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Inside Prince William and Kate Middleton's early relationship and short-lived split

The royal couple kept their relationship as private as possible

kate william early relationship
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
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Prince William and Kate Middleton have made lots of outings as a happily married couple since their fairytale royal wedding in 2011, but the beginning of their relationship was not nearly as public.

SEE: Kate Middleton and Prince William's incredible love story in photos

The couple met at the University of St Andrews in Scotland in September 2001 where they both lived at St Salvator's Hall residence. After starting off as friends, they began getting closer in 2002 and they were pictured publicly together for the first time two years later when Kate accompanied William on a family ski trip to Klosters in Switzerland. 

WATCH: Inside Prince William and Kate Middleton's fairytale royal wedding

While interest in their relationship grew, not much was known about what happened behind closed doors largely thanks to their private University housing at Balgove House on the Strathtyrum Estate and royal residences where they could escape public scrutiny. Now, former royal butler Grant Harrold, who worked for Prince Charles for seven years, has shone a light on what the couple's dating life – and their "horrifying" split – was really like.

READ: Prince Charles' second royal wedding 'was a hell of a party' – insider

SEE: Kate Middleton and Prince William's surprising £100/week former home where love struck

"I was there when Charles married the Duchess of Cornwall, I was there when the boys went to university, when William first met Kate and they were dating - and then they stopped dating for a little while which was horrifying to me because I adored both of them, luckily they got back together," he told Slingo

kate middleton 2002

Kate reportedly caught William's eye while taking part in a fashion show in 2002

Grant added that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were surprisingly normal and spent lots of time with himself and other members of staff – Kate was often "making jokes" with them.

"[They were] like any boyfriend and girlfriend. Not any different to anyone else, it’s mad saying that when you think about who they are, but there wasn’t anything different. What I liked was that Kate, being a girlfriend and obviously not a member of the family, would be with me and the other staff and she was so polite, friendly, and fun and making jokes. 

concert diana

They split briefly in 2007 and were pictured sitting separately at the Concert for Diana

"I remember there were days I had off where I’d be running an errand or I'd left something up at Highgrove [House] and they were around, so you’d just catch up with them," he explained.

"I got on so well with them because they'd then ask me to travel the country with them," Grant added. "As for the younger members of the family, you're not employed by them, but you end up having a relationship with them as well. There [are] very few people that the royals actually get to know, so you do feel lucky that you were trusted with that."

Kate and William briefly broke up in 2007 before announcing their engagement in 2010 and tying the knot the following year. 

kate william engagement

The couple got engaged in 2010

Addressing their split in their engagement interview, William said: "We were both very young. It was at university, we were sort of both finding ourselves as such and being different characters and stuff, it was very much trying to find our own way and we were growing up." 

Kate added: "At the time, I wasn't very happy about it but actually it made me a stronger person."

READ: Inside Liz Truss and rarely-seen husband Hugh's 22-year marriage

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