Kate Middleton and Prince William Talked Breakup & 'Shock' Proposal in Engagement Interview 12 Years Ago

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced their engagement 12 years ago today

Prince William and Kate Middleton pose for photographs in the State Apartments of St James Palace on November 16, 2010 in London, England. After much speculation, Clarence House today announced the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The couple will get married in either the Spring or Summer of next year and continue to live in North Wales while Prince William works as an air sea rescue pilot for the RAF. The couple became engaged during a recent holiday in Kenya having been together for eight years.
Kate Middleton and Prince William. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty

After eight years of dating (and endless engagement speculation!), Prince William and Kate Middleton made things official on November 16, 2010.

Soon after they announced their engagement, the couple sat down for their first-ever joint interview — and it's still their longest to date.

The interview, which served as an intimate look at the beginning of their relationship and the proposal, aired on ITV on the day they announced their engagement to the public. Kate, of course, was wearing her now-famous royal blue Issa dress — the ensemble that truly started the "Kate effect."

Prince William popped the question a few weeks before the interview while the two were vacationing in Kenya with friends. While they had been discussing an impending engagement for a while, Kate was still surprised when the big moment arrived.

"It was a total shock when it came," Kate said. "There's a true romantic in there."

William added, "As every guy out there will know, it takes a certain amount of motivation to get yourself going. So I was planning it and then it just felt really right out in Africa. It was beautiful."

The 18-carat sapphire ring on Kate's hand made headlines on its own. The future Princess of Wales showed off the sparkler, which once belonged to William's late mother, Princess Diana, while William spoke of the sentimental value behind the ring.

"Obviously, she's not going be around to share in all the fun and excitement, so this is my way of keeping her close to it all," Prince William said of his late mother.

Clarence House Announce The Engagement Of <a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-william/" data-inlink="true">Prince William</a> To <a href="https://people.com/tag/kate-middleton/" data-inlink="true">Kate Middleton</a>
Kate Middleton and Prince William. Chris Jackson/Getty

Prince William and Kate also discussed the origin of their relationship, starting with when they met as students at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. William said that they were friends for a year before they started dating and after a laugh or two, things started "to blossom."

Kate admitted that when she first met William's father, the then-Prince Charles, she was "really nervous," but that the future monarch was welcoming and friendly from the start.

"It couldn't have gone easier for me," Kate said.

Image
Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Meeting Queen Elizabeth at Peter and Autumn Phillips's 2008 wedding went just as smoothly, the couple shared. Likewise, Kate's relatives — including mom Carole, dad Michael, sister Pippa and brother James — embraced William as part of the family early on.

"Mike and Carole have been really sort of loving and caring and really fun," William said. "They have been really welcoming towards me, so I've felt really a part of the family."

The couple also discussed their brief 2007 split and how they grew — both together and as individuals – during their time apart.

"At the time, I wasn't very happy about it," Kate admitted. "But actually, it made me a stronger person. You find things about yourself that maybe you hadn't realized. I really valued that time for me."

There was a bit of foreshadowing too. Kate spoke of her desire to help others and engage in charity work ("I really hope I can make a difference, even in the smallest way," she said), which she's done through her role as patron for organizations like Action on Addiction and the Art Room, in addition to her work to erasing the mental health stigma for children. The two also spoke of their desire for a family, which has now come to life through their three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

<a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-william/" data-inlink="true">Prince William</a> and <a href="https://people.com/tag/kate-middleton/" data-inlink="true">Kate Middleton</a> pose for photographs in the State Apartments of St James Palace on November 16, 2010 in London, England. After much speculation, Clarence House today announced the engagement of <a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-william/" data-inlink="true">Prince William</a> to <a href="https://people.com/tag/kate-middleton/" data-inlink="true">Kate Middleton</a>. The couple will get married in either the Spring or Summer of next year and continue to live in North Wales while <a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-william/" data-inlink="true">Prince William</a> works as an air sea rescue pilot for the RAF. The couple became engaged during a recent holiday in Kenya having been together for eight years.
Kate Middleton and Prince William. Samir Hussein/WireImage

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

Although the ring may be the same, Prince William was adamant that there was no pressure on Kate to be the "next Diana."

"No one is trying to fill my mother's shoes," he said. "It's about carving your own future and your own destiny, and Kate will do a very good job at that."

For the past 12 years, Kate has more than lived up to her husband's pre-wedding prediction.

Related Articles