Kate & William 10 magical years: The story of their romance and marriage as you’ve never read – or seen – before They fell in love
Kate & William 10 magical years: The story of their romance and marriage as you’ve never read – or seen – before
They fell in love…
and we fell in love with them: … and now, today and next Saturday, Weekend is celebrating the tenth anniversary of William and Kate’s magical Westminster Abbey wedding with two glorious special magazines.
Brimming with fresh accounts from close friends and those who played vital roles in their story…
50 pages of dazzling photos, including many never seen before… enchanting new insights into what brought them together 20 years ago, how their friendship blossomed into secret courtship, that spectacular wedding day – and their blissful married life with three gorgeous children…
So break out the bunting – and enjoy the full, heart-warming tale of the most touching royal romance of our generation.
Richard Kay and Geoffrey Levy explore how the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s romance blossomed as they celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary.
Pictured: William and Kate kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding in London on 29 April, 2011
Prince William had just had his 15th birthday, and he and his mother were talking. They were in her sitting room at home in Kensington Palace chatting, as they often did, about life.
He enjoyed these talks.
But that afternoon, in philosophical mood, Diana said something that may well have played a crucial role in his choosing the young woman who will one day be Queen. Their conversation was in light-hearted vein about growing up and about girls.
And then, quite suddenly, his mother’s mood changed as she now offered him, we can reveal, a piece of advice he undoubtedly took to heart.
‘Whatever you do,’ she said, ‘make sure the person you marry is your best friend first.’
Diana, of course, had married a man she barely knew. She had met Prince Charles only a dozen times before their engagement – she barely enjoyed a courtship, let alone a friendship.
Tragically, two months later, Diana was dead.
William would never forget her advice that afternoon. He and Kate Middleton were good friends long before they fell in love and, finally, became husband and wife.
Without that marriage, the country would be immeasurably poorer; not just because of the powerful symbolism of a union between a boy born to be king and a girl whose family’s roots reach back to the harsh world of Durham coal miners, but also because the monarchy today unarguably stands at a pivotal point.
The Queen’s glorious reign cannot, of course, continue forever.
Charles will be the oldest monarch to be crowned. The family is reeling from Harry and Meghan’s unprecedented and profoundly damaging attack on the very fabric of the institution, and of course, coping with the death of Prince Philip.
Thankfully, the calm, confident sure-footedness of William and Kate, the certainty they bring, the guarantee they offer of a thriving monarchy decades from now, has never been more important or more comforting.
Yet what is so remarkable about their union is how – possibly because of the influence of that conversation between mother and son in Kensington Palace – it so nearly didn’t happen at all…
Shortly after Prince William’s 15th birthday, Princess Diana advised him to make sure the person he marries is his best friend.
Pictured: Prince William and Kate Middleton pose in an official engagement portrait taken by photographer Mario Testino in the Cornwall Room at St James’s Palace in London on November 25, 2010
The Duke of Cambridge felt a grim echo of what had happened to his mother, as paparazzi pursued Kate.
Pictured left: A casual William in jumper and jeans on his first day as a university student, pictured right: William made full use of the Scottish wind and waves during his time there in 2004
William felt troubled that Kate had no police protection and cameras seemed to follow everywhere she went.
Pictured: Practising his swing on the beach at St Andrews on May 28, 2003
He said he didn’t want her to suffer as his mother had
Four years before the nation revelled in the excitement of their wedding William, with heavy heart, made a telephone call to Kate.
She had been having terrible trouble with the paparazzi.
In the fifth year of their romance (although the world had only known about it for three) photographers seemed to be permanently camped outside the Chelsea flat bought for their children by Michael and Carole Middleton.
Wherever Kate went, so the cameras followed.
It was desperately unsettling for the young history of art graduate, with no police protection to help her. But it was even more troubling for William.
In Kate’s predicament he felt a grim echo of what had happened to his mother – he blamed the paparazzi then, and he blames them still, for Princess Diana’s death in a car being chased by photographers on motorcycles into the Pont d’Alma tunnel in Paris.
He and Kate had talked endlessly about the problem, but it seemed to be one with no answers.
There was a solution, of course, marriage – but William wasn’t ready to settle down.
Kate had been with Prince William for five years when he ended their relationship during a phone call.
Pictured: Kate and Will on graduation day
Hence ‘Waity Katie’, that mocking soubriquet invented by snobbish royal hangers-on which had become more than just a bad joke; it had wounded the beautiful, intelligent girl who could have had the pick of the crop, and a life of blissful privacy, if she chose.
William had also been struggling with the burden from his teenage years of shielding a younger brother from the vicissitudes of their parents’ stormy marriage, a responsibility he took very seriously.
Where Kate’s family life, with a brother and sister and parents who were blissfully happy, was idyllic, William’s was a torment.
He was of the firm belief that if Diana had not married so young – engaged at 19, married at 20 to a man 13 years her senior – her troubled life could have been so different.
And so, working in the Kew head office of fashion shop Jigsaw, owned by friends who employed her as an accessories buyer, Kate’s mobile rang.
It was 3pm on Wednesday, 11 April, 2007.
William said he had been thinking about the relationship, and what it meant for them both. Of one thing, he told her, he was sure, ‘The press will make your life unbearable, as long as we’re together.
I don’t want you suffering the way my mother did.’
Prince William told Prince Charles that he was finding it hard to settle in at St Andrews, despite the efforts that had been made on his behalf to enable him to live a normal academic life.
Pictured: Prince William’s girlfriend, Kate Middleton, arrives for his graduation ceremony on 15 June, 2005
Kate said simply that he made her happy, and that she believed she made him happy. Wasn’t that all that mattered? Yes, but…
They talked for an hour.
When the call ended, her romance with the future king was over. They’d been together for five years. Now he’d broken it off.
So just what were the forces that ultimately brought them back together – forces so strong that William was prepared to shed those anxieties, and Kate was allowed to prove to him that she could survive in the spotlight?
William’s much-quoted comment, ‘Wow, Kate’s hot!’ when she sashayed in a see-through sheer dress with visible black underwear down the runway at a university charity fashion show in 2002 might never have been murmured in the ear of a friend had she not ignored the original plans for her costume.
A chunky knitwear top was meant to be worn over the diaphanous skirt.
But moments before going on Kate suddenly decided – she has never explained why – it wasn’t right and took it off, wearing the skirt as a dress, revealing her well-toned figure. It was a decision, as things turned out, with historic consequences.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, that was the night their relationship matured from friendship into romance.
Later that evening after the show they were drinking together, and reported to have been seen kissing. Not everyone, it must be said, was entirely surprised at the development.
A blossoming friendship for wary William
They had known each other for six months as chums since arriving at St Andrews, doing the same course in the first year (he switched to geography after that) and living in the same hall of residence, St Salvator’s – known as Sallies.
Kate had always known the student William was not relaxed, even though huge efforts had been made on his behalf to enable him to live a normal academic life with as little interference as possible.
In phone calls to his father he admitted to Prince Charles that he was finding it hard to settle in and was, frankly, homesick.
Despite best efforts, there were always people who were trying, so irritatingly, to get to know him when he dreamed of academic anonymity.
Prince William who pointedly declined invitations to join university clubs, had a very different experience to his father’s at Trinity College, Cambridge.
Pictured: Prince William laughs as he meets well-wishers at his graduation ceremony in June 2005
He’d hoped that by avoiding a big metropolitan university he’d be able to merge into local life relatively unnoticed. Now he was finding that in a small town like St Andrews the opposite was true.
He was weary of avoiding eye contact with strangers and pointedly declined invitations to join university clubs.
He even went jogging before dawn when he knew the streets of the seaside town were empty.
Certainly, his university experience was so very different from his father’s at Trinity College, Cambridge. There to read anthropology, Prince Charles was accompanied by a retinue of aides, including a private secretary-cum-equerry and a valet.
Apart from his police security William was on his own, in a standard room and sharing a bathroom.
Intriguingly, it was Kate to whom he unburdened himself about his unhappiness. She was by now a chum, though with no romantic involvement (long gone were the days when she had a picture of Prince William pasted up in her school dormitory).
At the time she had a boyfriend, Rupert Finch, a dark and handsome fourth-year student reading law.
(These days Rupert is a company lawyer with Johnson Matthey, the science and tech company, married, with three children, to Lady Natasha Rufus Isaacs, dressmaker daughter of the Marquess of Reading.)
But then, William also had a girlfriend, second-year English student Carley Massy-Birch, a Devon farmer’s strikingly attractive daughter who was, according to her mother Mimi, ‘definitely an item’ with the prince for a couple of months.
He’d met Carley while auditioning for a part in a college play based on a JD Salinger story (he didn’t get it) and they embarked on what her mother describes as ‘a regular university romance’.
He found her fun, but Carley couldn’t take the secrecy and special planning on which William insisted.
‘She got bored with all the drama,’ explained a friend after they broke up. In later years Carley would have a brief acting career, appearing in a number of Radio 4 plays, before settling down to marriage with Frenchman Florian Franke.
Kate suggested that William should switch to a geography course, when he confided that his biggest mistake was his degree course.
Pictured: Prince William leaves St Salvator’s Chapel after his graduation ceremony on 23 June, 2005
Meanwhile, meeting around the campus as friends, William and Kate were entirely relaxed in each other’s company.
The tall, slender brunette who liked an early morning jog soon became one of the group who joined William for breakfast before lectures.
She was different from the kind of girls he had dated in the past – the socially ambitious offspring of his father’s polo-playing circle – and he found her natural and slot online unaffected ways comfortingly reassuring.
When he missed a seminar she would cover by letting him copy her notes.
Her room in halls was not far from his, although on a different floor, and sometimes they walked to lectures together. With others they played tennis and met up in the local pubs.
The budding friendship, it must be said, did not go unnoticed.
Fellow students would joke to her, ‘Bet you’ll be wearing a tiara soon’. Certainly, some of the other girls in her year, a number of them from well-connected families, were positively suspicious of the middle-class girl’s easy closeness to the Queen’s grandson.
Meanwhile, in his uncertainty at St Andrews, William had been talking to his father and to his former housemaster at Eton, Dr Andrew Gailey, about dropping out.
And yet, tellingly, it was after talking to Kate about it that he made up his mind to stay.
She had also been uncertain about whether to remain at St Andrews, she told him, but on the whole thought it better to stay. She felt that having invested so much time there, it would be mad to chuck it in.
When William told her he thought his biggest mistake was his degree course, it was Kate who suggested switching to geography.
Which he did.