How Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton

The day we thought would never come! How Prince William FINALLY proposed to Kate Middleton after EIGHT YEARS of waiting…

  • King Charles recalls William’s proposal to ‘beloved daughter-in-law’ Catherine
  • Kate’s long and determined wait was described as gamble of her life
  • READ MORE: For all the latest Royal news, pictures and videos click here

In the end it was the news we’d been waiting for.

On November 16, 2010, the Palace announced that Prince William and Catherine Middleton were to be married. 

It was all the more fitting that the proposal had been made at a lodge in Kenya, a country with personal associations for the Windsors. 

This, poignantly, is where Princess Elizabeth had been told that her father, George VI was dead – and that she was now Queen.

So it is perhaps no wonder that King Charles touched on the engagement in his speech at the state banquet in Nairobi last night. 

‘It was here, in sight of Mount Kenya, that my son, The Prince of Wales, proposed to his wife, now my beloved daughter-in-law,’ he recalled.

A clearly joyful Kate and William in November 2010 after announcing their engagement

King Charles recalled family associations with Kenya at last night’s state banquet in Nairobi – in particular the fact that William had proposed to his ‘beloved daughter-in-law’ Kate in the shadow of Mount Kenya

Today William and Kate, both 41, and their children are the future of the modern Monarchy – as the King is keen to acknowledge.

The news of their engagement had been hugely welcomed, the more so as many doubted it would ever happen.

After all, the couple had only recently broken up – before getting together once again. 

In retrospect many felt that, combining patience with fortitude, a woman once known as ‘Waity Katie’ had made the gamble of her life. And won!

The proposal itself  had been made the previous month and the setting was romantic – a log cabin at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, where William and Kate had been staying on safari.

This is where William had spent part of his gap year almost a decade before – another personal connection.

And the ring was the sapphire and diamond engagement ring which had belonged to his mother, Princess Diana.

The news was made public a few weeks later in November and William and Kate duly sat down for their first joint interview.

Side by side in a corner of Clarence House, they spent more than 15 minutes chatting to ITV News’s Tom Bradby, with Kate joking to the camera that ‘it was very romantic, there’s a true romantic in there.’

‘As every guy out there will know, it takes a certain amount of motivation to get yourself going,’ William said. 

‘So I was planning it, and then it just felt really right out in Africa. It was beautiful.’

Prince William and Kate Middleton give their first joint interview on the day they announced their engagement in November 2010

 A private house hidden on the Lewa Wildlife reserve in Kenya, where Prince William proposed to Kate

The couple had been dating for eight years before Wills finally popped the question, having met during their first year at the University of St Andrews in Scotland in 2001. 

In April 2007, Kate and William decided to go their separate ways.

But rather than mope, Kate made sure she was seen to be enjoying an independent life – with the emphasis on enjoyment. Seen, and photographed, of course.

Speaking in the couple’s engagement interview, Kate reflected on their time apart. ‘At the time I wasn’t very happy about it, but it made me a stronger person,’ she said.

A few months later, with the prince apparently having realised what he was missing,  they were reconciled. 

‘It was a total shock when it came,’ said Kate during the engagement interview. 

William  explained why he took so long to pop the question, saying he wanted to give Kate a chance to ‘back out’ if she felt she couldn’t cope with life as a future Queen.

The p Mount Kenya, that the Prince of Wales proposed to his now-wife, Kate

Kate and Prince William pictured soon after their engagement as they attended Harry Meade and Rosie Bradford’s wedding at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in October 2010

He said: ‘I wanted to give her a chance to see in and to back out if she needed to before it all got too much. 

‘I’m trying to learn from lessons done in the past and I just wanted to give her the best chance to settle in and to see what happens on the other side.’

And while Kate may have taken a gamble in waiting all those years for her prince charming, she is the prime example of ‘good things come to those who wait’.

Their first joint interview – and how  Kate and William recalled that moment of magic to ITV’s Tom Bradby:


Bradby: When did you first set eyes on each other?

William: It’s a long time ago now, Tom, I’m trying to wrack my brain. We obviously met at university – at St Andrews, we were friends for over a year first and it just sort of blossomed. We just spent more time with each other, had a good giggle, lots of fun and realised we shared the same interests and had a really good time. She’s got a really naughty sense of humour, which kind of helps me because I’ve got a really dry sense of humour, so it was good fun.

Bradby: Kate, what did you think of William?

Kate: Well I actually think I went bright red when I met you and sort of scuttled off, feeling very shy.

Bradby: There’s a story that goes around that you had a picture of him on your wall.

William: There wasn’t just one, there was about 20.

Kate: He wishes. No, I had the Levi’s guy on my wall, not a picture of William, sorry.


William: We did split up for a bit. We were both very young, it was at university, we were both finding ourselves as such and being different characters and stuff, it was very much trying to find our own way and we were growing up. It was a bit of space and a bit of things like that and it worked out for the better.

Kate: I, at the time, wasn’t very happy about it, but actually it made me a stronger person. You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realised, I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you are younger and I really valued that time for me although I didn’t think it at the time.


William: It was about three weeks ago on holiday in Kenya. We had been talking about marriage for a while so it wasn’t a massively big surprise. I took her up somewhere nice in Kenya and I proposed.

Kate: It was very romantic. There’s a true romantic in there. I really didn’t expect it. It was a total shock… and very exciting.

Bradby: And he produced a ring there and then?

Kate: Yes.

William: I had been carrying it around with me in my rucksack for about three weeks before that and I literally would not let it go. Everywhere I went I was keeping hold of it because I knew this thing, if it disappeared I would be in a lot of trouble and because I’d planned it, it went fine.

You hear a lot of horror stories about proposing and things going horribly wrong it went really, really well and I was really pleased she said yes. It’s my mother’s engagement ring so I thought it was quite nice because obviously she’s not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all – this was my way of keeping her close to it all.

Kate: It’s beautiful. I just hope I look after it. It’s very, very special.


William: I wanted to give her a chance to see in and to back out if she needed to before it all got too much. I’m trying to learn from lessons done in the past and I just wanted to give her the best chance to settle in and to see what happens on the other side.


William: We’re like sort of ducks, very calm on the surface with little feet going under the water. It’s been really exciting because we’ve been talking about it for a long time, so for us, it’s a real relief and it’s really nice to be able to tell everybody. Especially for the last two or three weeks – it’s been quite difficult not telling anyone, keeping it to ourselves.

Bradby: Did you ask Kate’s dad and what did he say and what did your respective parents say?

William: I was torn between asking Kate’s dad first and then the realisation that he might actually say ‘No’ dawned upon me. So I thought if I ask Kate first, then he can’t really say no.

Bradby: What did your mum say?

Kate: She was absolutely over the moon. We had quite an awkward situation because I knew and I knew that William had asked my father but I didn’t know if my mother knew. So I came back from Scotland and my mother didn’t make it clear to me whether she knew or not, so both of us were there sort of looking at each other.


Kate: I was quite nervous about meeting William’s father, but he was very, very welcoming, very friendly, it couldn’t have gone easier really for me.

Bradby: Meeting the Queen?

Kate: I first met her at Peter ( the Princess Royal’s son) and Autumn’s wedding and again it was amongst a lot of other guests and she was very friendly.

Bradby: You clearly are tremendously fond of each other’s families.

William: ‘Kate’s got a very, very close family. I get on really well with them and I’m very lucky that they’ve been so supportive. Mike and Carole have been really loving and caring and really fun and have been really welcoming towards me, so I’ve felt really a part of the family.


Bradby: William’s mother was this massive iconic figure. Is that worrying? Is that intimidating?

Kate: Obviously I would have loved to have met her and she’s obviously an inspirational woman to look up to. Obviously on this day and going forward and things, you know, it is a wonderful family, the members who I’ve met have achieved a lot and very inspirational and so, yes, I do.

William: There’s no pressure, though. Like Kate said, it is about carving your own future. No one is trying to fill my mother’s shoes, what she did was fantastic. It’s about making your own future and your own destiny and Kate will do a very good job of that.


Kate: I think I know I’ve been working very hard for the family business, sometimes those days are long days and I think if I know I’m working hard and pulling my weight, both working and playing hard at the same time, I think everyone who I work with can see I am there pulling my weight.


Bradby: Kate, you very evidently have a close-knit family.

Kate: Yes. It’s very important to me. And I hope we will be able to have a happy family ourselves. They’ve been great over the years – helping me with difficult times. They are very, very dear to me.

Bradby: People are bound to ask… children, do you want lots of children? See what comes?

William: I think we’ll take it one step at a time. We’ll sort of get over the marriage first and then maybe look at the kids. But obviously we want a family so we’ll have to start thinking about that.


William: We are hugely excited and we are looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together and seeing what the future holds.

Kate: It’s obviously nerve-wracking, I don’t know the ropes, William is obviously used to it, but I’m willing to learn quickly and work hard. I really hope I can make a difference, even in the smallest way. I am looking forward to helping as much as I can.

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