Royal biographer, Daily Mail correspondent and Vanity Fair contributor Katie Nicholl released a new book today, detailing the Duchess of Cambridge‘s early life and relationship with Prince William, leading up to the birth of their son and heir to the British throne, Prince George.
Kate: The Future Queen goes back even before Catherine’s January 1982 birth, giving readers background on the Middleton and Goldsmith (Carole’s maiden name) family trees. Nicholl interviewed teachers and staff from St. Andrew’s Preparatory school, Marlborough College and even St. Andrews University, where she was to fall in love with her prince.
“I try very hard to really bring the young royals to life and to uncover things that we never knew about them,” Nicholl told me over the phone.
“Kate had met William at least once before university, having known some members of the ‘Glosse Posse,’ (Nicholl’s nickname for the Gloucestershire-based group of posh teens who were friends with William and Harry, whose father owns a house there).
“Two of her really good friends from Marlborough College lived in Gloucestershire, and because of that connection they knew William and Harry. I suppose it was inevitable that Kate was going to meet William through those close girlfriends, and indeed she did.
“It happened to be the summer of 1999 when she first met William,” Nicholl said. ”Now, I don’t know how many times they met, but I do know that Kate told at least one person because I interviewed him,” she added.
“That was very interesting to me, because I’d always assume, along with the rest of the world, that those two had met at St. Andrews. They didn’t. They’d met before.”
The Duke of Cambridge had applied to the same universities as Catherine: Edinburgh and St. Andrews, both in Scotland.
“William found out he was admitted to St. Andrews before he took his gap year in August,” Nicholl informed me, referring to the year between high school and university that many British students opt for. ”The palace issued a press statement releasing William’s grades [from Eton]. Kate, (along with the rest of the world) was aware that was his plan, and as soon as the palace made that announcement, applications to St. Andrews shot up by 44%. A lot of those applicants were female, wanting to be on the same course, and at the same university as a prince.
“Edinburgh was one of William’s top choices, and in fact I believe he went to visit it. He liked it very much. It was in a very buzzy, vibrant, exciting European city, and he had a lot of friends that were going there.
“But advisers thought he might be better suited to a smaller university,” Nicholl said. ”He saw St. Andrews and liked it very much and agreed that he’d be better protected there.”
Catherine, Nicholl found out, initially had her heart set on going to Edinburgh University as well. It was a plan she and her two close friends had decided on while at Marlborough.
“She changed her mind,” Nicholl said, citing her previous run-ins with William and the fact that he was going to St. Andrew’s.
“When you look at those two facts, in conjunction, you do think, ‘How much was pre-meditated?’ I believe the only person who really knows is Kate.
“To that degree, she does remain an enigma. But we now know that she’d met him before, and that she changed her mind [regarding university].
“That change of mind was out of character, according to her teachers, and her friends. It was unexpected, and it was a real surprise.
Not to mention a risk. Catherine withdrew her acceptance to Edinburgh almost as soon as she was accepted, and decided to reapply to St. Andrews.
“She didn’t have any guarantee that she’d get accepted,” Nicholl explained. ”It was a big risk, especially when she had a great place at Edinburgh.
“It was very out of character for Kate to change her mind like that. Was it because she truly believed that having met William, he was the one for her? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows except for Kate.”
Until Nicholl spoke with everyone from teachers to tutors and everyone else involved in the application process, it was only a rumor that Catherine decided upon St. Andrews rather than her first choice.