Prince William and Kate Middleton might have a storybook romance, but there is one chapter of their love story that saw the couple go their separate ways. The pair, who began dating in 2003 after meeting as students at the University of St. Andrews, famously split in the spring of 2007—just four years before their fairy-tale royal wedding. Following their breakup, William was photographed out partying. Though some might have expected Kate to stay at home and mourn the end of her relationship with the Queen’s grandson, she instead showed her former royal flame what he was missing as she hit the London party circuit.
The pair ultimately rekindled their relationship that summer. According to The Daily Mail, Kate attended a “Freakin’ Naughty”-themed party at William’s barracks in June to celebrate the end of his training. Fast-forward three years later, and Prince William got down on one knee and proposed to Kate with his mother’s iconic sapphire ring during a private holiday in Kenya. The palace announced the news in November of 2010.
During their engagement interview, journalist Tom Bradby asked the engaged pair about their brief, high-profile split that took place after college. William replied, “In that particular instance we did split up for a bit. But that was just, we both were very young, it was at university, we were sort of both finding ourselves as such and being different characters and stuff, it was very much trying to find our own way and we were growing up, and so it was just sort of a bit of space and a bit of things like that and it worked out for the better.”
Kate added, “And I think I at the time wasn‘t very happy about it, but actually it made me a stronger person, you find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realized, or I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you are younger and I really valued that time for me as well although I didn’t think it at the time. Looking back on it.” The Duchess noted that it was a chance for her to re-center herself. She laughed, “I wasn’t all bad.”
The couple tied the knot on April 29, 2011 in a grand ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey. Since their wedding, the Duke and Duchess have become parents to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. “I’m very lucky in the support I have from Catherine, she’s an amazing mother and a fantastic wife,” William said in a 2016 interview on Talk Vietnam. “But I’ve struggled at times. The alteration from being a single independent man to going into marriage and then having children is life-changing.”