The Duchess of Cambridge has spoken in detail for the first time about her late grandmother, Valerie Glassborow. Her father Michael’s mother, Kate lost her grandmother in 2006, five years before she was to become The Duchess of Cambridge and her world would change forever.


Although not a lot was previously known about Kate’s grandmother Valerie, it was public knowledge that she was a Bletchley veteran. It has now been revealed that Valerie worked as part of a team of crack codebreakers who unlocked the secrets of the German Enigma machine.


In a foreword for a new puzzle book in support of the ‘Heads Together’ campaign spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Kate has spoken of her grandmother’s heroic efforts in WWII.

The Duchess writes:

“I have always been immensely proud of my grandmother, Valerie Glassborow, who worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. She and her twin sister, Mary, served with thousands of other young women as part of the great Allied effort to break enemy codes. They hardly ever talked about their wartime service, but we now know just how important the men and women of Bletchley Park were, as they tackled some of the hardest problems facing the country.

“In a new century, their successors at GCHQ continue this intellectual tradition. Like their Bletchley predecessors, they have become well known for valuing and understanding the importance of mental wellbeing. This is so important when dealing with such discretion and the pressure which comes with this.

“William, Harry and I are very grateful that this book is supporting our Heads Together Campaign. I hope it will not only amuse and challenge readers, but help to promote an open discussion of mental health problems, which can affect anyone, regardless of age or background. Together, we are aiming to change the national conversation around mental health from stigma and fear to openness and understanding. Those who buy this book and support the Heads Together campaign will be playing a part in helping people get the important mental health care they deserve.”

The Duchess of Cambridge visited Bletchley Park back in 2014. Kate was there on an official visit to mark the completion of a year-long restoration project. Whilst taking a tour of the newly restored building, the Duchess took the opportunity to look around the site where her grandmother played such an important role during the Second World War.


The Duchess of Cambridge was also given the opportunity to meet and chat with Bletchley veteran Lady Marion Body. Lady Body knew Kate’s grandmother and worked with her at Bletchley during the war.

kate middleton grandmother Bletchley veteran Lady Marion Body, who knew her grandmother

Kate has admitted in the past that her grandmother spoke little of what happened during the war. Neither did she ever explain in full detail what her role, in Hut 16 at Bletchley Park, entailed.

Published by Penguin, ‘The GCHQ Puzzle Book’ for which the Duchess has written the foreword, features over 140 pages of codes, puzzles, and challenges. The GCHQ Puzzle Book is published by Penguin Random House. It will be on sale from Thursday 20th October at High Street book retailers and online.


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