It's been 13 years since Prince William and Kate revealed a huge secret they'd been keeping

Prince William and Kate revealed a momentous and well-kept secret 13 years ago after managing to keep it private for several weeks

Prince William and Kate revealed their secret 13 years ago. Seen here the Prince and Princess of Wales visit Moray in 2023
(Image credit: Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

It’s been 13 years since Prince William and Kate revealed a huge secret they’d been keeping and not everyone will have remembered this major royal moment.

As working royals and the future King and Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales are prominent public figures and so much of their lives is documented. However, Prince William and Kate once managed to keep a massive secret private for several weeks. It might seem like just yesterday that Prince William and Kate’s engagement was announced but it was actually exactly 13 years ago at St James’s Palace on 16th November 2010. The exciting news was met with excitement and it was confirmed that the couple had actually got engaged weeks before.

Prince William and Kate pose for photographs in the State Apartments of St James's Palace

(Image credit: Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

As revealed on the Royal Family’s official website, the now-Prince of Wales popped the question to Kate in October during a “private holiday in Kenya”. The statement added that Prince William had “informed” Queen Elizabeth and “other close members of his family” and had “sought the permission” of Michael Middleton.

This meant that Prince William and Kate had kept the news of their engagement a secret for several weeks, later confirmed by the future King to be “about three weeks”. Given the amount of proposal speculation that had surrounded them for so many years, this was a huge achievement.

It seems likely that they chose to delay the announcement 13 years ago so they could have a few weeks to enjoy this special moment privately before sharing their happiness with the world. 

Prince William and Kate Middleton officially announce their engagement

(Image credit: Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)
The Making of a Royal Romance by Katie Nicholl | £8.92 at Amazon

The Making of a Royal Romance by Katie Nicholl | £8.92 at Amazon

Published in 2011, this provides a fascinating insight into the lives of Prince William and Kate. It reflects back on her childhood, her close family and her romance with the future King. The book goes up to the preparations for the couple's fairytale wedding and also focuses on their life in Wales together.

Prince William had put heartfelt thought into his proposal, as he explained in the couple’s engagement interview with Tom Bradby.

“It was about three weeks ago on holiday in Kenya,” Prince William declared. “We had a little private time away together with some friends. And I just decided that it was the right time really. We’d been talking about marriage for a while, so it wasn’t a massively big surprise, but I took her up somewhere nice in Kenya and proposed.” 

Kate then confirmed, “It was very romantic, there’s a true romantic in there.”

She certainly seemed to have been impressed with the thoughtfulness and romance of Prince William’s proposal and so it’s understandable that they’d have wanted to keep the news private for a while. It’s even been suggested that the late Queen Elizabeth was “surprised” when Prince William and Kate finally made the announcement on 16th November.

Catherine, Princess of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William attend Vernon Park during a Diamond Jubilee visit to Nottingham on June 13, 2012

(Image credit: Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

As per The Mirror, royal author Katie Nicholl claimed in her book, Kate: The Future Queen, that Queen Elizabeth had been having breakfast with Prince Philip when her grandson had called. The author alleged that whilst Her Majesty was “thrilled” she was reportedly a “little surprised at the suddenness of the announcement”.

A source apparently claimed that, "The Queen had no idea that there would be an announcement that morning. It was rather hurried, because William was apparently worried about it leaking out."

"William enjoyed outfoxing the media, and this was one announcement he wanted to make himself,” Katie Nicholl wrote. “The last thing he wanted was a newspaper getting the scoop, as had happened with his father's engagement to Camilla."

Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales following their wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey in 2011

(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Thankfully for the couple, Prince William and Kate revealed their secret exactly how and when they wanted to. They married five months later and this year celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary. Though it’s possible they might reflect and remember the actual day of the proposal a little more, the day their engagement was announced was a milestone moment.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!