- Long before she married Prince William and officially became a public figure herself, Kate Middleton was subject to public scrutiny and hounded by press and paparazzi.
- William, who had seen firsthand how dangerous this kind of attention could be, insisted that the Palace set up a hotline for Kate to give her as much support as possible.
- Royal expert and biographer Katie Nicholl writes about the measures the royal family took to protect Kate back when she was just a royal girlfriend in her book Kate: The Future Queen.
Dating/marrying/publicly loving a royal might sound glamorous on paper and in Julia Stiles rom-coms, but the reality can actually be pretty terrifying. The most infamous and tragic example of this is Princess Diana, who died in a car crash while fleeing paparazzi in Paris in 1997.
Prince William was determined to protect anyone he fell in love with from suffering the same frightening level press scrutiny. That's why, when he and Kate Middleton were just dating, Will took her safety very seriously—especially when the paparazzi really started to hound her.
In her book Kate: The Future Queen, royal expert and biographer Katie Nicholl explains that Will was so concerned, in fact, that he insisted that the Palace set up a hotline for Kate so she would have the support she needed to navigate the stressful (and sometimes scary) side effects of dating a royal.
According to Nicholl, the real turning point for William was when the press figured out where Kate lived—and where she shopped, worked out, and generally did everything in her life—and began following her everywhere, snapping her photo every day, whether she was with Will or not.
"William was aware of the situation and anxious about it," Nicholl writes. "He had seen firsthand how his mother had been harassed by the paparazzi and was determined that Kate not be subjected to the same treatment."
Will had a hotline set up for Kate for the press office at St. James's Palace and for Prince Charles' head of press, Paddy Harverson, directly.
"We had been introduced to Kate early on, and we were instructed from the outset to give her every support possible," a senior press aide told Nicholl. "She was obviously the subject of a lot of press interest and intrusion from the paparazzi. William said we had a duty of care to her and her family and so we advised her on how to deal with the cameras. We told her to smile at the photographers so that there would be a better picture. She was given advice on how to manager the media, and we were there to support her if there was a crisis."
That crisis came when a German magazine called Das Neue learned the exact location of Kate's home in London and made the knowledge public. Will was understandably upset and, since the future King of England was often hanging out at that very house, even more security measures had to be instituted, this time in the form of panic buttons that would alert the local police immediately in an emergency.
The "horrifying need for a panic button" part of the royal love story never seems to make it into the rom-com versions.
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