Prince William and Catherine: the road of a royal partnership

A look at The Prince and Princess of Wales' relationship and life together

As William and Kate celebrate the 13th wedding anniversary today, we take a look back at their relationship and life together, from the beginning of their romance to now.

Childhood encounters

While the couple didn’t actually officially meet until 2001, according to author Katie Nichols, Catherine first set eyes on William at the age of nine. His school just happened to be playing against hers in a hockey match and she was in the crowd of spectators. We have never received confirmation of this and Kate herself has debunked the rumours that she had a crush on him as a child/teen – but that doesn’t mean she hadn’t noticed the future King…

What we do know for certain is that the pair first interacted in 2001, while attending university at St Andrew’s. But was it love at first sight?

Friends at First Sight

Both William and Catherine began their university lives at studying Art History at St Andrew’s in Scotland in 2001 and came to know one another in the first few weeks. Although Kate has admitted she was quite embarrassed the first time she met the Prince, going bright red and scuttling off. William had apparently noticed his future wife from the moment he arrived, as all the boys in their dorm, St Salvator’s, found her attractive.

Embed from Getty Images

The pair got to know each other as friends, and soon started hanging out in the same circles. But both of them were part of committed relationships, Kate with fourth-year student Rupert Finch and William with Carley Massy-Birch.

It could have all been over before it had even began though, as William wanted to leave St Andrew’s due to not enjoying his course. The person who convinced him to stay and switch courses? Catherine of course!

The Prince decided to switch his course to Geography, which he enjoyed much more.

The Famous Dress

In 2002, the future Princess of Wales took part in a charity fashion show, for which William had had paid a princely (ahem) £200 to sit in the front row. While Catherine wore many outfits at the show, the most famous of all is the mesh tube dress by Charlotte Todd, which was originally a skirt that Kate had just pulled up.

Embed from Getty Images

‘Wow, Kate’s hot!’ William was reported to have said upon seeing her.

A friend of the couple has reported that that was the night which began the romance, with the pair reportedly kissing at a house part.

But the pair wouldn’t become official for another couple of months, after they moved into a house together with some other friends for their second year. ‘We lived with a couple of others as well, and it just sort of blossomed from there, really. We just saw more of each other, hung out a bit more, and did stuff,’ William said in his engagement interview.

The Photographs

While William and Kate’s relationship was no secret to those in St Andrew’s, it was to the rest of the world. The Palace frequently told the media that Miss Middleton was another friend of the Prince’s, but that changed in 2004.

Embed from Getty Images

The couple were photographed together in Klosters during a ski trip and the pictures were printed in The Sun. Prince Charles was furious, threatening to cut ties with the paper, as this breached the agreement that allowed the royal children to enjoy their education years without being disturbed.

In 2005, the couple would graduate from University and Kate would become a public figure, whether she liked it or not.

The couple were seen on nights out together frequently and Catherine was followed everywhere she went; photographers lay in wait outside her home in London every morning. For most of the time she was being hounded, William was away at Sandhurst and the pair saw very little of each other. Strains began to appear.

The Breakup

In 2007, the pair called it a day.

‘I think I at the time wasn’t very happy about it, but actually it made me a stronger person. You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realised,’ The Princess of Wales said in her engagement interview. ‘Or I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you’re younger. I really valued that time for me as well although I didn’t think it at the time, looking back on it.’

While the public saw the two regularly going out and enjoying themselves separately, and the story is that they were broken up for a number of months before William started to realise what he was missing, that might not be true. Katie Nichols has said in her biography about Catherine that the couple were actually back together within a matter of weeks, and kept that a secret from the media and the wider world. This allowed them to work on their relationship and themselves.

Embed from Getty Images

In July 2007, Kate attended the Diana Tribute Concert at Wembley, with her brother James. They sat in the VIP area, just two rows behind William. The world had the confirmation they needed – sitting in such clsoe proximity to the future King at such a public event? The relationship was back on.

Kate and William would be photographed together on holidays, nights out and events over the next few years; she even attended his RAF graduation in 2008.

The Proposal

In October 2010, the couple traveled to Kenya on holiday. It was there that Prince William got down on one knee and asked his university love to marry him. The ring? His mother’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring, of course.

William mentioned in their engagement interview that the couple had been talking about marriage so it wasn’t a big surprise. He had asked her father beforehand and had held the ring close to him for the whole trip, naturally worried that he might lose something so precious, jostling around in his backpack.

Prince William and Kate Middleton pose for photographs in the State Apartments of St James Palace; after much speculation, Clarence House announced their engagement.

Tragedy struck when Catherine’s grandfather died upon their return to England. The engagement announcement was held off until November because of this.

On 16th November 2010, The Prince of Wales announced the engagement of his son to Miss Catherine Middleton and the couple met with the press at St James’s Palace, with the news received warmly around the world.

The Wedding

The couple married on 29th April 2011 at Westminster Abbey, Kate wore a wedding dress designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Siblings Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton were Best Man and Maid of Honour. The reception was held at Buckingham Palace where Ellie Goulding performed.

Catherine Middleton, a commoner, became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Lady Carrickfergus. And future Queen.

Prince William marries Catherine Middleton at a wedding service in Westminster Abbey on 29th April 2011; she wears the Cartier Halo tiara

Expanding The Family

The couple began their married lives in Anglesey, Wales, where William was stationed as a search and rescue helicopter pilot.

In December 2012, the Princess was rushed to King Edward VII hospital in London suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarium, a form of severe morning sickeness. She was less than 12 weeks pregnant when the couple were forced to announce they were expecting their first child.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their new baby boy – Prince George at the Lindo Wing in 2013

Prince George was born on 22nd July 2013 at St Mary’s Hospital in London, the same place his father had been born.

Just over a year later, Kensington Palace announced that the Duchess was once again expecting. On 2nd May 2015, Princess Charlotte was born in the same hospital as her brother. Upon birth, she was the first female member of the Royal Family who would not lose her place in line of succession even if she was to have a younger brother.

In 2017, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they were expecting their third child. Prince Louis was born 23rd April 2018 in that famous London hospital.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their newborn, Prince Louis, on the steps of the Lindo Wing. Picture by Stephen Lock / i-Images

The Duke of Cambridge arriving with his children to visit the new royal baby at the Lindo Wing. Picture by Stephen Lock / i-Images

Going steady

The couple have faced ups and downs in the years since, with the stepping back of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the death of The Queen. In September 2022, William and Catherine became The Prince and Princess of Wales, following Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

In January 2024, it was announced that the Princess would undergo abdominal surgery and would be away from royal duties until Easter. In March, Catherine released a video where she told the world that she is currently undergoing preventative treatment for cancer.

The Prince and Princess of Wales walk to church at Sandringham with their children, George, Charlotte and Louis, along with Mia Tindall

Through it all, William has been by her side as a devoted husband and father, stepping back from his duties to take care of his wife and kids.

Share this

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.