikes me about it is the prudence of the Middleton's in planning out their future. They took one step, were secure in it, and then the next and the next. Well thought out. They have earned their wealth. I understand why Kate would have left Jigsaw -- who wants to be under a paparazzi spotlight day and night? I think they invested in their children's well being and it paid off for all concerned -- including the boarding school that Kate attended for her "high school" as we call it here in the U.S. She was given a firm foundation for life and is blossoming in her new role -- a seed that her parents planted long ago and tended carefully. That's why she is so much more secure than Diana -- who did not enjoy that same secure and prudent upbringing so it is unfair to compare them and I can see why William who had a difficult childhood is so attracted to her and her family. Blueskygal

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    1. "What strikes me about it is the prudence of the Middleton's in planning out their future. They took one step, were secure in it, and then the next and the next. Well thought out. They have earned their wealth." - I feel the same exact way about this family and applaud them. They are a great role model for people who come from humble beginnings and dream to achieve a better life.

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    2. Great post, Anon 19:00. Absolutely right.

      And yes, they should be applauded. The Middleton's were a success story long before William walked into Kate's life.

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  17. Again a great post.
    Lovely to read on a dull Monday evening
    Thanks Charlotte

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  18. Great post; family home getting larger as the family(and the money) grows. Many families start to downsize once the children have left home, but Mr. and Mrs Middleton have had to expand to accommodate the security that comes with Catherine.
    There are pics on DM of William; Catherine and George boarding the plane for home

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  19. Thank you so much Charlotte, what a fun idea for a post!
    I LOVE brick buildings and homes. It is my dream to live in brick-style house or townhouse one day. And I really loved the tall and narrow design of some of the flats.

    I love interior design, seeing all these pictures... you do so much work researching Charlotte. Thank you!

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  20. Charlotte, do you have any posts about Carole? I wish someone would write her biography - I find hers to be one of the most fascinating "from rugs to riches" stories!

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    1. Hello IP,

      I have a post on Carole coming up soon. I've been working on it for a while and hope to get a couple of interesting quotes :)

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    2. Looking forward to it!

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    3. I find Carole a very interesting person. You know she loves her family and is head over heels in love with her grandson. This is the type of family William was wanting when he was growing up. NOw he has one of his own.
      I still have not figured out why so many people talk trash about her. They have no idea what this woman is not liked. We just get to see photos of her with her family and hear what is supposely says about her grandson. She seems to be a very loving perso.

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  21. The Duchess's kitchen and HM jewelry box id love a chance just for a peek. :)

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  22. Dear Charlotte,
    I am new to posting but have been an avid reader for many years now. Thanks so much for your incredible eye for detail but also you attention to preserving a sense of royal sensibility. Duchess Katherine and Prince William, I am sure would love how you write about them. One day I am sure you will get recognition for how you inform people who are genuinely interested in our royal past and heritage. I realise this is not what you are looking for but it will come I am sure.
    Thanks for not being intrusive, it makes a real change from the paparazzi rubbish we are mostly subjected to from the likes of DM and other gutter press.

    BTW my hubby has just treated me to a pair of earrings that were worn by Katherine on Christmas day (replica)... he doesn't even know yet ;-)

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I do hope you keep posting and it's lovely to see more readers contribute.

      Your earrings sound just darling :)

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  23. Oh! I'm so excited for the post on Carole - I really find her fascinating. From her business savvy - to the opportunities she's provided her children - to her own life rules for success. I think it would have been wonderful to have had her as a mother.

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  24. There photos of William, Kate and George getting on a plane to go home on Popsugar.

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  25. The Daily Mail has just reported that the Cambridges are on their way back home and may have already arrived. Just a few photos of them boarding a small plane. Kate is carrying George as they enter the plane.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2946134/Just-family-way-home-holiday-Clutching-son-carrying-bags-William-Kate-fly-Mustique.html

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    1. They returned on Friday Feb. 6th they took an evening flight.

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    2. The ones on Popsugar were posted 3 days ago check them out.

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  26. That link only showed their backs not that tummy. Just miss Kate.

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  27. Lovely houses and how lucky of them! *Lucky* being the key word, because neither of them have had to pay for a house. Yes, they decorate and furnish their homes, but they don't have to save for a down payment and make those monthly payments.

    Would they be responsible for their own property taxes? Would they be responsible for their utilities? And by that, I mean do they personally pay out of RAF earnings or trust fund $.

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    1. They reportedly helped the Middletons buy Bucklebury Manor with money Willizm inherited from Diana.

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    2. there was only a two million gap from what they sold their previous house for and given their wealth I rather doubt they needed help to purchase. What W & K probably paid for was housing for security and modifications for the nursery.
      The middletons quietly take care of their expenses and are to be admired for that.

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    3. You know -- even for the well-off, "only" 2 million pounds is a significant amount of money.

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  28. I just found this video of William and Kate from May 2012. It's not exactly related to this post, but it was heartwarming to watch. I love the chemistry between them!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvW_o9XqgSw

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    1. It makes me happy to see them genuinely in love. I'm happy for them.

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    2. I LOVE this video!!!! I think I've watched it at least 10 times ;) Wish there was a similar one, but with more recent videos!!

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    3. The video isnt available anymore it seems? Pr am i the only one who cant watch it

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    4. Fabulousdaan, you can search "William and Kate best/cute moments" on YouTube, that's the name of the video. It's still available, I just watched it. AGAIN!!!!

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    5. Thanks Debby i found it! very cute indeed! At least this is a part of her life i can relate to, being in a great relationship as well :D. J'adore comme tout le monde crie quand William commence à parler en français!

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  29. Sarah from Calif.10 February 2015 at 02:31

    Oh I love the Bucklebury home. It is cozy, classy and so charming!
    I do understand the Middleton's needing more security for Will, Kate and George. I would have done the same thing as them moving to find a safe place for the family.

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  30. Lovely post! Thank you! I wonder if you might do this for William at some point? I recall reading that he had some bachelor pad at some point for a short while during "the London years", but never knew if this was true.

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  31. I thought Kate also lived at Clarence House until shortly after the wedding. Not sure if that is correct though. I can't imagine what that would be like, living with Charles and Camilla! I wonder if there may have been a separate apartment for them? Does anyone know?

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