"It’s a lovely, welcoming house, not a fancy, stuffy palace in any way," a source close to Kate tells PEOPLE

By Erin HillMonique Jessen and Simon Perry
December 17, 2020 09:00 AM
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Whether in Norfolk or the family’s London residence at Kensington Palace, Kate Middleton is “very chilled at home,” a friend tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story.

Kate’s upbringing in the village of Bucklebury is reflected in life at the Cambridges’ country estate of Anmer Hall in Norfolk, about 110 miles north of London. The 10-bedroom Georgian house on the Queen’s Sandringham estate is where Kate and Prince William consider themselves most at home, and it’s where they spent most of the lockdown period this spring and summer with their children, Prince George, 7, Princess Charlotte, 5, and Prince Louis, 2.

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.

“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.”

Anmer Hall
| Credit: Indigo/Getty

And like moms around the world, after the kids have gone to sleep, she’s able to enjoy some “me” time, shopping online or watching beauty tutorials on YouTube. (She sometimes does her own hair and makeup before events.)

Adds the friend, “It’s a normal, busy family home with kids running around and knocking things over. There’s no airs and graces.”

Kate Middleton and Prince William
| Credit: UK Press Pool/UK Press via Getty

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Kate Middleton, Prince William, fPrince Louis, Princess Charlotte and Prince George
| Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

On weekends Kate has been known to take the kids to nearby Mable’s Paint Pot, where they spend the afternoon painting pottery and picking up sweets along with friends. William and Kate also step out for date nights at the local pubs. The couple, who will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary in April, have evolved from newlyweds who once enjoyed romantic getaways across the globe to contented parents whose conversations now center on child-rearing.

“They were talking about home life and the children—just like any other parents on a night out,” says a local. “You were just struck by what a normal lovely couple they are.”