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Prince William and Princess Kate's heartwarming love story in 25 beautiful photos

From their engagement to parenthood

kate middleton prince william love story
Francesca Shillcock
Francesca ShillcockSenior Features Writer
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Prince William and Princess Kate marked 11 years this April since their magical wedding day at Westminster Abbey, London. 

READ: Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding: A photo album

The royal couple's nuptials were watched by millions of people all over the world and cemented its place as one of the most fantastic royal events of recent years. 

WATCH: William and Kate share rare family video to mark tenth wedding anniversary

Here, we take a look back at the royal couple's blossoming relationship right from the start.

MORE: Why Princess Anne took precedence over Kate Middleton on joint royal visit

MORE: Princess Anne has Duchess Kate in stitches after hilarious anecdote

Prince William and Kate, who are now the proud parents to three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, met at the University of St Andrews in 2001. They both lived at St Salvator's Hall residence, but it wasn't until the following year in 2002 that a spark grew.

will and kate baftas© Photo: Rex

The duo have been together for 11 years

MORE: Why Prince William didn't turn to watch Kate Middleton walk down the aisle

Kate first caught William's eye when she took part in a charity fashion show, wowing in a bikini and a sheer dress. The pair's friendship soon turned to romance, with William and Kate even sharing the same flat in the second year of university.

MORE: Why Princess Anne took precedence over Kate Middleton on joint royal visit

Fast forward to today and the couple are now happily married with three children. Let's take a look back to see how their love story continued...

St Andrew's University, 2002

kate middleton fashion show© Photo: Rex

It's thought that Kate first won William's affection after she took part in a charity fashion show in March 2002. The Prince paid £200 for a front-row ticket to watch the beautiful student – who was widely credited with encouraging him to persevere with his studies when he was finding it hard to settle down to university life – sashay down the catwalk in a revealing ensemble.

However, at this time, Kate was seeing someone else. The pretty brunette didn't begin dating William until she split from her previous boyfriend – a former St Andrews student.

MORE: Princess Anne has Duchess Kate in stitches after hilarious anecdote

Skiing, 2004 

kate middleton skiing

In April 2004 the first picture of the couple was published. Four months after romance blossomed between the pair, a ski break in Klosters confirmed that Prince William was indeed enjoying his first ever serious relationship with this pretty brunette. She was reported to have spent several weekends at a remote cottage on the Queen's Balmoral estate and taken painstaking steps to keep their budding closeness under wraps. "They're an item," confirmed a close friend, as Clarence House said: "It is not our policy to discuss the nature of Prince William's relationships with his friends. It wouldn't be fair on him or them."

MORE: All the times Kate Middleton has shared her personal photographs of George, Charlotte and Louis

Graduation, 2005

prince william graduation© Photo: Getty Images

In June 2005, William and Kate's university life came to an end. After their graduation ceremony the couple, joined by their families, attended a celebratory lunch together, and began looking forward to the rest of their lives – but nothing, from here on in, would be the same. Having been able to live in virtual seclusion during their time as students, they wouldn't be granted such luxury once out of the safety of Fife and into the big, wide world.

First royal wedding together, 2006

kate middleton wedding guest© Photo: Getty Images

It wasn't too long before Kate got to experience a royal wedding. In May 2006, she attended the nuptials of the Duchess of Cornwall's daughter Laura Parker Bowles and her husband – Calvin Klein underwear model turned accountant Harry Lopes. It was their first appearance together at a family wedding and seen by royal watchers as a sign that Kate was gearing up to be a permanent fixture in William's life.

MORE: 21 of the most beautiful royal wedding bouquets: Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more

Kate protects her privacy 2006

kate protects her privacy

 Her presence sparked a media frenzy and engagement rumours refused to die down, as Kate drew comparisons to William's late mother Diana in her elegant red coat and black hat. Suddenly, Kate was a target for the paparazzi, and the young couple were followed closely as they went about their day-to-day lives.

READ: All the times Kate Middleton has paid tribute to Princess Diana's style

It was a momentous occasion for Prince William when he passed out from Sandhurst in December 2006 – for more reasons than one. The occasion was the first time that his girlfriend – who had recently begun a job as an accessories buyer for high street store Jigsaw – had been seen at a high-profile public event also attended by the Queen and other senior royals.

By January, lawyers for the Princess-to-be announced they were considering legal action over the photographers tracking her every move, and in response Britain's newspapers banned the use of paparazzi pictures. However, in March she lodged a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission over a paparazzi photograph published in the Daily Mirror, showing her on her way to work with a takeaway coffee.

The paper issued a public apology and the complaint was withdrawn. But the pressure the intrusion put on their union would eventually become too much for them to bear.

Split rumours, 2007

In April that year, the nation was shocked by swirling reports that the royal couple – pictured here at Cheltenham races just one month earlier – had parted ways. While Clarence House declined to comment on the split, BBC Royal Correspondent Peter Hunt said: "It's a surprise, because it had seemed very stable and very steady."

kate middleton split rumours

Sources, however, alleged that their decision was made amicably and mutually. "Neither my client nor her family will be talking to the press or media or commenting on or off the record relating to the matters publicised this morning," announced Kate's lawyer.

William refuses to comment, 2007

william refuses to comment

By July, the couple had still not officially reunited. Despite Chelsy Davy taking a seat next to Prince Harry at the Concert for Diana, Kate was seated two rows behind the royal contingent in the Royal Box. Prince William, for his part, was remaining tight-lipped on the status of their relationship.

A day before the Wembley concert, held on what would have been his mother's 46th birthday, he was taken aback by a question about whether or not Kate would be attending. "I've got lots of friends coming. Everyone's going to be there on the night and it's going to be a very good night," he said – prompting his brother to joke: "Really well avoided William, very diplomatic."

Kate and William hit the Seychelles 2007

kate middleton princess william seychelles© Photo: Rex

A holiday for two was in store in August 2007, when William whisked Kate off to the Seychelles, as reports circulated in the UK that the brunette beauty had been given the keys to William's official residence, Clarence House. In a bid to keep their relationship low-key, the couple reportedly booked the entire resort – at a cost of £20,000 – and checked in under the names Martin and Rosemary. 

"They thought it would be fun to use joke names," a local source told a newspaper. "They are enjoying pretending to be an ordinary young couple in love on a romantic holiday." To further guarantee their privacy, the son of the Seychelles president imposed an exclusion zone around Desroches, the palm-fringed island paradise where they were staying. Bookies began offering odds of 25/1 that Kate would come back with an engagement sparkler on her finger, and odds of 250/1 that the couple would tie the knot while they were out there.

Kate visits Balmoral, 2007

kate middleton balmoral

The couple didn't get engaged – but they did have something else in store: Kate's first meeting with the Queen since their split hit the headlines. They headed to Balmoral, the royal Scottish hideaway where the monarch and Prince Phillip spend their summers, for a short break.

"William said the Seychelles holiday with Kate was perfect because it was just the two of them," reported a friend. "William was originally going to take a group of friends stag-shooting to Balmoral, but decided he wanted some time with Kate. They are very much in love and want to enjoy their relationship out of the spotlight before they go public again."

Charles joins Kate and William on the slopes, 2008

An Easter break in their beloved Klosters proved the perfect getaway for the sporty pair, who had had little time for romance in the previous months as William took part in an intensive pilot training course at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire.

For the first time, Kate was granted a Royal Protection officer on the slopes – and in a further sign of her importance within royal circles, Prince Charles joined them later on during their stay.

"It speaks volumes about the seriousness of the relationship she has with the royal family," reported a source, who also divulged: "Kate and William had a little time apart last year, but that is very much behind them now. They are very much together."

Officially back together, 2008

peter and autumn phillips wedding© Photo: Getty Images

Just over a year after their reported separation, Kate was back by William's side in April 2008, when he received his wings upon completing his RAF training. It was her first appearance at her boyfriend's side at a formal event since December 2006 – when she attended his passing out ceremony at Sandhurst. And she looked every inch the Princess-in-waiting, turning heads in an ivory-coloured double-breasted coat and black suede calf-length boots.

Secret engagement, 2010

kate middleton prince william secret engagement

Their relationship went from strength to strength and many commented on how happy and in love the couple appeared when they attended a wedding in October 2010. What the world didn't know was that William and Kate were sharing a very special secret – the Prince had proposed during a holiday in Kenya.

Engagement announcement, 2010

kate middleton prince william engagement announcement© Photo: Getty Images

The following month in November 2010, the delighted couple broke their silence, and shared their engagement joy. William had presented his future bride with his late mother Princess Diana's ring – a blue sapphire diamond sparkler.

Kate and William wed, 2011

kate middleton prince william royal wedding

In April 2011, Kate wed her Prince Charming in a spectacular ceremony at Westminster Abbey. Emerging from the Phantom Rolls Royce VI that had borne her on her final journey as Miss Middleton, Kate was an angelic vision in her ivory silk tulle Alexander McQueen wedding dress. As she took her father Michael's arm to make her way up the steps to the abbey, the beautiful Kate was met with gasps from the crowd.

The groom and the bride sealed their love in a ceremony that combined pomp and pageantry with the most personal of touches, and converted Kate at a stroke into Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.

Crowds lined the streets, waving Union Jack flags and cheering and applauding with delight as the newlyweds kissed on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. "Let's give them another one," William said to his bride as he leant in for another sweet kiss.

First official tour, 2011

kate middleton prince william first official tour© Photo: Getty Images

William and Kate made their first official tour overseas as a married couple just two months after they married. The royal couple travelled around the US and Canada for 11 days.

While the trip held particularly poignance for the British royal family – as the tour fell on the 225th anniversary of the first royal visit to Canada, by the then Prince William (later King William IV) – it was also especially exciting for Kate who had never visited North America.

The Cambridges were given a warm welcome, with locals showing their appreciation and respect for Kate who had made a point in wearing Canadian fashion designers at various points throughout the trip.

Kate's first baby news! 2012

There was plenty of speculation in the lead-up, and on 3 December 2012, Kensington Palace announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were expecting their first baby. 

kate middleton first baby news

As Kate was less than two months into her pregnancy, the couple had hoped to keep the news quiet for a little longer, but decided they needed to make the announcement early as the Duchess was admitted to hospital for severe morning sickness.

Prince George is born, 2013

prince george born© Photo: Getty Images

The nation and royal fans around the world rejoiced when William and Kate presented their firstborn and third-in-line to the throne Prince George to the world in July 2013. The royal baby was a mere day old when he made his first official appearance on the steps of the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London.

How Kate Middleton and Prince William pulled off epic romantic shoot - royal photographer reveals all

William showed just how hands-on he was as he safely placed baby George into a car seat at the back of their vehicle and whisked new mum Kate and their son home to Kensington Palace.

Princess Charlotte is born, 2015

princess charlotte born

After weeks of anticipation, the Duchess of Cambridge welcomed her second child at 8:34am on Saturday 2 May. Well-wishers were thrilled to learn that Kate had given birth to a baby girl, and got their first glimpse at the tiny Princess of Cambridge when the family left the Lindo Wing at 6:10pm that same day.

Two days later it was announced that William and Kate had chosen to name their daughter Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana – a fitting tribute to two incredibly important people in William's life, his late mother Princess Diana, and his grandmother the Queen.

After the baby Princess was introduced to several members of the royal family, including the Queen, William and Kate retreated to their country home in order to adjust to life as a family of four out of the public eye.

READ: See what the royals wore when they left the hospital with their newborns

Prince Louis is born, 2018

prince louis born

In April 2018, William and Kate welcomed their third child, baby Prince Louis. The happy news was announced by Kensington Palace on Monday 23 April. The official statement read: "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 1101hrs. The baby weighs 8lbs 7oz. The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well."

It was later revealed that the couple had chosen to name their third child Louis Arthur Charles.

Prince Louis is christened, 2018

prince louis christened

The Cambridges made their first appearance as a family of five in July 2018, attending Prince Louis' christening at St James's Palace, the same place where big brother George was also baptised. Kate looked absolutely besotted by her baby boy, while her husband William took charge of the couple's older children.

The family-of-five make their balcony debut together, 2019

wales family debut

It was the first time we saw the Duke and Duchess with their three children altogether on the Buckingham Palace balcony for Trooping the Colour in June 2019. Prince Louis stole the show as he waved at the fly-past in his dad William's arms. 

The Cambridges show their support, 2020

wales family show support© Photo: Getty Images

William and Kate isolated with their children during the coronavirus lockdown at their Norfolk home, Anmer Hall, in 2020. The royal couple carried out their royal duties remotely and showed their support for NHS workers by clapping together as a family outside their front door.  

MORE: How Kate Middleton and Prince William pulled off epic romantic shoot - royal photographer reveals all

University of St Andrews, 2021

kate middleton prince william anniversary portraits

The Cambridges marked their tenth wedding anniversary in April 2021, sharing gorgeous new portraits,, taken by Chris Floyd, to celebrate the occasion. The couple also released a rare home video in which they could be seen playing with their children at their Norfolk home, Anmer Hall. And in May 2021, William and Kate returned back to where it all began at the University of St Andrews, during their Scotland tour. 

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