In 2001, After completing his gap year in Belize and Chile, Prince William enrolled at the University of St Andrews, under the name William Wales. News of this caused a temporary increase in the number of applications to the university, primarily from young women :)
Meanwhile, Kate was also preparing for student life in Scotland after returning from her gap year where she visited Italy and worked in Chile, as fate would have it, she ended up at a project Prince William had visited just a month before.
Regarded as one of the university's most prestigious residences, Sally's is often described as a 'rambling gothic dormitory'. In total it houses 180 students. At the west wing of the building there is a small library and a study room. A computer room with pigeon holes for residents' post is also situated on the ground floor. Each room comes with a desk, a wardrobe and a bookcase.
Kate as a first year in St Salavator's.
Kate spoke about meeting William for the first time during the royal engagement interview.
'Well I actually think I went bright red when I met you and sort of scuttled off, feeling very shy about meeting you. It take a bit of time for us to get to know each other but we became very close friends'.
Not only did William and Kate share the same hall of residence, they were also both studying History of Art and inevitably spent a lot of time together. William liked the fact Kate was quiet and reserved and enjoyed country life as he did. They shared laughs and stories about their time in Chile. Kate took notes for William in lectures when he couldn't be there and a strong friendship was forged. Romance was not yet on the cards for the young students as William was dating Carley Massey-Birch, an English Language and creative-writing student. Carley was also a country girl and during their brief relationship William enjoyed visits to her home in Devon where they spent time playing board games and visiting the local pubs.
William initially struggled to settle in to university life and described it as 'daunting'. Following discussions with Prince Charles, Prince Philip and his friends (including Kate) he decided to switch his major to Geography and taking his father's advice, stayed for another term and never looked back.
It was March 27, 2002 at the annual Don't Walk Charity Show when the sparks first ignited between the two. Andrews Sands selected Kate to model for the show because of her popularity
'She didn't dress in a sort of Euro-trash revealing way, it was always very homely. So people were desperate to see her in slightly more scanty attire'.
Kate was asked to model a see through dress. Kate hadn't told William exactly what she would be wearing and the Prince was stunned as the brunette shimmied down the runway. William just turned to his friend Fergus and said 'Wow. Kate's Hot'. At the after show party William did not waste any time making his feelings clear and leaned in to kiss her. Kate was reportedly flattered but pulled away because she was dating fourth year student Rupert Finch. Kate and Rupert quickly parted ways and the royal romance began shortly after.
William and Kate's university year photo 2002.
At the start of second year, September 2002, William and Kate moved off campus to 13A Hope Street, in the centre of town with friends Fergus Boyd and Olivia Bleasdale. They each paid £100 a week in rent for the two storey apartment and shared cleaning duties. Security measures included bulletproof windows and a bombproof front door.
In the small kitchen in their Hope Street apartment William cooked Kate romantic dinners.
'When I was trying to impress Kate I was trying to cook these amazing fancy dinners and what would happen was I would burn something, something would overspill, something would catch fire'.
The couple were often spotted walking around the small town of St Andrews, Fife which has a population of just 16,000. With its breathtaking views the pair enjoyed romantic walks and were regularly seen shopping in their local Tesco, take-away and sweet shop. It was a level of normalcy no previous future King had experienced and William loved it.
|St Andrews Panorama|
By the time the couple started their third year their romance was no longer a secret at St Andrews and they were desperate for privacy. They moved out to Balgove House, a private estate outside of town. The couple entertained frequently in the four bedroom cottage. Kate dressed the the kitchen windows with red and white gingham curtains. They often packed a blanket and a picnic basket and spent hours walking and chatting while taking in the stunning views. These were described by royal writers as 'very happy days for William and Kate'.
Below we see William and Kate having a wonderful time on the dancefloor at a St Andrews gala dinner in October 2004. Kate looked lovely in a little black dress and the couple's body language was undeniable.
|Rex Features/Daily Mail|
Kate graduated from St Andrews in June 2005 with a 2:1 Undergraduate MA in the History of Art. William also achieved a 2:1 in his Arts degree, the best degree of any heir to the throne in Britain and the Commonwealth realms.
|Middleton Family Flickr|
In February 2011, the couple returned to St Andrews on one of their first joint engagements where Prince William unveiled a plaque to commemorate the university's 600th anniversary. During his speech William said
'This is a very special moment for Catherine and me. It feels like coming home'.
St Andrews obviously holds a very special place in the couple's hearts and it was simply wonderful they visited the university just a couple of months before their wedding. No doubt many memories came flooding back that day.