With their wedding announcement official, here’s a recap of some of their most revealing episodes of their romance from palace-watcher Katie Nicholl’s new book, William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls. Plus, full coverage of William and Kate.
William started socializing with Kate Middleton, voted the prettiest girl at Sally’s, one of St. Andrew’s 11 residence halls, but quickly became smitten with Carley Massy-Birch, whose derriere was voted the best in the school. “Unlike the hordes of made-up pashmina-clad undergraduates who devoted their time to stalking William, Carley was happy to stay in and cook for him, and their romance was so beneath the radar, it was only reported years after they had both graduated,” Nicholl writes.
But then William saw Kate at the annual Don’t Walk charity fashion show, dressed in black underwear and a see-through dress, and whispered to his friend Fergus, “Kate’s hot!” He made his move later that night, leaning into kiss her, but she pulled away. “She didn’t want to give off the wrong impression or make it too easy for Will,” said someone who was at the party. Within a year, the press was speculating about marriage.
13a Hope Street
In his second year at St. Andrews, William and three friends moved into a house in the center of St. Andrews—one of these friends was Kate. The couple worked to keep their romance a secret, vowing never to hold hands in public, employing decoys, and showing up to parties separately. But in the confines of their home, they could act like any other university couple, watching movies together, ordering in pizza, or Indian from the Bangladeshi restaurant down the road of which Kate was so fond.
The first time William and Kate publicly acknowledged their relationship was more faux paux than formal pronouncement. William’s ex, Carley, had been invited to a party at their house, where the group was playing the drinking game “I’ve Never,” in which one player admits something they’ve never done, and any player who has done the said deed has to take a drink. “I’ve never dated two people in this room,” said Carley. With Kate next to him, it was clear to everyone what Carley implied. “I can’t believe you just said that,” William said under his breath before taking a shot.
Idyllic Early Days
When their relationship was still a secret during their last year at St. Andrew’s, Kate and William, along with a housemate, moved into a beautiful country cottage outside of the city. There on the estate’s “two acres of wild grassland hidden behind a six-foot stone wall,” they could carry on their romance undisturbed by prying eyes while picnicking and entertaining friends.
The Paparazzi Learns
Rumors of William and Kate’s romance had been spreading for months, but not until April 1, 2004, did the paparazzi learn for sure that the two were an item. While on a ski trip together, William and Kate were photographed waiting in line for a ski lift, fully clad in bulbous winter gear against the backdrop of snow-covered mountains. The shot of William gazing lovingly at Kate, published in the Sun newspaper, verified once and for all for the public that Prince William and Kate Middleton were more than just friends.
A Real Break
As the strain of being a royal girlfriend and hunted by the paparazzi wore on Kate in 2006, William was spotted at various nightclubs with his arms around other women. She had had enough and gave him an ultimatum: “Either she had his full commitment or they were over. She was no longer prepared to be made a fool of.” And that was it for a time…
Lady Is Waiting
While William was busy serving in the British military, Kate had left her job and was living alone in London with little more on her hands than time. The paparazzi, which had until then been kind to her, took notice of her leisurely lifestyle juxtaposed with William's punishing military schedule. Kate was much annoyed when, teasing her about doing nothing but waiting for a proposal from William, the British press dubbed her “Waity Katie.”
Their Marriage Pact
In 2007, on an island in the Seychelles where they had a very private reunion and reconciliation after their breakup, Kate and William made a commitment that marriage was a serious prospect for them. “They didn’t agree to get married there and then; what they made was a pact,” a member of the inner circle explained. “William told Kate she was the one, but he was not ready to get married.” William was serving in the military and heading off for stints with the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy so marriage was not an immediate possibility. All of this would be put to the test when William decided to join the RAF as a search-and-rescue pilot and Kate “was as stunned as everyone when William announced” this plan.
Already Planning the Wedding
Now that the wedding is on, all of the fervid speculation of the last few years seems justified. The Palace had been keeping “possible dates in 2011 and 2012” free for a royal wedding. And, although Kate and William seem less than keen to be part of a big spectacle, “the Queen loves a wedding and she will be involved and consulted at every point.” Forget any dreamy notions, though, as organizing a royal wedding is like preparing for a battle, all about planning, coordination, and flawless execution. Nothing will be left to chance.
Future and Current Queen
According to reports, Queen Elizabeth and Kate have not had much one-on-one time together but the queen took an interest in her future granddaughter-in-law. But early on the queen was said to have “grave concerns and believed that Kate needed to have a job before an engagement was announced.” She needed something to keep her grounded amidst the tumult of becoming a royal. News of the queen’s displeasure leaked in the summer of 2008, and Kate quickly found herself a charity and a job, of sorts.
With the Fam
What might sound like a daunting holiday with just Kate, William, Charles, and Camilla all hanging out in Scotland over New Year’s 2010 holidays actually comes off as rather, well, normal. Laughing with Camilla and going shooting with Charles was all part of William’s plan to reassure her “that he was more serious than ever.”
Heavy Is the Crown
William seems to be a reluctant monarch. During his gap year in Patagonia, before starting college at St. Andrews, he sat around the campfire listening to his fellow travelers talk about what they planned to do when they returned home. “You’re all so lucky,” he said. “I don’t have much choice about my future. One day I will be king, and to be honest I’m not much interested in that at all at the moment.”
For the last few years speculation has persisted that William’s increasing royal duties and appearances on behalf of his grandmother mean that Charles may be skipped over in succession. But according to reports, “He was also upset by the suggestion that he might in some way be trying to leapfrog his father. William couldn’t think of anything worse.” With his engagement now official, it’s likely that his royal duties will only expand, though he remains set “on becoming a search-and-rescue pilot.”