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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 April 2007, 08:04 GMT 09:04 UK
From students to sweethearts
Prince William and Kate Middleton
The couple met at university
Prince William's split from Kate Middleton is the end of a relationship which started when they met as students in Scotland.

In his graduation speech, the principal of St Andrews University described it as the country's top matchmaking university, telling all the new graduates "you may have met your husband or wife".

But it was not to be for Prince William and Kate Middleton, despite expectation worldwide that they would get engaged and marry.

The pair met at St Andrews University, Fife, where they both started studying for degrees in September 2001. Both began studying art history, although William later switched to geography.

Secluded weekends

In their second academic year, they began sharing a four-bedroom house in the town with two others. A year later all four moved into a cottage outside the town.

Miss Middleton's relationship with the prince apparently flourished during weekends alone on the Queen's Balmoral estate - at a secluded cottage given to princes William and Harry as a bolthole.

Kate Middleton

She went on several holidays with the prince and was one of a close coterie of friends invited to William's 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle in June 2003.

As interest in their relationship grew, it was inevitable that she would be compared with his mother, Diana, as both came on the scene in their late teens and were not from royal backgrounds.

Miss Middleton is from a middle-class family from Berkshire. The eldest child of Michael and Carole Middleton of Bucklebury, she was educated at the exclusive Marlborough College.

Her parents run a mail order business selling toys and games for children's parties.

The late Princess Diana had been besieged by the media as soon as she began dating Prince Charles, but for a while William and Kate were guaranteed some privacy, as an agreement had been worked out between the palace and press while he was a student.

Press intrusion

Yet even before they graduated in June 2005, Miss Middleton had became a target for the cameras.

A few months earlier, the tabloids had a field day with photos of her and the prince at Klosters ski resort, despite efforts by aides to keep the holiday private. It was one of the first times they were pictured in public together.

Any other guy that she dates is going to be a sort of social step downwards because you know you can't beat the most eligible bachelor in Britain
Judy Wade
Hello

In October 2005, after the publication of one photo showing Miss Middleton looking out of a window on a London bus, her lawyers wrote to newspaper and magazine editors asking them to respect her privacy. But their interest only grew when she graduated and moved to London.

In December 2006, Miss Middleton was a guest at Sandhurst, when the prince was commissioned as an officer in the British army.

It was the first occasion that she had been seen at a high-profile public event also attended by the Queen and other senior royals.

Memorabilia

It sparked a frenzy of speculation worldwide about an imminent engagement announcement. The high street store, Woolworths, even designed a range of memorabilia in anticipation of the event, including traditional china plates, thimbles, mouse mats and Will and Kate shaped pick and mix sweets.

A Woolworths souvenir mug

It also prompted a paparazzi free for all. Again the situation drew the inevitable comparisons with Diana, who died when the car she was travelling in crashed while being chased by paparazzi in Paris, France.

In January this year, Miss Middleton's lawyers said they were considering legal action over the growing posse of photographers tracking her every move. The papers responded by banning the use of paparazzi pictures.

But in March she made an official complaint to the Press Complaints Commission over the publication of a paparazzi shot used by the Daily Mirror. It showed her clutching a takeaway coffee cup and car keys as she headed to work. The paper issued a public apology and the complaint was withdrawn.

But the media pressure on the couple took its toll and it is being blamed for the couple's split, although no official statement has been issued by the prince or Miss Middleton.

William, 24, once said he would not marry until he was approaching 30, but many thought Ms Middleton had made him have a change of heart. It doesn't seem to be the case.




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