The Prince and Princess of Wales‘ relationship has captivated royal watchers since the early days of their romance as students at St Andrews University. The 19-year-olds crossed paths after moving into the same halls of residence, becoming close friends before striking up a romantic relationship in their second year.
Naturally, this was a private time away from the public eye for the pair and little is known about how they got on. Now former royal butler Grant Harrold, who worked for King Charles III for seven years, has lifted the lid on the couple’s blossoming relationship. Describing their early days, he says the lovestruck pair, who now have three children, were ‘like any boyfriend and girlfriend.
He added: “[They weren’t] any different to anyone else, it’s mad saying that when you think about who they are, but there wasn’t anything different.
“What I liked was that Kate, being a girlfriend and obviously not a member of the family, would be with me and the other staff and she was so polite, friendly, and fun and making jokes.
“I remember there were days I had off where I’d be running an errand or I’d left something up at Highgrove [House] and they were around, so you’d just catch up with them.
“It was always fun and it was always nice that I got on so well with them because they’d then ask me to travel the country with them.
“When my phone used to go off and it was William, all my friends would be like that’s so cool, but to me it was normal. That was the relationship I had with them.
“I think it was really special and not unusual, actually, because in a private home you’re expected to get on with the family. As for the younger members of the family, you’re not employed by them, but you end up having a relationship with them as well.
“There’s very few people that the Royals actually get to know, so you do feel lucky that you were trusted with that.”
Recalling his time in the royal household, royalist Grant says he had a dream aged 12 that he would meet the Queen – and wrote a letter expressing his admiration.
He said: “I wrote to the Queen a couple of times, then in 2003 for whatever reason they finally came back to me saying there was a position. I had six months of interviews, I got to meet Prince Charles at the end of it and they offered me a job. I stayed with Charles for seven years.
“Some people say seven years isn’t a long time, but in the world of being a butler, seven years of having somebody in your house living with you, it’s quite intense.”
His unique role meant he watched the family dynamic unfold and grow – as Camilla and Kate both entered the fold. Recalling the early days, Grant added: “I was there when Charles married the Duchess of Cornwall, I was there when the boys went to university, when William first met Kate and they were dating – and then they stopped dating for a little while which was horrifying to me because I adored both of them, luckily they got back together.
“I was there for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s 60th wedding anniversary. There were lots of things over the years that I was lucky to be a part of and I even got to dance with the Queen at one of those balls I had watched on television 12 years before.
“Thinking about it, 12 years isn’t that long of a time to actually make those dreams a reality.”
Describing his day to day duties, Grant added: “The easiest way to explain it is, it’s like what you see in Downton Abbey, butlers are there to look after the family – albeit quite a famous family – look after guests, serve meals and drinks… but what people don’t realise is that you’re also kind of a personal assistant and expected to make things run [smoothly] for them.
“If you can do something for somebody and it doesn’t impact their day for it to happen, then that’s being a good butler. They want someone who is going to make things happen.
“I had the opportunity to look after William and Kate and Prince Harry and that was fun because not only did I get to know them on duty, but I got to know them off duty too.
“We went to the same pubs, we ended up having a lot of the same friends – I always knew who they were and respected who they were, but I got on really well with them.
“It’s quite strange now, when you see them as a family and as senior Royals, to think that the days I was with them they’d only just left university.”