A perfect princess
London - For a royal family looking for a scandal-free princess to win over the British public, Kate Middleton appears to be the perfect choice.
The grounded 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 Charles and Diana's divorce and the antics of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.
Her great-great-grandfather was a coal miner but Kate's parents are self-made millionaires able to afford the private education that brought her into the prince's circle.
Her reserve has led her to being mocked for being boring, but the poise with which she has performed her first official duties at Prince William's side has won her praise.
Pretty and stylish
Kate is pretty but not intimidatingly so and her style is high street rather than haute couture, maintaining her image as a normal girl who just happened to fall in love with a prince.
Engagingly, she has even admitted her apprehension at joining the royals.
"It's quite a daunting prospect but hopefully I'll take it my stride. But William's a great teacher so hopefully he'll be able to help me along the way," Kate said in an interview after they announced their engagement last year.
Kate in a nutshell
Kate was born the eldest of three children on January 9 1982 in Berkshire, west of London.
Her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, met while Carole was an air hostess and he worked as ground crew. In 1987 they set up Party Pieces, a business selling party supplies which made their fortune.
Kate was sent to the posh Marlborough College but it was at St Andrews University in Scotland where she arrived in September 2001 to study history of art, that Kate met William, who was on the same course.
They became friends, and gradually fell in love.
During their entire relationship, Kate's halo has only slipped twice.
There was the infamous university fashion show where she sashayed down the catwalk in a transparent dress, and then, during a brief split with William in 2007, she was snapped in a nightclub wearing Playboy bunny ears.
But while her reserve may be music to the palace's ears, the tabloids disparaged her low-key career with a fashion chain and then her parents' business, and nicknamed her "Waity Katy", accusing her of simply waiting around for a ring on her finger.
Andrew Morton, the author who lifted the lid on Diana's unhappy marriage in his 1992 book Diana: Her True Story, said she was a "conformist" but added: "There is a lot more to Kate than meets the eye."