Meghan Markle has been portrayed in some tabloids as weaseling her way into the royal family. But the truly strategic royal bride-to-be may have been Prince William’s wife Kate Middleton—at least according to The Crown historian Robert Lacey. In his new book Battle of Brothers: William and Harry—The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, Lacey details the lengths Kate went to position herself as William’s best choice to marry when she was just 19. When she met him at the University of St. Andrews in 2001, Kate wasn’t supposed to be enrolled there, Lacey tells ELLE.com.
“Kate was very strategic,” Lacey says. “She gave up her place at one of Britain’s premier universities, Edinburgh, and opted for another one [St. Andrews] that probably didn’t have the same academic standard. She had already been to Edinburgh to get her flat accommodations sorted out but switched universities and switched her courses to history of art because that was William’s. She delayed her own education by a year and even takes the chance she won’t get into St. Andrews.” (Kate took the exact same gap year trip Prince William did, although months after him.)
It wasn’t a coincidence that Kate met William, Lacey claimed in his book, but she wasn’t alone. According to Lacey’s book, after it was announced that William was to attend the university in Scotland, applications skyrocketed by 44 percent. The two met in their first semester at school, but William didn’t look at Kate as more than a friend until she modeled a see-through dress in a fashion show on March 26, 2002.
“She’s there and about to walk down the runway on the fashion show, and she strips off an extra layer of clothing,” Lacey tells ELLE.com. “Here is a very strategic lady who knows what she wants and has got it.”
The pair began dating after the fashion show and were even roommates while at university. And, Lacey says, despite two splits—one in 2004, after William went on an all-male sailing trip with an all-female crew to Greece, and one in 2007, when William allegedly broke up with Kate over the phone while she was at work at Jigsaw—Kate’s desire to win over William won out, and, nine years after meeting, he proposed in 2010.
“Kate eventually accepted the idea that she would have to do a long apprenticeship,” Lacey says. “William didn’t want to marry until he was 30. She waited nine years, but, in the end, she got him at 28, so there’s another strategic accomplishment on her part—and she is proving to be an ideal heir to the throne.”
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