Kate Middleton: The Next Royal Bride
The Royal Engagement Everyone Has Been Awaiting!
Royal watchers, wedding enthusiasts, and romantics have been all a-buzz over the engagement of England's Prince William to longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton. The engagement was formally announced on November 16, 2010, but the Prince had actually popped the question while on vacation in Kenya during October. Speculation has been running wild about when the couple will wed, what the royal wedding will be like, and above all, what Kate's wedding gown will look like. Learn more about the world's most famous engaged couple here.
Who is Kate Middleton?
Everyone knows about the parents of groom-elect Prince William. The first born child of the beloved Princess Diana and husband Prince Charles, Prince William has grown up in the public eye (at least to the extent that Princess Diana could not shield him from it). Due to their long courtship, many people were familiar with the name Kate Middleton before she became the fiancee of Prince William, but she is by no means as well known as her future husband. Particularly outside of Britain, where she has been newspaper fodder for years, the background of Miss Middleton may not be a familiar story, so here are the essentials: Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, nicknamed Kate, was born on January 9, 1982 in Reading, Berkshire, England. She is the oldest of three children from a middle class family. Parents Michael and Carole were in the airline business when Kate was born, and eventually started a successful party supply company called Party Pieces in 1987.
Middle Class Girl Meets Prince At University
Kate Middleton attended St. Andrew's School and Marlborough College, where she was known as a good student, a popular young woman, and a good athlete. Though the British press has at times made Kate feel hounded by paparazzi photographers, it does not seem as though they have found many people from Miss Middleton's early years willing to say anything unpleasant about the Prince's fiancee. Kate went to the University of St. Andrews to study the History of Art, and it was there that she met her future husband. Prince William and Kate Middleton met in 2001 when they were both students at St. Andrews. It is rumored that Kate convinced the Prince to stay on at university when he allegedly considered dropping out early on. In their second year of university, Kate and the Prince became flatmates, along with two other roommates, though at the time their relationship was platonic. As the lovely young woman began to be seen more frequently with the Prince, speculation increased that they were a romantic item. With that speculation came increasing media attention, with photographers becoming a frequent intrusion in Kate's daily life.
Love And The Paparazzi
By December of 2003, Prince William and Kate Middleton were widely believed to be dating, although there was no official confirmation of their relationship. The British press believed it, which was enough to make Kate a popular target for the paparazzi. The ongoing media attention became overwhelming to Miss Middleton, and in the fall of 2005 her lawyers demanded that the newspapers stop hounding their client. Apparently there is an unwritten rule in Britain that the press agrees to leave young royals in relative peace while they attend university. June 2005 marked the graduation from St. Andrews of both Kate and Prince William, at which time the press felt free to release the hounds on the young couple.
Despite the public scrutiny, Prince William and Kate's relationship continued to flourish and in January of 2006, they were first photographed kissing, while on a ski holiday. More romantic vacations followed, to fabulous locations such as the Caribbean island Mustique and Ibizia. Photographers continued to chase the young couple wherever they went to snap pictures. Kate was also dogged by the paparazzi when engaged in her everyday activities like shopping. It was a lot to endure for a girl from a middle class background who was not used to being a public figure.
Miss Middleton, Meet The Royal Family
Kate's role as Prince William's girlfriend became more serious during 2006 when she began to be invited to events at which members of the royal family would be present. The importance of her status in his life was made evident by the types of occasions in which she was included. In March of 2006, Miss Middleton was welcomed into the Royal Box at the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were present, but Prince William was not – imagine the pressure that Kate must have felt keeping such company without Prince William by her side! Apparently she acquitted herself well, because in May 2006, Kate was Prince William's date for the wedding of his stepsister Laura Parker Bowles. Miss Middleton has a well-deserved reputation for an impeccable fashion sense, and everyone could see why at the Bowles wedding. Only in England could a young woman pull off such a remarkable hat and look so chic doing so! 2006 was capped off with Kate Middleton's attendance at Prince William's graduation from Sandhurst in December. Wearing a vivid red coat and another magnificent hat, Kate was a striking presence at the event.
The media attention surrounding Prince William and Kate Middleton's relationship rose to a crescendo around the time of Kate's 25th birthday in January 2007. It seemed as though all of the royal watchers had decided that surely Kate's birthday would be the occasion on which Prince William popped the question. The expectation of a royal engagement was not entirely without ground. Kate's attendance at important events during 2006 had publicly solidified her role as the Prince's girlfriend and also showed that she had received a tacit stamp of approval from the royal family. In addition, an announcement that Miss Middleton would be receiving a security detail from the Royal and Diplomatic Protection Department in early 2006 had convinced many that an engagement was pending at any time (ultimately, Kate did not end up with the security detail, which would not normally be bestowed upon a girlfriend who was not a fiancee). So by the time Kate's birthday rolled around, the media was foaming at the mouth in anticipation of a birthday engagement. They would have to wait, however, as no proposal materialized.
Kate And Prince William Split Up Then Reunite
By April 2007, Prince William and Kate's relationship fell apart and they amicably split while on a Swiss holiday. No one knows the exact reasons why, but of course there has been plenty of speculation about their breakup. Some say that Kate felt that her royal boyfriend was not paying enough attention to her. Perhaps she too got caught up in the idea of a birthday proposal and was left to question the sincerity of Prince William's commitment when it did not come to pass. Then there are those who contend that the Prince simply was not ready to think about settling down, and wanted to enjoy his youth some more before getting married. Maybe the media frenzy became more than Kate felt she could bear. Whatever the case, the pair remained friendly and continued to spend time together. By June 2007, reports were swirling that the romance was back on, although Prince William and Kate insisted that they were “just good friends”. However, by the autumn, it was clear that the royal romance was back on again, to the delight of royal watchers, if not Prince William's international fan base of young women!
After Prince William and Kate Middleton reconciled, it became increasingly clear that their relationship was likely to last. In 2008, Kate attended two very significant events in Prince William's life: in April he was awarded his RAF wings at the Royal Air Force College and in June the Prince was invested with the Order of the Garter. Kate's presence at these public occasions gave her the status of “fiancee-in-waiting”, at least in the eyes of the British press. This gave rise to the unfortunate nickname “Waity Katie”. Although Kate had worked for a while at British retailer Jigsaw and also explored a career in photography and web design for a time, she did go through a period in which she did not appear to pursue a serious career path. Some implied that her job was waiting to become engaged to a royal.
While Kate was waiting, Prince William was not necessarily avoiding the topic of marriage. It is believed that for several years before their engagement became official, he considered marriage very seriously, and discussed it with his father, Prince Charles and stepmother Camilla Parker Bowles. Prince William knew how terribly hard it had been for his beloved mother Princess Diana to be thrown into the royal life with all that it entailed, and he wished to make the transition smoother for his future bride. The Prince wanted to give Kate plenty of time to experience life as his companion and to make sure she was up for life in the spotlight as a member of the royal family. He wanted to give her an opportunity to back out before it was too late, if she decided that it was not the life for her.
Prince William And Kate's First Interview As An Engaged Couple
At Last - The Proposal!
Back out Kate did not, and finally, finally, the pair became engaged in October of 2010 while on vacation at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. Prince William asked Kate's father for her hand in marriage before proposing. To most observers, the most poignant part about the proposal is that Prince William gave Kate Middleton the spectacular sapphire and diamond ring that his beloved mother Princess Diana had worn. The Prince has said that it was a way of making him feel like his mother would be a part of it. The precious ring languished in Prince William's backpack for two weeks before he finally found the right moment to propose marriage to his girlfriend. He may be a royal, but when it came to popping the question, Prince William had to work up the nerve just like any other man! The engagement was kept secret for a couple of weeks until it was officially announced on November 16, 2010. The big announcement was made in both the customary manner, by a formal statement issued by Prince Charles's Clarence House office, and in a completely modern way – on Twitter. The newsbreaking tweet was: "The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton – www.princeofwales.gov.uk." Surely this was the first royal engagement announced in such a way!
Kate Get's Princess Diana's Ring And Her Role As Style Icon
No sooner had the word gone out than people worldwide began speculating about the royal wedding. Kate Middleton and Prince William are expected to be married in the spring or summer of 2011, and the buzz is so strong that there are even bookmakers taking wagers on the wedding date! Even more than the date, what everyone wants to know is: what will the bride wear? Kate is known for her elegant polished style; she made People magazine's Best Dressed list for 2010, as well as the Vanity Fair 2008 International Best Dressed List. Not bad for a middle class girl who did not grow up as a member of the British aristocracy! Without a doubt, Kate's reputation as a budding style icon has been bolstered by comparisons to Princess Diana, particularly since she now wears the late Princess's engagement ring.
Which Wedding Gown Is Fit For A Royal Bride?
The biggest question is which bridal designer will Kate Middleton choose to make her bridal gown for the royal wedding. Some speculate that she might choose a custom gown by Issa, one of Kate's favorite designers. It was a blue silk Issa frock which Miss Middleton chose to wear with her new sapphire engagement ring for her first official engagement interview with the Prince. Most believe that the royal bride will have no choice but to select a British designer for the supreme honor of making her bridal attire. Whoever she selects will become a household name, and Kate's gown will become instantly famous. You can bet that knock-offs will be hitting the stores almost before the bride and groom finish exchanging their vows! Princess Diana's ivory silk bridal gown designed by Elizabeth and David Emmanuel became the most copied wedding gown of all time.
The Whole World Will Be Watching The Royal Wedding
Presumably Miss Middleton will not be going the poufy sleeve route as Princess Diana did, but do not expect her wedding gown to be extremely fashion-forward either. It is expected that a woman in her position will wear a gown with a certain amount of decorum and restraint, nothing too outrageous, and definitely not strapless. Presumably, Miss Middleton will wear a bridal veil and of course spectacular wedding jewelry. One thing of which we can be certain is that there will be an immense amount of security around the creation of the royal bridal gown to ensure absolute secrecy of the design until the moment the world gets the first glimpse of Kate Middleton on her wedding day. And there will be an unprecedented audience - it has already been decided that the royal wedding day will be declared a national holiday in England and over 1 billion people around the globe are expected to tune in to watch the wedding ceremony on television – including me!
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