Exclusive: Kate and Wills' landlady speaks!
It's was a strict 'no boys' zone for St Andrew's flat landlady Charlotte Smith. That's until Prince William came along, and even then it took her some convincing.
It seems like only yesterday that we saw Prince William on TV tottering around as a young Royal in over-sized suits at various Royal engagements with his little brother. And now he’s all grown-up, brimming with confidence and striding into adulthood with his wife-to-be Kate Middleton.
Kate and Wills met at St Andrew’s university in 2001 where she studied History of Art and he read Geography. Wills was rumoured to have paid £200 for a VIP seat at the charity fashion show where Middleton caught his eye in the now famous risqué frock that left little to the imagination.
After a year in halls, Kate and Wills decided to live together with two friends Fergus Boyd and Olivia Bleasdale in a shared flat in St Andrew’s where, it’s speculated, the young couple fell in love. We chatted to their landlady at the time Charlotte Smith, who told us what it was like to rent her house out to Royalty.
Tell us about the flat
It’s a Victorian terrace built in the Georgian style so it's four storeys high. We had the top two storeys which consisted of a very large sitting and dining room. We had one big twin bedroom, two single bedrooms and two double bedrooms. I think we must have bought it in 1993. Our daughter was up at St Andrew’s so we bought it as a buy-to-let for her and her friends.
And how did Prince William and Kate Middleton come to choose your flat to live in?
Traditionally we only accepted female 4th years, and we’d always done the letting of the flat by word of mouth. We’d asked the tenants who were leaving whether they’d heard of any responsible students who would like to take it. As it happened, one of the girls said that they had got some responsible people but the thing was that two of them were young men. We’d had an unfortunate experience with some boys in the flat once before and we were determined not to have young men there again. So I’d said no, not really, we don’t want to do that.
What was that bad experience, was it just boisterous students?
Broken furniture, broken windows - there was a lot of damage, so that put us off really. I said to this young lady we’d really rather not and she said ‘what if I were to tell you that it was Prince William?’. I said ‘I still don’t want to do it, thank-you. I’d rather not do that!’ because I didn’t know how he was going to behave off the leash, as it were. I said I’d talk to my husband about it and get back to her.
Did you ever suspect that she might not be telling the truth?
I had no reason not to. My husband and I discussed it and he talked me round. We were really quite surprised that they should choose my flat, but it was very nice with ample living space in the centre of town and it had the reputation for being one of the best flats for comfort in St Andrew’s.
We wanted to talk it over with our neighbours and they were alright with it so we decided that we would go ahead and let the flat to Prince William.
Did they try and get the price down?
No, not at all! It was very reasonably priced I have to say for what they had, so they no reason to try and negotiate.
When did you meet Prince William and Kate Middleton for the first time?
We arranged to meet Kate Middleton, Fergus and Olivia before they moved in but we thought we’d better not ask to see Prince William because we thought his credit rating must be quite good. But he insisted on meeting us. We happened to be up there doing a flat check and there he was suddenly, just out of the blue!
And was he friendly?
Very friendly, very charming, he came across as a thoroughly nice man.
She was very friendly. She had her younger brother there at the time, I think just visiting, and she was very caring, making sure that he knew what was going on. They came across as a very nice group of people.
Were Wills and Kate in a relationship at that point?
I couldn’t comment on that. I imagine that they all got on very well together, decided to take the flat and whatever happened then happened.
Was there a lot of security put in place?
It was incredibly complicated and started about three months before they moved in. We had optical fibre links to the police station so that anybody crawling up the roof would set off an alarm. There were security cameras in every room. We had burst-proof curtains, a bullet proof door and regular police patrols up and down the street.
And who would have to foot the bill for all of this?
That would be the responsibility of the Home Office.
Were they good tenants? Did they ever break anything?
No, nothing at all. They were ideal. We tried to treat them like normal tenants and I think the town itself accepted Prince William as he was - he would walk into the shop, ride his bike.
The press got all sorts of weird ideas about where he was living and the sort of security he was supposed to have - we read one report where he was supposed to have steel walls which we know for a fact wasn’t the case! He really had a very normal student life up there.
Whether through patriotism, romance or the prospect of an extra national holiday, Britain seems gripped by Royal Wedding fever....