An Anxious Prince William Once Confided in the Queen About Having Second Thoughts About Kate Middleton

A few months later, they broke up—only to later reconcile.

Prince William
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Back in 2007, Prince William and Kate Middleton had been dating for around five years after meeting as students at the University of St. Andrews. William and Kate were both 25 years old, and the public pressure was mounting for William to propose. Speculation ran rampant—when will he pop the question?—but William, according to The Mirror, started to get cold feet.

His nerves had been building for some time—according to the outlet, as far back as Christmas 2006, William became so anxious about the pressure that he confided in both his father, Prince Charles, and his grandmother, the Queen.

“William had been having second thoughts and sat down with his father and his grandmother to have a frank discussion about his future with Kate,” says royal expert Katie Nicholl. “Both advised him not to hurry into anything.”

A few months later, William called Kate while she was at work and broke up with her, devastating her. She later recalled, in an interview surrounding their engagement (which ultimately happened in 2010), “at the time, I wasn’t very happy about it, but it made me a stronger person. You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realized. I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you’re younger. I really valued that time for me as well, although I didn’t think it at the time.”

For his part, William added “we were both very young…we were both finding ourselves and being different characters. It was very much trying to find our own way and we were growing up, so it was just a bit of space, and it worked out for the better.”

According to The Mirror, “the Queen was disappointed by the breakup.” But Kate took those months apart to better herself—everything from being spotted with a copy of the book Love Is Not Enough: A Smart Woman’s Guide to Keeping (and Making) Money in her handbag to joining an all-female dragon boat race team that rowed across the English Channel to raise funds for children’s hospices. Kate’s teammate Emma Sayle says Kate “was in touch with William the whole time,” and it only took about two months for him to miss her.

William “got the message quicker than he or anyone else expected,” says royal historian Robert Lacey.

Roughly three months later, the two were a couple again, and in 2008 Kate represented William at a family wedding when William’s cousin Peter Phillips (son of Princess Anne) married Autumn Kelly. (William was at a friend’s wedding in Africa at the time.)

“It is thought the couple agreed on a marriage pact during a secret break in the Seychelles,” The Mirror reports. (The Seychelles is ultimately where William and Kate would go on their honeymoon in 2011.) “The plan was for William to finish military training before they wed, and Kate is said to have advised him to ‘let off steam’ ahead of their marriage.”

In October 2010, William took a secret trip by motorbike to once again chat with the Queen. This time, it was to collect his late mother Princess Diana’s 18-carat sapphire and diamond engagement ring. On a safari in Africa later that month, “he carried it in his rucksack, terrified of losing it,” The Mirror reports, “and proposed to Kate in a secluded spot near Mount Kenya.” The engagement was announced to the public on November 16, 2010.

“It is my mother’s engagement ring,” William said at the announcement. “It is very special to me, and Kate is very special to me now, as well. It’s only right the two are put together.” He added “the timing is right. As any guy knows, it takes an amount of motivation to get yourself going.”

The couple married on April 29, 2011, and have been married for over 11 years.

Rachel Burchfield
Contributing Royal Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.