America doesn't have an official royal couple to its name, but if we did, it would absolutely be Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Shawn Carter (aka Jay-Z). The world treats them like music royalty anyways, and Beyonce and Jay-Z’s relationship timeline proves exactly why they're deserving of that title.
Since the late ‘90s, fans have watched Beyoncé and Jay-Z grow from girl-group singer and aspiring rapper, respectively, into omnipresent artists and business moguls. Together, they form one of the world’s most powerful couples, professionally and romantically. Their story could have ended on their wedding day, April 4, 2008, as they lived happily ever after.
But since that fateful day, the couple has battled their way through countless rumors, infidelity, and public judgment, as well as birthed three beautiful children and celebrated tremendous accomplishments that fans could only dream of. Their relationship has only grown stronger as a result.
From their humble beginnings as the “’03 Bonnie and Clyde” to owning their excellence on the 2018 collaborative album EVERYTHING IS LOVE, Beyoncé and Jay-Z have come quite a long way on their journey, and fans are so proud. Take a look at their relationship timeline below.
1999-2000: Beyoncé & Jay-Z First Meet
Beyoncé first met her future husband when she was 18, as she told Seventeen during an interview in November 2008. That would've been somewhere in between September 1999 and August 2000.
2001: They Start Dating
In the same interview, Bey revealed she didn't actually start to date Jay-Z until she turned 19. "We were friends first for a year and a half before we went on any dates,” she later explained to Oprah Winfrey in an OWN interview. “We were on the phone for a year and a half, and that foundation is so important for a relationship. Just to have someone who you just like is so important, and someone [who] is honest.” The public started to suspect something, but the couple didn't go public just yet.
That year, the pair was also featured on the cover of Vanity Fair's music issue, alongside artists like Gwen Stefani, Jewel, and David Bowie — but they posed separately.
2002: They Release "Bonnie & Clyde '03"
Beyoncé and Jay-Z's first collaboration as a couple, "'03 Bonnie & Clyde," was released in October 2002. They still hadn't publicly confirmed their relationship, but the world ate up their song anyway, becoming a top-five hit on the Billboard Hot 100, their first of many together.
2003: "Crazy In Love" Comes Out
If "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" is the "Just Dance" of Bey and Jay's collaborations, then "Crazy In Love" is their "Bad Romance" (yes, they came way before Gaga, but just go with it). Beyoncé's breakout solo hit was released in May 2003, winning two Grammys and becoming an instant classic.
Given the lyrical content, and the fact that they had started going to basketball games together, it seemed that they couldn't hide their romance any longer. But they certainly tried. In fact, Jay-Z downplayed their relationship during an interview with Playboy in April 2003. "We're just cool," he said. "We're just friends." But not for long.
2004: They Attend The VMAs Together
Jay and Bey finally made it (kind of) official in August 2004 when they walked the MTV VMAs red carpet together.
2006: They Release Even More Songs Together
Following their public debut at the 2004 VMAs, all was relatively quiet until fall 2006, where both artists released albums that featured even more collaborations. On Sept. 4, her 25th birthday, Beyoncé released B'Day, which featured Jay-Z on two tracks: lead single "Deja Vu", and "Upgrade U," in which she dressed like him for the video. There's nothing cuter than a matching couple.
That November, Hova released Kingdom Come, in which Bey was featured on the highly underrated song "Hollywood." But he also made some confessions on the record. "I don't think it's meant to be, B / But she loves her work more than she does me / And honestly, at 23 / I would probably love my work more than I did she," he raps on the song "Lost One." Obviously, everything worked out in the end, but it was clear they had some issues to work out first.
2008: They Officially Tie The Knot
April 4, 2008 is a day that will go down in modern history (if it hasn't already). Beyoncé Knowles became Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, as she married Jay-Z in a very private ceremony at the rapper's penthouse apartment. According to a 2009 interview from Jay, "maybe 30" people were present at the wedding. As usual, the duo was initially tight-lipped about the affair, only confirming their nuptials later that year in separate interviews.
2010-2011: Beyoncé Announces Her Pregnancy
At the 2011 MTV VMAs, where they walked their first red carpet together years earlier, Beyoncé revealed that she was pregnant with their first child in the most iconic fashion: by revealing her belly to the adoring crowd after giving a knockout performance of "Love On Top." Jay-Z and Kanye West's audience reaction said it all.
However, Beyoncé revealed in her 2013 documentary Life Is But A Dream that they had suffered a miscarriage prior to this joyous moment. “About two years ago, I was pregnant for the first time,” she said. “And I heard the heartbeat, which was the most beautiful music I ever heard in my life … There’s no words that can express having a baby growing inside of you, so of course you want to scream it out and tell everyone. [Early into the pregnancy], I flew back to New York to get my check up — and no heartbeat.”
2012: Blue Ivy Is Born
Beyoncé and Jay-Z gave birth to their first child, Blue Ivy Carter, also known as the future Queen of Pop, on Jan. 7, 2012. The next month, the couple posted the first photos of their daughter on her Tumblr page. “We welcome you to share in our joy. Thank you for respecting our privacy during this beautiful time in our lives,” they wrote online.
2013: Bey's Doc Gives Fans A Closer Look At Their Love Story
Beyoncé's documentary Life Is But A Dream aired on HBO, which gave fans a rare look at some highs and lows of their relationship, including the miscarriage, celebrating their pregnancy, and going on a secret vacation together.
Later that year, the couple featured each other on their respective new albums yet again. Jay featured Bey on "Part II (On the Run)," a sequel to their first collaboration and the inspiration for their joint tours to come, while Bey featured Jay on "Drunk In Love," which could be interpreted as a sequel to "Crazy In Love," but is truly great in its own right.
2014: Elevatorgate Happens
In April 2014, the couple announced the On the Run Tour, their first co-headlining jaunt. A month later, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Solange Knowles attended the MET Gala together. Five days after the soiree, TMZ leaked video footage of what appeared to be Solange attacking Jay-Z in an elevator after an afterparty.
Nobody ever spoke out about what the physical altercation was about, but in the days following, the trio released a statement:
“There has been a great deal of speculation about what triggered the unfortunate incident. But the most important thing is that our family has worked through it. Jay and Solange each assume their share of responsibility for what has occurred. They both acknowledge their role in this private matter that has played out in the public. They both have apologized to each other and we have moved forward as a united family. The reports of Solange being intoxicated or displaying erratic behavior throughout that evening are simply false. At the end of the day families have problems and we’re no different. We love each other and above all we are family. We’ve put this behind us and hope everyone else will do the same.”
The trio acted like everything was OK in the months following. In August, Jay-Z and Blue Ivy presented Beyoncé with the MTV Video Vanguard Award at the 2014 VMAs, and that November, the three of them attended Solange's wedding to Alan Ferguson in New Orleans.
2016: Bey Drops Lemonade & Cheating Rumors Spread
On April 23, 2016, Beyoncé dropped a bomb in the form of Lemonade — no, not the drink, her record-breaking and universally acclaimed visual album. Lemonade tell the story of infidelity, going from the grieving stages of "Pray You Catch Me" to the anger of "Don't Hurt Yourself," and then working to reach forgiveness in the celebratory "All Night." Immediately, the internet started speculating that Beyoncé was telling her own story, meaning Jay-Z dared to cheat on the music titan.
No stories were confirmed at the time, but the couple continued to be spotted out and about throughout 2016, including at the final stop of her Formation World Tour, where Bey told the audience to "give it up for my man."
2017: Beyoncé Reveals They're Expecting Twins & Jay-Z Opens Up About Past Cheating
Beyoncé announced that she was pregnant with twins in February 2017, stopping the world once again (and being forced to postpone her Coachella performance to 2018). Then in April, the couple celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary with Beyoncé sharing photos and a montage video, set to her song "Die For You" to mark the occasion.
June also marked an important month for the couple. Jay-Z released his album 4:44, often described as his response to Lemonade. On the album, he opened up about his marriage and apologized for his betrayal, publicly confirming that he did indeed cheat. “I apologize, our love was one for the ages and I contained us,” he rapped, later adding, “And if my children knew, I don’t even know what I would do / If they ain’t look at me the same / I would prolly die with all the shame.”
The next month, Beyoncé confirmed on Instagram that the couple had welcomed twins Sir and Rumi Carter the month prior to mark their one-month birthday.
That November in a very candid T Magazine cover story, Jay opened up about how he and Bey got their marriage back on track after his indiscretions and confirmed that both Lemonade and 4:44 were informed by his betrayal.
“You know, most people walk away, and like divorce rate is like 50 percent or something ’cause most people can’t see themselves. The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself,” he said. “So, you know, most people don’t want to do that. You don’t want to look inside yourself. And so you walk away.”
2018: They Release EVERYTHING IS LOVE
After Beyoncé's historic Coachella performance, she and Jay embarked on a co-headlining stadium tour once again in 2018, this time named On the Run II. Shortly after the tour kicked off in June, the duo finally confirmed years of rumors that they created a joint album. Bey and Jay, calling themselves The Carters, released EVERYTHING IS LOVE, a celebratory and melancholy ode to their relationship and successes, both together and individually.
Revealing lyrics, like “You did some things to me / Boy you do some things to me / But love is deeper than your pain and I believe you can change" on the finale "LOVEHAPPY" once again confirmed that Jay-Z had cheated, but also that the duo worked to save their family and were now in a better place than ever.
If they could make it through all that, they can make it through anything. Long live the Carters.