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Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton have been blissfully married since 2011. They are parents to two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, and they are expecting their third bundle of joy in April 2018. Though they abide by a rather strict royal doctrine that asks them to refrain from showing affection with one another in public, the royal couple slips up from time to time — which shows how much they love each other.
However, their road to wedded bliss wasn’t smooth sailing. After all, the Prince of Wales comes with quite a bit of royal baggage which certainly takes some getting used to. In fact, in 2007, after knowing each other for six years and dating for two, Middleton and the prince called it quits for a couple of months. Here are the dark secrets behind their breakup.
Stepping into the spotlight
The two have been dating since college. | Middleton Family/Clarence House via Getty Images
Though the two met when they were freshmen at St. Andrew’s University in 2001, Midldleton and Prince William didn’t become romantically involved until 2004 in their final year of school. They went on a ski vacation together and were photographed out and about.
Unfortunately, once they graduated from college, they no longer had the university to shield them from the glare of the public eye.
Next: Distance doesn’t make the heart grow fonder.
The two had a long-distance relationship due to William’s military career. | Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
After leaving St. Andrew’s University in Scotland, Prince William began his military career by enrolling in the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England. The duchess, on the other hand, headed to London, where she worked for parents’ company, Party Pieces, and then for the retail chain, Jigsaw.
Though the royals can pretty much have anything at the drop of a dime, it was no easy feat to keep a relationship going while juggling the demands of the crown, the military, and the distance between them. Still, the young couple seemed determined to make things work.
Next: Too much attention
As their relationship got more serious, the spotlight on them intensified. | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
When Prince William graduated from the Royal Military Academy in 2006, Middleton was in attendance. Unfortunately, that’s when things started to go left.
Seeing that the young couple were serious about one another, the media attention heightened. By the time they attended Laura Parker Bowles’ wedding, who is the prince’s stepsister, they were a tabloid staple.
Next: A huge mistake
The big back out
Kate Middleton wasn’t happy when Prince William pulled this move. | Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images
When the holidays rolled around at the end of 2006, the duchess had already been introduced to the prince’s family. Therefore, she thought it was a good idea to invite him to spend the New Year with her family. The Middletons booked Jordanstone House for the occasion, which is located in Alyth, North of Dundee.
Prince William originally accepted the invite, but then backed out at the last minute. Obviously, the duchess was not pleased.
Next: Lonely holidays
Being apart on the holidays added strain to their relationship. | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
By the time Prince William backed out of spending time with the Middletons for the New Year, the young couple was already dealing with some strain in their relationship. Though the royals have become more relaxed in recent years, including inviting Meghan Markle to spend the Christmas holiday with them, the duchess did not receive the same invitation a decade ago.
Prior to the New Years snafu, the young couple also hadn’t spent any time together over the holiday season.
Next: A bad birthday
A lonely 25th
Kate Middleton’s 25th birthday ended up being a tough one for the couple. | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
The prince was unable to make things up to Middleton when her 25th birthday rolled around on Jan. 9, 2007. He joined his first military regiment, The Blues and Royals, the day before her birthday and was stationed with the Household Cavalry at Bovington Barracks in Dorset.
Since the drive to London was three hours from Dorset, the couple’s much treasured weekends in the city pretty much vanished.
Next: The public’s obsession
Jumping the gun
The two faced increasing pressure to get engaged. | Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images
There is nothing the public loves more than a good royal romance and a royal wedding. Just look at all of the hoopla surrounding Prince Harry and Markle’s engagement and big day. In 2007, though they were on the verge of being estranged, the public was preparing for Prince William and Middleton to get engaged.
In London, the department store Woolworths was already stocking up on wedding paraphernalia. (Mind you, the prince and the duchess would not actually wed for another four years.)
Next: Feeling unsure
A ton of pressure
Kate Middleton was constantly harassed by paparazzi. | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
As a commoner, Middleton was already getting a lot more than she bargained for by being in a relationship with the prince. However, things took a turn for the worse in early January 2007. The late Princess Diana’s former private secretary, Patrick Jephson, wrote a piece in the Spectator called, “The Next People’s Princess.”
In the piece he heralded the duchess, comparing her to Prince William’s late mother and saying she would be a glamorous and much-needed addition to the often stuffy royal family. (He was right.)
When the duchess went to work the morning the piece was published, paparazzi swarmed and harassed her.
Next: Paparazzi woes
Prince William tried to step in, but to no avail. | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Jephson’s ‘The Next People’s Princess” was released when Prince William was already stationed with the Household Cavalry at Bovington Barracks. He’d watched what the press and paparazzi did to his mother, so the prince released a statement to try and get the press to stop hounding his lady love.
The statement said, “He wants more than anything for it to stop. Miss Middleton should, like any other private individual, be able to go about her everyday business without this kind of intrusion. The situation is proving unbearable for all those concerned.”
The press, of course, did not stop.
Next: A stale Valentine’s Day
Despite the pretty gifts, the relationship wasn’t working. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
By the time Valentine’s Day 2007 approached, Prince William had already flubbed New Years and the duchess’ birthday. In an attempt to try and patch things up, he gifted her with a green enamel Van Cleef & Arpels diamond-framed makeup compact, featuring a polo player about to hit a pearl.
However, gifts don’t mean much when your relationship isn’t working.
Next: The partying prince
The wrong priorities
Prince William reportedly didn’t prioritize the relationship enough. | Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images
As their relationship continued to crumble, the young couple were also trying to figure out what they wanted. The duchess was unsure about her career path and if she wanted to take on a life as a royal. Meanwhile, the prince was increasingly less likely to head to London and instead spent his time partying with his barracks.
As the weather turned, Prince William did get to London, but instead of seeing the duchess, he went clubbing at Boujis and was photographed flirting with another girl. Middleton woke up to the image in the papers the next day.
Next: Nearing the end
This outing wasn’t a positive one for the couple. | Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images
The last public event that the duchess and prince attended before their big split was at the Cheltenham Festival. Dressed in tragic matching tweed outfits, the pair looked absolutely miserable and did not seem to be comfortable around each other.
Next: Some scandalous photos
The final straw
Prince William’s controversial photos were the final straw. | MJ Kim/Getty Images
After the disaster that was Cheltenham Festival, the prince did not slow down with his partying. In fact, a few days later, he went to Elements nightclub in Bournemouth, got super drunk, and partied with half-naked girls. He was photographed touching one girl inappropriately and flirting with other. The next day, the photos and his comments made the newspapers.
Both Middleton and the prince were humiliated.
Next: Moving on
Kate Middleton tried to move on from her heartbreak. | Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
On April 3, 2007, Middleton flew to Ireland with her mother. Her relationship with William was officially over, and she was ready and willing to put it behind her, despite the heartbreak. For the next few months, she moved in with her sister, Pippa Midleton, partied, got spray tans, vacationed in Ibiza, and even signed up for all-female dragon boat racing crew. She was devastated by the end of her relationship, but she was determined not to let it show.
Prince William, on the other hand, was already having second thoughts just a few weeks into the breakup. He attended to his royal duties, had a few very low-key nights out, and began plotting a way to get back together with Middleton. He enlisted his best friend James Meade to help.
The duchess was reportedly reluctant to reconcile at first. She was heartbroken and wanted to be sure that things would change if they gave their relationship a second try.
Next: A second chance at love
Their breakup ultimately led to their happy engagement. | Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
By the time it was all said and done, Middleton and William were back together by June 9. Though their breakup was very short, it taught them a lot. During their engagement interview, the duchess said,
At the time I wasn’t very happy about it, but it actually made me a stronger person. You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realized. 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.
For the prince’s part, he explained. “We were both very young … We were both finding ourselves and being different characters. It was very much trying to find our own way, and we were growing up so it was just a bit of space and it worked out for the better.’
The couple were public once more by July 2007, when the duchess attended Concert for Diana, which honored the prince’s late mother on the 10th anniversary of her death. By October 2010, the couple was engaged to be married, and the rest, as we know, is history.
Follow Aramide Tinubu on Twitter @midnightrami.
Read more: Adorable Royal Baby Names in the Running for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Third Child
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