The decision to get married isn't one anyone should take lightly; I think this is something they even say in traditional wedding vows so you know for sure it's true. Perhaps some could say it's especially true if you are a member of the royal family who is, say, second in line for the throne and you know the person you marry is going to be under constant scrutiny for the rest of their days. That would be a real pickle, and it seems the Duke of Cambridge was well aware of this fact. Prince William didn't propose to Kate Middleton for years after they started dating, but he had a very good reason for taking his time.
Prince William and Kate Middleton were married on Apr. 29, 2011 after getting engaged in Nov. 2010. While this might seem relatively average, a five month engagement, the reality is the two had been together for much, much longer. They actually started dating back in 2002, when they were both students at St. Andrew's University in Scotland. As Cosmopolitan reported, they were platonic roommates with two other friends at school who ended up falling in love when Middleton broke up with her boyfriend at the time. Despite a brief break-up in 2007, the two remained a couple for many years... but it took them a total of eight years to get engaged. Why?
It could all be down to Prince William's late mother, Princess Diana.
Royal expert and biographer Katie Nicholl wrote in her book Kate: The Future Queen that Prince William wanted to give Middleton a long period of adjustment to palace life before asking her to commit fully. After all, he knew all too well how difficult it could be to marry into the royal family; his mother, Princess Diana, struggled for years under public scrutiny after her marriage to his father, Prince Charles, in 1981. As Nicholl explained in her book, per Marie Claire:
Divorce had dogged the royal family for too long. From the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936 that had nearly ruined the monarchy to the more recent divorces of Diana and Charles, as well as Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, unhappy marriages threatened to seriously unhinge an otherwise solid establishment. Before William asked Kate to marry him, he wanted to be sure it was what she really wanted.
One of the main things he did differently was to break royal protocol and live with Middleton in a farmhouse in northern Wales before they married, according to the Telegraph:
By living together, Kate could decide whether it was, and as William later recalled 'back out' if it wasn't.
Since marrying in 2011, the couple have gone on to have three children; 5-year-old Prince George, 4-year-old Princess Charlotte, and 1-year-old Prince Louis. And even in parenting, the couple are doing things a little differently, as MSN reported. They protect their children's privacy in a way that was simply not done with earlier generations of royals, William himself included. They deal with scandal on a daily basis, but seem able to shrug it off easily enough.
Because the reality is, they knew each other for years before they got married. They understand each other. And if that's not a great foundation for a happy marriage I'm sure what is.