It certainly doesn't feel like it's been almost nine years since Kate Middleton stepped out of a vintage Rolls Royce at Westminster Abbey in her Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen wedding dress to marry Prince William and become the Duchess of Cambridge. And yet, here we are! But Will and Kate's epic April 29, 2011 wedding was just the cap to an over-a-decade-long relationship that reads like a fairy tale. Seriously: A small-town girl, born to self-made parents, falls in love with a handsome prince at college and lives happily ever after. It sounds too good to be true, but it's real life, y'all.
From their earliest days as peers at St. Andrews University, where Prince William bid $200 to see Kate walk in a charity fashion show (and now she's the top royal style influencer!), to their recent royal tours, their courtship and marriage has been historic, romantic, and unbelievably adorable—and, fortunately for royal-watchers everywhere, beautifully photographed. And with an ever-expanding family (including their newest little royal, Prince Louis), there's never been more too-cute royal family photos and swoon-worthy moments to fawn over.
Which stand out the strongest? When did Will and Kate make it clear that they would eventually marry? We found the moments in their love story that show why and how they became the picture-perfect family they are today.
In honor of Kate Middleton's 38th birthday on Wednesday, we're looking back at her and Prince William's biggest milestones—and our 41 favorite moments.
December 14, 2018
In honor of the holiday season Kate and Will released a brand new portrait of their adorable family. Featured on their 2018 Christmas card, the laid-back photo shows the royal couple alongside their three children—George (five), Charlotte (three), and Louis (eight months)—in Anmer Hall. Look at those huge grins!
December 5, 2018
The couple that laughs together, stays together! While visiting military personnel and families in Cyprus, Prince William took a moment to tease his wife about her festive green outfit camouflaging her against a Christmas tree. It was all in good fun—the duchess responded by erupting into giggles, making for a great photo op.
December 4, 2018
The duke and duchess clearly can't resist a snowball fight! During a party the couple hosted at Kensington Palace for families of military personnel, Kate and Will got hit with one or two friendly (and fake) snowballs from a few guests. The royal duo took the moment in stride, laughing and catching a few tossed their way.
October 12, 2018
Kate and Will were clearly feeling the love at Princess Eugenie's wedding! During the nuptials for the duke's cousin, the couple were spotted holding hands in the church pews. While it may seem innocent to most, it was an incredibly rare and spontaneous moment of PDA for the royal duo.
April 2018: The Birth of Prince Louis
Say hello to the littlest royal! On April 23, 2018, Kate Middleton and Prince William welcomed their third child, a son whom they dubbed Louis Arthur Charles—or His Royal Highness Prince Louis of Cambridge, as he will be formally known. Best early anniversary present ever, much?
February 2018: The Fab Four Team Up
In their first official joint appearance together, Kate Middleton and Prince William showed Meghan Markle and Prince Harry how it's done! At the first annual Royal Foundation Forum, the foursome promoted the charity work being done by the initiative launched by Harry and Will back in 2011. Kate become an official patron following her royal wedding, and her future sister-in-law will do the same after her own I do's.
December 2017: Annual Royal Christmas Card
For last year's holiday card, the royal family of then-four posed in matching pale blue hues against a white background. Kate sported a Catherine Walker suit during the photo-op, which was most likely taken during Prince George's birthday celebration in July.
October 2017: The Third Royal Baby Announcement
After Will and Kate officially announced their pregnancy in September, Kensington Palace revealed Kate's due date (April 2018) via Twitter with this sweet shot of the doting parents from the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace.
July 2017: Partaking in a Friendly Pretzel-Making Competition
Will, Kate, and their two children toured Europe in July, which included taking a pretzel-rolling class in Germany. Because she's perfect, Kate proved herself a master hand roller of pretzels, while William took a bit more time to catch on. During this trip, she also joked about blessing the world with a third royal baby—who really did arrive less than a year later!
April 2016: The Royal Tour of India and Bhutan
After conquering North America, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge set their sights on India and Bhutan for yet another royal tour. Throughout the week, the royal couple met Bollywood royalty, visited the Taj Mahal, hiked to a monastery, and even tried their hand at archery, Bhutan's national sport. Is there anything Kate doesn't look glamorous doing?
March 2016: There's Nothing Like a Snow Day
The royal family took to the slopes and set some serious #familygoals. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with the little ones in tow, headed to the French Alps for their first vacation as a family of four and it really couldn't have been any cuter. The snowy adventure marked the first time Prince George and Princess Charlotte had played in the snow and even mom and dad got in on the fun with a royal snowball fight.
December 2015: Merry Christmas from the Royal Family!
Now that's definitely a Christmas card you'd leave hanging on your fridge well past December 26! The royal foursome gathered together in the Kensington Gardens to take their family's holiday portrait. With Princess Charlotte's too-cute chubby cheeks, Kate Middleton and her son's mile-wide smiles, and the Duke of Cambridge's adoring gaze, it couldn't be more picture perfect.
October 2015: The Duke and Duchess's Mental Health Advocacy
As crusaders for mental health awareness and advocacy, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge marked World Mental Health Day with trips to local charities and visits with those who have personally suffered from mental illness, proving that building awareness around the issue is a major priority for the royal (and charitable) pair.
July 2015: Princess Charlotte's Christening
The entire royal family—including Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and of course the duke and duchess, with big brother Prince George by their side—gathered together to celebrate the christening of Princess Charlotte. The baptism took place at St. Mary Magdalene's Church on Queen Elizabeth's Sandringham estate, the same church where Princess Charlotte's beloved grandmother Princess Diana was baptized!
May 2015: The World Welcomes Princess Charlotte
It's a little princess! The Duchess gave birth to her second child, a daughter, on May 2, 2016. The royal couple paid homage to the Duke's late mother, Princess Diana, and grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, by dubbing their new little one Charlotte Elizabeth Diana—a name truly fit for royalty.
April 2014: The Tour of Australia and New Zealand
On their third royal tour together (they already had North America and Southeast Asia under their belts), the duke and duchess toted along Prince George for the fun, and the results were predictably aww-inducing. Their nearly three-week visit to New Zealand and Australia included meeting with locals, charity functions, and accompanying Prince George on his first royal playdate.
July 2013: Prince George Enters the World
And baby makes three! The highly anticipated arrival of the newest royal was complete with press staked outside St. Mary's Hospital's Lindo Wing for days on end. Once Kate finally gave birth to Prince George Alexander Louis on July 22, everyone focused on the duke and duchess's first appearance as parents. Naturally, they didn't disappoint. They looked at once overjoyed, tired, and relieved—and stylish! Kate (once again) won high marks for her adorable polka-dotted blue Jenny Packham dress that was reminiscent of the one Princess Diana wore after giving birth to Prince William.
December 2012: It's Official—Kate is Pregnant
It was probably not the way they wanted to announce the news, but it had to be done. Royal officials announced the impending arrival of a royal baby in early December 2012, but the news coincided with Kate's hospitalization for extreme morning sickness. Well-wishers were able to really celebrate the occasion once she left the hospital, aglow with excitement.
July 2012: The London Olympics
The summer of 2012 was big for William, Kate, and England. The London Olympics kicked off a month after the Queen's jubilee celebrations. And in case anyone thought that William and Kate looked a bit stiff posing in official photos, this unbelievably cute, candid snapshot from the Olympics surely changed that. They looked like eternal college sweethearts hugging during an event.
June 2012: Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee
Along with the rest of the royal family, Kate participated in Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, which marked the 60th year of her rule. The duke and duchess seemed to have a blast during the festivities—attending a concert, going for a ride down the Thames river, and enjoying this carriage ride through London. Kate looked thrilled to be a part of her new family's grand traditions, especially by her husband's side.
January 2012: Lupo Joins the Family
Just after her 30th birthday, the duke and duchess introduced the world to the first addition to their little family—a four-month-old black cocker spaniel named Lupo. William reportedly gave the pup to Kate as a Christmas gift, and he soon joined his parents at polo matches and strolls.
June 2011: The Royal Couple Takes North America
Though they already celebrated their marriage with an exotic honeymoon, the duke and duchess got another festive post-wedding trip with their official North America tour. The newlyweds traveled all over Canada and the U.S., making an especially memorable stop in Los Angeles for the BAFTA Brits to Watch event. Kate wore a lilac chiffon Alexander McQueen gown to complement her dashing husband. The royals looked like movie stars, and it's a look we still love for them.
April 2011: The Royal Wedding
The biggest milestone of all! This photo, taken during their now-iconic double kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony, perfectly illuminates the joy of the Royal Wedding day, April 29. The newly-minted Duke and Duchess of Cambridge radiated with happiness as they said I do in Westminster Abbey, and the memorable moments—Kate's Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen wedding dress, Pippa's bridesmaid dress, Prince Harry's mischievous grin, those cute flower girls—rolled in.
November 2010: Their Engagement is Official!
On November 16, 2010, Kate and Will brought years of speculation to an end by announcing their engagement. Kate stunned in her blue Issa wrap dress (and Princess Diana's diamond-and-sapphire engagement ring) during their announcement, but this snuggly portrait really captures their love. William had popped the question to his girlfriend while the couple vacationed in Kenya the month prior.
April 2008: Kate Attends William's RAF Graduation
Kate attended William's graduation ceremony from the Royal Air Force in April 2008. Here, she stands by his side at the ceremony, a very public display of togetherness. It's no wonder that this gleeful picture sparked a fresh round of engagement rumors!
March 2008: Will and Kate Officially Reunite
Love stories always have a few bumps in the road, and this couple knows that well. After nearly five years together, the two called it quits in April 2007. At the time, sources cited Kate's discomfort with media attention as the cause of the breakup. But after a few months apart, the royal twosome rekindled their romance, with Kate attending William and Harry's Concert for Diana that July. However, this snapshot of their March 2008 ski trip to Klosters, Switzerland, proved that their relationship was back on track.
December 2006: Kate Attends William's Sandhurst Graduation
William graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England, more than a year after he and Kate graduated from St. Andrews. That December, he was commissioned as an army officer in front of the Queen and joined the Household Cavalry as a second lieutenant. Kate attended the event and brought her father, Michael; it marked the first time she was a guest of her boyfriend at an official royal engagement with the Queen present. Though now we're more than used to seeing her at royal events, this was a historic moment for the common-born princess.
June 2005: St. Andrews Graduation
Though the story of how Kate Middleton met Prince William is now royal folklore, it bears repeating: The art history majors met while living in St. Salvator's Hall at St. Andrews University in Scotland. As Middleton helped her future husband choose a different major, their romance grew; Prince William famously shelled out $200 to watch Kate walk in a campus charity fashion show. Fast forward four years, and the best friends and roommates posed for this cozy portrait on graduation day. Though they had been dating since roughly 2002, this picture is one of the first public photos of the college sweethearts—they had a privacy agreement with the press during their school years. Following their graduation ceremony, Will and Kate hosted a lunch for Prince Charles, his wife Camilla Parker Bowles, and Middleton's parents. This big moment was the first spark that became the royal couple flame.