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Updated: November 18, 2010 02:33 IST

A “nervous” prince and a “shocked” fiancée

  • Hasan Suroor
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COUPLED: Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kata Middleton at St. James's Palace in London on Tuesday.
COUPLED: Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kata Middleton at St. James's Palace in London on Tuesday.

Apparently Prince William had been carrying his engagement ring — a sapphire and diamond affair that belonged to his late mother, Princess Diana — in a rucksack for three weeks before he was able to muster enough courage to pop the question to Kate Middleton during a holiday in Kenya last month.

And, if you believe this, then you also must believe Ms. Middleton's claim that she had no clue that the moment she had been waiting for eight years was so nigh (her patient wait had earned the nickname “Katey Waitey”) and that, when it finally came, she was “shocked”.

The fact, though, Prince Charles let out was that the two had been “practising” long for the occasion. Asked how he felt, Ms. Middleton's father-in-law-to-be didn't even attempt to pretend to be surprised.

“Thrilled obviously. They've been practicing long enough,” he said as though suggesting: don't be taken in by the stories they are going to tell you.

In their first media interview after announcing their engagement, Prince William and his fiancée on Wednesday discussed their often rocky relationship including their brief break-up in 2007 that they attributed to the fact that both were “too young” at the time and could not cope with the pressures.

Prince William confessed to an attack of nerves before going down on his knees to ask for his girlfriend's hand but said, in the end, there were no hiccups.

“You hear a lot of horror stories about proposing and things going horribly wrong, but I proposed and she said yes, so I'm really pleased,” he told ITN claiming that he carried the engagement ring his rucksack for three weeks.

“I literally wouldn't let it go. Everywhere we went I kept hold of it because I knew if it disappeared I would be in a lot of trouble,” he said adding that his decision to choose his mother's ring was a tribute to her memory.

“It's my way of keeping her close to it all,” he said.

Ms. Middleton, in a blue designer dress, claimed she “wasn't expecting it [the proposal] at all”.

“It was a total shock when it came so I was very excited,” she said.

Keeping the engagement a secret had been difficult, the couple said, “so it's really nice to be able to share it with everyone”.

Austere wedding

Meanwhile, as speculation about the scale of the wedding intensified the royal family was reported to be inclined to keep it a low-key affair in view of the difficult economic times facing Britain. “They will want to send a very definite signal that it is not on the lavish scale of the Charles and Diana wedding of 30 years ago, that it will be a royal wedding suitable and appropriate to the times,” the BBC said as anti-monarchy group Republic said taxpayers should not have to pay for it.

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