A lot has happened in the 10 years since the eyes of the world were glued to their glorious wedding extravaganza at Westminster Abbey.
There have been several overseas tours, the arrival of three children, enough engagements to fill several photo albums – and the flourishing of a love story to rival the best romances in history.
The marriage of Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, has succeeded in a family often dogged by divorce and misery. It’s the reason the Cambridges are seen as the shining stars of The Firm, sprinkling a dash of fairy dust over whatever they do – a couple with their hearts and heads in the right place who will lead the monarchy into the future.
Their openness and approachability have been invaluable during the dark days of the pandemic, when they worked tirelessly to bring hope and comfort to a shell-shocked nation. Westminster Abbey has now been turned into a vaccination centre and no one would approve more than Kate and Wills, who visited the magnificent church recently.
Kate wore white and had her hair in a similar style to her wedding day, which many royal fans saw as a nod to that golden day William slipped the ring on her finger and they started their lives together as husband and wife.
As they prepared to celebrate their 10th anniversary on 29 April, new details emerged of the day the future king and queen pledged to have and to hold until death them did part.
William the conquered
A close friend of the prince at St Andrews University in Scotland shared some never-heard-before details of what went down between William and Kate in the heady early days of their relationship.
The two had met as first-year students after signing up for the same art history course but Michael Zhi-Wei Choong recalls Kate dating another student at the time named Rupert Finch.
“He was a good-looking fourth-year law student who was considered quite a catch. But they were very different. He was a big character, almost a bit overwhelming, and she was rather shy.”
Michael recalls it became obvious Kate was the one William wanted when he booked a table right next to the catwalk at that now-famous varsity fashion show she was taking part in.“It was odd that he would go to such a high-profile event and that Kate would wear that [sheer] dress. It was really out of character for her – I think she was trying to make a statement.”
It clearly worked. Their courtship lasted eight years (including a short break) before Wills popped the question during a holiday in Kenya in October 2010.
In an interview with CNN, the prince said he wanted the proposal to “mean something” which is why he went to Africa.“I regularly daydream. Africa is definitely one of the places I go to. It does completely settle me down. Catherine understands what it means to me being there.“I didn’t really plan [the proposal] that far in advance. I just knew I wanted it to feel comfortable where I did it.”
A month later they broke the news to the world.
A wedding like no other
Dr John Hall, the former Dean of Westminster who married the couple, says the big day was meticulously planned there was even a lawyer on standby in case anyone objected to them getting married during the “speak now or forever hold your peace” part of the vows.
The cake was also cause for some concern. Fiona Cairns, the brains and hands behind the magnificent eight-tier creation, was so worried about its safety she enlisted the help of the cops.
Police night patrols were arranged around her bakery to protect it – and one night she got a call at 1.30am over fears someone was trying to break in. It turned out to be a group of teenagers larking about nearby.
The cake, Fiona says, was so big a door had to be taken off its hinges at Buckingham Palace so it could safely pass through.
Then there was their “secret mini honeymoon” which was actually a brief stay at the couple’s cottage in Wales before the prince resumed work as an RAF Search and Rescue Force pilot 36 hours later.
They actual honeymoon happened a month later in the Seychelles.
In some ways it feels like just yesterday Kate showed off her first child on the steps of the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital on 22 July 2013.
Prince George will turn eight this year; his sister, Princess Charlotte, celebrates her sixth birthday on 2 May; and their baby brother, Prince Louis, has just turned three.
The couple released an image of the grinning youngster sitting on his little bicycle before leaving for his first day of nursery school.Louis is attending Willcocks in west London, the same pre-school hisbig sister went to. George spent his early education years at Westacre Montessori School in Norfolk, near his parents’ Anmer Hall country home.
Charlotte and George have returned to their school, St Thomas’s Battersea, now that lockdown restrictions have eased in the UK and the family are back in their residence at Kensington Palace after spending the past year at Anmer Hall.
William and Kate are increasingly teaching their older two about the ins and outs of royal responsibilities, with William in particular taking George, who is third-in-line-to-the-throne, under his wing.“They have talked to George and Charlotte about their future roles, but in a child-like way so they understand without feeing overwhelmed,” a royal insider said last year.
Upping their royal game
This year will be another big one for the Cambridges as they are set to take up additional duties now the senior royal pack has shrunk with the exit of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the fact a disgraced Prince Andrew has been stripped of his royal duties.
With the queen still in mourning after the passing of her husband, Prince Philip, they will want to help relieve some of the burden of duty on her too. And if anyone can keep The Firm firmly on track it’s William and Kate.
Their efforts during the pandemic won the hearts of the British people and last year Kate narrowly beat the queen in a poll to determine the nation’s favourite royal.
The duchess and the queen have formed a close bond over the years and the monarch may well lean ever more on her granddaughter-in-law, palace aides say.
Royal commentators agree the duchess has grown enormously in confidence since her days as a shy newlywed who’d hide behind her hair and loathed public speaking.“She has come into her own and nowhere was that more obvious than when she arrived at Philip’s funeral,” one observer says.
“She stared directly at the cameras from inside a car – the gaze of a beautiful, confident and regal woman, one who is fully aware of her place and duties as the country’s future queen.”Kate is a reassuring presence in a time where the monarchy faces increasing turmoil and scrutiny, body-language expert Judi James says.
“If anyone was wondering what a future Queen Catherine might look like, [the funeral] was the moment that appeared to show us, and there was never a better time to reassure fans in terms of the continuity of the crown.”
Seasoned royal expert and writer Ingrid Seward agrees there’s something special about Kate.
“She’s gorgeous and never takes a bad photograph,” she says. She also works damn hard.”
A royal insider told People Kate is also “an adoring mother” which helps her resonate with the public. She regularly takes her kids on shopping trips where she acts “normally”, fellow shoppers and shop assistants have reported.
Kate took George and Charlotte to a London store on the last day of their Easter break recently and the shop owner, identified only as Alexa, took to Twitter to gush.
“I’ve always been a Kate Middleton fan. Today she was in one of my stores on the Kings Road with George and Charlotte and what the team told me about how she was with them and how the kids were with each other makes me like her even more.”
George and Charlotte paid for things with their own money, she adds. “They had a budget that they stuck to. Just normal well brought up children and a normal parent trying to do the right thing and that's just lovely! [sic]"
Royal expert Angela Mollard believes Kate has gone further than any of her contemporaries.“We are now going to see Kate grow in a way we never saw Princess Diana grow,” she says.“We never saw her reach that maturity and I think Kate is doing brilliantly. She has got three children, she never puts a foot wrong and she is being imaginative with her fashion.”
Future king and queen
Kate will become queen consort once William inherits the crown.
According to royal rules, the wives of kings can be queens but husbands of queens cannot be kings, which is why Her Majesty’s husband was Prince Philip, or the Duke of Edinburgh.
According to Marlene Koenig, author of the blog Royal Musings, Kate’s duties will not change dramatically.“As queen consort she will continue to support her husband in his duties as king, attend engagements and make foreign visits. She will also serve as patron of and campaign for causes and charitable organisations she feels passionately about.”
William is a born leader with a relatability, a sense of humour and an air of warmth, Marlene says.
But he’s no pushover. Royal experts say he will not allow anyone, including his brother Prince Harry, to insult the crown.“William will not allow sentiment to divert him from his duty to the British people and the crown,” says Lady Colin Campbell, who has published eight books on the royals.
“He will not give Harry a free pass just because they are sharing a family sadness. I think it sends a message that William is someone not to be mucked around with.”
“He has his mother’s touch and the ability to reach, to listen and to be understanding," says Paul Burrell, Princess Diana's former butler. "William will take the monarchy to another level and back onto the world stage in a proper and meaningful way."
“Diana’s son with his beautiful queen and an adorable family . . . it will uphold the future and the longevity of the monarch.”
2000 – started dating at St Andrews University.
23 June 2005 – the day of their graduation ceremony.
16 November 2010 – announced their engagement after Wills popped the question during a holiday in Kenya.
29 April 2011 – Their royal wedding in Westminster Abbey was watched by over 2 billion people worldwide.
July 2011 – They embark on their first official royal tour to Canada.
22 July 2013 – They welcome their first child, Prince George Alexander Louis, at St Mary’s Hospital in London.
20 August 2013 – First official portrait of the couple with George. They broke with tradition by taking the photos themselves in the garden of Kate’s parents’ home.
April 2014 – The couple take George on their first official tour to Australia.
2 May 2015 – Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana is born. Later in the month Wills and Kate release a picture of Charlotte being kissed by George.
September 2016 – On their second royal tour to Canada, they take both their kids.
23 April 2018 – Prince Louis Arthur Charles is born at St Mary’s Hospital.
May 2018 – The first official portraits of Louis are released, one showing his sister kissing him on the head similar to Charlotte’s photo debut with George.
11 December 2020 – The Cambridges make their red-carpet debut at a Christmas pantomime in London.
SOURCES: GLAMOUR.COM, CHEATSHEET.COM, DAILYMAIL.CO.UK, MARIECLAIRE.CO.UK, TOWNANDCOUNTRYMAG.COM, USMAGAZINE.COM, EXPRESS.CO.UK, PEOPLE.COM