The Crown’s sixth and final season has raised further questions of fact vs. fiction. In new scenes, the show suggests that it was Kate Middleton’s mother, Carole (played by Eve Best), who instructed her daughter to attend St Andrews in 2001, after learning that Prince William had enrolled at the prestigious university.
After finishing sixth form, Kate was initially accepted to her number one UCAS choice – the University of Edinburgh – according to Jasper Selwyn, the careers advisor at her boarding school in England.
However, Kate is said to have changed her mind at the last minute and opted to take a gap year instead, before applying to study art history at St Andrews, where William was known to be attending.
While the reason for Kate’s change of heart has never been officially disclosed or commented on, there has been some debate about whether or not the Prince’s attendance at St Andrews factored into her own.
In Kate: The Future Queen (2013), author Katie Nicholl explains that admission to St Andrews had become particularly competitive at the time, following the news of William’s enrollment.
“It seemed every girl in America wanted to come to St. Andrews to search out the prince. Kate would have read the papers,” explains the royal expert and biographer. “She would have known that William was going and that there was every chance they could be in the same program at the same time if she got a place to study there.”
Tina Brown’s book, The Palace Papers (2022), shines a light on Carole Middleton’s involvement in particular. “It is unlikely Kate would be where she is today without her mother’s canny help in negotiating a royal romance,” declares the journalist and magazine editor. “Carole’s fingerprints are all over Kate’s first move on the royal chessboard”.
Further fuelling speculation, Omid Scobie, has also weighed in this year. Addressing the narrative in his latest book, Endgame (2023), the British journalist writes: “When Carole learned that Prince William was slated to attend the University of St. Andrews, she encouraged her daughter to turn down a spot at her dream school, the University of Edinburgh, take a gap year to study abroad in Florence, and enroll at St. Andrews the following year.”
Nonetheless, the notion that Kate attended St Andrews to meet Prince William has never been confirmed or denied, nor has Carole’s involvement. Regardless, the royal couple got to know one another while residing at St Salvator’s halls, and after a year of friendship, they eventually started dating.
On 20 October 2010, William proposed to Kate in Kenya with his late mother Princess Diana’s sapphire and diamond ring, and their engagement was officially announced in November 2010.
© Photo: Getty Images
The couple tied the knot at Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011, with the royal wedding watched by millions of people around the globe.