In 2001, Middleton met Prince William while they were both students in residence at St Salvator’s Hall at the University of St Andrews. The couple began dating in 2003, although their relationship remained unconfirmed. On 17 October 2005, Middleton complained through her lawyer about harassment from the media, stating that she had done nothing significant to warrant publicity.
Media attention increased around the time of her 25th birthday in January 2007, prompting warnings from both the Prince of Wales and Prince William and from Middleton’s lawyers, who threatened legal action. Two newspaper groups, News International, which publishes The Times and The Sun; and the Guardian Media Group, publishers of The Guardian, decided to refrain from publishing paparazzi photographs of her. Middleton attended Prince William’s Passing Out Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on 15 December 2006.
On 17 May 2008, Middleton attended the wedding of Prince William’s cousin Peter Phillips to Autumn Kelly, which the prince did not attend. On 19 July 2008, she was a guest at the wedding of Lady Rose Windsor and George Gilman. Prince William was away on military operations in the Caribbean, serving aboard HMS Iron Duke. In 2010, Middleton pursued an invasion of privacy claim against two agencies and photographer Niraj Tanna, who took photographs of her over Christmas 2009. She obtained a public apology, £5,000 in damages, and legal costs.
In April 2007, Prince William and Middleton split up. The couple decided to break up during a holiday in the Swiss resort of Zermatt. Newspapers speculated about the reasons for the split, although these reports relied on anonymous sources. Middleton and her family attended the Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium, where she and Prince William sat two rows apart. The couple were subsequently seen together in public on a number of occasions and news sources stated that they had “rekindled their relationship”.
Prince William and Catherine Middleton became engaged in October 2010, in Kenya, during a 10-day trip to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to celebrate Prince William’s passing his RAF helicopter search and rescue course. Clarence House announced the engagement on 16 November 2010. Prince William gave Middleton the engagement ring that had belonged to his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. The couple married in Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011 (St. Catherine’s Day), with the day declared a bank holiday in the United Kingdom. Estimates of the global audience for the wedding ranged around 300 million or more, whilst 26 million watched the event live in Britain alone. On the morning of the wedding day, Prince William was created Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus, with Catherine assuming the feminine forms of the titles.
In October, several months after the wedding, Commonwealth leaders pledged that they would implement changes in British royal succession law to adopt absolute primogeniture, meaning that the first child of the Duke and Duchess, whether boy or girl, would be next in line to the throne after their father.
On 3 December 2012, St James’s Palace announced that the Duchess was pregnant with her first child. The announcement was made earlier in the pregnancy than is usual as she had been admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness. She stayed in hospital for three days. On 14 January 2013, St James’s Palace announced that the child was due to be born in July 2013, and that the condition of the Duchess was improving. The Duchess was admitted to St Mary’s Hospital in London in the early stages of labour on the morning of 22 July 2013 and gave birth to Prince George later that day.
In June 2012, The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry was renamed The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, to reflect Catherine’s contribution to the charity. The Duke and Duchess were announced as ambassadors for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, alongside Prince Harry. As part of her role, the Duchess attended numerous sporting events throughout the games. In September 2012, the Duke and Duchess embarked on a tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. During this overseas visit, she made her first official speech abroad, while visiting a hospice in Malaysia, drawing on her experience as patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.
After the birth of Prince George, the Duchess carried out her first engagement in late August when she accompanied the duke to meet runners preparing for an ultra-marathon on the isle of Anglesey, where they have a residence. At the beginning of March 2014, details were announced of the half-month-long tour to New Zealand and Australia that the couple and son would be taking from 16 to 25 April. The tour was Catherine’s first visit to the area and Prince George’s first major public appearance since his christening in October 2013. The tour began in New Zealand where they visited Wellington, Blenheim, Auckland, Dunedin, Queenstown and Christchurch. It ended in Australia where they visited Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Brisbane, Uluru, Adelaide, and Canberra.