Can you think of a more iconic duo than the royal couple William & Kate? I'll wait... but while we're waiting, take a look at these pictures of their lives from when Kate had no idea she would one day be a Princess, and when little George and Charlotte were but a twinkle in the Prince's eye. They both had quite different childhoods - which you would expect when one of them was born royalty - before fate brought them together at university. Even then they would be friends for several years before a now-famous see-through article of clothing that Kate wore at a charity event suddenly (and understandably!) changed the way the Prince looked at her. Even then, Kate was still dating another of their peers at university and it would be a full year before they finally got together.
The ensuing years of careful dating built up pressure on William from his family to either propose or let her go - so he let her go. It would take seven months for them to come to their collective senses and get back together - this time for good. Prince William popped the question and Kate was to become the oldest never-previously-divorced woman to marry a royal at the age of 29. Their life since marriage hasn't exactly been boring either - from health complications with her pregnancies to advocating for mental health, it hasn't been all Chelsea Flower Shows and Cheltenham Race-days for Kate. William of course is now done being a pilot for the RAF and has to deal with the very real possibility that he will one day be crowned King of England. Here are the 20 photos that will give you all the insight you will ever need into the royal couple's lives.
20 Baby Kate
Kate grew up in a quaint village in Berkshire called Chapel Row. Daughter of a stewardess and a flight dispatcher (both considered very exotic and sought-after careers in the 60's), Kate may not have been royalty but her parents' mail-order party prop company turned the family into rapidly successful millionaires so she didn't go wanting as a child, and neither did her sister Pippa (Phillipa) or her brother James. This decidedly upper-middle-class background would pay for her private education - an important track to take if you plan on one day running into a Prince at school! The educational establishments that Kate would go on to attend include schools almost as exclusive (and expensive!) as those attended by the Prince. Her parents are known to be quiet, demure and respectful people who would never make headlines the way certain member's of Meghan Markle's family has done as of late and her sister Pippa has garnered some favourable interest from the public too as a socialite and columnist. At her age in this picture, she was possibly (as many little girls do) dreaming of one day marrying a Prince before likely growing out of this notion. However as we all know, serendipity had other ideas.
19 School Days
After a very brief stint living in Jordan as a baby, starting at age four, Kate attended St.Andrew's school in Berkshire (not to be confused with St.Andrew's university in Scotland, where she would later meet Prince William). She would attend various private boarding schools throughout her youth including Downe House, an exclusive all-girls' school where her sister would also attend later on, but where she was bullied by the other students making her unhappy enough to change schools. She would attend the highly-reputed co-ed boarding-school Marlborough College for the remainder of her high school years. During all this time, the Prince was still nowhere in sight, and wouldn't be until her college years. Kate's contemporaries at Marlborough have said when interviewed that Prince William was the ideal man to all of them - Kate included, and that she already dreamed of the Princess life. When later asked about these comments in an interview of her own, she denied and downplayed what was probably too good to be true anyway by saying it wasn't a picture of the Prince she had on her wall - it was the Levi's 90s ad campaign poster, which - let's face it - is a far more likely and understandable revelation.
18 My Fair Lady
While attending St.Andrew's, the exclusive $25,000-a-year elementary school in Berkshire, Kate got the starring role as Eliza Doolittle in a school adaptation of the very famous musical "My Fair Lady" in which an affluent and academic man chooses a common flower-girl to be educated in etiquette and elocution so that she might mingle with all the "lah-dee-das" of high society. Sound familiar? Some would say that this was destiny giving a wry glimpse of what was to come for Kate but we probably shouldn't read too much into it. Hundreds of schools in England put on musicals every year (my own school also did My Fair Lady! But I couldn't star because I was too busy doing Oklahoma...) and this piece is a common choice. And, despite some public and even press referring to her as a "commoner" (a commoner with aristocratic background and multi-millionaire parents)over the course of her courtship with William, it's also hard to argue that Kate was ever a "simple flower-girl" as any girl who has attended St.Andrew's school in Berkshire certainly doesn't talk the way Eliza did! When it comes to royalty everyone's a commoner aren't they? Regardless, no one can deny now that Kate is every bit the princess they always wanted.
17 Baby William
Born in London, June 1982, William was the first child of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. From an early age his mother wanted him to have a more adventurous and less "cloistered" experience than other royal children had previously had. Merely a year after his birth he was already jetting off to New Zealand with both his parents (first and second-in-line to the throne travelling 20 hours on a plane together - some would call it tempting fate). Diana would continue to give her sons a "normal" upbringing, including trips to Disney World and videogame consoles but trips abroad continued, as well as some domestic trips of a more aware nature - including AIDS shelters. It is no doubt that his mother's penchant for adventure and charity has rubbed off William, having spent gap years in exotic locations and done charity work of his own (more on that later!) As far as toddlers go, William wasn't much of a looker at this point and hadn't yet grown into his mother's eyes and unmistakable smile. Of the two parents he definitely seems to get a lot of his looks (and his personality!) from Diana's side of the family, in great contrast to his brother who looks quite different.
16 William Wetherby
Here we can see William and Harry on Harry's first day of school at Wetherby School for boys. Wetherby is located in Notting Hill in London and despite being a very exclusive school, operates on a waiting-list basis rather than entrance exams or aptitude tests. You could register your kid the day after it's born and there's still a chance they will be too old to attend by the time their name is up! To complete the stuffy, aristocratic image we have a fairly typical and gaudy-looking school outfit - even if you ignore the odd choice of colours (orange and grey??) the overall ensemble is emblematic of the British private school system's total disconnection from the real world; A cap, with a tie and blazer, coupled with shorts above the knee, socks and sandals. Wow - it's a good thing secondary schools switch things up a bit (not least of all by letting them wear long pants)! After Wetherby, William attended a prep-school in Berkshire called Ludgrove where he took up such sporting staples as cross-country running and clay-pigeon shooting. He also somehow found time to enact a normal sporting activity known across the pond as "football", better known as soccer - a sport he would continue at his next educational establishment...
15 The Eaton Society Days
..Eton College was to be the Prince's secondary school - highly acclaimed and even more exclusive, this was actually a break from royal tradition however, as all the other Windsor men had attended Gordonstoun in Scotland. It was Diana, the prince's mother, who insisted he attend Eton, where her own father and brother had previously attended. With that said, Eton is possibly the most famous and exclusive secondary school in the whole of Great Britain with a wealth of famous and important names among their alumni. This picture of William was released in celebration of his 18th birthday, looking very dapper but also making several statements about his position within Eton society. The collar and white bow-tie are almost universal across eton pupils but slight differences in the collar shape and stiffness can indicate a position of de facto authority within the boys' community. The Union Jack waistcoat while appearing merely patriotic is also a very important statement a to the Prince's standing at the school at the time the picture was taken. Standard school dress imposes a black waistcoat on Eton pupils - only members of The Eton Society, a sort of sub-prefectorial exclusive club for seniors, were allowed to wear other colours or patterns of waistcoat which is a liberty they take to its' extreme in order to flout their position.
14 The Infamous Dress
For those of you as yet unacquainted with this now-legendary article of clothing, this is the dress that turned a middle-class Art student into a Princess. Kate wore this somewhat transparent dress as part of a charity auction while at St.Andrew's university in Fife, Scotland. Kate and William were already acquainted with each other at this point, even co-habiting the same house with other friends from their university, but they were not yet romantically involved. Legend has it that after seeing his platonic friend traverse the catwalk in this saucy number, the Prince's interests took a turn for the intimate, asking Kate out almost immediately after the event. At the time she was already involved with another student from the university so she turned him down - but as we all know, she wouldn't resist for long. After her previous beau graduated and moved away, leaving her alone at St.Andrew's in her sophomore year, Kate was free to court the Prince. It is said that the maker of the dress in question, who bought the materials for 30 pounds and knitted it in a week, was offered 1000 pounds for the dress after the show but decided to hold onto it. After spending 8 years in a box at her house, it just recently sold at auction for $30,000 to a man in Jersey. Once Kate becomes Queen consort it is suspected the dress could be worth as much as $100,000 - quite an investment for the man from Jersey.
13 Graduation Day
This is one of the earliest great photographs of the couple, *as* a couple. This picture was taken by Kate's family on the day of their simultaneous graduation from St.Andrew's University in Scotland. It beautifully captures the essence of a young couple with the whole world at their feet; having completed a chapter of their life already partially together, they were ready for the future. Kate graduated with an undergraduate Master of Arts in Art History and went on to work for clothing company Jigsaw, while William, having also started in Art History, switched to Geography and got his Master of Arts degree before heading off to Sandhurst with the military. It's reported that at the moment William announced his enrolment at the university, the number of applications from female students rose significantly - all of them hoping to meet the Prince there - but Kate had already chosen St.Andrews as her college. While Prince William attended the university he had to use the moniker "Steve" with classmates so as not to alert bystanders as to whom they were talking about. Imagine going through 4 years of college having to use a fake name? As if college wasn't stressful enough as it is.
12 The Beautiful Game
William was always a sporty sort of fellow, partaking in many sports typical of the upper-class - like clay-pigeon shooting and water polo - as well as good ol' relatable football. As far back as Ludgrove prep school, William enjoyed playing football at school. Once he reached secondary school age at Eton college, he made captain of his house team - which was worth as many bragging rights as being heir to the throne in that kind of boys' school environment. William kept an interest in the sport throughout college and let the public know it - he was appointed president of the Football Association or FA in 2005 at the young age of 23, replacing his uncle Prince Andrew. Here we have a photograph of William and Kate from 2006 at an Eton "Old Boys" football match which William participated in. It's worth noting that soccer wasn't the only sport that William had an affinity and success with though - he was also just as successful as a water polo player, starting at Eton (because only schools like Eton even *have* water polo teams) and carrying on to St.Andrew's University where he represented the Scottish national universities water polo team in the Celtic Nations tournament.
11 Unwanted Attention
This seemingly innocuous photograph of the couple at Cheltenham just before their breakup in 2007 might be just that - but it came amidst some rather less welcome media attention, possibly contributing to William's initial request for a separation. Unfortunately for Kate, once the couple got back together things weren't always rosy either. After Princess Diana's death fleeing from the paparazzi in 1997, William has had an understandably negative outlook when it comes to the media - he is also, unfortunately for him, a BIG target for media all around the world as are those who surround him. In 2009, after their reconciliation but before their engagement, Kate was awarded 10,000 pounds in damages for being photographed playing tennis on Christmas Eve without her knowledge or permission - but this would be far from the worst invasion of privacy she would suffer. In September 2012, after the wedding, a French sister-magazine to Closer published photographs of Kate sun-bathing topless while on holiday at a private Chateau in the Provence region of France. The photos were thought to have been taken with a zoom lens from over half a kilometer away. French law prevented Kate from being awarded any money but the act remains illegal therefore the magazine was fined 100,000 Euros and the owners fined 45,000 Euros each.
10 The Big Break-up
In April 2007, disaster struck this fairy-tale relationship. Under pressure from his family to make a move on Kate or let her go (no doubt due in turn to pressure from the public and media for something to happen) William hit Kate with some "it's not you it's me, we need time to find ourselves" schtick while they were vacationing at a resort in Zermatt, Switzerland. Smooth! Reports say that Kate wasn't as enthusiastic about this "separation" as William was - he did initiate it, after all - and it took her a little bit of time to deal with but she says it was definitely beneficial for her too in the long run, and one has to admit they both got a fair amount of stuff done on their own during the time they spent apart! Maybe there truly is something to be said for "trial separation", or maybe it only works when you're second-in-line to the throne! It can't have been all fun and games during their time apart though, Kate continued to attend various royal gatherings without William (who admittedly was spending a good amount of time on a Navy ship in the middle of the ocean) which must have been at least a little bit awkward. Not nearly as awkward though, as the gatherings where William *did* attend, just not with Kate - here we have a photograph from the Concert for Diana in Wembley stadium, where you can see Kate on the right sat two rows behind William, front and center.
9 One Ring To Rule Them All
This magnificent diamond and sapphire engagement ring once belonged to another VERY famous Princess - William's mother; HRH Diana, Princess of Wales. It consists of 14 solitaire diamonds and a 12-carat Ceylon sapphire set in 18-carat white gold, and was already worth 28,000 pounds way back when Charles bought it for Diana! This is roughly equivalent to 300,000 pounds in today's money, not counting the added value from the very famous Princess it belonged to. It was during a 10-day trip to the Lew Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya to celebrate William's qualification as a Search & Rescue helicopter pilot that he had planned to pop the question.
When asked about the engagement the Prince responded that he was nervous and paranoid the entire time they were there - not just because of his intentions toward Kate but also because if he lost *that* ring he would be in verrry big trouble indeed! It sat at the bottom of his rucksack for weeks until the big moment came. Carrying that kind of money and history around in a camping bag in a foreign country would be stressful enough for anyone - without having the added danger of your princess-to-be saying no (but seriously, how could she ever have turned him down?)!a
8 The Wedding
This iconic image is from the day of the royal wedding, 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey, in London. The day was declared a national holiday in the UK (everyone was going to skip work to watch it anyway!) and the ceremony was appropriately held on the saint's day of St.Catherine. On the morning of the wedding, Kate was given her first and most important royal title; HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. More than 25 million Britons tuned in to watch the live ceremony with around 250 million more around the world. William wore the traditional dress uniform with sash, and Kate wore a respectfully muted yet delicate and flattering white dress. William was also granted several titles on this day, including Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. A few months after the wedding, but before their first child, the Commonwealth nations all pledged to enact and respect "absolute primogeniture" - a fancy way of saying the monarchy is now gender-equal! This means that little Charlotte is before Prince Harry in line for the throne, and had their first child been a girl that girl would have been in line for throne after William, before Harry and any sons William and Kate might have. Good news for Princesses!
7 On Her Majesty's Service
After he completed his degree at St.Andrew's University, William enrolled at Sandhurst, the British Armed Forces officer training school. He graduated as a Lieutenant but due to worries about him or his brother deploying to active duty (remember William is expected to be King one day, can't have him dying in Afghanistan!) he then proceeded to perform training stints with both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. After helping the US Coastguard seize 900 kilos of cocaine being smuggled across the Mexican Gulf by speedboat, he spent some time on a submarine, not to mention attending the RAF officer school Cranwell - the same RAF school his father had attended. William earned his pilot's wings in 2008 and had them presented to him by his own father. It was after this that William saw what would perhaps be the closest thing to active duty when he flew with a C-17 Globemaster to retrieve the body of a dead soldier in Afghanistan. William then fully transferred to the Royal Air Force to train as a Search & Rescue helicopter pilot - allowing him to serve as a pilot on active duty without being deployed in combat situations. William would eventually leave the military in 2013.
6 Flying High
Perhaps the most important part of William's military career was his time with the Royal Air Force. In January 2010 William graduated the helicopter flying school at RAF Shawbury before then going on to train with the Search & Rescue unit flying the legendary Seaking helicopter. His first Search & Rescue mission came in October when he had to rescue a man on an off-shore oilrig and lift him to the safety of the nearest hospital. Just a month later he would be co-piloting a mission to rescue the crew of a sinking cargo-ship in the Irish sea. Interestingly, William also deployed to the Falkland islands (still the sovereign property of the United Kingdom) for a six-week long tour. So close to the anniversary of the Falklands war, the Argentinian government condemned his presence there as "provocative". In June 2012 William gained "Pilot-in-Command" status within the Search & Rescue branch but eventually left the military in 2013. The Prince didn't stop flying there, though. In 2014 he took his civil pilot's license test and started working for the Air Ambulance service out of Cambridge Airport. Being an altruistic fellow with more than enough money already, he donates his 40k-a-year salary to the Air Ambulance charity (effectively giving it back to his employers?). William left this post only last year in order to assume more royal duties on behalf of his grandmother - The Queen.
5 Spreading The Love
William had been exposed to humanitarian causes from an early age by his mother. He is no stranger to shelters and charities who help with everything from AIDS to homelessness. In 2005 the Prince granted his patronage to Centrepoint, a charity for homelessness that his mother had previously been patron of and had taken the young Prince with her on visits to their headquarters. He's also participated in mountain rescue for a two-week stint as well as working in a paediatric unit at The Royal Marsden Hospital. William later also offered these organisations his patronage. However, surely one of the charities closest to his heart must be the Tusk Trust. Tusk Trust is a wildlife conservation initiative in Africa that also champions the improvement and rebuilding of communities and institutions across Africa. He got interested in Tusk when he saw their vital work on the continent for himself, high-lighting the link that shows improving socio-economic standards can lead to improved conservation. He went so far as to launch a 5000 mile bike ride across Africa in 2007 - during his hiatus from his relationship with Kate. Here you can see William showing his support for the Tusk Trust by sporting one of their snazzy polo shirts.
4 Kate's Turn
While William has many patronages and much charity work below his belt, Kate's altruistic endeavours rival her husbands. She is a patron of several tennis associations and recently took over as patron of the RAF Cadets, receiving the baton from the Queen's husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. At her behest, the couple founded the "Heads Together" mental health campaign, which brother Harry soon joined in on. The campaign joins The Royal Foundation with the charity YoungMinds and seven others in order to promote awareness of mental health issues in young people and how they are perceived by others. During their endorsement of this campaign both the Princes opened up about their own struggles with their mother's death - they were 15 and 13 years old at the time. Kate also made several videos for the campaign as well as other PSA videos on the same subject. This picture is from one such video where Kate launches a campaign called "You're never too young to talk", an initiative by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families that encourages young people to speak out about their difficult emotions and mental troubles. These public appearances by Kate marked a new era of public visibility and audibility for the Duchess, who until then had very much been seen and not heard.
3 First Born, First Served
Young George's conception (left in picture) was announced on the 3rd of December 2012. Absolute primogeniture had been declared the previous year meaning that the child would be third in line to the throne regardless of whether it was a boy or a girl. Prince George's birth on the 22nd of July 2013 was the first ever royal birth to be marked by the issuing of commemorative coins by the three biggest Commonwealth mints, the Royal Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint and the Royal Australian Mint. His birth was also heralded by 21-gun salutes across the Commonwealth countries, and famous landmarks lit up with blue lights to signify the birth of a boy, hailed by many as a future King. William and Kate left the hospital with George the following day, and the day after that his full name was announced as George Alexander Louis. George was baptised in a font made for Queen Victoria with water all the way from the River Jordan! The Royal Mint once again issued coins to mark his baptism. Just like his daddy, little George started travelling and making appearances as soon as the following year, going with them on a 3-week trip to Oceania, spending time in both New Zealand and Australia - just like Prince William did with Charles and Diana a year after his birth.
2 Princess Kate's Little Princess
While Charlotte's birth didn't quite cause the same stir across the world as George's had two years prior, she did get her own 21-gun salutes in London and several London landmarks were lit up in pink to celebrate the birth of a girl. Similarly, while she may not be hailed as a future monarch, being fourth in line to the throne, she has become a sort of de facto child's fashion icon - despite her parents' best efforts to keep her out of the media spotlight in the first place. Every time she is photographed or seen in public the tabloids and fashion magazines go wild, especially during her Royal Tour of Canada in June 2016, as well as subsequent visits to Poland and Germany last year. Some retailers think she will bring in an estimated 3 billion pounds to the British economy over her lifetime. Her full name is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana - can you guess where she got that? That's right, her middle names are for her great-grandmother the Queen and her mother Diana, Princess of Wales. In case you were wondering (and let's face it - you WERE wondering), descendants of the Queen's sons are automatically Princes or Princesses and don't require a surname, but when it is required, Queen Elizabeth's direct descendants have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.
1 Royal Baby Number 3
Louis is the third child of William and Kate, and with the new rules surrounding succession to the throne, he shouldn't have to worry about becoming the monarch being fifth in line to the throne, behind his brother and sister, father and grandfather. His names, Louis Arthur Charles, honour his great-great-great-uncle Lord Mountbatten, pillar of the Mountbatten-Windsor bloodline, and his grandfather, first in line to the throne Charles the Prince of Wales. While Louis' birth may have caused less of a stir in the media than those of his brother and sister, it surely took the same toll on his mother Kate, who for the third time during her pregnancy suffered from a severe, debilitating form of morning sickness called hyperemisis gravidarum which caused the the Princess to be hospitalised in every instance of pregnancy. It was these hospitalisations early-on in her pregnancies that actually forced the royal family to announce each pregnancy in an impromptu manner - the first time was to prevent the media spreading rumours about what else could have caused her hospitalisation, then subsequently in order to confirm rumours about her being pregnant again before they started. In any case this specific, severe form of morning sickness hasn't stopped Kate from making herself her own wonderfully cute family of little Princes and Princesses.