For Prince William and Kate, a Fairy Tale Ended

The Washington Post Sunday - - Style - By Kevin Sul­li­van

LON­DON, April 14 — Prince William and long­time girl­friend Kate Mid­dle­ton have split, the Bri­tish me­dia re­ported Satur­day, end­ing wide­spread spec­u­la­tion of an im­mi­nent wed­ding be­tween one of the world’s most el­i­gi­ble royal bach­e­lors and the mid­dle-class de­scen­dant of a coalmin­ing fam­ily.

William, 24, and Mid­dle­ton, 25, who had met at St. An­drews Univer­sity in Scot­land in 2001, parted am­i­ca­bly — and al­most com­pletely un­ex­pect­edly — af­ter suc­cumb­ing to the mas­sive pres­sures placed upon them by in­tense me­dia scru­tiny of their courtship, ac­cord­ing to the Sun news­pa­per. Cit­ing un­named sources, the news­pa­per said the re­la­tion­ship had been dwin­dling since William, the older son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana and sec­ond in line to the Bri­tish throne, grad­u­ated from Bri­tain’s elite Sand­hurst mil­i­tary academy in De­cem­ber.

Es­pe­cially since last month, when William be­gan train­ing as a tank com­man­der on a re­mote English army base, the pair have seen each other in­creas­ingly less. William has also been pho­tographed re­cently par­ty­ing with other at­trac­tive young women. The pa­per re­ported that

Mid­dle­ton was in­creas­ingly frus­trated that William seemed to pre­fer drink­ing with his army bud­dies to spend­ing time with her in Lon­don.

The news­pa­per also re­ported that William con­sid­ers him­self too young to marry and bris­tled at me­dia and pub­lic pres­sure on him to be­come en­gaged to Mid­dle­ton, who ap­peared to many as a lik­able and in­tel­li­gent young wo­man who would have brought new youth and glam­our to the royal fam­ily. Many in Eng­land were vir­tu­ally cer­tain that Mid­dle­ton would be the next fairy tale princess, and pos­si­ble some­day Queen Catherine.

Spec­u­la­tion that the cou­ple would marry was so ram­pant that the re­tailer Wool­worth’s had al­ready de­signed com­mem­o­ra­tive royal wed­ding col­lectibles, from mugs to mouse pads, fea­tur­ing their pho­to­graphs.

Paddy Harver­son, spokesman for Clarence House, Prince Charles’s of­fice, said in an in­ter­view Satur­day that Prince William did not want an of­fi­cial “run­ning com­men­tary” on his private life ex­cept for an­nounce­ments of en­gage­ments, grad­u­a­tions, etc. “Even in some­thing as high-profile as this, we have to hold that line,” Harver­son said, de­clin­ing to com­ment on the me­dia re­ports about the split.

But royal watch­ers said the fact that Clarence House did not deny the re­ports was es­sen­tially a con­fir­ma­tion of their ac­cu­racy, given the royal fam­ily’s his­tory of quick and force­ful de­nials of sto­ries they con­sider in­ac­cu­rate.

“When some­thing is not true the royal spokesper­sons deny it,” said writer Robert Lacey, who has writ­ten ex­ten­sively about the royal fam­ily, in­clud­ing a bi­og­ra­phy of Queen El­iz­a­beth II.

Lacey said he be­lieved the in­tense press scru­tiny of the young cou­ple’s ev­ery move must have been at least partly to blame for the split.

“Maybe the re­la­tion­ship had to end any­way, but the in­tru­sion and the pres­sure of the press must have been a fac­tor,” he said. “It is hard enough to be young and de­cide if some­thing is right for you with­out that.”

Lacey said pres­sure from the Bri­tish me­dia, which de­lights in sto­ries about the royal fam­ily, was a fac­tor in the en­gage­ment of William’s par­ents. Diana was one of the most pho­tographed women in the world, and she died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while be­ing chased by ag­gres­sive pa­parazzi. William was 15 at the time of his mother’s death.

“It is a for­mi­da­ble chal­lenge be­ing a royal in the present day,” Lacey said. “With what dread they must con­tem­plate walk­ing down the aisle,” know­ing how in­tensely they are be­ing ex­am­ined.

In re­cent months Mid­dle­ton seemed to grow in­creas­ingly an­gry that pho­tog­ra­phers fol­lowed her ev­ery move.

On her 25th birth­day, in Jan­uary, spec­u­la­tion was so in­tense that William was go­ing to pro­pose that more than 50 pho­tog­ra­phers and cam­era crews had camped out­side her Lon­don apart­ment by 6 a.m. Al­though Mid­dle­ton did not have a royal se­cu­rity de­tail, po­lice were called in to guide her through the pack of pa­parazzi who blocked her way to work.

Ear­lier this month, Mid­dle­ton set­tled a ha­rass­ment com­plaint against the Daily Mir­ror, an­other Lon­don tabloid, af­ter the pa­per apol- ogized for pub­lish­ing a grim-look­ing photo of her. The pa­per said she looked up­set be­cause of sto­ries about William’s par­ty­ing with other women; she said it was be­cause she was be­ing ha­rassed by pho­tog­ra­phers.

Mid­dle­ton may find the press at­ten­tion sub­sid­ing over time — as long as the cou­ple don’t rekin­dle the ro­mance — but for William it seems un­likely to abate, as royal ro­mances are the stuff of dreams for tabloid edi­tors here. Ac­cord­ing to the Press As­so­ci­a­tion, Bri­tish book­mak­ers have wasted no time tak­ing wa­gers on William’s most likely fu­ture bride, of­fer­ing 6-1 odds that William would marry a fe­male army of­fi­cer. Oth­ers in con­tention sug­gest the tor­rent of silli­ness heaped on Bri­tain’s roy­als: Book­mak­ers are also of­fer­ing odds of 14-1 that William will marry Aus­tralian pop singer Kylie Minogue or party girl Paris Hil­ton and 20-1 on trou­bled pop star Brit­ney Spears.

To many ob­servers here, the low-key Mid­dle­ton, who fa­vors con­ser­va­tive hem­lines and stirs lit­tle con­tro­versy, was a far bet­ter match for William than Diana had been for Prince Charles. Diana was a 19-year-old kinder­garten teacher when she be­came en­gaged to Charles, the 32-year-old heir to the throne. William and Mid­dle­ton were col­lege class­mates, just five months apart in age, who seemed much more like con­tem­po­raries with sim­i­lar in­ter­ests.

Mid­dle­ton also comes from a stable fam­ily back­ground and is fre­quently pho­tographed shop­ping with her mother. That sta­bil­ity also ap­pealed to William, who watched his par­ents’ own mar­riage end in a messy di­vorce.


Prince William and Kate Mid­dle­ton, at a rugby match in Fe­bru­ary, had met at St. An­drews Univer­sity in Scot­land in 2001. Now they’re tabloid his­tory.


Kate Mid­dle­ton ap­peared to be­come frus­trated with pho­tog­ra­phers fol­low­ing her ev­ery­where, in­clud­ing out­side her home.

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