From flatmate to the future king's first love, Kate Middleton is to marry Prince William amid traditional fanfare and a future of public scrutiny. Channel 4 News looks at the married couple to be.
After their wedding the couple - who met at university - will live in North Wales where the Prince is serving in the RAF.
Deemed the Royal golden boy, Prince William - second-in-line to the throne - has grown from shy teenager to stately heartthrob and helicopter pilot.
Flt Lt William Wales graduated in September as an RAF search and rescue pilot. As second-in-line to the throne he will one day become head of the armed forces.
Break up and tragedy
Born Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales on 21 June, 1982, many believe the Prince inherited the looks of his mother Diana Princess of Wales.
Diana fell pregnant with William just four months after her wedding to the Prince of Wales. Prince Charles wrote to a friend after his son was born: "He really does look surprisingly appetising and has sausage fingers just like mine."
William witnessed the bitter breakdown of his parents' marriage while at school at Eton and then, in 1997, the tragic death of his mother in a Paris car crash.
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Fifteen-year-old William and younger brother Harry, who was just 12, held their composure as they walked behind their mother's cortege at her funeral in front of vast crowds of weeping people.
As William and Harry continued their education at Eton the press agreed to leave the Princes alone in return for limited access at press and photo calls.
William achieved 10 GCSEs at Eton, and left school with an A in Geography, B in History of Art and a C in Biology in his A-Levels. He went on to complete a gap year which included jungle training in Belize with the Welsh Guards and a stint with Raleigh International in Chile.
He met and shared a house with Kate Middleton while they were undergraduates at St Andrews University in Scotland in 2001. In 2005 William graduated with a class 2:1 degree after changing subjects from the history of art to geography.
It was Kate, who is five months older than William, who was credited with persuading the Prince to continue his studies when he considered quitting as he struggled to adjust to university life during his first year.
George V - at the height of the First World War - reinvented the Royal family for new, democratic times. He renamed it the House of Windsor, which led to the only recorded joke by his cousin and enemy Wilhelm II the German Kaiser. On hearing the news Wilhelm remarked that he much looked forward to the next performance of Shakepeare's famous play, The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
As well as changing the name of the Royal House, George V also reformed its marriage customs. Up to that point the English Royal Family had behaved like a German royal dynasty and invariably married German princesses of the same social rank and the same Protestant religion. Now George decreed that his children could marry "English men and English women"
"It was an historic day," he wrote in his diary.
Read Dr David Starkey's irreverent review of the latest Royal wedding in a line of colourful nuptials.
Life in the public eye
Life for the young couple has come under intense media scrutiny throughout the past years.
In October 2005, her legal team wrote to newspaper editors appealing to the press to leave her and her family alone. They claimed she was being followed by photographers on an almost daily basis since leaving university.
The problem grew worse in early 2007 and there were reports that her lawyers were considering taking legal action to stop the paparazzi harassing her. On her 25th birthday, she was greeted outside her home by a media scrum.
In 2006 Kate watched William graduate as an army officer from Sandhurst. The Prince later faced criticism after he landed an RAF Chinook helicopter in a field at Kate's family's home in Bucklebury, Berkshire.
In July 2007, Kate was a VIP guest in the Royal Box for William and Harry's Concert for Diana, in memory of their mother. In June 2008, Kate attended an official Royal public occasion for the first time.
Protective of Kate, William is said to have been angered by the attention she was receiving from photographers, with aides saying he wanted more than anything for her to be left alone.
Now with Miss Middleton propelled into the spotlight as his wife-to-be, William is unlikely to be able to shake off the press interest which has already shaped his life.
Law makes Queen's permission mandatory
Prince William had to ask the Queen's consent to marry because of a law dating from the 18th century.
His grandmother will have signed an elaborate notice of approval, transcribed in calligraphy, and issued under the Great Seal of the Realm.
Under the Royal Marriages Act 1772 - brought in after King George III's brother secretly married a "commoner" - all descendants of George II must obtain the sovereign's consent before they wed, otherwise the marriage would be invalid.
In practice the Queen was most unlikely to have withheld her blessing. She would only be likely to have said "no" on the advice of the Prime Minister, whom she will have informed.
The Cabinet, leaders of the Opposition, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Commonwealth heads of state and government will have all now been told.
If the Queen does not agree to a marriage, the member of the Royal Family can, if aged 25 or over - as William is now - inform the Privy Council of his or her intentions to wed.
The wedding could go ahead lawfully, but only if both Houses of Parliament did not expressly disapprove in the 12 months following.
There is no requirement that Royals marry someone of Royal or aristocratic blood, but religion is a factor.
Under the the Act of Settlement of 1701, those in the direct line of succession cannot marry Catholics.
Had William, who is second in line, wanted to marry a Catholic, he would have had to renounce his right to the throne. Prince Michael of Kent did so in 1978, when he was 16th in line, after marrying Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, now known as Princess Michael of Kent.
Kate's wealthy middle class background differs greatly from the elite aristocratic circle of European Princesses often earmarked as potential brides for William.
Born on January 9, 1982, Catherine Elizabeth Middleton is the eldest child of self-made millionaires Michael and former air hostess Carole Middleton.
Kate was widely tipped to marry William and one day wear the Crown, but the relationship unexpectedly broke down, with friends blaming William's Army life for placing a strain on the union. Within a matter of weeks the relationship was rekindled.
As William's wife, Kate Middleton will one day be Queen as he succeeds his father Charles to the throne.
William and Kate are seen as the monarchy's exciting future and there are expectations they will bring a touch of glamour to so-called Brand Windsor.
As an HRH - Her Royal Highness - she will travel the globe first class, be required to uphold public appearances at all times and will have to take on her fair share of official engagements.
Royal fans will treat her adoringly, while the newspapers will watch her every move. Her speeches, her slip-ups and her wardrobe will all be reported in minute detail.
Speculation as to when the newlyweds will produce an heir will no doubt follow. If they have no children, Harry will remain next in line to the throne after William, followed by any future children he might have.
Tradition dictates the Royal men receive a title following their wedding. Prince Andrew became the Duke of York, while Edward was made the Earl of Wessex.
For William, a Dukedom is expected. Possible titles suggested as most likely include the Duke of Clarence, Duke of Cambridge, Duke of Connaught or the Duke of Sussex, meaning Kate would become a Duchess.
All titles are in the gift of the Queen and it is up to her to decide on the one William would use following his marriage.
When Charles accedes the throne, it is expected he will make William the Prince of Wales. The title is intended for the male heir apparent to the throne, but there is no automatic succession.
If that happened, Kate would become Princess of Wales, the title used by William's late mother. It now technically belongs to the Duchess of Cornwall, but she has never used it because of its association with Diana, Princess of Wales.
16 November 2010
16 November 2010
16 November 2010
14 November 2010