“It was just a normal shopping day out. The kids weren’t playing up, they weren’t misbehaving," local mom Kate Carter tells PEOPLE

By Erin Hill and Simon Perry
December 16, 2020 01:20 PM
Advertisement

During a low-key outing at her local Sainsbury’s supermarket near her country home in Norfolk last March (just before the start of the COVID-19 lockdown), Kate Middleton could have been mistaken for any other busy parent.

As she walked through the aisles with 2-year-old Prince Louis in her arms and Prince George, 7, and Princess Charlotte, 5, happily walking alongside her, she picked up a surprising item: an enchilada dinner kit!

Kate placed it in her shopping cart, which was being pushed by a security officer. The quick-and-easy family meal surprised a fellow shopper, who spotted Kate and the royal siblings in the store.

“You wouldn’t have thought anything different about her,” local mom Kate Carter tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.

“It was just a normal shopping day out. The kids weren’t playing up, they weren’t misbehaving. It was all so normal—but she’s not normal!” she adds.

Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte and Prince George
| Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty
Prince William and Kate Middleton
| Credit: Jonathan Buckmaster - Pool/Getty

The under-the-radar outing offered a rare glimpse behind the royal curtain of the future Queen. Shopping for an at-home Mexican night for husband Prince William and the kids “is very much her,” says a source close to the royal household.

“Even if she were married to a banker, I don’t think she would be much different. 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,” the source adds.

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

Prince Louis, Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte and Prince George
| Credit: Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty

Before Kate married William and became a royal, she had the comfort of a happy upbringing — and she wants the same for her own children. Between laid-back family vacations, casual trips to the store with mom and outings with their grandparents, Carole and Mike Middleton, Kate’s own real-world childhood is at the heart of her parenting approach.

“That’s something that was incredibly important to both her and William,” says a well-placed insider. “They have worked hard to make it as normal as possible despite their extraordinary situation.”