After eight years of an on-off relationship, Prince William and his girl friend Kate Middleton, who has no royal or aristocratic family links, are to marry; it was officially announced on Tuesday, plunging the media into a frenzy of breathless reporting.
The couple, both 28, got engaged while on a holiday in Kenya last month, and will marry in London next year. Officially, no date for the wedding has been set but the bookies' favourite was said to be August.
Ms. Middleton, described as sober and down-to-earth, is the eldest child of the self-made millionaires Michael and Carol Middleton who run a mail order business.
The engagement marked the end of an often rocky relationship during which Ms. Middleton was nicknamed “Waitey Katey” as she waited patiently for the Prince to propose to her.
Buckingham Palace said that both the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were “absolutely delighted” while Earl Spencer, Prince William's uncle and the brother of Diana, described it as “wonderful news.”
Earlier, in a statement, Clarence House, the official residence of Prince of Wales, said, “The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton. The wedding will take place in the spring or summer of 2011, in London.”
Under an 18th century law, Prince William who is second in line to the throne had to seek the permission of the Queen to marry. As his grandmother, she is required to sign an elaborate notice of approval, transcribed in calligraphy, and issued under the Great Seal of the Realm.
Prince William, the eldest son of Prince Charles and late Princess Diana, had been under pressure to make up his mind ever since he and Ms. Middleton got back together after a brief break-up in 2007. The Prince then suggested that he was not in a hurry to marry and did not want to be “rushed” into anything.