Of course, William is famously a fan of the sport – and president of the FA – but the visit also highlighted Kate’s desire for her children to live as normal a life as possible.
According to The Sun, sitting among the crowd rather than in a VIP box, Kate, William, six-year-old George and four-year-old Charlotte cheered along with the supporters, punching the air when their team Aston Villa thrashed Norwich City 5-1.
“Kate has always wanted the children to live in the real world,” a royal source says. “She and William don’t want them to live in a gilded bubble. They want them to grow up having the same experiences as other kids.”
By her own admission it hasn’t always been easy. After Charlotte’s birth, Kate revealed: “Becoming a mother has been such a rewarding and wonderful experience. However, at times it has also been a huge challenge – even for me, who has support at home that most mothers do not.
“Nothing can really prepare you for the sheer overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother. It’s full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love and worry, all mixed together.”
According to Katie Nicholl, author of Kate: The Future Queen, it’s taken the Duchess time to find her feet – but now she’s flourishing.
“She’s had to master juggling her different roles – a royal, a wife and a mum,” says Nicholl. “But she strikes me as a confident and happy young woman who has got the balance right.”
Insiders say the key to the Duchess’ parenting skills stems from her own childhood. Both she and William have been inspired by the way Kate was brought up, going for country walks, baking cakes and sliding down the stairs on a tray.
“I know that I was lucky,” she said in 2015.
“My parents and teachers provided me with a wonderful and secure childhood where I always knew I was loved, valued and listened to.”
But there is another woman who has had a subliminal influence on the Duchess of Cambridge – her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, who broke the mould in royal parenting.
She famously shattered protocol when she refused to leave William in the care of nannies, taking him on his first overseas tour to Australia and New Zealand when he was just nine months old.
It’s no coincidence that Prince George was the same age when he joined his parents in Australia. She also regularly treated both William and Harry to trips to theme parks, the cinema and McDonald’s in order for them to live as normal a life as possible.
“Kate is mindful of how much William loved his mother,” says our royal source. “She was very unstuffy and wanted William and Harry to fit in with their school friends and experience normality. That’s the baton she handed to Kate.”
Despite having nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo to help out, there’s no doubt Kate is a hands-on mum. At their country house Anmer Hall in Norfolk, she keeps a watchful eye on the kids as they swim in their outdoor pool, play hide-and-seek in the grounds and frolic with cocker spaniel Lupo and pet hamster Marvin.
In her skinny jeans and wellies, Kate blends in with other yummy mummies shopping at the local Spar in Dersingham and standing in the queue at Howard’s butchers in West Newton.
She also treats the children to below-the-radar trips to nearby Brancaster beach, the local petting zoo, Snettisham Park and the Houghton International Horse Trials.
Yet while they have the trappings of a wealthy lifestyle, the children are not spoiled – Prince George may be third in line to the throne, but he is still expected to help the Waitrose delivery driver carry the shopping bags into Anmer Hall.
“From what I have seen, she’s a great mum and those who know her say she is absolutely devoted to her kids,” says Katie.
“She’s very affectionate and tactile with children – she’s apparently always hugging and kissing George, Charlotte and Louis and filling them with confidence by heaping praise on them.
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“But she is also strict, particularly when it comes to limiting screen time, sugar and demonstrating good manners. She doesn’t tolerate nonsense and in that respect she is very like her own mother.
She also believes that being outdoors, exploring and adventuring are the key to a happy, healthy childhood.
The Cambridge kids are incredibly robust – they are outside playing in the sunshine and the rain. It’s one of the things the Queen really loves about them.”
Kate is also a keen sportswoman and it’s an interest she is keen to pass on to her children.
She taught George to swim in the Buckingham Palace pool and takes him and Charlotte to The Hurlingham Club for tennis lessons.
Keen to spark an interest in sailing, too, she and William took George and Charlotte to watch them compete in the King’s Cup charity yacht race during the summer.
“After Louis’ birth, one of Kate’s friends said having children had been the making of her, and it really has been,” says Katie.
“She sees her most important role in life as being a mother, and I think the reason she exudes such confidence and happiness these days is because she has the three children she longed for. It has completed her.”
This article first appeared in The Sun and is republished with permission.