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Everything You Need For Your Wedding:

Prince William and Kate Middleton

The Real Kate Middleton

Long before she graced the cover of magazines worldwide in that stunning blue dress, Kate Middleton led a (surprisingly!) normal life. Here's a look at the new princess-in-waiting.

Photo: Getty Images

The (Stylish) Girl Next Door

Kate -- who will be known as Catherine after the wedding -- grew up in Berkshire, England, where her parents own an online party supply company. Rumor has it, the royal beauty endured her share of bullying growing up long before she was deemed "Waity Katie!" by the press. Prior to her engagement, Kate worked as an accessories buyer for the British clothing company Jigsaw. In 2007, Kate gave up her job to pursue photography (and reportedly took lessons from world-famous royal photographer Mario Testino). Since getting engaged, however, Kate has made it very clear that she's not interested in being a "career princess." She has spoken out about doing charity work and having a family, and has called the late Princess Diana an "inspiration."

Away from the public eye, Kate has always seemed down-to-earth and always had an acute sense of style, friends say. "She never wore particularly fashionable or revealing clothes -- just jeans and jumpers -- but she had an innate sense of style," says one friend.

How She Fell In Love With a Prince

After attending the exclusive all-girls school Marlborough College, Kate went on to the University of St. Andrews, where she met Prince William. And the rumors are true -- William did reportedly pay 200 British pounds to sit in the front row at a charity fashion show and watch Kate strut her stuff in a barely there black negligee, knickers and bra. The two began dating shortly after and then broke up in February 2007. However, things didn't stay like that for long. By June 2007, the two had already reconciled (some reports even say that William begged to get back with her).

Since then, the two have been mostly private about their romance, with few public appearances together. But locals near the North Wales home they share report seeing the couple drink beers at local pubs, ride around the countryside on William’s motorcycle, and entertain friends frequently at their home.

Her New Life

The news of their engagement, which was announced on November 16, was hardly a surprise after nearly a decade of dating. Still, now that Kate's in the limelight full time, things have definitely changed for her. As one friend noted after seeing her at a recent charity event: "Last year she left [this event] in a taxi. This time she had a press officer and a specially protected Range Rover."

-- Amy Eisinger