“At the end of the day, she’s in training to be a future Queen, but honestly you would never know it,” a source close to the Duchess of Cambridge tells PEOPLE

By Erin HillMonique Jessen and Simon Perry
December 18, 2020 12:19 PM
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Just like Queen Elizabeth, Kate Middleton prefers country life to city life.

The mom of three, 38, considers herself most at home at the family’s country estate, Anmer Hall. Situated on the east coast of England, rural Norfolk offers Kate, Prince Wiliam, 38, and their children, Prince George, 7, Princess Charlotte, 5, and Prince Louis, 2, a welcome escape.

“Even if she were married to a banker, I don’t think she would be much different,” a source close to the royal household tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “She would have wanted to be a country mom and be in town occasionally. I don’t think she would have been living a very different life.”

Of course, she’s living the most extraordinary life imaginable, in an extraordinary year: married to the future King of England and raising the next King while navigating everything from home-schooling during quarantine to her husband’s secret battle with the coronavirus in April. (He was never hospitalized, and the rest of the family was not infected.)

Kate Middleton
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Anmer Hall in Norfolk
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Whether in Norfolk or the family’s London residence at Kensington Palace, Kate is “very chilled at home,” says a friend. “It’s a normal, busy family home with kids running around and knocking things over. There’s no airs and graces.”

Kate’s upbringing in the village of Bucklebury is reflected in life at William and Kate's country home in Norfolk, about 110 miles north of London. The 10-bedroom Georgian house on the Queen’s Sandringham estate is where the family of five spent most of the lockdown period this spring and summer.

Kate Middleton
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Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte at Anmer Hall
| Credit: BBC

In Norfolk, Kate and William host friends who live nearby and enjoy hunting parties—not unlike Queen Elizabeth, 94, who treasures her time in the countryside.

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Kate Middleton
| Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

“At the end of the day, she’s in training to be a future Queen, but honestly you would never know it,” says a source close to Kate. “If you go round to her house, you get a cup of tea, and it’s often William who makes it! It’s a lovely, welcoming house, not a fancy, stuffy palace in any way.”