As the sixth season of The Crown is set to hit Netflix on 16 November, much of the final installment is expected to follow Prince William as a young adult and his days at the University of St Andrews in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Although the trailer for part one of The Crown mainly depicted Princess Diana’s final months before her untimely death, part two – which will be released 14 December – is likely to portray the fateful moment William met his future wife, Kate Middleton, while studying at university together.
As many royal fans are aware, the now-Prince and Princess of Wales sparked a romance as students at the University of St Andrews in 2001. Just 10 years later, the pair were married in a lavish royal wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey. Since then, they’ve gone on to welcome three children to the royal family: Prince George, now 10; Princess Charlotte, eight; and Prince Louis, five.
Before the first four episodes of The Crown season six hits Netflix, let’s take a look back on William and Kate’s fairytale romance – from classmates to husband and wife.
After he graduated from Eton College, Prince William furthered his education at the University of St Andrews in 2001, where he enrolled simply as “William Wales” and studied art history. It was there he met Catherine Elizabeth Middleton from Bucklebury, Berkshire – the eldest daughter of Michael and Carole Middleton, a former flight dispatcher and flight attendant at British Airways.
Her mother founded Party Pieces, a company selling supplies for children’s parties, in 1987. While Kate’s family was already well connected to members of the royal family and the British aristocracy, they found financial success with their party supplies business.
It’s rumoured that Kate first caught William’s eye when she modelled a sheer dress at a charity show runway in March 2002. While the two met in their first semester at school, William didn’t see Kate as more than a friend until she walked the runway in the see-through dress, which was later auctioned for £78,000. William reportedly paid £200 for a front-row seat at the fashion show.
However, some royal experts have suggested that Kate’s enrollment at St Andrews was entirely related to meeting her future husband. Robert Lacey, British biographer and historical consultant for The Crown, wrote in his 2020 book Battle of Brothers: William and Harry - The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult that Kate wasn’t supposed to be enrolled at St Andrews at all.
“Kate was very strategic,” Lacey told Elle in 2020. “She gave up her place at one of Britain’s premier universities, Edinburgh, and opted for another one [St Andrews] that probably didn’t have the same academic standard. She had already been to Edinburgh to get her flat accommodations sorted out but switched universities and switched her courses to history of art because that was William’s. She delayed her own education by a year and even takes the chance she won’t get into St Andrews.”
According to Lacey’s book, applications for St Andrews skyrocketed by 44 per cent after it was announced William was to attend the university in Scotland. The pair began dating shortly after the charity fashion show and lived together in an off-campus apartment with two friends, before moving to a cottage outside the town for their final year.
In their 2010 engagement interview, William and Kate finally opened up about how their romance blossomed as students at St Andrews. “I actually think I went bright red when I met you and sort of scuttled off, feeling very shy about meeting you,” Kate said about William. “It did take a bit of time for us to get to know each other but we did become very close friends from quite early.”
William added: “We moved in together as friends. We lived with a couple of others as well, and it just sort of blossomed from there, really. We just saw more of each other, and you know, hung out a bit more and did stuff.”
Both William and Kate graduated from St Andrews on 23 June 2005. To mark their nuptials just six years later, the Middleton family would share a now-iconic photograph of the couple posing together on their graduation day.
Following their graduation, Kate slowly became inducted into royal life when she attended her first royal wedding - the nuptials of Laura Parker-Bowles, Queen Camilla’s daughter, and Harry Lopes in 2006. It marked William and Kate’s first public appearance together, but by 2007, the couple sparked breakup rumours.
The two briefly split, reportedly because Kate was frustrated with William’s lack of commitment, according to The Guardian. During this time, she moved to London and worked several jobs in retail and marketing.
When asked about the breakup during their engagement interview, Kate shared further detail about their split. “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.”
However, the two seemed to have rekindled their romance in July that same year when Kate attended a Princess Diana tribute concert with her younger sister, Pippa Middleton. By April 2008, Kate was by William’s side when he received his RAF wings after training to become an RAF pilot.
In 2010, following a visit by Kate’s parents to Birkhall - then King Charles’s private residence on the Balmoral estate - Clarence House confirmed that William had presented Kate with his mother’s sapphire ring and the couple were to wed the following year.
During his recent state visit to Kenya, King Charles shared details about how William popped the question to Kate. “It was here, in sight of Mount Kenya, that my son, the Prince of Wales, proposed to his wife, now my beloved daughter-in-law,” he said in his speech.
On 29 April 2011, they exchanged vows in a grand ceremony at Westminster Abbey and became known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Two years later, their first son and second in line to the throne - Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge - was born on 22 July 2013. The pair welcomed their second child, Princess Charlotte, on 2 May 2015, and their third child, Prince Louis, was born in April 2018.
While the family of five made Kensington Palace their official residence for many years, William and Kate relocated their family to Adelaide Cottage on the Windsor estate last year, in an effort to put their children first and give them more freedom outside of city life.
The first four episodes of The Crown season six hits Netflix on 16 November in the US and UK. The final six episodes will be released on 14 December.