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    Prince William Back on Royal Market

    Looks like it won't be a fairy-tale ending after all.

    After nearly five years as a couple, Prince William and his girlfriend, Kate Middleton, have called it quits in what's being billed as an amicable split.

    News of the breakup between the St. Andrews University college sweethearts comes just months after reports of an impending royal engagement reached a fever pitch in England.

    A spokesman for Clarence House, the office of William's father, Prince Charles, has kept mum about the split, saying, "Prince William's personal life is private and, as such, we do not comment on it."

    The uncoupling, first reported by Britain's Sun, also comes a month after pictures surfaced of the young royal, either through Photoshop magic or his own volition, groping a female partygoer, a picture that caused a stir on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Still, according to British media reports, the split was mutual, amicable and no third party was involved. Moreover, they claim it has been a long time coming and is largely being credited to the 24-year-old royal's newfound commitment to the military life.

    Second in line to the throne, William graduated—or, as those cheeky Brits call it, "passed out"—from the prestigious Sandhurst Military Academy last December and in March began a two-and-a-half-month assignment nearly 125 miles away from Middleton's London home base. According to the Sun, since William's move to Dorset, the couple saw each other no more than once a week.

    The young couple first met in 2001, while studying at Scotland's St. Andrews University. By October of 2002, they left their student digs and moved into an apartment along with a few friends, coming out as a twosome shortly after. Both graduated in 2005, when rumors of an imminent royal wedding kicked up steam.

    Despite William's public insistence that, at 24, he is too young to marry and likely wouldn't be popping any questions until he reached the very specific age of 28, such was the anticipation for a marriage announcement that Middleton quickly became one of the British paparazzi's prime targets.

    Clarence House eventually stepped in last year, looking to head off another Princess Diana-level tragedy by making a formal request to, quite simply, back off.

    The attention briefly subsided but kicked up again in December, when Middleton not only attended her beau's military graduation, but was invited to Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace, signaling that she was being eased into meetings with Queen Elizabeth II. The matriculation ceremony was the first time Middleton had been a guest of the prince's at an official royal engagement in which the queen was also present.

    The press again cried wolf in January, when they anticipated that Middleton's 25th birthday might be the ideal time for William to make her a princess.

    Last month, Middleton even lodged a complaint of media harassment with Britain's Press Complaints Commission. She received an apology and admission of error by the Daily Mail.

    On the bright side, her problems with the press are probably over. 

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