In her emotional video revealing her cancer diagnosis, Kate Middleton singled out her husband, Prince William, as a big support.

“Having William by my side is a great source of comfort and reassurance,” the 42-year-old, dressed in a Breton striped sweater and seated on a bench in front of a sea of daffodils, said in the March 22 message. “As is the love, support and kindness that has been shown by so many of you. It means so much to us both.”

He won’t be alone in helping the Princess of Wales stay strong. The mom of three, who underwent abdominal surgery in January before what she called her “shock” diagnosis, has been leaning on her sister and lifelong confidante, Pippa Middleton.

“Pippa is not only Kate’s younger sister, but she’s her best friend and loyal to the bone,” an insider exclusively tells Life & Style. “Kate can trust Pippa with anything she needs to get off her chest.”

Pippa Middleton and Kate Middleton
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The world got to know the 40-year-old at Princess Kate’s 2011 wedding, but the sisters were mainstays in the U.K. press after they both graduated from university and lived together in the Chelsea area of London. At the time, Princess Kate worked for the clothing company Jigsaw, while Pippa worked in PR.

“Kate and Pippa were quite the social butterflies,” notes the insider. “They’d go clubbing together and get home late, sleep in when they could, then laugh at their nightly escapades over breakfast.”

As Princess Kate’s relationship with Prince William became public, the press wasn’t always kind to the two, dubbing them “The Wisteria Sisters” for their supposed social climbing. (The future queen and her sister were commoners running with an aristocratic set.)

“Fortunately, they had each other to commiserate with,” says the insider. “They encouraged each other to ignore it and get on with their lives.” And as Princess Kate joined the royal family, her sister became a valuable ally. “She trusts Pippa with her secrets and vice versa,” says the insider. “They speak all the time.”

Some even believe that Pippa, who wed hedge fund manager James Matthews in 2017 and will become Lady Glen Affric when her husband inherits his title, will become Princess Kate’s lady-in-waiting when Prince William becomes king. (Like Princess Kate, Pippa has three young children.)

Pippa Middleton leaves St Mark's Church with Kate Middleton after her wedding
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

“Kate has a difficult time trusting anyone who isn’t family,” notes the insider. “This became especially true after she married William and became a member of the royal family.”

The Middletons have always been close-knit — something that appealed to Prince William from the start. The future king would often spend holidays at the family’s spread in Bucklebury with Pippa and Princess Kate, their parents, Carole and Michael, and brother James.

After the formality of royal life, adds the insider, “it was a pleasant surprise for William to see how tight and affectionate Kate’s family is. They were brought up in a warm and lively home where no topic was off-limits.”

Pippa herself has acknowledged how the Middletons help her sister with the “pressures” of public life. “We still do a lot together as a family and I think that’s really the heart for all of us is having a really close family that we can sort of be normal with each other, treat each other normally,” she said. “And that’s sort of kept us all, you know, affixed to the ground.”

As she faces her illness, Princess Kate will need that support. “That’s given her a great deal of comfort,” says the insider. “Their bond will see Kate through her recovery.”