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The Then-Kate Middleton “Significantly Changed Her Appearance to Become More Appropriate” Before Prince William Proposed

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If anything will grow a person up really quickly, it’s the prospect of marrying into the royal family. Whether you’re Diana Spencer at 19 or Kate Middleton at 28, a potentially impending proposal from your prince (your literal prince, as in, you know, prince of the United Kingdom) will make you reevaluate everything in your life—including, in Kate’s case, her look.

The Mirror reports that Kate “significantly changed her appearance to become more appropriate” before Prince William proposed in 2010. William and Kate met as first-year students at the University of St. Andrews in 2001 (as we will soon see played out in part two of season six of Netflix’s The Crown); by 2003 they were a couple, and save for a rocky few months in 2007, were together until William ultimately popped the question in 2010. As with all of us, Kate’s style evolved and changed from 2003 and her early days of dating William to 2010 and her engagement announcement that November 16—the moment when the Kate Middleton effect ultimately began with the iconic blue Issa wrap dress she wore that day, an effect that has continued since. 

William and Kate at their engagement announcement, 2010

(Image credit: Getty Images)

But, The Mirror reports, there was no greater change and shift in Kate’s style than just before William proposed during a trip the two took to Kenya. Kate had been in the public eye since 2004, when, at just 22, she and William were photographed on a ski trip together, cementing her as William’s girlfriend and forever altering her life (i.e., there was no such thing as a private life anymore). When the Middleton family attended William’s passing out parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2006, it was all but assumed that one day the two would be husband and wife.

Kate Middleton in the 2000s

Michael, Kate, and Carole Middleton at William’s passing out parade, 2006

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kate Middleton in the 2000s

Kate at William’s passing out parade, 2006

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Engagement pressure mounted after that appearance; as we all now know, the two wouldn’t ultimately take that step as a couple for four more years, but the media was intent on declaring that it was imminent. Of the 2006 passing out parade, royal journalist Rebecca English said on the Channel 5 documentary William and Kate: Too Good to Be True that “We hadn’t expected Kate and her family to turn up, and myself and a number of photographers and journalists were all standing on a press stand together. Suddenly, out of the corner of [our] eye, we saw Kate and her mother and father being ushered down to the front of the seating. I remember turning to the person next to me and saying, ‘That’s it. It’s a done deal. This woman is going to be our future Queen.'”

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