LONDON (AP) - Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton
have ended their four-year relationship, dashing hopes of a royal
wedding to rival that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
The Sun newspaper reported Saturday that the couple had reached
an "amicable agreement" to separate. Sources confirmed the split
to the Press Association news agency.
William's Clarence House office refused to comment, saying it
did not discuss the prince's private life, but royal sources did
not deny the report, tacitly acknowledging it was true.
The newspaper said the split was caused by the huge pressures on
the young couple and by William's career in the army. The second in
line to the throne graduated from Sandhurst military academy in
December and is undergoing further training at an army base in
News of the break-up took many royal-watchers by surprise. It
was widely thought the couple would soon announce their engagement;
one bookmaker was so certain of a royal wedding it had stopped
taking bets on it.
Ingrid Seward, editor of Majesty magazine, said the couple's
relationship had reached an impasse.
"They can't go forward because William is in the army and he's
dedicated the next few years of his life to that, so he's not in a
position to get married," Seward said.
"They had lived together when they were at university, so in a
way their relationship has become more difficult. They have seen a
lot less of each other and are under a huge amount of pressure."
The prince, 24, and Middleton, 25, met as students at St.
Andrew's University in Scotland in 2001 and had been dating since
Middleton has been the focus of intense media pressure for
months as rumors spread that the couple would announce their
engagement. She has frequently had to dodge paparazzi on her way to
work as a retail accessories buyer, in scenes that evoked the
romance of William's father, Prince Charles, and the then-Lady
Diana Spencer a quarter-century ago.
Charles and Diana married at St. Paul's Cathedral in 1981, in a
televised ceremony watched by millions around the world. They had
two sons, William and Harry, but divorced in 1996 after admissions
of adultery on both sides. Diana died in a car crash in August 1997
Last month, Middleton lodged a complaint of media harassment
with Britain's press watchdog, the Press Complaints Commission. She
settled the claim earlier this month following an apology and
admission of error by the Daily Mirror newspaper.