Kate Middleton is set to turn 40 but the royal was left 'crushed' on a previous birthday by Prince William's decision, it's been said.

The mum-of-three was devastated when she had to say goodbye to Prince William just before her 27th birthday, according to new accounts.

The Duchess of Cambridge will celebrate her 40th birthday on Sunday (January 9) along with husband and children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — but back on the same day in 2009, things were a lot different.

William had made the shock announcement that he would be leaving to join the RAF in September 2008, a decision that left his then-girlfriend stunned and upset.

After having recently finished with the Household Cavalry, he was faced with the decision of whether to return the post, change directions in his military career, or quit the forces and begin royal duties full-time.

Rumours had been circulating for months beforehand that the Prince would be proposing to Kate soon, but she instead found out that she would be spending long months without her sweetheart.

According to The Mirror, it is thought he chose the RAF as it would give him extra time and freedom before starting royal life.

Royal expert Katie Nicholl wrote in her book 'Kate: The Future Queen': "With that single decision, Kate's life was turned upside down.

"She had expected a proposal once William had completed his military training, but instead, she was forced to accept that there would be no engagement any time soon.

"Kate would have to wait even longer."

The couple took a break over the Christmas period together up in Scotland, but by the time of Kate's birthday he was already signed up to begin service.

William would then spend the next 18 months of training in Shropshire followed by two more years at a remote location somewhere in Britain.

Ms Nicholl commented that while Kate "supported his desires and ambitions", privately she was "crushed" to be given the news.

Happily, it seems absence only made the heart grow fonder, and the Prince eventually popped the question after settling down in 2010.

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