Prince William and Kate Middleton’s relationship has always appeared the picture of love and respect, though early on, it was far from a fairy tale. Tabloids have speculated the truth for years, but now, the Duchess of Cambridge has finally decided to come clean once and for all about her infamous rough patch with the future King of England.

The roller coaster love story began back in 2001, when William and Kate met while studying at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. As luck would have it, they both wound up dorming in St. Salvator’s Hall, and through a mutual social circle the two became fast friends.

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Then, in their second year of school, things began to heat up. William and Kate shared an apartment with a group of schoolmates, and it was while living in close proximity that feelings began to develop.

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The butterflies reached their peak when, during a charity fashion show, a slack-jawed William watched Kate strut across the stage in a sheer dress. But according to the prince himself, he’d known well before that that Kate was the one.

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“When I first met Kate, I knew there was something very special about her,” William once recalled. “I knew there was possibly something that I wanted to explore there.”

The two began dating, keeping their relationship on the hush hush, though during a ski trip in 2004 a nosy photographer inadvertently outed them while they were cozied up on the slopes. Royal watchers were thrilled by the news, though that didn’t mean things were about to get any easier.

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Following graduation the couple went long-distance, with William beginning military training in Southwestern England and Kate moving to London to work for her parents. Yet even without her royal beau around, the paparazzi’s fascination with Kate soon became an obsession.

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In fact, things got so bad in 2006 that Kate had to get her own 24-hour security detail from the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Department. Speculation suggested that this increased protection meant a royal engagement was on the way — boy, were they wrong.

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That’s because, in 2007, William broke things off with Kate over the phone, claiming he just didn’t want to get married. A breakup like that was embarrassing enough, though it was the circumstances that’d led up to it that left Kate feeling “humiliated.”

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Evidently, William’s late-night lifestyle had weighed heavily on their relationship, with pictures of him with girls at London clubs emerging in the tabloids each week. Kate, however, hadn’t been ready to give up just yet.

According to one source, Kate “did everything she could to make him stay” by “playing a waiting game one minute and then hard-to-get the next.” But after photos of him flirting and dancing with a girl at London’s Boujis nightclub began circulating, things quickly broke down.

Following the split, Kate decided to get away from England for a bit, heading over to Ireland for a vacation with her mom. Kate was understandably devastated by the breakup, though she wouldn’t have to deal with a broken heart for long.

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Just a few months later, Kate was spotted at a Princess Diana tribute concert just a few rows back from William. Speculation swirled about the couple’s relationship status, but pretty soon, the rumors were confirmed: William and Kate were back together!

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Shortly after in 2010, Kate joined William in moving to Wales after he was posted there to train as a search-and-rescue pilot. This newly “domestic” situation was far different from William’s former partying ways, though by this point, marriage was no longer off the table.

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In fact, William even went out and got a ring, though nerves got the best of him more than handful of times. He actually carried the ring around with him for three whole weeks, never wanting to miss out on the perfect moment to pop the question.

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That moment came later that year while the two were vacationing in Kenya. The ring was actually the one worn by his mother, Princess Diana, featuring a 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire set in white gold and surrounded by solitaire diamonds.

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Plenty of fuss was made about the future king’s engagement, and the soon-to-be Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sat down for countless interviews in the months leading up to their April 2011 wedding. Unsurprisingly, the couple’s infamous rough patch was a consistent topic of conversation.

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“We were both very young,” William explained. “[We] were sort of both finding ourselves as such and being different characters and stuff, it was very much trying to find our own way and we were growing up, and so it was just sort of a bit of space and a bit of things like that and it worked out for the better.”

Kate felt similarly about their split, reflecting on the initial moments when the heartbreak was at its worst for her: “I think I, at the time, wasn’t very happy about it, but actually it made me a stronger person.”

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“You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realized,” she continued. “Or I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you’re younger. I really valued that time for me as well although I didn’t think it at the time, looking back on it.”

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Since then, it’s been smooth sailing for the Duke and Duchess (though the tabloids will likely tell you otherwise). However, it might be time for William to pass on a bit of his relationship knowledge to his baby brother, as Prince Harry’s marriage has recently hit a few rough patches of its own.

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The consequences of Harry’s devotion to Meghan have loomed large over the Sussexes since the early days of their marriage, though it wasn’t until “Megxit” that the sense that he was giving up way too much for her really took hold. On paper, there did appear to be some truth to support this belief.

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Harry was forced to relinquish the title of His Royal Highness, the defining style of his association with the crown. Without it, Harry can now no longer formally represent the Queen in any capacity, though the extent of this loss goes far deeper than just a little distance from his grandma.

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Without the HRH distinction, Harry also loses state funding for his many projects and charitable efforts and even has to repay $3 million in taxpayer money for renovations made at his Buckingham Palace residency. But the worst blow of all was to something no amount of money could ever buy…

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His military titles and appointments. Harry was reportedly distraught after the Queen told him he could no longer retain his military roles after leaving the royal family — given his history with the armed forces, it’s not hard to see why.

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For nine years, Harry served as an officer in the Blues and Royals, a regiment of the Household Cavalry in the British Army. The prince trained in both ground and aerial combat, and he even completed two tours of Afghanistan.

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After retiring from active service in 2015, Harry became heavily involved in supporting veterans. He founded the Invictus Games, a Paralympic-style sporting competition for wounded soldiers, as well as a number of other military focused foundations — still, Harry felt there was something missing.

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The prince confided in friends that he “missed the camaraderie” of the military, a feeling that was only exacerbated by the loss of his titles. Fortunately, Harry had a lifelong hobby to turn to in order to cope.

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Since childhood, both Prince Harry and Prince William have been avid hunters, often seen participating in the annual Sandringham Boxing Day shoots at the Queen’s Norfolk estates. Unsurprisingly, their love of hunting has stirred quite a bit of controversy over the years.

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Both princes are outspoken animal conservationists, resulting in some labeling them as hypocrites. In fact, just a day before William was set to launch a high-profile campaign against the illegal hunting of wildlife in 2014, the brothers were actually on a deer and wild boar hunting trip across Spain.

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That same year, Harry made headlines when a 10-year-old photo of the prince standing over the body of a water buffalo he’d shot leaked to the press. The scandal blew over relatively quick, though there’s likely one person who’s still deeply affected by the image.

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The Duchess of Sussex herself. A fervent animal rights activist, many believed Meghan would have a serious problem with Harry’s hunting. Things seemed alright at first, though by Christmas 2018, cracks began to show.

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It started with rumors that Harry would forgo that year’s Boxing Day hunt, presumably out of respect for Meghan’s feelings. Though palace sources were quick to dismiss these claims as “completely untrue,” the next few months were far more telling.

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Harry remained absent from regular shoots at Balmoral and Sandringham even despite pleas from his brother and father to join them. This was sign enough that the prince’s hobby wouldn’t exactly fly with his new bride, though it was a rather unlikely source that finally put it all out in the open.

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In a 2020 interview with Radio Times, famed primatologist and close friend of the Sussexes Jane Goodall revealed what’s really been going with the former royals. In addition to claiming Harry was “struggling” in post-royal life, she also shared her thoughts on his hunting future.

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“I think Harry will stop because Meghan doesn’t like hunting,” Goodall explained. “I suspect that is over for him.” But was this still just speculation? As it turns out, Harry had already begun phasing the hobby out of his life even before Goodall made her claims.

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In late 2019, an unnamed British hunter secured a private deal to by firearms from an anonymous third party. Shortly after the deal was complete, the hunter discovered that the guns had been owned by Prince Harry.

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“[The hunter] bought them because he wanted them, not because they belonged to Harry, but he was quite chuffed when he found out,” a friend of the buyer revealed. Yet these weren’t just any firearms: they were two of the most prized in Harry’s collection.

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The guns in question were two handmade Purdey hunting rifles, valued at over $60,000. A pretty penny to pay for a pair of firearms, Harry likely sold them for a lot less. With Meghan on his case, he probably didn’t have the leisure of holding out for a prime offer.

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Harry’s decision to give up hunting will likely only serve to further the divide between the Sussexes and the rest of the family, as the sport is a long-held tradition among British royals. At the moment, however, Harry and Meghan have something much larger on their plates.

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Without support from the crown, the Duke and Duchess have been busy setting the foundation for life as semi-ordinary citizens, including where they’ll reside and how they’ll generate income. But the biggest decision the two must make now hits a lot closer to home than houses or jobs.

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As made official on March 31st, 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were no longer considered working members of the royal family. While they are still welcome around Granny Liz’s palace anytime they please, their role shifts did have tangible consequences.

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Specifically, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have to decide on what to do about their names. Don’t worry, Harry is still considered a prince, not that the world would ever be able to un-flip that switch of perception regarding the red-headed royal.

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The ambiguity surrounds which last names Harry and Meghan will end up choosing. As it stands, they could very well pick different surnames. For now, they are technically Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 

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It’s totally their choice if they want to follow in the footsteps of Prince William and Duchess Kate, who use Cambridge as their last names for their kid’s school and on social media, which would make them the Sussexes.

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There’s also the possibility that Archie wouldn’t share the same last name as his parents. Since he falls into the category of royalty without an official title, he would automatically be considered a Mountbatten-Windsor.

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It became an official rule in 1973 that non-title holding royals would take the last name Mountbatten-Windsor. However, coming to that conclusion wasn’t easy. It was a hotly debated topic among the family for years that played out in public.

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The last name debacle originated from another young couple trying to coming to terms with how the intricacies of royalty impact a marriage — Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Ultimately, Philip refused to back down.

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Back when Philip first started flirting with a royal marriage alliance with then-Princess Elizabeth, he had the most exhaustingly long title in existence: Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.

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In efforts to have a more politically neutral title, Philip opted to take on the surname of his grandparents — Mountbatten. He was under the impression that his children would take his last name, but the optics of royalty complicated everything.

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It turned out that it wasn’t Philip’s call to make. Prime Minister Winston Churchill was not on board. He weighed in on the issue, suggesting the children bear the name Windsor as per the previous tradition.

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Other members of the royal family got involved, including Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother Queen Mary. She sided with Churchill on this one, which only further inflamed the debate, all the way to the floor of Parliament.

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In the end, the Queen was forced to make a tough call. She sided with Churchill and her family so their children were considered Windsors, though Prince Philip was livid. He understandably felt it his right to have some control over his own children’s names.

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When Queen Elizabeth was heavily pregnant with her third child, Prince Andrew, Philip must have finally been able to convince her. She announced she officially changed her name to Mountbatten-Windsor, and the rest is history. But back to Harry and Meghan.

So it’s well within the realm of possibility that Meghan and Harry could choose to become Mountbatten-Windsors as is the tradition in royal families to take a name consistent with one’s children. Though, Harry himself once deviated from that pattern.

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During his army training, Prince Harry used Wales as his last name. His fellow soldiers and commanding officers knew him as Officer Cadet Wales, which he chose to honor his father Charles, Prince of Wales. 

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Then there’s Meghan Markle, whose name packs a perfect alliterative punch. It even rhymes with sparkle, which you have to admit is ideal for someone famous. Now that she’s no longer on the payroll of the crown, she could certainly stick with her birth name.

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Before entering the royal scene, Meghan Markle earned her own notoriety as an actress on the USA television show Suits. Then, after their official royal exit, Meghan announced her return to show business by way of narrating the Disney Plus documentary Elephant.

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For this project, Meghan agreed to sign on in exchange for a donation to the organization Elephants Without Borders, however, she and Harry are now fully cleared to earn their own money. So if she sticks with acting, it might be advantageous to keep Markle.

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Prince Harry’s likely last name options are Wales, Sussex, or Mountbatten-Windsor, though there have been a few wistful suggestions of Harry Markle. It wouldn’t be outside of the realm of possibility for Harry to make a somewhat progressive move by taking his wife’s name.

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After all, Harry isn’t afraid to make headlines. He and his royal family members are no strangers to creating a scandal for far more controversial actions than honoring their wives with a hyphenated last name.

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