Kate Middleton shares the gift she gave her brother to help him through his depression

The family have always spoken openly about their mental health.

James Middletons unique gift
(Image credit: Getty)

The family have always spoken openly about their mental health.

While her own children may have some hilarious sibling rivalry going on, Kate Middleton has always been very candid about how big a role her own siblings, Pippa and James, have in her life.

The trio are really close, always seeing each other for coffee or Sunday lunch and speaking on the phone, according to James. Plus, Pippa was maid of honour at Kate's wedding.

Kate and William have made it one of their personal focuses to tackle mental health stigma in the UK with their Heads Together campaign, so it'll come as no surprise that Kate has long helped her brother James through his own personal struggles with depression.

This week, the younger Middleton brother details a special present Kate, Pippa and his parents bought for him back in 2011, when he was first diagnosed with clinical depression, in a column for The Daily Mail.

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He shares: "One of my strategies for coping with [the depression] is beekeeping. I’d always harboured a longing to keep bees, but it wasn’t until I turned 24 that the wish became reality. Then, my family clubbed together to buy what for me was the most fantastic birthday gift imaginable".

The gift was mainly to celebrate his 24th birthday, but also as a way of helping him overcome his own mental health struggles.

Sharing how the family managed to deliver near a thousand bees without him knowing, he said: "A delivery van arrived with a large buzzing box with the cautionary label: 'Live Bees'. Inside was the nucleus — the start — of my colony: 1,000 Buckfast bees."

For the nine years since, James has tended for his bees in a wildflower meadow at his home in London.

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How do bees help to overcome mental health struggles and quieten inner demons, you ask? Well, it's a form of meditation, a way to switch off from day-to-day worries and reconnect with his inner calm.

He goes on: "I see it as an active form of meditation, a chance to escape from mental tumult. When I’m with my bees, it’s as if someone’s pressed the mute button on everything that’s worrying me."

He also shares that the bees are calmer if he remains calm. This, he shares, helps him to keep in touch with his own emotions and take check, for the bees. "When you’re [in your suit] and immersed in the task, the cares of the world recede completely," he pens.

It's testament, really, to people figuring exactly what works for them and their own brain. Mental health recovery, after all, isn't linear or one-size-fits-all, but a deeply personal thing. Hats off to James' family for thinking outside of the box and offering him help in a non-traditional way.

Ally Head
Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.