Kate Middleton Was Once Called ‘the Next People’s Princess’ — But It Caused Prince William to Break Up With Her

Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge share three kids and a strong marriage today. The two dated for nearly eight years before William proposed, though, and the couple went through their share of problems during that time.

Kate was once referred to as “the next People’s Princess” of the royal family while she and William were dating, and it ended up creating too much pressure for the prince to handle.

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton | Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince William and Kate Middleton met at school back in 2001

When William enrolled at University of St. Andrews, he wasn’t sure where the next four years would take him. But about a week into college, William met Kate, and the two became instant friends. Kate quickly built a reputation for herself after she was regarded as the prettiest girl in her and William’s residence hall, so it didn’t take long for the prince to want to get to know her.

At first, William and Kate were just friends. They spent plenty of time together but were both seeing other people. Then, after Kate walked in a spring fashion show, things went from friendship to romance.

The two broke up twice while dating

William and Kate officially started dating in 2002 and moved in together for their sophomore year. They lived with friends, though, and were able to keep their relationship under wraps from the public. The two were careful not to be seen together; however, in 2004, the paparazzi caught William kissing Kate on a ski trip, and the cat was out of the bag.

William and Kate in 2008
William and Kate in 2008 | Pool/Anwar Hussein Collection/WireImage

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The media were all over the couple’s relationship, and between the constant press attention and living together, William felt the walls closing in. He needed some space, and he and Kate split up in 2004. They were back together shortly, and things were good until William pulled the plug once again in 2007.

The pressure of Kate as a princess proved too much for William

On Kate’s 25th birthday, Princess Diana’s former secretary published an article about how Kate would be the next “People’s Princess.” According to Parade, the article referred to Kate as someone who would be a glamorous addition to the royal family. But the article only made the press want a proposal even more, and it resulted in mounting pressure on William to pop the question — but he wasn’t ready.  

William’s late mother, Princess Diana, had been referred to as the “People’s Princess” for her relatability and kind nature. When Kate started bearing the same nickname, William found it all to be too much; he was only 25 and wasn’t prepared for marriage. Once the press started rumors of an engagement, William broke up with Kate for a second time.

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The couple’s split only lasted a short time

After the breakup, William quickly realized he still loved his ex. It seemed that he had a wave of confusion upon realizing that the press might be trying to replace his mother’s legacy with his current girlfriend. Ultimately, though, he loved Kate, and the two were back together within a few months. Still, he didn’t rush into marriage; he didn’t propose for three more years.

These days, it’s clear that nobody has ever replaced Diana. But Kate has built a tremendous reputation for herself since marrying into the royal family.