Kate and William’s Real-Life College Romances. dung123

Ptarget of screaming women, more press, and his first romantic storyline. In “Alma Mater,” the seventh episode of season six, creator Peter Morgan reimagines William’s 2001 enrollment at St. Andrews, and the women who flooded the small coastal Scottish town because of it. In real life, the school saw a 44% uptick in applications—including paperwork from one candidate who reportedly spiked her own university plans upon hearing William’s: Kate Middleton.

The Crown: How Did Prince William and Kate Middleton Meet?

But before William falls for Kate on the series, The Crown pairs the freshman prince with a pigtailed aristocrat and aspiring actor named Lola Airdale-Cavendish-Kincaid. (“From a family so posh they had to name it thrice,” a character tells Kate.) Though William dated plenty of titled women in real life—“His social circle was replete with the same old stuffy titles from the Highgrove set whose parents had bored Diana,” wrote former Vanity Fair editor in chief Tina Brown in The Palace Papers—Lola Airdale-Cavendish-Kincaid is a fictional creation.

Before William got to college, he was linked to Davina Duckworth-Chad, whose mother is second cousins with Princess Diana; Rose Farquhar, a childhood friend of William’s and the only one of the prince’s exes to have appeared on The Voice; Arabella Musgrave, whose father managed the Cirencester Park Polo Club; and Jecca Craig, whom William met during his gap year while staying at her family’s 55,000-acre African game preserve. At St. Andrews, he “fleetingly” dated a blonde beauty named Olivia Hunt before embarking on a relationship with a fellow student named Carley Massy-Birch.

Like the fictional Crown girlfriend, Massy-Birch was an aspiring actress who briefly went out with the prince at St. Andrews during his freshman year. In real life, the two dated for about seven weeks. On The Crown, William and Lola date long enough for her to erupt in jealousy when she spots William and Kate together at the library.

After the relationship ended, Massy-Birch opened up about the romance to VF royal correspondent Katie Nicholl: “William was in the year below, and we just happened to meet through the general St. Andrews mêlée. It’s such a small place that it was impossible not to bump into William…. It was very much a university thing, just a regular university romance.” In a feature for this very magazine, Nicholl continued:

Despite Carole Middleton’s constant inquiries about Prince William, Kate was “head over heels” about Finch, said a friend from her days at Marlborough College. A star player on St. Andrews’s cricket squad, he had been picked to head up the team when it toured South Africa. “Rupert was gorgeous and sporty, like Kate—and very funny,” Kate’s friend said. “They came from similar backgrounds and liked the same things. Prince William was friendly, but I think she felt being with Rupert was a little more…realistic.”

In The Palace Papers, Brown suggests that Kate’s relationship with Finch became a helpful tactical strategy in earning William’s trust, first as a friend, while at St. Andrews.

How for Kate to penetrate [William’s social circle]? It was easy at least to make sure their paths crossed on their dorm stairs. Marlborough’s training in the way to build male friendships without entanglement was critical in Kate’s ability to earn William’s wary confidence. Unlike the flock of female students—especially Americans—who flagrantly hit on William, she built his trust by seeming uninterested. (It helped her mystique in the first trimester that she had a good-looking fourth-year law student named Rupert Finch in her thrall.) After her morning run, she sometimes joined William and his friends for breakfast in the hall…. Or they swam together at the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews. During their art history classes, they often sat unobtrusively together. She shared her notes when he didn’t attend lecture.

Per Nicholls, in Kate: The Future Queen, William and Kate “quickly discovered they had plenty in common besides their mutual friends. They were both health conscious, always opting for a breakfast of muesli and fruit over the cooked option; they discussed sports and skiing trips; they compared notes on their gap year experiences.”

In a conversation with VF, The Crown actor Ed McVey, who plays William, explains that Peter Morgan wanted to infuse the William-Kate storyline with some dramatic tension.

Prince William and Kate Middleton's Relationship Timeline

“We know that they get married, so I think Peter wanted to put as many barriers in the way of that [relationship] happening as possible because no relationship is easy, no relationship is smooth,” says McVey. “It was really fun to have those roadblocks and for it not to be smooth sailing. We almost wanted the audience to think, ‘I have no idea how they’re going to get together.’ She’s in a different place, he’s in a different place. Even though you feel like they would work so well together, the stars just aren’t aligned.”

The Crown takes the perspective that Kate’s mother Carole helped steer Kate toward William—even imagining that it was Carole who coaxed Kate toward the uncharacteristic decision, in 2002, to wear that infamous sheer dress on the catwalk of a charity fashion show, getting the prince’s attention. (Kate had been slated to wear chunky knitwear over the “dress,” which was actually a skirt. The piece’s designer, Charlotte Todd, didn’t actively choose Middleton to wear the garment; in fact, she said years later, she has no idea how Kate came to wear it on the runway.)

That fashion show—which is recreated in “Alma Mater” with Meg Bellamy playing Kate and McVey playing William—was reportedly the turning point in the real Kate and William’s relationship. In Kate: The Future Queen, Nicholls wrote of Kate’s feelings for the prince changing: “It soon became apparent to those around her that Kate was wary of the other female friends in William’s life. Unsurprisingly, he had no end of students interested in him. Many girls had gone to extreme lengths to meet him, even trying to change their degree program in order to attend history of art lectures.”

But Kate was a worthy adversary, especially with Carole as her chief adviser.  Per The Palace Papers:

“Kate saw everybody off,” a member of her circle told me. “I mean, anyone that had had anything in the immediate past, or appeared in parties where [William] would sort of cast an eye and cruise across the room and say, ‘Hi,’ she absolutely picked them off one by one in the crosshairs.” (She ultimately dispatched Jecca by visiting the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya with William and wrapping her into a mutual friendship.) Whenever their romance hit a speed bump, she would retreat to Bucklebury for strategy sessions with Carole. The tightness of the Middleton clan was one of the strongest weapons in Kate’s armory.…
After a year of dating Kate, William adopted the whole family. “Not only did he fall for her but them,” one of their acquaintances said to me. “A warm nest with a complete nuclear family and seemingly wonderfully uncomplicated.”
Wills and the Real Girl | Vanity Fair

In a conversation with Annie Sulzberger, The Crown’s head of research explains the basis for the William-and-Kate romantic storyline onscreen: “There has been quite a lot written about them in the last 10 years, really since [they got married]. We spoke to all of the reporters and the historians who wrote those books. Sometimes we would vet what we were reading with [palace insiders]. We didn’t go after [William and Kate’s] contemporaries. We weren’t digging for dirt. We wanted to get a sense of what would’ve attracted William to Kate, aside from the fact that she’s beautiful and had a great reputation as a beauty in her year at university.

“What was it about her childhood, her family dynamics that—for a young boy who has a distant relationship with his father, lost his mother at a young age, and had a very adult relationship with his mother where she sort of treated him as a therapist or a friend rather than a son—what about Kate’s background would’ve been attractive?” continues Sulzberger, before revealing her conclusion. “That family unity that he experienced when he was with the Middletons, and her confidence that stems from having a very happy, loving, stable loving childhood, that, to us, was slightly more important than, ‘Give us the dirt on their first kiss.’”



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