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April 13, 2003

Could This Woman Be The Next Queen?

kate middleton

Kate Middleton

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University was an idyllic time for the couple. Due to an unspoken agreement between the royal family and the British press, William and Kate got to play tennis, go to the supermarket, fetch a pizza, and enjoy low-key domestic contentment with no hassle from journalists or photographers. But by 2005, when the pair left the university cocoon for the world of work, interest in William's steady soared. She was snapped with William on a ski trip to Klosters, and soon there were regular sightings of the two partying in Ibiza or tumbling out of the West London nightclubs Boujis, Mamilanji, and Purple in the early hours. Soon enough, Kate was feeling the heat and complained through her lawyer about harassment from the media. In February 2006, it was announced that Prince Charles would provide her with a personal bodyguard, a retired officer from Scotland Yard. This decision only heaped fuel on the raging speculation that she and Prince William would soon be engaged. Then he stepped gallantly in. "Prince William is very unhappy at the paparazzi harassment of his girlfriend," said a statement from Clarence House, his London home. "What he wants more than anything is for it to stop." Memories of Diana hovering over the whole affair, several newspaper groups vowed not to use paparazzi shots of her. And they kept their promise-for a couple of months at least.
It helps that Kate comes from solid middle-class stock, promising a potential injection of fresh blood and perspective to the Windsor brand. Her parents, Michael, a former airline official, and Carole, a flight attendant, who raised Kate and her two younger siblings, Pippa and James, in a five-bedroom home in the quiet southern England town of Buckle-bury, made their money from Party Pieces, a popular mail-order company that provides doodads for children's birthdays. They sent Kate to the top-ranking boarding school, Marl-borough College-also the choice for Prince Andrew and Fergie's daughter Princess Eugenie-where she is remembered as calm and sensible, refusing to join the wilder girls in after-dark vodka binges. "She was the most kindhearted woman," Kate's hockey teammate Gemma William-son has recalled. "There were always cliques at school, but she would have time for absolutely everyone. That's what made her special." Another school friend, Jessica Hay, has been quoted saying, "Kate has class, stamina, and the mental strength to survive the limelight." As Diana did before her, Kate is already achieving style-icon status-the £40 ($79) dress from high-street chain Topshop that she wore on her 25th birthday sold out within 24 hours. Now she works with image consultant Leesa Whisker, who charges £400 ($790) a day as a personal shopper; Whisker was responsible for the stunning turquoise BCBG Max Azria dress Kate wore to a charity boxing event to support William's close friend Hugh van Cutsem. Currently, Kate works four days a week as assistant accessories buyer for Jigsaw-a separates chain similar to Ann Taylor that's owned by family friends John and Belle Robinson-while William trains as an army officer.

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