Kate Middleton Had a Cheeky College Nickname That Caught Prince William’s Attention

The couple met 21 years ago this fall.

Prince William and Kate Middleton
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We learned this week that the Queen’s granddaughter Lady Louise (daughter of Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex) is headed off to college at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland—the same place, as any royal follower can tell you, where Prince William and the then Kate Middleton met, became friends, then became roommates, and eventually fell in love.

We’ve all heard the anecdote of that fashion show in 2002, where Kate—by this time William’s friend—wore a see-through slip dress at a charity fashion show and caught her future husband’s attention. But, The Mirror reports, a nickname given to Kate by fellow coeds also piqued William’s interest, the outlet reports.

“It seems she may have caught the eye of the future king thanks to a cheeky nickname given to her by her fellow students,” The Mirror writes. “That’s because, when she joined the university, she took part in Freshers’ Week—a tradition of welcoming new students with a week of nights out and partying.”

This was chronicled in Katie Nicholl’s book Kate: The Future Queen, where Nicholl writes that Kate had a “hectic week of partying, meeting her ‘university parents’—older pupils who were in charge of looking after freshers—finding her way around town and settling into her residence hall.”

Freshers is a slang term for freshmen, or first year students at the university.

“Kate soon found her way around and was often seen relaxing in the common room, curled up in an armchair, a cup of tea in hand, either reading newspaper articles her father rather touchingly mailed to her or getting to know her fellow hall mates,” Nicholl writes.

By the end of Freshers’ Week, Kate had apparently made such an impression on her fellow classmates that she’d been dubbed “Beautiful Kate.”

“She was initially more reserved than many of the other young women, but her natural beauty was apparent,” Nicholl writes. “Tanned from a recent holiday in Barbados with her parents, fit from regularly early morning run or swim, and dressed in her comfortable Hennes jeans, fitted sweater, and signature cowboy boots, she radiated an outer freshness and an inner confidence.”

William, for probably obvious reasons, skipped Freshers’ Week, arriving the next week. “It didn’t take him long to notice his future wife, probably because of the nickname she was given by her peers,” The Mirror writes.

When asked about the moment they met for their engagement interview in 2010, William said he couldn’t remember exactly and that he’d have to “wrack his brains.” But Kate remembered everything—including that she, in her own opinion, did not play it cool.

“I actually went bright red when I met you and scuttled off, feeling very shy about meeting you,” she said. “William wasn’t there for quite a bit of the time initially. He wasn’t there from Freshers’ Week, so it did take a bit of time for us to get to know each other. But we did become very close friends from quite early on.”

After initially meeting in 2001, “Beautiful Kate” finally married her prince 10 years later on April 29, 2011.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.