In Pictures: William and Kate blown away on return to university city

·5-min read

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have returned to a happy stamping ground at St Andrews where their budding royal romance was kindled.

As part of their Scottish tour, William and Kate raced each other in land yachts when they returned to the coastal Scottish town where they studied at university 20 years ago.

They performed figures of eight in wind-powered buggies on the West Sands beach with six teenage carers who were trying out the sport on a day course organised as respite from their normal duties looking after family members.

They later met fishing workers and their families as they continued their visit to Fife.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Scotland
The royal couple raced each other across the sands (Phil Noble/PA)
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Scotland
The duke and duchess spent the morning with young carers (Phil Noble/PA)
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Scotland
Kate was shown how far a buggy could tip (Phil Noble/PA)
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Scotland
The couple came close to colliding (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Scotland
They have a history of sporting competitiveness on previous engagements (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with young children during a meeting with fishermen on their visit to Fife (Chris Jackson/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with young children during a meeting with fishermen on their visit to Fife (Chris Jackson/PA)
Kate speaks with young children during a meeting (Chris Jackson/PA)
Kate speaks with young children during a meeting (Chris Jackson/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge look at local produce after meeting fishing families (Chris Jackson/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge look at local produce after meeting fishing families (Chris Jackson/PA)

Largely away from the gaze of the cameras, William was able to take part in student life in the early 2000s including the social side of university and the future king enjoyed his time at an ancient Scottish town famed for learning, its role in church history and golf.

Prince William St Andrews University
William shakes hands with a wellwisher as crowds gathered to witness his arrival at university in 2001 (PA)
Prince William Relaxing at University
William throws a practice golf swing on the beach at St Andrews two years into his four-year History of Art degree (PA)

Catherine Middleton had also opted to move north of the border to pursue her studies and fate conspired to throw them together, with Kate said to have caught the duke’s eye while treading the catwalk during a fashion show.

The courtship continued after graduation but after a break followed by a reunion the two sealed their partnership in a 2011 royal wedding at Westminster Abbey and are now parents to George, Charlotte and Louis.

Royal wedding
A family handout of the couple on their graduation day (Middleton Family/PA)
Prince William meets the crowds as he leaves the St Salvator’s Quadrangle. William got a 2:1 in geography (David Cheskin/PA)
William meets the crowds as he leaves the St Salvator’s Quadrangle as he graduated in geography (David Cheskin/PA)
Kate Middleton left St Andrews with a 2.1 degree (Michael Dunlea/Daily Mail/PA)
The then-Kate Middleton left St Andrews with a 2.1 degree (Michael Dunlea/Daily Mail/PA)

In their first year in 2001, William and Kate lived a few doors apart at St Salvator’s hall of residence at St Andrews in Fife and became friendly, socialising together and playing tennis.

She captured his attention in March 2002 when the prince forked out £200 for a front-row seat for the fashion show where Kate appeared in a see-through lace dress which revealed her black underwear.

A transparent dress once worn by Kate Middleton at a charity fashion show at the University of St Andrews in 2002 which is thought to have been attended by William (Chris Radburn/PA)
A transparent dress once worn by Kate Middleton at a charity fashion show at the University of St Andrews in 2002 which is thought to have been attended by William (Chris Radburn/PA)
William plays water polo
William representing the Scottish national universities water polo team in the annual Celtic Nations tournament in 2004 (PA)
Royalty – Prince William – St Andrews University
There was also time away from the studies to play pool with friends at a bar in the Scottish town (David Cheskin/PA)

Kate, who is five months older than William, was credited with persuading him to continue his studies when he found it difficult to settle and considered quitting in his first year.

They began sharing a four-bedroom Edwardian townhouse at the start of their second year. At the time Kate was dating another student, Rupert Finch.

Prince William studies in the main university library (David Cheskin/PA)
William studies in the main university library (David Cheskin/PA)
The Queen with Prince William after his graduation ceremony (Michael Dunlea/Daily Mail/PA)
The Queen with William after his graduation ceremony (Michael Dunlea/Daily Mail/PA)

The first confirmation that the flatmates were romantically linked came when they were pictured on the slopes of the posh Swiss ski resort Klosters in March 2004.

Kate’s acceptance as William’s girlfriend by “The Firm” was seen as complete a year later when she was pictured again at Klosters alongside William and his father.

Prince William and Kate Middleton pass St Salvator’s halls, accompanied by Sir Menzies Campbell (right), during their return visit (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The couple pass St Salvator’s halls, accompanied by Sir Menzies Campbell (right), during a previous return visit (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Prince William and Kate Middleton visit St Andrews
During a walkabout, Kate met a four-legged friend in the crowd ((David Cheskin/PA)

In April 2007, it was confirmed the pair had split, but it was said Kate handled it with grace and kept William’s confidence, and soon they were back together again.

In July 2007, she was a VIP guest in the royal box for William and Harry’s Concert for Diana in memory of their mother, and was seen with William at the after-show party.

At a wedding of friends in October 2010, the pair, sporting healthy tans from a break in Kenya, strolled happily side by side – and at the time they were secretly engaged, with William having popped the question with his late mother’s engagement ring as they holidayed at Lake Rutundu.

While the royal wedding and three appearances on the steps of the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital Paddington with their babies have been carried out in a blaze of publicity, Wednesday marks a return to the place where their story began largely away from the cameras.

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