The Duchess of Cambridge may well be the beloved Royal Family member she is today but there was a time when Kate Middleton’s future with Prince William looked uncertain.
Although Kate is now the future queen consort, her relationship with William suffered various trials and tribulations along the way.
A chance encounter at St Andrews
Founded in 1413, the University of St Andrews is not only the pride of Scotland but one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. It therefore made perfect sense for Prince William to attend the university, he himself hailing from one of the oldest and most prestigious families in the world.
Initially studying Art History – a degree he later changed to Geography – the young Prince began studying at the world famous university in 2001. While he was afforded some privacy by the paparazzi he still went by ‘Steve’ in an attempt to blend in with his fellow students. In pursuit of a normal student life, William threw himself into his first year dorm assignment which is where he crossed paths with the woman who would change his life: Kate Middleton.
From friendship to relationship
It wasn’t necessarily love at first sight but William has since gone on to say that their common interests and strong friendship was a good foundation for their eventual relationship. Not only were the two enrolled on the same Art History course but they bonded over their mutual love of skiing and discovered they had both taken part in the same expedition during their gap year in Chile. Whether it was living in such close proximity during their second year – having decided to live together with two other friends – or William attending Kate’s fashion show where he saw her in a different light, the two began dating in private.
While at first only a few were aware of William and Kate’s relationship, including their housemates who were quite surprised when the couple told them, eventually the whole campus was aware of the friendship that had blossomed into something more serious. It was only a matter of time before word got out, and it was a holiday in 2004 to the Swiss Alps which alerted the world’s media to their relationship. The following year saw both of them graduate and – in a photograph taken by Kate’s father – the ease with which they embraced and smiled all but confirmed any doubts that they were indeed a couple.
Strains on the young couple
Any protection that St Andrews offered for the couple became history when the two graduated, and the subsequent years saw details of William and Kate’s relationship splashed across every paper in the world. So intense was the attention around the future Duchess, particularly around speculation of an engagement when she turned 25, that Kate issued a complaint of harassment against the Daily Mirror and William was forced to ask the paparazzi to give her space.
This unwelcome attention alongside William’s dedication to the Household Cavalry put incredible strain on their relationship and they subsequently went their separate ways in early 2007. While they both attended the Concert for Diana later that year they were sat apart with their respective families.
Although it is unknown exactly how long the two were apart, Kate formally met Queen Elizabeth II in May 2008 and was frequently seen at more royal events thereafter. Over the next few years William and Kate were rarely seen out of each other’s company and even began living together again in a coastal Welsh cottage. Finally, in 2010, beside the stunning view of Mount Kenya, William proposed to Kate with his mother Princess Diana’s ring.
In the traditional venue of Westminster Abbey on 29th April 2011, the Duke – and now – the Duchess of Cambridge were married while the world watched on. Although a fairly non-traditional courtship, full of many unexpected hurdles along the way, William and Kate’s relationship is an age-old story that has captivated many around the world in the process. If you want to learn more about the young prince’s early life you can watch the Prince William documentary A Royal Life on True Royalty TV.