Kate Middleton and Prince William were on the same history of art course at St Andrews University. Their relationship began as a friendship before they started dating
It took a charity fashion show, a daring transparent dress and a front-row seat to turn Kate Middleton into more than just Prince William ’s good friend and jogging partner.
The pair were on the same history of art course at St Andrews University, lived only a few doors from each other and shared a love of sport and fitness, joining up for regular morning runs.
And they may have remained no more than pals but for Kate’s stint as a catwalk model at the show, which made William see her in a totally different light.
William had paid £200 for a front-row seat at the show in spring 2002 and, when Kate took to the runway in a transparent dress, is said to have turned to his friend and whispered: “Wow, Kate’s hot!”
Ingrid Seward, editor in chief of Majesty magazine, says: “Kate and William’s relationship began as a friendship, but when Kate did that catwalk show, that was the first time he really looked at her as more than a lovely friend. Early dates were very simple.
“They used to go to a place called Ma Bells and they would be very discreet.
“Often William would turn up and Kate would appear later but they wouldn’t be together. William wanted to keep it under wraps as long as he could.
“They shared an apartment together in their second year and that’s where their relationship moved up a pace.
“I think that’s where their relationship was consummated.”
Malcolm Clarke / Daily Mail / R)
Their third-year living arrangements were even more private, holed up in Balgove House just outside the town, surrounded by acres of wild land.
Soon, the open secret among St Andrews locals became public. During a skiing trip to Klosters in April 2004, William was pictured with his arm draped around Kate and it became clear that she was more than a friend.
Back in term time, weekends were often spent in Tam-Na-Ghar cottage in the grounds of Balmoral.
Snooty royalists said Kate Middleton was not blue-blooded enough for William, as her parents ran a business and had no royal lineage.
But she had qualities essential for dating a Prince – being level-headed, discreet, polite and composed.
Like most long-lasting loves, theirs did not always run smoothly. After embarrassing nightclub pictures showed the prince dancing with other girls, Kate gave William an ultimatum: fully commit or they were over.
William broke off their romance in Easter 2007.
He marked their separation by living it up at London clubs such as Mahiki and Boujis. Meanwhile Kate threw herself into training with a female group who planned to row from Dover to Calais for charity – and also dazzled on nights out with friends.
Ingrid says: “It shows Kate’s strength of character that she had the guts to get up, go out, look amazing and hang out at nightclubs as if she was the happiest person in the world. But we know she wasn’t.”
By June 2007, Kate and William were a couple again.
Over the next few years, Kate became a military girlfriend, maintaining a low profile while Prince William completed his RAF training to become qualified as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot.
At the start of 2010, the couple were renting a cottage on the Welsh isle of Anglesey, near to the RAF base.
“Anglesey was a very happy time for Kate,” says Ingrid.
“They had a little farm house, they were in love, they had privacy, and Kate could ride pillion on William’s motorbike and go shopping.”
On 16 November 2010 came news Royal Family fans had hoped for: Kate and William were engaged.
William proposed with his late mother Princess Diana’s sapphire and diamond ring during a holiday in Kenya. The wedding, held at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, was watched by an estimated 25 million viewers around the world.
Prince Harry, who had often been a third wheel during their dates, touchingly said at the time: “I’ve always wanted a sister and now I’ve got one.”
The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed the arrival of Prince George in July 2013.
Princess Charlotte was born in May two years later and finally Prince Louis arrived in April 2018.
But as their family grew, some family ties were weakened.
Kate and Harry grew apart after Meghan Markle came into his life.
The rift was further fuelled by a fallout at a flower girl fitting before Meghan and Harry’s 2018 wedding.
The strain came during a difficult year for Kate, who reportedly fell out with her close friend Rose Hanbury.
Yet the Duke and Duchess now seem stronger than ever, as they both focus on family and work.
And, unlike too many of their predecessors, a long friendship and true love binds them together.