Part of the vicarious thrill of watching The Crown is seeing how the show dramatizes the lives of the rich and famous. While it’s interesting to see how the writers and producers handle portrayals of deceased royals like Princess Diana, it’s arguably more fun to see how the show paints living royals like Prince William and Kate Middleton, the future King and Queen of England.
Recently, an episode of The Crown brought to life the famous (some would say infamous) moment where Kate Middleton appeared on the runway in a scandalous dress while she and William were both students at St. Andrews. But how did this encounter go down in real life, and is there any truth to the rumors that seeing a scantily-clad Kate made William fall in love? Keep reading to find out!
How ‘The Crown’ portrayed the early romance of Prince William and Kate Middleton
Perhaps the biggest difference in The Crown’s portrayal of the early relationship between William and Kate is the show’s insistence that the two already had strong romantic feelings for one another. In the finest traditions of a soap opera, the show painted the two as lovers destined for one another but whose relationships with other people kept them from getting together.
In reality, the future King and Kate Middleton were only friends at the time. While seeing Kate strut around in a slinky, see-through dress may have changed William’s feelings (more on this later), they weren’t star-crossed lovers when William attended the “Art of Seduction” charity fashion show. In fact, the most intimate thing William had planned regarding Kate before the show was potentially asking her to be his roommate!
The future King and Queen were dating other people at the time
As we noted, William and Kate were both dating other people by the time the notorious fashion show rolled around. This is important to note because despite what The Crown might have shown you, Kate wasn’t willing to start snogging someone other than her boyfriend after the show, even if it was the future King.
It’s also worth noting that the two hadn’t known each other all that long by this time. They had only met six months before this, though they had a pretty solid friendship. That friendship was so strong, in fact, that William leaned on Kate for support when he was thinking about leaving university altogether.
The real dress is different from what we saw in ‘The Crown’
For all the talent of the actors in The Crown, it’s fair to say that the real star of the runway episode is the dress itself. The real dress is well-known to the public, and it’s a bit of a thrill imagining someone as prim and proper as Kate Middleton dressing in something so revealing.
Because of this, you might be surprised to discover that the dress in the show is neither the real dress nor a completely accurate replica. As costume designer Amy Roberts disclosed to Vogue, they “didn’t get permission to copy it from the designer” so they “had to recreate it” by changing a few things but emphasizing “the most important elements,” namely “the transparency and the strapless silhouette.”
Where is the dress now?
Kate Middleton may have mixed feelings about this revealing dress, but it’s undeniably part of history…both her personal history with William and the history of the Royal Family. Despite its relative importance, the dress spent years obscured in darkness. That’s quite literal: it was designed by Kate’s fellow student Charlotte Todd, and the dress spent nearly a decade in Todd’s mother’s closet.
When William and Kate went public with news of their engagement in 2010, Todd realized she had a valuable piece of royal history in her possession. Eventually, she was able to sell it at an auction for a cool £78,000, or about $98,868. Not bad at all for a dress whose materials only cost the designer £30!
Dropping the jaw of the future King
As usual, The Crown took many liberties when adapting Kate Middleton’s runway moment and subsequent romance with William for the small screen. However, one of the things the show didn’t really have to embellish was William’s reaction…he was instantly smitten with Kate. Ironically, the show left out two other alleged details about William’s reaction, including that he paid £200 and summed up his thoughts on the show in three words to a friend: “wow, Kate’s hot.”
In the show, the two meet up at an afterparty and William confesses he is “bordering on obsessed” with Kate. The two kiss, but the moment is ruined when William is told that his great-grandmother has passed away. In real life, this isn’t when William heard the bad news, and he wasn’t quite as smooth as his onscreen counterpart: when the real William tried to kiss Kate, she turned him down because they were dating other people.
Fortunately, neither William nor Kate could ignore the spark between them. Just a few months later, these two were dating. And by all accounts, it’s possible their epic love affair might have never occurred if Kate hadn’t turned the prince’s eyes by wearing this very revealing dress on the runway!