It is traditional for royals to travel to the Norfolk estate for Christmas, and on one occasion in 2006, Prince William invited then-girlfriend Kate Middleton, who declined. The claim has been made by royal author Robert Lacey, whose upcoming book Battle of Brothers provides insight into the lives of Prince William and Prince Harry. Extracts of the book have been revealed to the Daily Mail ahead of its release date on October 15.
In it, Mr Lacey said William and Kate had been in a relationship for around five years at the time the Duke invited her to the royal estate.
The author writes: “Yet when William invited Kate to join him that year at Sandringham for the Royal Family’s traditional Christmas lunch, she refused.”
The invite was issued by the Queen herself. Mr Lacey adds it was unprecedented, calling it “the first time the Queen had extended such an invitation to an unregistered ‘girlfriend’”.
However, Kate apparently refused on the grounds she and William were not yet married.
The royal author adds: “she would go to Sandringham on Christmas Day only when she was engaged and had a ring to prove it.”
The tradition-breaking decision came before William and Kate temporarily broke up in 2007, though Mr Lacey does not explicitly state the reason why in excerpts of the book released to the press so far.
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Friends of the Prince revealed during that time: “’William hasn’t stopped pining for Kate since they split up.’
“‘He keeps saying she’s an amazing girl and the best thing to happen to him.’”
The author also reveals how the Duke missed Kate’s parents, Carole and Michael – described as “quiet and affectionate”.
Mr Lacey said it is “small wonder” William and Kate were seen dancing at a party in Dorset less than three months after they broke up.
Prince William and Kate Middleton eventually got engaged in 2010 when he was 28 years old.
The two were on a safari holiday in Kenya at the time. The Duke had apparently planned this in advance, as he offered an engagement ring previously owned by the late Princess Diana.
The ring is encrusted with diamonds and sapphires. Prince Harry, William’s brother, had given his approval in advance.
William and Kate were married in April 2011 at a ceremony at Westminster Abbey, London.
Other sections of the book reveal insights into the relationship between William and Harry, as well as detail the Duke of Cambridge’s alleged temper.