The Stunning Hair Transformation Of Kate Middleton

If there's one thing we know, it's that Kate Middleton has, hands-down, the best hair this side of Buckingham Palace. It's long, it's glossy, and it's always perfectly coiffed, regardless of whether she is standing in a rainstorm, just took off a bicycle helmet, or is about to climb into a fighter jet. And although she's one of the world's most photographed women, an air of mystery surrounds her effortlessly glamorous hair. How does it stay so perfect? She is a princess after all, and some secrets just come with the job.


While Kate Middleton's hair always has its signature bounce and regal quality, it has also changed through the years. Thanks to those changes, her hair always looks amazing and manages to keep us on our toes, all while braving everything from unideal weather conditions to diamond-studded tiaras. There are bangs, there are updos, and there are even ponytails. But there are no — and we repeat no — missteps. A look at Middleton's tresses during her years in the spotlight shows that her hair journey is nothing short of perfection.

1985: Cute and carefree

Let's call it a preview of things to come. Although three-year-old Kate Middleton's "updo" here is a little less polished than what we have come to know, love, and yes, emulate, it still follows a few of grown-up Middleton's style points. Perfectly suits the occasion? Check. Classic, with few embellishments? Check. And very likely executed not by Middleton herself, but by an expert? Check, check, check. 


Here, Middleton's family enjoys a holiday in England's Lake District, giving us a sneak preview into her future as a sporty royal (she used to be part of a cross-Channel rowing team, and she's always game to take part in a foot race or hop on a bicycle). But did you know that around this time in her life, Middleton and her family lived in Amman, Jordan? The pint-sized future princess and her family lived there for about two-and-a-half years, and when Middleton was three, she attended preschool there. We're sure her hair was the talk of the classroom, even then.

2005-2007: Paparazzi newbie

William, Prince of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, met at Scotland's prestigious University of St. Andrews, so it is fitting that Kate Middleton's hair journey starts here, too. Fun fact: Middleton famously wore a sheer dress on the catwalk of a charity fashion show while she attended the college. That moment is now widely considered to be when Prince William started to see her differently — and we don't blame him. By the time the pair graduated, they were already a couple, and Middleton wore her soon-to-be famous locks straight and sleek for the occasion, with a deep part and slight side-swept bangs.


Just two years later, in 2007, Middleton was photographed walking from her flat in London's upscale Chelsea neighborhood with the same sleek, side-parted hair, although the bangs had grown out into face-framing layers. Here, we got a peek into the beginning of Middleton's relationship — if you can call it that — with the paparazzi. But she was far from caught off-guard, with nay a strand of hair out of place. With long length and subtle layers, her locks were picture perfect.

2008-2009: Keeping fans fascinated

Fascinators have been and, we're sure, will continue to be a mainstay in Kate Middleton's wardrobe (we like to think that at Adelaide Cottage, the primary residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales, there is a closet devoted to the cause, stacked floor-to-ceiling with hat boxes. Or even better, a live-in milliner).


Both of these choice pieces were worn to weddings between 2008 and 2009 before Middleton married into the family, and both were set atop her glossy, carefully curled locks. But that's where the similarities end. In 2008, she applied the perfect amount of lift at the crown and added some extra curl to complement her feathered headpiece. The following year, her wedding look was sleeker, letting her more sculptural fascinator shine. Although, let's be honest here: In both cases (actually, all cases) Middleton's hair is what really steals the show — not her accessories.

2010: Engagement hair

Here's a picture we're all familiar with: when William, Prince of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, officially announced that they'd made it official. After eight years of dating (and much anticipation), Prince William finally popped the question while on vacation in Kenya. Now there are a few things, besides Kate Middleton's hair (which is why we're all here), to take note of. Let's start with the sapphire and diamond ring he used to seal the deal — it's famous in its own right, as it's the same one that his father King Charles III used to propose to his mother, the late Princess Diana. Secondly, Middleton's royal blue Issa dress (which plays off the blue of the sapphire) set in motion what is now known as the "Kate Effect," which saw the dress sell out almost instantly.


But back to the hair. To mark the momentous occasion, Middleton wore her hair in what would become her signature style: glossy, polished, and slightly curled. She was proving to the world that she was ready for her close-up, crown, or whatever else life was going to throw at her.

2011: First engagement post-engagement

Kate Middleton's first official engagement following, well ... her engagement, was launching an RNLI Lifeboat in Wales. People, it was windy. It was cold. And more importantly, it was her first time. Not only did she launch her first boat, but she also did a walkabout (that's just a fancy way of saying she met ordinary folks), and sang the Welsh national anthem in Welsh. 


Well, if her hair is anything to judge by (and obviously it is), she handled the whole thing spectacularly. The mass of curls was sleekly (and wisely) pulled back and held with a striking feathered fascinator. The overall result was equal parts elegant and pragmatic, as it kept the wind from completely dismantling her hairstyle. And the headpiece wasn't just about aesthetics: Pinned to her fascinator was the Welsh Fusiliers badge. In short, not only did Middleton play the part perfectly, but her hair did, too. 

2011: Wedding hair bliss

For her historic wedding day, Kate Middleton went against tradition, wearing a half-up hairstyle instead of the full updo preferred by the Palace. And we must say, her instincts were spot-on. Her loose waves echoed her signature style, while the pulled-back front added the formal touch that such an occasion demands. Also, the tiara — the Cartier Halo tiara to be exact, which is encrusted with 888 diamonds — and the hand-embroidered veil were not to be overlooked.


Speaking to Marie Claire, royal reporter Ashley Pearson revealed that the half-up, half-down hairstyle was actually a compromise. "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. However, Kate had her heart set on wearing her hair down with long flowing curls, which is her favorite way to wear it, and actually William's favorite as well. They ended up compromising on her look." Once again, love wins the day.

2012: Show-stealing bangs

At the opening of the Natural History Museum's Treasures exhibition in London, Kate Middleton debuted her new bohemian fringe, which channeled a chic and retro '70s style. Now, to be clear, when we say "bohemian," we mean in Middleton's signature picture-perfect, not-a-hair-out-of-place style (and in case you were wondering whether there was an awkward, getting-used-to-bangs situation, there most certainly was not).


Because the bangs created such a stir, and her first pregnancy was announced soon after (much sooner than they had anticipated due to Middleton's struggle with hyperemesis gravidarum, or extreme morning sickness), a theory emerged: Kate Middleton was using her new haircut to distract the masses, keeping all the attention on her head and pregnancy speculation at bay. Now, whether that is true or not is between Middleton and her hairstylist. All we're willing to admit is that it's hard to think about anything else when Middleton debuts a new look.

2013: New mom hair

The world turns. A baby is born (a prince in line to the throne, no less). The bangs grow out. But one thing stays the same: Kate Middleton's fabulous hair is still fabulous, even mere hours after giving birth. To announce the arrival of Prince George of Wales, Middleton wore her long hair natural yet polished, with subtle blond highlights. It was almost like she was just on a beach, not giving birth to a future king. 


Now, while most of the credit goes to Middleton's naturally fabulous mane and great hair genes, a little credit is due to her personal hairstylist, Amanda Cook Tucker. According to Grazia, aside from his royal parents, Cook Tucker was the second person (after the doctor) to meet Prince George in the Lindo Wing following his birth. If that doesn't give you an idea of how high Middleton's stylist ranks, we don't know what will. 

2014: Up(dos) and downs

Early in 2014, the royals arrived Down Under for their three-week Australian tour. By the time they had arrived, Kate Middleton's former root color had been banished and a healthy dose of layers had been introduced (and in case you're wondering, Middleton did emerge from that very long flight looking as fresh as a daisy). While she admired the view of Australian landmark Uluru, she sporeds a more uniform chestnut brown that was just a hint darker than her usual.


Closer to the end of 2014, when Middleton attended the EACH (East Anglia Children's Hospital) appeal launch event, we spotted a fresh look. There had previously been updos, bouncy blowouts, and heck, even tiaras. But it's not often that we would be graced with a laidback — all things being relative; she was a duchess here, after all — ponytail on Middleton. But we are here for it. The volume at the crown, deep side part, and visible layers gave this polished pony plenty of visual interest. 

2015: Bangs, baby

In the summer of 2015, Kate Middleton debuted curtain bangs — and stole the show while she was at it. At Wimbledon that year, she caused a lot of fuss when she debuted a honey-tinted hue and what looks like an early version of what would end up being a curtain bang. Middleton is a huge Wimbledon fan, and even though the action was on the court, all eyes were on the grandstands where Middleton showed off her new hairstyle and L.K. Bennett dress in a show-stopping shade. She also carried an incredibly perfect leopard-print clutch to cement her chic style.


A few months later, while visiting the Anna Freud Centre in London, the headline-making hairstyle was more pronounced — it took a while, but she finally committed fully to the bangs. Plus, her sleek longer lengths helped accent her new addition. No, not Princess Charlotte of Wales, who was born in May of that year. We're talking about those gorgeous, perfectly blown-out curtain bangs that had the masses running for their barber shears.

2015: Bangs still banging

Now, we know that with the arrival of bangs comes an immediate worry about the inevitable awkward growing out phase. But apparently that doesn't have to be the case; it seems that the royals, at least, are spared that indignity. Just a few months after the bangs' big debut, they were longer — and while we're here, Kate Middleton's hair was darker, too — but they were still impossibly smooth, textured, and eminently flattering. 


Her deep chestnut-brown hair was the perfect accent to her coat in Scottish blue, which was made by Scottish designer Christopher Kane for the royals' trip to — you guessed it — Scotland, in October. And just because we've come to expect that level of care and attention to what she wears, doesn't mean we don't appreciate it. Based on the reaction of the royals' fans during their walkabout, it's clear that the public appreciates it, too.

2016: Making waves

Kate Middleton's hair is nothing if not consistent: consistently long, chestnut-hued, and magnificently coiffed. So we do love it when she surprises us a little. And while we see the half-up, half-down style occasionally, it's usually tucked under a fascinator or a hat. Early in 2016 during the royals' tour of India, this half-back style proved to be a watershed moment, because afterwards we started to see it on Middleton more regularly.


Just a few months later, at the Heads Together's Mind Charity, a few notable things happened. First, Middleton wore a Banana Republic skirt that then immediately sold out thanks to the Kate Effect. Secondly, she donned a pair of boxing gloves and threw some punches. Thirdly, her honey-highlighted bombshell blowout looked this good both before and after her boxing session. If she'd tell us what hairspray she uses, that would sell out in a second, too.

2017: Cute crop

Those who look (nay, study) Kate Middleton's hair as closely as we do know that her hair actually changes quite a lot — it just takes place very subtly over time. Keeping that in mind, this cut was actually pretty extreme for the Princess of Wales. She debuted the shorter style from the stands at Wimbledon in 2017, looking fresh as a daisy. And with her hair still falling past her collarbone, there was plenty of room for her signature hairstyle: blown out with lots of bounce and curl. 


The new, shorter loose waves were the perfect accessory to her clean, floral-accented Catherine Walker & Co. shift dress that felt like spring, even though it was mid-summer. With this new hairstyle in the stands, even fans who didn't like tennis had something to look at. We don't know who won the match, but we do know who won all the style points.

2017: Faux bob

Turns out Kate Middleton can be a bit of a trickster. Or maybe, like us, she's just curious about potentially risky hairstyles. After all, when long, cascading locks are your signature look, it's only natural to wonder how a closer crop would look (we know it's not just us.) At the Remembrance Sunday service in 2017, curious minds (which perhaps even included Middleton herself) finally had their question answered when the princess wore a faux bob tucked elegantly under a wide-brimmed hat. And just as we had imagined, she looked stunning with short hair. Looking carefully at this sculptural hairdo, you can see that what at first glance looks like short hair curled delicately under is actually her long lengths tucked and securely pinned. 


But faux or not, this deceiving hairstyle attracted a lot of attention. Despite much speculation, it wasn't a trial run, and she didn't end up pulling out the scissors and fully committing to the look.

2018: Baby number three

Looking at Kate Middleton's sleek, nary-a-strand-out-of-place hair just hours after giving birth, it's hard to argue with her hair-icon status. We can only imagine that in this picture, baby Prince Louis of Wales is staring adoringly at his mother's perfectly coiffed, perfectly curled hair and giving a tiny fist pump for all those great genes he just inherited. 


But it's not just the perfect hair (or the perfect princely bundle she's holding in her arms) that stands out in this photo. What really made waves was her choice of dress. The red Jenny Packham dress — a favorite designer of Middleton's, worn for all three birth announcements — is reminiscent of the flowy red ensemble that Princess Diana wore to present baby Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, to the world back in 1984. Whether the outfit was actually a nod to her late mother-in-law is, again, between Middleton and her stylist. Also worth noting: When Princess Diana presented Prince Harry, her hair was also perfectly coiffed, just like Middleton's is here.

2019: Stylish summer

June 2019 was a banner month for Kate Middleton. Somehow, she managed to make her trademark tresses look new and fresh as she attended a gala dinner in Central London wearing an off-the-shoulder dress. The volume was off the charts, and the color? A perfect highlighted caramel shade. Just in case you're wondering, someone was standing to her right holding an umbrella above her because it was raining. Not even Middleton's hair can look that picture perfect during a downpour with no protection.


Then, just weeks later, she turned heads at the Royal Ascot. Now, there are updos, and then there is art. And Middleton's intricate hairstyle was the latter. Delicate and romantic, her hair was precisely coiled and pinned behind her left ear. It was almost a crime to hide it under a hat (although, what a glorious hat it was — so, forgiven). We know this ritzy event is about the horses, but Middleton was the clear winner.

2020: Pandemic, but pretty

In early March 2020, mere days before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kate Middleton debuted curtain bangs and shorter, shoulder-skimming hair during the royals' tour of Ireland. The bangs were subtle, but easy to spot thanks to sleek styling that also gave a sense of just how much length she cropped. It's also worth mentioning that Middleton looked better wandering around the Teagasc Animal & Grassland Research Centre than most people do on their best hair days.


Three months later, lockdown began to ease and Middleton stepped out for only the second time since the beginning of the global pandemic. Think back to your experience at that time. Were there sweatpants involved? More sourdough bread than you were used to? And a lot less hair maintenance? Well, Middleton and her sleek, straight tresses were out there proving that even quarantine can be stylish. The only similarity between her pandemic hair and ours is the length — it appears that the princess was letting her previous haircut and bangs grow out.

2021: Long and lovely

And let it grow, she did. In the spring of 2021, at the reopening of the V&A Museum in London, the royal showed off what had been keeping her busy during lockdown: growing her hair out. We are here for those long locks (and has a face mask ever looked so chic?) that perfectly complemented her drop-waist, red houndstooth dress.


Later in the year, at the Royal Variety Performance, Kate Middleton gave her usual blowout a break and stepped up the glam with glossy curls. The side-parted, over-the-shoulder cascade of curls was the perfect accompaniment to her sequinned Jenny Packham gown (that ended up getting all the press because it was recycled — but, let's be honest, it's gorgeous and deserves it). The tight curls were a departure from her signature style, especially in 2021, when we saw Middleton sporting sleeker styles far more often than before. And that shine even rivaled her spangled gown.

2022: Great lengths

Let's just take in what was happening with Kate Middleton's hair in 2022. It was long (like really, really long) and accentuated by fresh, melting honey highlights. Even with the curls that we saw on Middleton with Princess Charlotte of Wales at the Commonwealth Games (where we can only assume Middleton passed on her hair secrets to her daughter), her hair was approaching the longest we had ever seen on her. And yet, even with that length, she still had lots of volume and body. Some might call it magic.


During a trip to the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in London in March of that year, Middleton showed off those longer lengths with a sleek, middle-parted style that beautifully framed her face and complemented her blue Alexander McQueen cashmere sweater. The overall look was polished and sophisticated, and somehow also managed to have an "I woke up like this" quality.

2023: Glam two ways

In one of her first appearances as Catherine, Princess of Wales, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Kate Middleton turned heads on the 2023 BAFTA red carpet in a white chiffon Alexander McQueen gown. But the best accessory (no, not the Zara earrings that everyone went crazy for) was her straight, middle-parted hair, pulled elegantly away from her face and tucked behind her shoulders. The end result was very Old Hollywood glam. Because after all, when you're a princess, you'd better look the part. 


Later in the year, during a visit to the Young V&A Museum in London, Middleton debuted a twist on her signature style. We're used to big, bouncy curls on the princess, but those she wore to the museum's opening post-renewal seem to defy gravity. Her color had been updated, too, to a warmer, highlighted tone. It was shiny, voluminous, and catching the light just so — all proof that Middleton's hair really was (and remains) her crowning glory. But despite all that, what the fans really wanted to know is: Did she just happen to wear pink, or was she hopping on the nostalgic Barbiecore fashion trend like the rest of us?

2023: French-inspired fringe

Bangs, once again, became the talk of the town as Kate Middleton debuted a curtain-style fringe that was decidedly Farrah Fawcett–esque in 2023. And we, like the rest of the world, love her new polished centre-parted bangs. So it's probably no surprise that her latest look is keeping up with the latest fashions. According to celebrity hairstylist Frederic Fekkai, who spoke to Marie Claire, the "French beauty look" has one of the year's trending styles for fall. "The long hair should be slightly feathered, slightly layered and not too flat, similar to the famous look of late actress Jane Birkin," Fekkai explained. That explains the '70s vibe!


If you, too, are feeling the inevitable pull of curtain bangs after seeing these photos, take note: They are flattering (as we can see), easy to maintain, and quick to grow out (in case of commitment issues). So go ahead, and live out all your princess hair fantasies.

2023: Flowy hair love

While in Cardiff, Wales, to kick off the United Kingdom's Black History Month festivities in 2023, Kate Middleton made an incredibly cute heart-hands move. The move was analyzed by body language expert Darren Stanton, a representative of Betfair Casino who said it shows she is "full of compassion" (via Scottish Daily Express). "From this, it shows she is definitely following in Diana's footsteps, with how gracious and open she's being," he said, detailing the way Middleton embraced the crowd. "Her warmth really comes through in the pictures from this engagement."


The gesture may have indeed shown that Middleton is full of compassion, but we're guessing that she was also full of love on this day, in part for her flowy middle-parted hair that had come full circle from the straight style she debuted in her early paparazzi days. While her locks have maintained the elements of sleekness, shininess, and volume right through her hair journey, the flowy yet structured waves here were yet another addition to her story. 

So yes, Kate, we heart your hair, especially with that fringe. Although the color is pretty good, too, as are those curls. We heart it all — please keep surprising us.