The royal girlfriend has apparently asked that everyone call her Catherine, a name with a much more formal ring and a queenly history.
Some say that Miss Middleton, 26, is trying to give herself a more formal image, befitting a young woman who could one day be married to a king. But others point out that she has never been called Kate in private, not by her family, friends, schoolmates or university pals.
The news comes amid mounting speculation that Miss Middleton and Prince William are close to becoming engaged.
A close friend said yesterday: “Everyone knows it’s about to happen with Kate and William but we were a little surprised about the request to call her Catherine. There’s a distinct feeling that she has started to become very aware of her position.” The Press has been blamed for giving Catherine Elizabeth Middleton her nickname, when her relationship with the prince was confirmed in 2004. “No one ever referred to her as Kate, ever,” says a former classmate. “It doesn’t irritate her, even when the photographers shout her name out.
She’s not so precious as to correct them. But her family and close friends have always called her Catherine and that’s the way she prefers it.” One source joked: “It’s certainly more queenly.” But one former contemporary has been less impressed with her old classmate, saying yesterday: “At school, Catherine was really jolly hockey sticks, fun and jump-in-the-dirt, a great girl,” she said. “Now she seems much more concerned about her image, who she is with, who she is talking to and the like.
That’s what I have found a bit off.” Miss Middleton is currently on holiday with Prince William on the romantic Caribbean island of Mustique, adding fire to the engagement speculation. Even bookmakers have stopped taking bets on the likelihood of William proposing.
The couple is staying at the exclusive five-bedroom £1,785 a night Villa Alumbrera, the most opulent mansion on the island.
Yesterday, asked on the phone if they were having a fun time, Miss Middleton replied ‘Yes’ but she would not comment on the engagement rumours. She said: “I’m terribly sorry but I will not talk about that. I am truly sorry but please excuse me.” If Prince William, 25, is planning a proposal he could not have selected a more exclusive resort as a backdrop. Owned by the widow of Swedish mining tycoon Adolf Lundin, their lavish rented villa is perched on a cliff.
More than 140 heads of state and government are due to address COP28 on Thursday and Friday