Princess Kate looked every bit the polished royal on a September 12 visit to the HMP High Down prison in Surrey, England. Dressed in a navy Alexander McQueen suit, the Duchess of Cambridge — who is a patron of addiction charity Forward Trust — charmed as always as she met with inmates and staff at the facility, which helps incarcerated people overcome substance abuse. But there was one thing amiss: Kate, 41, sported bandaged fingers. The cause of her injury? A trampolining accident!

princess Kate with bandage
(Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Now Life & Style can reveal that Kate’s booboo is just a hint at the fun-loving, down-to-earth side of the future queen. From participating in barefoot races at her kids’ school to enjoying cocktails at restaurants with friends, the Princess of Wales “is just like everyone else,” says an insider. “While some people might see her as buttoned-up, Kate has this really playful, warm and bubbly personality. She likes to let loose, going to concerts and hosting dinner parties, but is also happy throwing on a sweatshirt and baking cookies for fundraisers.”

Doing Her Own Thing

More insight into her off-duty activities came via a recent episode of The Good, The Bad & the Rugby podcast. During his chat with Kate, Prince William and Princess Anne, cohost Mike Tindall — who’s married to Anne’s daughter, Zara — joked that Kate was extremely competitive, adding, “I’ve seen her play beer pong.” Though the mom of Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5, laughed off her in-law’s reference to the frat- house favorite game, she did confess to “really, genuinely” adoring all sports. Including cold-water swimming. “The colder, the better,” Kate said, noting that William, 41, will tell her she’s “crazy” for heading out in the dark and rain. “I will go and seek out cold water. I love it.”

She seems to be a fan of raves, as well. In August, Kate traded the structured suits for an off-the-shoulder top, skinny jeans and Veja sneakers to join pals at Houghton Festival in Norfolk, a four-day event with 24-hour music, food and plenty of laser lights. 

Her beverage of choice during the outing? Spicy margaritas, according to eyewitnesses. “Kate has always been fiercely private, but she’s been letting her guard down and going out more lately,” says the insider, noting peeks at how the royal spends her personal time have only made Kate more relatable to the public. “Being next in line for the throne with William has given her more confidence to be who she wants to be and not apologize for it. Kate’s living her best life.”