Timeline of Prince William and Kate Middleton's relationship

After a nail-biting wait, the engagement that secured the future of the monarchy was announced on this day. From THAT see-through dress to a marriage proposal with Diana’s sparkler – a timeline of William and Kate’s ten-year romance

  • William and Kate announced their engagement on November 16, 2010
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It was a long time coming. 

And so, when William and Kate announced their engagement on November 16, 2010, it was greeted with a mixture of celebration and relief.

They had, after all, been boyfriend and girlfriend since around 2002, when they were together at St Andrews University.

There was only one, very brief hiatus – a brief but very well publicised time apart in 2007.

That aside, it was a romance that showed patience is a virtue and has led not just to a royal wedding in 2011 but a happy marriage with three children, and the future of the monarchy secured.

September 2001 – Kate Middleton and Prince William first come across each other at university

Prince William poses on the pier at St Andrews in 2003. This where he was studying for a four-year History of Art degree  – and where he met  his future wife Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton and Prince William met during their first year at the University of St Andrews in Scotland in 2001. Kate was working towards an art history degree, while William, who initially enrolled for history of art, had switched to geography.

Kate previously revealed it took some time for the two to get to know each other.   

‘I think you said I actually went bright red when I met you and sort of scuttled off,’ she recounted to Prince William during their 2010 engagement interview. ‘[I was] feeling very shy about meeting you.’

But as the pair spent more and more time together, they found that they had much in common and enjoyed each other’s company. 

April 2002 – The dress that caught William’s eye on the catwalk

Kate Middleton modelling on the catwalk at a student fashion show attended by Prince William in March 2002

Kate caught the attention of the young prince at a charity fashion show in the Spring of their first year at university.  

A 20-year-old Kate confidently strutted in front of her peers wearing a revealing sheer dress with a black bra and underwear for a fashion show titled ‘The Art of Seduction’. (It had actually been a see-through skirt or minidress worn as a top)

Prince William, who paid £200 for a table close to the catwalk, is said to have been open-mouthed.

The lace slip itself  later sold for £78,000.

October 2002 – They moved in together with two friends 

In their second year, William moved in with Kate, and their friends Fergus Boyd and Olivia Bleasdale into a two-story apartment on Hope Street (the house second on the right) in the middle of town for £100 a week

For their second year at university, Kate and William moved out of their student accommodation and into a two-story, top-floor apartment, 13a Hope Street, in the centre of town for £100 a week.

They lived together with their friends, Fergus Boyd, later Prince George’s godfather, and Olivia Bleasdale

‘We moved in together as friends because we were living together, we lived with a couple of others as well, and it just sort of blossomed from there really,’ the Prince later said in the couple’s official engagement interview.

William loved to ‘impress’ Kate with his cooking skills while they were at university, she once told Mary Berry for a BBC royal Christmas special in 2019.

‘In university days he used to cook all sorts of meals,’ she said.

‘I think that’s when he was trying to impress me, Mary! Things like Bolognese sauce, and things like that.’

March 2004 – Photographed for the first time on a ski trip

Kate Middleton, carrying her skis in the royal party in Klosters in March 2005 in Switzerland

The young couple were pictured together on the slopes at Klosters in Switzerland.

This was the first time the pair were identified as a couple in the media.

June 2005 – The young couple graduated

Kate and Prince William on their graduation day at St. Andrews University, in June 2005

Both William and Kate graduated from St Andrews in the summer of 2005.

In a photo later released by the Middleton family, the couple posed in each other’s arms on their graduation day. At the ceremony itself, they were not seen together.

‘I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has made my time here so enjoyable. I have been able to lead as ‘normal’ a student life as I could have hoped for and I’m very grateful to everyone, particularly the locals, who have helped make this happen,’ William  said before the ceremony.

December 2006 –  Kate attends William’s Sandhurst graduation

Kate Middleton, Prince William’s girlfriend, attending the Sovereign’s Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to watch the Passing Out Parade in December 2006. Her mother, Carole, is by her side

She was on hand to cheer William on at his graduation from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

This was Kate’s first appearance at a royal event alongside the late Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles, who was then known as the Prince of Wales.

March 2007 – The couple briefly break up

In the Spring of 2007, Kate and William decided to break up after needing some time apart. Pictured: The couple at the Cheltenham Festival Race Meeting in March 2007

Kate and William had decided to go their separate ways after nearly five years of dating in April 2007, much to the devastation of royal watchers.

During their time apart, Kate took a vacation to Ireland. She later said that the split had been good for both of them.

Speaking in their engagement interview, Kate reflected on their time apart:

 ‘At the time I wasn’t very happy about it, but it made me a stronger person,’ she said. 

‘You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realised, I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you are younger and I really valued that time for me, although I didn’t think it at the time.’

William also added that it was ‘just a bit of space’ as the pair were growing up.

July 2007 – Kate and William get back together 

Kate was spotted a few rows behind William at the memorial concert for his mother, Princess Diana, at Wembley Stadium in July 2007

Their break-up was short-lived and the couple reconciled a few months later. Reports surfaced at the time that William had reconnected with Kate at a party at his army barracks in Bovington, Dorset, during which they reportedly shared a passionate kiss.

Kate was also spotted at the memorial concert for his mother, Princess Diana, at Wembley Stadium the following week.

April 2008 – William graduates from the Royal Air Force with Kate by his side

Prince William and his Kate at the Central Flying School at RAF Cranwell where he received his RAF wings in April 2008

Almost a year after getting back together, William received his wings – akin to a graduation – from the Royal Air as his girlfriend Kate proudly looked on.

After more than 12 weeks of training, the young royal became the fourth successive generation of the monarchy to become an RAF pilot.

At a ceremony held in the service’s spiritual home – RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire – Willam received the award from his own father, Charles.

It was the first time Kate had appeared with the Prince at a major official event since the young royal – a serving officer in the British Army – graduated from Sandhurst in December 2006.

Kate and William later attended a private reception with King Charles and Queen Camilla after the ceremony, before joining other RAF graduates and staff for a lunchtime celebration.

October 2010 – A proposal in Kenya

William proposed to Kate in a cabin hut roughly 11,000 feet above sea level on the side of Mount Kenya in Africa

The moment the world has been waiting for finally arrived when Prince William popped the question to Kate Middleton while vacationing in Kenya in October 2010.

William proposed to his long-term girlfriend in a cabin hut roughly 11,000 feet above sea level on the side of Mount Kenya in Africa.

Revealing the details of the proposal, William later said: ‘We had a little private time away together with some friends, and I just decided that it was the right time, really. We’d been talking about marriage for a while, so it wasn’t a massively big surprise, but I took her up somewhere nice in Kenya, and I proposed.’

The 28-year-old Prince used the dazzling oval blue 18-carat sapphire and diamond engagement ring that had once belonged to his mother, Princess Diana.

As they posed for pictures during their official announcement, William said that giving Kate the ring was his way of ensuring his late mother could be part of the occasion.

‘I had been carrying around the ring in his rucksack for three weeks’, William said.

‘I literally would not let it go, everywhere I went I was keeping hold of it, ’cause I knew this thing, if it disappeared I’d be in a lot of trouble.’

November 2010 – They officially announce their engagement 

Prince William and Kate Middleton pose for photographs after announcing their engagement to the press in the State Apartments of St James’s Palace on November 16, 2010

William and his bride-to-be announced their engagement publicly the following month in the State Apartments of St James Palace.

The official statement read: ‘The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton. The wedding will take place in the Spring or Summer of 2011, in London. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course.’

The announcement also included details about the circumstances surrounding the couple’s big moment. 

‘Prince William and Miss Middleton became engaged in October during a private holiday in Kenya […] Prince William has informed The Queen and other close members of his family. Prince William has also sought the permission of Miss Middleton’s father.’

It continued to say that the pair would live in north Wales and William would still be serving with the Royal Air Force.

February 2011 – Kate has her first royal appearance in Wales

William and Kate arriving for a service of dedication for a new RNLI lifeboat at Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station in Anglesey, North Wales, in February 2011

Just as Princess Diana had done before her, Kate undertook a royal walkabout as a part of her first official public engagement alongside Prince William during their formal debut in Anglesey, where they were to make their home.

After naming a lifeboat that she christened with champagne, the Prince, perhaps appropriately, threw her in at the metaphorical deep end.

But within seconds, she appeared to have charmed a crowd of more than 1,000 people, who had been waiting hours in a cold and blustery wind for a glimpse of the couple – and, in particular, for a peek at the bride-to-be.

With a dazzling smile, she launched herself on the royal stage with the kind of confidence few might have expected from someone so new to public duty.

April 2011 – Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Royal Wedding

Prince William and his bride Kate walking down the aisle of Westminster Abbey, London, following their marriage on April 29, 2011

Millions of royal fans from all around the world watched in anticipation as Kate Middleton married her Prince at their fairytale royal wedding at Westminster Abbey.

The bride wore a stunning Alexander McQueen gown designed by Sarah Burton and the Queen borrowed her the Cartier Scroll Tiara for the big day.

Prince Harry served as his brother’s best man, with both the Duke of Sussex and William dressing in traditional military uniforms.

The affair, attended by a crowd of 1,900 including royals, celebrities and politicians from across the globe, was hailed the wedding of the century at the time.

Following the ceremony, the newlyweds stood on the Buckingham Palace balcony to exchange not one, but two kisses and the celebratory crowds went wild.

Upon their marriage, the Queen granted the couple the titles the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which they would later trade in for the Prince and Princess of Wales.

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