Catherine was raised in Chapel Row, a village near Newbury, Berkshire, England. She studied art history in Scotland at the University of St Andrews, where she met William in 2001. Their engagement was announced in November 2010 before they married on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey. The Duke and Duchess's children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis of Cambridge, are third, fourth, and fifth in the line of succession respectively.
Catherine's impact on British and American fashion has been called the "Kate Middleton effect" in the media, and in 2012 and 2013, she was selected as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time magazine.
Catherine Elizabeth Middleton was born at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading on 9 January 1982 to an upper-middle-class family. She was christened at St Andrew's Bradfield, Berkshire, on 20 June 1982. She is the eldest of three children born to Michael Middleton (b. 1949), and his wife, Carole (née Goldsmith; b. 1955), a former flight dispatcher and flight attendant, respectively, who in 1987 founded Party Pieces, a mail order private company that sells party supplies and decorations with an estimated worth of £30 million. The family of her father Michael has ties to British aristocracy and benefited financially from trust funds which they had established over 100 years ago. Her Middleton relatives were reported as having played host to British royalty "as long ago as 1926". She has a younger sister, Pippa, and a younger brother, James.
The family lived in Amman, Jordan, from May 1984 to September 1986; her father worked for British Airways (BA), and Middleton went to an English-language nursery school. Following her return to Berkshire in 1986, she was enrolled aged four at St Andrew's School, a private school near the village of Pangbourne in Berkshire. She boarded part-weekly at St Andrew's in her later years. She then studied briefly at Downe House. She was a boarder at Marlborough College, a co-educational independent boarding school in Wiltshire, and graduated in 2005 from the University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, with an undergraduate MA (2:1 Hons) in the history of art. Before going to university, she had a gap year, during which she travelled to Chile to participate in a Raleigh International programme, and later studied at the British Institute of Florence in Italy. In November 2006, Middleton accepted a position as an accessory buyer with the clothing chain Jigsaw, where she worked part-time until November 2007. She also worked until January 2011 at Party Pieces; her role within the family business included catalogue design and production, marketing and photography.
In 2001, Middleton met Prince William while they were both students in residence at St Salvator's Hall at the University of St Andrews. She reportedly caught William's eye at a charity fashion show at the university in 2002 when she appeared on the stage with a see-through lace dress. The couple began dating in 2003, although their relationship remained unconfirmed. During their second year, Middleton shared a flat with William and two other friends. On 17 October 2005, Middleton complained through her lawyer about harassment from the media, stating that she had done nothing significant to warrant publicity.