How a royal romance blossomed

TOGETHER: The pair flatted together at university.
TOGETHER: The pair flatted together at university.

Once upon a time, at St Andrews University in Scotland, there lived a beautiful commoner called Kate Middleton, and a handsome young prince by the name of William.

Her ancestors worked in the coalmines, and her parents owned a party supplies business. He was the future King of England.

But in the hallowed university halls of residence, none of that mattered. They were just two students who had wound up in the same art history class, and quickly became good friends.

They exercised together in the mornings, and bonded over breakfast. Instead of the greasy cooked meal put on by the cafeteria, William and Kate both preferred to opt for the more delicate option of muesli and fruit.

One fateful night in March 2002, that all changed, and for the first time William saw Kate as more than just a girl who shared his taste in cereal.

It was the university's annual charity fashion show. William had paid £200 for a front-row seat.

Out came Kate, slinking sensuously down the catwalk, modelling a see-through black dress over a black bra and bottoms.

The gobsmacked prince turned to his friend, and whispered a profound declaration of approval: "Wow ... Kate's hot!"

That night William attempted to make his move on Kate, pulling out his best Prince Charming line: "You're a knockout."

Unfortunately, Kate already had a boyfriend, a law student by the name of Rupert Finch. 

But the pair remained close friends, and in their second year of university went off flatting with two other classmates.

William was determined to make the most of student life, beavering away in the kitchen attempting to make flat meals.

He would later admit he was trying to impress Kate, cooking fancy dinners that always ended up in disaster.

Kate was always the one who had to come in and save the day.

By Christmas 2003, Kate's relationship with Finch had ended. She was finally free to become an item with William, and the friendship quickly blossomed into romance.

At first, they were determined to keep their relationship a secret, and refused to hold hands in public.

But in the privacy of their flat, away from the prying eyes of media, they were the cookie-cutter image of young love.

She was "Babykins", he was "Big Willy".

On a skiing holiday in Switzerland that spring, the pair were snapped sharing a tender moment in the snow.

Clarence House did not deny they were dating.

In June 2005, the couple graduated from St Andrews.

William followed what family tradition dictated, signing up for army training at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

Kate got a job as an accessory buyer for the shopping chain, Jigsaw.

Royal-watching tongues were set a-wagging when Kate attended William's passing out parade, her most high-profile public appearance yet.

Punters believed it was only a matter of time before the prince would propose.

By Kate's 25th birthday in January 2007, there was still no engagement. She was dubbed "Waity Katie", and subject to increasing scrutiny.

Meanwhile, William was getting cold feet. A newly minted army officer, he preferred to spend his weekends partying with his mates from the barracks rather than with Kate.

In April, the relationship was declared over.

Kate was not one to sit at home scoffing chocolates and weeping into her pillow. She took the split as an opportunity to reinvent herself, to show William what he was missing. All of a sudden a brand-new, bronzed Kate was being spotted out on the town with younger sister Pippa. She accepted invitation after invitation, partying away her heartbreak.

At one such party a few months later, attended by both Kate and William, attendees caught William following his ex-girlfriend around the dance floor like a "lost puppy". They reportedly reconciled that night.

From then on, William and Kate were inseparable.

Kate attended several high-profile official royal events, and was seen as being groomed for her inevitable role as future queen.

In October 2010, during a trip to Kenya, the coveted proposal came. William gave Kate a sapphire engagement ring that had belonged to his mother, Princess Diana.

The duo wed in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011.

The day was declared a public holiday in the United Kingdom.

On July 22, 2013, Kate gave birth to a son, George Alexander Louis.

The proud new parents appeared on the steps of St Mary's Hospital in London, showing off the littlest future king.

So far, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge seem on track to living happily ever after.

Fairfax Media