A College Pal Remembers

updated 05/16/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/16/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

New Jersey native Laura Warshauer, 27, arrived at Scotland's St. Andrews University in September 2001-and found herself living in the St. Salvator's Hall dormitory with fellow freshmen Prince William (down the hall) and Kate Middleton (one floor below). She soon became friends with both. Now a singer-songwriter living in Los Angeles, she reminisces about watching their relationship blossom.

We were in one of the common areas of the dorm when I first met Kate. She just radiated this incredible energy. She was seated and wearing a brightly colored sweater over a collared shirt and she had incredible long curly hair. She just had this natural sort of presence.

The first time I met Will was actually right outside my dorm room. He put out his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Will." And it was unbelievable how natural it was. He's a real person, and more than anything, you're struck by that. I remember going into Kate's room and talking casually one evening just like any two college students. I'm sitting on her bed and we're talking about our dads. She always struck me as very fashionable, and even her dorm room, being neat and organized, reflected that.

I remember we were celebrating my birthday one night, and I spilled red wine, and Will was sitting across from me and he was like, "Oh, just put white wine over it." And I wound up pouring a whole lot of white wine over it. And then he's like, "Gotcha!" It was amazing to celebrate my birthday with this group of people and have Will singing "Happy Birthday." He gave me this stuffed seal with this little backpack on it that he had picked up at the local supermarket, Tesco. I thought that was so sweet.

I was at a party [on Nov. 1, 2001] where they were auctioning people off for charity, and Will bid £200 for Kate. They'd been dancing together that night, and it wasn't surprising at all that he was bidding on her, and it was obvious he was going to win. And she was very cool about it. That was still very early on for them, but they were cute. They definitely had chemistry.

There was also a birthday party in someone's flat another night that fall. This girl just wouldn't let up on Will. She was trying to entice him and was being unrelenting, and he's just trying to be polite, and it's really obvious he'd like to get out of the situation and he's not quite sure what to do. And all of a sudden, Kate walks up and puts her arms around him, and he immediately-it was almost like they had rehearsed this-turned to the girl and said, "Sorry, I have a girlfriend," pointing to Kate, who has her arms around him. And then he looks at Kate and mouths, almost in an exaggerated way, "Thank you." Like, "You just saved me there." She was the best friend helping him out-they weren't even dating at the time.

Whenever Kate was in the room, Will was obviously paying attention to her. When we'd be sitting at lunch in the dining hall and the two of them would be talking, it was amazing to see how natural it was, how they had so much to say to each other. [One time] we were in a coffee shop and Will got up to move her car for her. They had each other's backs.

Will and Kate became good friends, and that is often the best way to build a relationship. Looking back, there were all these small moments-certainly moments where I was like, "Wow, this could really be something." It's amazing to think I spent these really very personal times with the future King and Queen of England.

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