Prince William’s soon-to-be wife, Kate Middleton, will be the first commoner to marry a British prince close to the throne since Anne Hyde wed the future King James II more than 350 years ago.
Catherine Elizabeth Middleton was born in the town of Reading on January 9,1982. The 29-year-old is the eldest of three children of Michael and Carole Middleton, a middle-class couple who gained wealth through the launch of a successful party supplies business, Party Pieces.
Middleton attended Marlborough College in Wiltshire, where she studied chemistry, biology and art, and played a number of sports, including tennis, hockey and netball, which is similar to basketball.
After spending a year abroad in which she studied in Italy and took part in a charity program in Chile, Middleton enrolled in 2001 at the University of St. Andrews, where she met Prince William.
In 2002, Middleton modeled in underwear and a sheer lace dress at a charity fashion show at the university — an event that Prince William reportedly paid more than $300 to attend.
The two lived together as roommates before they began dating. They broke up once in 2007, but only for a few months.
After graduating, Middleton worked for her family’s business and also served as a part-time buyer for the clothing company, Jigsaw Junior. In 2008, she launched First Birthdays, a junior brand to Party Pieces.
In the media, she was dubbed “Waity Katie,” with critics saying she appeared to be biding her time waiting for Prince William to propose.
William asked her to marry him last year while they were on vacation in Kenya.
For the most part, Middleton tried to maintain her privacy throughout her courtship with William, largely avoiding media attention and even filing a harassment complaint against a British newspaper in 2007.
Earlier that same year, after speculation about a possible engagement subjected Middleton to a sea of photographers outside her home, Prince William issued a statement saying he was “very unhappy at the paparazzi harassment of his girlfriend” and wanted “more than anything” for it to stop.
Like William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, Middleton has received widespread praise for her sense of style. Her fashion choices have been closely watched by those both inside and outside of Britain, with her most notable wardrobe pieces spawning numerous imitations.