It’s safe to say Kate Middleton is living every little girl’s dream. Going from commoner to England’s future queen consort, the Duchess of Cambridge’s rise to royalty has even Cinderella’s story beat. Yet for a woman who’s quickly become one of the most famous and influential individuals in the world, her path to the throne has been anything but a smooth ride.

Kate was born in 1982 to Michael and Carole Middleton, a flight dispatcher and a flight attendant, respectively. When she was around five years old, her parents created Party Pieces, a mail-order party goods company. Kate has often credited her parents’ work ethic with inspiring her own desire to succeed.

kensingtonroyal / Instagram

While it’s common knowledge that Kate doesn’t come from a royal upbringing, most don’t know that she and William have a common ancestor from back in the 16th century. After some digging, it was discovered that Kate and the former prince are 15th cousins.

Victoria Jones – WPA Pool / Getty Images

Kate was an athletic child. She practiced track at St. Andrew’s School in Pangbourne, where she routinely broke records in the high jump — another example of Kate’s drive to succeed and achieve at the highest level.

Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Along with athletics, Kate also had an eye for the finer things. She took a gap year after high school to think about what she wanted to study before discovering her interest in the art world. She then enrolled at the University of St. Andrews as an art history major.

Pool / Samir Hussein / WireImage

Kate joined St. Andrews expecting to accomplish great things, though she didn’t anticipate meeting the man of her dreams there. Nevertheless, as soon as she crossed paths with Prince William, things changed dramatically. Yet it wasn’t love at first sight…

Handout / Getty Images

Kate and William’s relationship got off to a rocky start. After all, dating the future King of England was sure to come with its complications. The added pressure was probably why William had to work so hard to convince Kate to go on a date with him in the first place.

Indigo / Getty Images

William first noticed Kate at a fundraiser. She was with another date, but that didn’t stop the prince from making his move. He reportedly asked her out and didn’t give up until his future wife agreed. But dating a prince didn’t halt Kate’s ambition.

Indigo / Getty Images

After graduation, Kate took a job as a part-time accessories buyer with Jigsaw, a high-end street fashion chain. Believe it or not, Kate’s buying preferences and taste actually led to drastically higher sales for the company, though her influence on fashion didn’t only include accessories.

Charles McQuillan / Getty Images

People have since grown obsessed with Kate’s style, which is why any piece she wears sells out almost immediately afterward. This so-called “Kate Effect” has become every designer’s dream — and, strangely, every charity’s, too.

Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images

The “Kate Effect” has proven to be incredibly beneficial for charities as well. When Kate gets involved in pushing the arts or supporting a charity, things tend to take off. This talented woman knows how to spread the love.

Dominic Lipinski – Pool / Getty Images

It’s no secret that Kate has impeccable taste, but many people don’t realize that she’s also an incredibly talented photographer. So much so, in fact, that she actually took over the patronage of the Royal Photographic Society. Kate’s also become a patron of the National Portrait Gallery.

Arthur Edwards – Pool / Getty Images

Yet her work with photography goes beyond her patronage. She’s also an active partner with Action for Children, an agency that helps disadvantaged and at-risk youth by giving them hands-on photography lessons. The charity focuses on teaching children to use art as a way to express themselves.

Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Kate’s altruism has long been a part of her life. One of her first volunteering roles was with the Scout Association. According to Kate, she was drawn to the Scouts because it allowed her to combine her love for both nature and children.

Daniel Leal-Olivas – WPA Pool / Getty Images

Her love for the Scouts likely stems from her youth. Kate was a Brownie who loved camping and spending time outdoors. She takes her role in the organization very seriously, most recently spending time with a scout group in a hut made of sticks!

Eddie Mulholland – WPA Pool / Getty Images

Further expressing her love for nature, Kate took it upon herself to design a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show as well as the gardens at the Royal Horticultural Society. Kate can do it all!

Chris Jackson / Getty Images

The Duchess’ beautiful design is a permanent fixture in the gardens, and it even includes a rustic children’s playground. The purpose of the playground is to remind children to get out of the house and to connect with nature.

Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images

Ensuring children have this type of connection with the outdoors is incredibly important to Kate, which is why for the past few years she’s supported Backyard Nature, a campaign started by children in Liverpool that promotes interacting with local plant life.

Heathcliff O’Malley – WPA Pool / Getty Images

Kate even became the editor of Huffington Post for a day as part of the Young Minds Matter initiative. YMM focuses on raising awareness of children’s mental health issues and giving kids the tools to overcome things like depression and anxiety.

Chris Jackson – WPA Pool / Getty Images

Yet Kate doesn’t just believe in the importance of advocating for mental health in children. The Duchess is also dedicated to raising awareness and removing stigmas for all, proving she truly is a woman of the people.

Ben Stansall – WPA Pool / Getty Images

This penchant for giving has led many to compare Kate to Queen Elizabeth herself, though others seem to believe her style of philanthropy more closely resembles that of her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana. Yet unlike the Duchess, the former Princess of Wales stirred up quite a bit of controversy with her charitable efforts.

Arthur Edwards – Pool / Getty Images

Diana was heavily involved in helping sufferers of AIDS and HIV, traveling to countries ravaged by the disease doing whatever she could to ease the pain. But, the fight against AIDS wasn’t the only cause she took up.

Knowing how much of the world faced extreme poverty, she visited African countries to help feed children and their families. It was her work in the country of Angola, however, that was especially important — although seriously dangerous!

The nation of Angola saw a brutal civil war that lasted from 1975 until 2002. Over a million people died as a result of the fighting, but years afterward, the death toll continued to rise because of one particularly deadly weapon.

Those weapons were landmines. Nowadays, the military knows just how devastating these explosives are, and their use is highly frowned upon because of the civilian casualties they cause. So, Princess Diana did something about it.

Not only did she become a huge proponent of removing active landmines from war-torn nations, but it actually became one of her biggest legacies. Working with a group called Halo Trust, she ventured into active minefields for a first-hand look.

Her goal was to gain a thorough understanding of how landmines are located and then safely cleared away. And, as you can imagine, it’s a job few people are willing to put their lives on the line for.

Using metal detectors, workers carefully make their way throughout fields detecting the mines. They wear padded clothing and protective masks, but in reality, if one blew up in their face, the outcome wouldn’t be pretty.

This is one of the most iconic photos ever taken of the princess. She’s sitting next to a young girl who lost her leg in a landmine incident. It was accidents like this that stirred up so much motivation in her to push for drastic changes.

Diana’s involvement was so influential that many credit her with playing a major role in the passing of the Ottawa Mine Treaty, which 122 countries signed to ban the use of antipersonnel mines.

As you can see, Princess Diana loved chatting with locals and truly understanding what they were going through, and they showed the utmost appreciation for her willingness to listen. However, not everyone saw her actions in the same positive light.

At one point during her crusade to eliminate landmines, Earle Howe, the United Kingdom’s junior defense minister at the time, claimed he believed her motives were politically charged. Unfortunately, only months after Diana led the landmine charge, it came to an abrupt stop.

On August 31, 1997, the world mourned when breaking news alerted everyone the Princess of Wales was involved in a fatal car accident. However, there was one person who wouldn’t let the work she was involved with come to an end.

Prince Harry, Diana’s youngest son, knew the effort his mother put into her various charities shouldn’t go meaningless. So, he took the reins and got involved in the causes his mother held dear.

Prince Harry eventually became one of the world’s leading advocates in the fight against AIDS and HIV. He spoke at conferences to continue Diana’s efforts, and he even did it with the help of Sir Elton John. But, he also continued his mother’s legacy in another way.

He became a patron of Halo Trust, the same group as Diana, for the push to eliminate active landmines in Angola. With all the work Halo Trust did, Angola was soon one of the countries leading the way in landmine removal.

The prince wanted people to know landmines not only posed a severe threat to human life, but they could also destroy nature conservation efforts and wildlife. Interestingly, Prince Harry wasn’t the only big name who was involved with landmine safety, either.

Some Hollywood celebs helped out, too, one of them being Angelina Jolie. Also known for her amazing humanitarian work in third-world countries, she worked alongside the prince to help Angola.

While the Royal Family is certainly involved with serious causes around the world, that doesn’t mean they don’t have moments like any normal family. You might be surprised just how regular the most famous family in the world actually is.

Ever annoy a sibling just because you feel like it? Prince Harry is teasing his older brother with a rather large boa constrictor. It’s all in good fun… unless you’re William.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

When Prince William and Duchess Kate aren’t holding down the fort in Kensington Palace, they like to escape royal life by going on a holiday. After welcoming Princess Charlotte, the two went skiing. Kate surprised William with a friendly snowball fight.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

They may not be blood relatives, but that doesn’t stop Kate and Meghan from gossiping like sisters while attending a tennis match with the rest of the family. What we wouldn’t give to hear what they’re talking about!

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Long before Kate was the Duchess of Cambridge, she was just plain-ol’ Kate Middleton. She wore silky dresses like the one below and took hackney carriages (taxis) from place to place with her baby sister Pippa.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

The future queen consort might be the coolest royal of them all. Not only is she holding her own on those roller skates, but she looks like she hasn’t aged. Talk about good genes.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Prince Charles might be 70 years old, but this photo shows he’s still a schoolboy at heart. He’s been waiting seven decades to ascend the royal throne, but it doesn’t look like it’s happening anytime soon, so for now, this wall will have to do. Hang in there, Charles.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

This candid moment captured the Duchess of Cambridge catching the clumsy Countess of Wessex as she tripped while getting into the carriage. Good thing Kate caught her, otherwise that would have been a royal pain.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Watching Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s love story has been like a real-life fairy-tale, and it’s only getting better. A photo like this really captures the dynamic relationship between the two. Find someone who looks at you like Harry looks at Meghan.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Kate and William met while they were studying at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Who knows where they were going in this picture, but Kate sure does look annoyed with her beau. We feel you, Kate.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Like we mentioned before, sports are a huge part of royal life. Unfortunately, the All England Club did not treat the Prince and Duchess well on this outing. The match must have been torturous to watch judging by their faces.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Prince Harry has always been the goofball of the royal family. Here, it looks like he was participating in a charity event in place of — or without — his older brother Prince William. No worries, though: Harry made sure his brother was there in spirit.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Kids are kids regardless if they have royal blood pumping through their veins. Look at little Prince Harry and Prince William enjoying a heart-pounding ride on the Nemesis at Alton Towers. We wonder if the brothers still ride roller coasters from time to time…

Instagram

And Princess Charlotte knows all too well that having royal blood doesn’t give her the power of endless energy. Being a royal kid is hard work, and it looks like it’s cutting into the princess’ nap time. Someone get her a royal blankey!

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Queen Elizabeth has sat on the British throne longer than any other monarch. That’s a long time in the public eye. Apparently, when the queen isn’t attending political affairs, she is outside catching snowflakes on her tongue.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Kids love to stick their tongues out whenever a camera appears, too. Prince Harry might not be king, but he has always been the king of the silly-face pose. And he’s not alone. Even Princess Charlotte has been caught a time or two sporting this face to the cameras.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Royal sunglasses must not be part of the event wardrobe protocol! Not even the duchesses’ fancy hats can block the sun from their eyes.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Seeing how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting parents, it makes total sense that they have paternal and maternal instincts. It’s so endearing to see the pair interact with the youth of their country.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Kate looks like she is having so much fun during her university days. She’s right in the middle of St. Andrews annual foam fight that welcomes new students. Even since college, Kate’s been a leader.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Most people make this face when they meet Prince Harry, but he seems to be quite shocked himself. He better hold on tight to that tray of cupcakes before he accidentally throws them in the air.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

Curious from a young age, William was caught peeking up the skirt of the Prince of Whales during a fishing trip. We all know there are no fish up there, but William needed to check it out for himself first.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

A family that jokes together stays together, and William and Harry always make sure their family is in good spirits. Here they are in their younger days teaching the fam how to do the wave!

Kensington Royals / Instagram

William and Harry weren’t afraid to put down the suits and roll around in the mud at their polo match. It got a little messy, to say the least. But as much as the Royals are just like us, they also have a few strange rules that definitely set them apart.

Kensington Royals / Instagram