Prince William and his long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton have called time on their relationship according to reports.
The news comes as a shock to royal watchers, as recently there had been increasing speculation that the pair were about to become engaged. It is believed media pressure may have contributed to the break-up.
"I am totally shocked. We were all convinced they were going to get married," says Judy Wade, royal correspondent for HELLO! magazine. "She and William had so much more in common than Charles and Diana ever did."
The second in line to the throne met the pretty brunette in 2001 while they were both students at St Andrews University in Scotland. And their relationship has been a source of intense interest ever since.
In addition to the media pressure – William called on photographers to stop harassing his fashion buyer girlfriend after her house was besieged by paparazzi at the time of her 25th birthday in January – it is also thought the Prince's move to Bovington Camp, where he is training to be an armoured troop commander, may have contributed to the split. According to The Sun newspaper the pair have seen each other only once a week since then.
Clarence House has not commented on the news of the separation. A spokesman for William stated: "We don't comment on Prince William's private life."
News that the pair have decided to break off their romance is all the more surprising coming in the wake of increasing evidence of the royal family's acceptance of Kate. In addition to joining senior members of the royal family for William's graduation parade at Sandhurst in December, she has also been a regular sight in the royal box at Cheltenham.