Prince William’s bride-to-be, Kate Middleton, appears to be a model princess — a discreet and grounded girl with just the right amount of glamour.
The 29-year-old has not put a foot wrong in her move from middle-class girl to future queen, no doubt delighting a palace worn down by the scandal of Charles and Diana’s divorce and the antics of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.
Just three generations ago, her maternal great-grandfather was a miner in northeast England, but a line of formidable women helped the family rise through the social ranks.
Kate was privately educated, bringing her into the same social circles as the future king.
Her reserve has opened her up to criticism that she lacks substance, but the poise with which she has performed her first official duties at William’s side — under huge pressure — has won her widespread praise.
Sporting a smile, she has gamely poured champagne over a lifeboat in Wales; worked the crowd on a trip to St Andrews University, Scotland, where she met William; and flipped pancakes in Belfast. Throughout, Kate has maintained her image as a normal girl, who just happened to have fallen in love with a prince. She is pretty but not intimidatingly so, slim but sporty, and her style is high-street rather than haute couture.
Her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, are self-made millionaires who met while she was an air hostess and he worked as ground crew.
They left jobs to start a business selling party supplies which made their fortune.
They sent Kate —the eldest of three children, born on January 9, 1982 —to the elite Marlborough College, where she played tennis, hockey and netball. She also spent time in Florence and Chile before studying art history at St Andrews. William and Kate’s modern romance is far removed from the short courtship of William’s parents which had the whiff of a union arranged by others. William’s cousin, Zara Phillips, reportedly refers to Kate as ‘Little Miss Perfect’.