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Look-back: The Royal Engagement on November 16, 2010

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The morning of November 16, 2010 dawned like any other day, but it wasn't any other day. The air was crisp with the impending winter and the capital was busy with the early buzz of holiday shoppers. Just off the Mall, Clarence House looked stately and silent from the outside, but inside was a madhouse of activity. A huge announcement was about to be made, an announcement for which the public had been waiting and hoping years. Almost a full month after their secret proposal in Kenya, William and Kate were at last ready to break the news to the waiting world. Rumors that the two were secretly engaged had been swirling for several weeks, and while engagement rumors plagued the couple since their graduation from St Andrews, this time some members of the press felt they had a little more to go on. After their return from Kenya, William and Kate had attended the wedding of close friends Harry Meade and Rosie Bradford. Rather than entering the church separately or through a side door, the couple happily swept pass the waiting photographers, smiling confidently side-by-side. Many hypothesized the two looked to be sharing a secret, and plenty were confident they could guess what that secret was:

William and Kate had broken the news in person to Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, then William's private secretary, and now one of George's godparents. The Clarence House staff had  only a matter of hours to pull together the announcement and brace for the coming media madness that would ensue. The palace broke the news on Twitter, confirming that William had asked Kate to marry him:

The press release read as follows:
The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton.

The wedding will take place in the Spring or Summer of 2011, in London. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course.

Prince William and Miss Middleton became engaged in October during a private holiday in Kenya. Prince William has informed The Queen and other close members of his family. Prince William has also sought the permission of Miss Middleton's father.

Following the marriage, the couple will live in north Wales, where Prince William will continue to serve with the Royal Air Force.
Kate's life was instantaneously changed. While the day had been years in coming, the hubbub and media attention something she had been acclimating to for some time, nothing could fully prepare her for the frenzy. Her lifestyle was immediately and permanently altered as Clarence House put in a call to Scotland Yard requesting a security detail for the royal fiancée.

Once the news broke, the couple had to prep for the photo-call they would hold in the late afternoon at St. James's Palace, but more proximately, the two had to sit down with ITN's Tom Bradby for a engagement interview that would air later in the evening. Kate had chosen to wear her favorite label at the time, Issa. She stayed entirely true to her style on this pivotal day, wearing the wrap dress for which she was so well known, and asking her hair-stylist for "the usual" blowout. 

Bradby said in interviews (about THE interview) later that Kate was quite nervous, but took it all in her stride. The couple wanted to be open and share their joy, while at the same time walking that thin line between public and personal details. They both did remarkably well.

As the three worked on the interview, the world-media scrambled to get TV presenters and reporters to London. In leafy Berkshire, Michael and Carole Middleton made a brief appreaence for the press outside their Bucklebury home. 

The glowing parents-of-the-bride were visibly thrilled with the final release of the happy news, as Michael read his statement to the cameras and the world:
I would just like to say that Carole and I are absolutely delighted by today's announcement and thrilled at the prospect of a wedding some time next year. As you know Catherine and Prince William have been going out together for quite a number of years which has been great for us because we have got to know William very well. We all think he is wonderful and we are extremely fond of him. They make a lovely couple, they are great fun to be with, and we've had a lot of laughs together. We wish them every happiness for the future.
This is a raw video of the couple outside their home, giving the statement, and doing the photo-session. It is fantastically intimate view of Michael and Carole, and one we don't often get. I love the dynamic between the two. Michael is obviously an understated tease, as he obviously keeps Carole at ease with almost a bit of flirtation. He is so impressive. Carole is genuine, lovely, and chatty as she  does her best to make people comfortable. It's an awkward scenario at the best of times. These two aren't professionals, they don't work in front of a camera. People imagine it is easy, that it is no different than when a camera is not present, but it is different. Working in front of a camera is a skill and it takes practice to be relaxed and natural. That's why there are professional models and amateurs--and there is a significant difference between the two. These two both did extraordinarily well for first-timers. Bravo Mike and Carole!

By 4:30pm, the press had gathered in the lavish and imposing throne room at St. James's Palace and eagerly waited for the future Prince and Princess William of Wales to make their appearance. As the door opened, William and Kate, grinning broadly, strode into the room. 

They were overwhelmed by a barrage of high-speed cameras clicking and the flashes blindingly popping. It was just a foretaste of the world-wide hysteria to come. (See video here.) William can be pretty introverted and private about his "feelings", but every now and again we catch him. :) 

It had to have been one of the most adrenaline and emotionlly-charged days of the couple's relationship, but it wasn't over for Kate. With only months to put together the wedding of the decade, the bride-to-be had to get planning quickly. Bundled up in her iconic Kate Middleton white Reiss coat, she paid a discreet visit to Westminster Abbey. She only had a few options for the venue, and in many respects St. Paul's was probably never really on the table because of the association with Charles' and Diana's wedding, the last wedding of this magnitude in the BRF. Westminster had the upper hand from the start.

William and Kate's engagement marked a very healthy renaissance for the royal family. Unhappily for everyone, the Wales's marriage that began with so much excitement and global anticipation, publicly disintegrated, and in the process, dealt the monarchy as an institution some very rough blows. While the royals were able to mend and heal, moving forward over the past fifteen years, on November 16, 2010, there was no doubt Kate Middleton, by William's side, was about to usher in a new era for this royal family.  Westminster Abbey, with its rich royal history spanning back to its inception in the mid-10th century, was the appropriate building to host this historic wedding.  

Westminster Abbey Facebook
A day that had started so commonly had certainly been sprinkled with some royal pixie-dust. The excitement was just beginning, too, as the entire world geared up for the televised wedding slated for April 29, 2011. William and Kate were planning to release official engagement photos, the couple were to undertake a tour of the United Kingdom, and of course...what would Kate wear? Most of all, none of us, including Kate, could wait for Miss Middleton to step into Westminster and officially become our Princess! 

A very Happy Sunday and Happy Royal Engagement Day to you all! 


  1. Five years, how time flies!!! Amazing. Another five and it's a decade (and personally, I can't wait to see more of Prince George and Princess Charlotte!). Thank you for all the wonderful work that you do on this blog. Silvia.

  2. I was worried about Catherine that day. Having been a huge Diana fan at first, then watched her implode, and eventually end her days the way she did...I feared for KM's happiness and William's "stability" but so far, so good.

  3. thank you for this. when did she go from Kate to Catherine?

  4. Thank you for the recap! It’s still a thrill to look back on it, even 7 years out!!

  5. Such a lovely write up!


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