The Start of Prince William and Kate Middleton's Love Story

A look back at the university years when the royal romance started.

ByABC News
April 12, 2011, 11:53 AM

April 12, 2011— -- It's said that as many as one in 10 students marry a fellow student from St. Andrews University. Coined "Britain's top match-making university," this school has a reputation for students meeting their future husband or wife.

"St. Andrews was so small, so close, so intimate – and so intense – that it, it did lend itself to those sorts of relationships," said ABC News Royal Correspondent Katie Nicholl.

The tiny town surrounding St. Andrews didn't offer much of a nightlife, so Prince William had to get creative when it came to winning over Kate Middleton.

"When I was trying to impress Kate I was trying to cook these amazing fancy dinners and what would happen was I would burn something, something would overspill, something would catch fire," Prince William said.

Price William Arrives at St. Andrews

When William first arrived at St. Andrews in 2001, he tried to be as normal a student as possible. He shopped at the grocery store and bought candy from the local candy shop. Students and professors were told not to speak to the media, and the media mostly stayed away from the university, giving the prince his first glimpse of life out of the spotlight.

"I think that the students here, and everyone who worked with him, and with everyone who was here at the time, would think that this is probably the four most normal years of the, of the man's life," said Stephen Magee, vice principal at St. Andrews University.

It seems Prince William did fit in as a normal student, right down to living up to the school's reputation of meeting his future bride.

Before the two dated, they were friends for more than a year at St. Andrews and lived as flatmates. In an interview after their engagement, Middleton talked about first meeting her future prince.

"Well I actually think I went bright red when I met you and sort of scuttled off, feeling very shy about meeting you," Middleton said.

But shy or not, she apparently knew from the start that an encounter with Prince William on campus was a possibility.

"On pretty good authority, we know that Kate wouldn't have gone to St Andrews if William hadn't been there," said Royal Historian Robert Lacey. "She went up there to try and get Prince William and she got him."

The Spark that Ignited the Flame

It's believed the storybook fairytale started March 27, 2002 at a St. Andrews University student fashion show when the first sparks ignited between the two. Kate Middleton was selected to model the infamous see-though dress that is said to have caught Prince William's eye.

"Kate hadn't told him exactly what she'd be wearing. So, when she strode out in uh, well, her underwear and a see through dress, I mean, William was gobsmacked," Nicholl said. "William just turned to [his friend] Fergus and said, 'Wow. Kate's hot.'"

Andrew Sands was one of five people who were responsible for selecting models for the show. He said Middleton was chosen because of her popularity.

"She didn't dress in a sort of Euro-trash revealing way, it was always very homely," Sands said. "So people were desperate to see her in slightly more scanty attire."

After the show the prince apparently did not waste any time making a move on Middleton when he leaned in to kiss her at a party that night.

"She was, I think, as shocked as she was flattered. And she pulled away, because, at the time, she was dating a fourth-year student called Rupert Finch," Nicholl said. "Well, that was the start of their relationship, and poor Rupert Finch. Well, he didn't stand a chance, did he?"

For more on how Kate Middleton caught her prince, tune into a Barbara Walters special. "The Royal Wedding: A Modern Fairytale" April 18 at 10 p.m. ET.