LONDON (AP) — The college romance that seemed to falter in the harsh glare of adulthood has blossomed at last, promising Britain its biggest royal wedding since Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer almost 30 years ago.

CBS News’ Vicky Barker Reports From London

Royal officials announced Tuesday that Prince William and Kate Middleton will marry next spring or summer in London, ending years of rumored splits, reconciliations and will-they, wont-they speculation.

Charles’ Clarence House office said the heir to the British throne was “delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton.” It said the couple got engaged last month during a vacation in Kenya.

William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and her husband Prince Philip “are absolutely delighted for them both,” Buckingham Palace said.

Prime Minister David Cameron was delighted, too, wishing the couple “great joy in their life together.” He said he announced the news during a Cabinet meeting, and it was greeted by cheers and “a great banging of the table.”

The news was not, however, a surprise. Kate and William’s engagement was the safest bet in Britain, considered so certain that bookies had stopped taking bets on a 2011 wedding. The date avoids London’s Summer Olympics and the queen’s Diamond Jubilee, both being held in 2012.

“We thought it was going to happen, now that it has it’s an opportunity for a welcome national celebration,” said Patrick Jephson, former secretary to Princess Diana, adding that her son’s nuptials would be “a masterclass” in wedding planning.

No venue has been announced yet. For pomp itself, the ceremony is likely to fall between the extraordinary spectacle of Charles and Diana’s 1981 wedding in St. Paul’s Cathedral and Charles’ subdued second marriage to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at Windsor Guildhall in 2005.

William, who is second in line to the throne after Charles, once told an interviewer he wouldn’t marry “until I’m at least 28 or maybe 30.” He turned 28 in June.

Middleton, also 28, met William at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. They shared a student house in the seaside university town, where William initially studied art history before switching to geography.

In 2002, William paid 200 pounds to sit in the front row at a charity fashion show where Middleton was modeling in a daring outfit — they are thought to have started dating the following year.

A wealthy commoner rather than an aristocrat, Middleton is the daughter of self-made millionaires. Her father worked for an airline and her mother was a flight attendant before they started a mail-order business specializing in children’s parties, run from their house in southern England.

She attended Marlborough College, an elite private school, where she played tennis and field hockey, before studying art history at St. Andrews. After graduating in 2005, Middleton worked for a time as a buyer for the fashion chain Jigsaw. She is now employed by her family’s party-planning business.

The couple’s relationship became public with a joint photo on a Swiss skiing holiday in 2004. Middleton then became a media darling — especially after both graduated, ending a media agreement to leave William alone while he was at university. With her confident good looks and long brown hair, Middleton became one of the most photographed women in Britain.

The brunette fashion buyer was photographed attending public events, going to work, even getting a parking ticket — a level of attention that evoked the romance of William’s parents, Charles and Diana.

Middleton was there when William was commissioned as a British Army officer after graduating from Sandhurst military college in 2006.

William was determined that Middleton would not suffer the same media hounding endured by his mother, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997. He appealed through his office for the media to leave her alone.

In 2007, Middleton filed a harassment complaint against a British newspaper. She accepted an apology and admission of error from the Daily Mirror.

It was widely thought the couple would soon announce their engagement. The retail chain Woolworths even commissioned mugs, plates and other Wills-and-Kate memorabilia.

But only weeks later in 2007, media reported — and Clarence House did not deny — that the couple had broken up. Newspapers pored over the apparent end of the relationship in long stories sourced to anonymous “friends.” William’s army training kept them apart, said some. The media pressure was too much for her, said others. Still others murmured that senior courtiers felt Middleton’s middle-class background wasn’t royal material.

Soon, however, the same newspapers were reporting that the pair had rekindled their romance. They were photographed leaving a London nightclub together, and Middleton was snapped on a stag hunting expedition at the royal family’s Balmoral estate alongside Prince Charles.

When William graduated from his first flying course in the spring of 2008, Middleton applauded from the sidelines — although his training was not without incident. The Ministry of Defense confirmed that William had landed a helicopter on Middleton’s parents’ lawn during a training flight and flew a Chinook to a friend’s stag party on the Isle of Wight.

William later served a two-month deployment with the Royal Navy before training to become a Sea King search-and-rescue pilot with the Royal Air Force. He recently completed that training.

The pair have recently seen each other mostly on weekends, with William a frequent visitor to the Middleton family house in the affluent village of Bucklebury, 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of London.

Earlier this month, Middleton’s parents were invited to join members of the royal family for a shooting holiday at Balmoral — the queen’s estate in Scotland — another milestone on Kate’s road to acceptance by the royal family’s inner circle.

Clarence House said after the wedding, the couple will live in north Wales, where William is based with the RAF.

The couple were to give their first joint interview later Tuesday. Middleton has rarely, if ever, spoken about William in public.

“I love the uniform. It’s so, so sexy,” — her assessment at William’s graduation from Sandhurst — was a rare slip.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (13)
  1. SARAH says:

    consort camilla and consort kate middleton, consort mary of norway,connsort daniel of sweden,consort merit of demark,consort annie -marie of demark with their trh husbands and wives….yes these men and woman of royalty are really are really going to make great working men and woman’s mate…with the lost of their titles .their children will make great working wives and husbands……for the rest of the royal family with brains they are now .the next ;link to the crown positions once held…..

  2. SARAH says:

    I notice with kate and camilla’s pr ,that the truth was said about and then the tatics of lying to the public ,camilla isn’t by blood related to any monarchy as well as kate middleton.yet both woman desperately run to a pr tatics of hyping themselve with lies. kate her perception from junking parties girl( american style )to a wanna be good girl to get accepted by the media and world.

  3. SARAH says:

    i mean i personally have to go and read about royal laws and so forth to understand how a woman like camilla could be considered britian best with such an horried lifestyle of sin and public attention.Accordingly to the royal church and royal law she is a sin in terminoloy,and abomination to the bible,church and royal law, she is sin and may never reign with charles in any position of title, she may not ever bear children with a monarchy for her is sin and will never reign accordingly to god holy law.

  4. SARAH says:

    camilla is also label sin for she the reason for a monarchy’s marriage to have ended in divioce and will not reign in future.Her dna is workingclass only for she lied to the church about being dna monarchy related with a so called family that was monarchy by way of step union and not dna produce.

  5. SARAH says:

    camilla’s family were horse cleaners for the crown and not royal dna related.camilla will not nor has she ever really put on head a royal crown by the royal monarchy,she has hipe media system the shows her plastic frame and crystals tiara.she isn’t to be with charles on certain family gatherings orevent to the crown as the other consort are not to either for non royal heritage and a trashy sex life before union that does the opposite of whats the church laws.

  6. SARAH says:

    my personal opion is to let monarchy to monachy to get a real royal back and not the sin lady of workingclass in for the royal benefits,they don’t fit criteria,virgin ,blue blood monarchy at birth,full blood monarchy paternal and maternal never a break of leanage to the crown,like Lady Diana…

  7. SARAH says:

    Kate is the same catagory thus the media lunches and so forth since she is not in the league of monarchy high up or monarchy at all to recieve crown ,title ,or a royal set up in rights to manage lifestyle and demands.walkabouts or title she,kate is consort to william, and william is to be remove of his titlements once held…thus queen of england not paying for any purchase or wedding arrangements to the level of his mother.william married beneath and a trashy woman of value, for the purpose of the crown.Although she is from wealthy parents just starting out in money successful,they are not wealthy with history of parents of wealthy like in american high society social clubs.

  8. SARAH says:

    Kate has the value of the diviocee of the grand uncle who gave up his crown for the woman he love,thus william has too.By marrying kate middleton,he has allowed his future with the crown to end.

  9. SARAH says:

    I won’t watch the union of a young man whose mother wanted him to respect the subject not marrying them,Princess Diana always train her boys to remember they are monarchy and not forget the good they will make possible,from marrying a monarchy to having children ,above it all never forget they are monarchy,royal blueblood.Never settle for less…for real love is whats important and they will find it with marrying in their pond,not straying from it.

  10. SARAH says:

    I will watch hopefully Prince Harry having a value wife and not workingclass dreamer looking for a way to get the attention they didn’t from mommy and daddy.It would be beautiful to see Prince harry marry a monarchy and really be in love …Because he instantly become the next King ,due to william’s marriage to Kate Middleton..He beats his brother .I also know that the Queen of England is removing charles and his second wife in months to come because she is not a monarchy at all or in full.As well as the sin that destroy charles first marriage which is his only legal marriage according to royal law. Civil ceremony means they a not royally married.

  11. sarah says:

    I was looking on the web ,there is a story that kathy lee gifford has done for tv or play i believe ..About a female in 1920’s who was the first to be pentocostal mister on the airwaves…she was famous for batising marilyn m.(actress and pengirl)and met several hollywood celeberies,she used to preach in tents,she had a huge following…at some point 1927 she said she was kidnapp and held hostage in mexico and charges were pressed on her and her mother,some said she sneak off with her radio announcer male friend and had an extramarital affair,the people she was telling to be good ,lost interest in her . and 3 year later 1930 suffered a nervous breakdown…..I found this an interseting story ,It’s called “Saving Amee”..I hope this works out for Mrs.Gifford as a wonderful releasement in literary field to make a very positive meaning about god,limelight and what to do when you get in it…

  12. martha vineyard says:

    Kate Middleton IS CONSORT WITH NO REVELANCE TO THE ROYAL CROWN AS A DUCHESS OR POSITION TO REIGN,SHE IS NOT LOOKED AS MONARCHY BYMONARCHY TOP.. BIRTH BORN WORKINGCLASS WHICH NEVER HOLDS THE REIGNS OF POWER OR POSITION TO EVEN THE MONARCHY THEY MARRIED….Although she is the next wallace simpson like camilla and consort are workingclass not birth born monarchy..HRH Prince Phillip is not the consort to Canada,he is the Queen of England Husband and titled part of the royal military..He has two titles besides prince phillip….consort katherine middleton and consort camilla are titled consort for workingclass nonroyal hiers to thier monarchy mate_which bear no inflicion on the royal crown for birth born monarchy titles such as duchess ,thier children will never be title or given above full blood royal couples to the crown which means william,charles ,edward and any consort marriage to be remove from the crown…..workingclass life is thier futune to rule and entitlements to monarchy life is remove from monarchy birth born for the workingclass life with his/herworkingclass mate….

  13. Fantastic article post.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

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