MOST LITTLE girls dream of becoming princesses. For Kate Middleton, this has become a reality.
Kate Middleton was born in Reading, England, in 1982. She is the eldest daughter of Carole, owner of Party Pieces, and Michael, a former flight dispatcher.
She spent two years growing up in Jordan, where her parents were based for work. Upon her return to Britain, she attended a local primary school, though as her mother's party business took off, she was moved to private schools. She led a very athletic and outgoing childhood, took part in school plays and is still known to be very sporty today. Kate went on to study history of art at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and it was here that she met Prince William.
At college, Kate and William quickly became good friends and soon moved in together. Not long after that their relationship began to flourish. They began to go on holiday and attend royal weddings together. So, it came as no surprise when the jubilant couple announced their engagement in November 2010.
This caused much excitement and speculation about details of the wedding, such as the dress and location. Suddenly, Kate was catapulted even more so into the limelight and every movement of the couple was scrutinised.
The inevitable comparisons between Kate and Princess Diana generated a media frenzy. The fact that Prince William proposed using his mother's engagement ring fuelled the obvious intrigue. However, Kate seemed to take everything in her stride and refused to let the overwhelming media attention take away from her and William's special day.
She handled the occasion and the life transformation with the grace of a princess.
The extra media attention surrounding their engagement and wedding resulted in even more interest in Kate from the world of fashion. Already an established trendsetter, it now appears that as soon as Kate is spotted in a high street dress, it sells out – such as her engagement dress, which sold out in 24 hours.
Kate's Sarah Burton designed wedding dress has even set a trend among brides, and the Grace Kellyinspired gown is being sampled by bridal designers all over the world.
The now-duchess of Cambridge's influence in fashion is evident.
When Kate proudly displayed her engagement ring, imitations were already beginning to sell out. The precious sapphire diamond also sparked a craze for gemstones of every colour. Perhaps one of the reasons that Kate's style is so often emulated is her love of high-street pieces, which are more accessible and affordable for the average woman.
Kate's support of high street shops such as Reiss and Warehouse has led to unprecedented sell-outs any time that she is spotted in one of their creations. She is frequently photographed perusing the shops of London herself, eagerly watched by fashionistas ready to copy her fashion forward choices!
Since becoming a member of the royal family, Kate has assumed many responsibilities. These duties include visits to a Unicef centre in Denmark and the presentation of medals to the Irish Guards.
Shortly after the wedding, Kate and William embarked on their first royal tour of Canada. The Duchess of Cambridge recently announced the charities for which she has become a patron. These include the Art Room, the National Portrait Gallery, East Anglia's Children's Hospice and Action on Addiction. In addition, she intends to volunteer with her local Scouts.
Though most people would think of the new princess's privileged lifestyle with envy, is it all ball gowns and luxury? I asked some local teenage girls a simple question: Would you like to be Kate Middleton?
Katie English: ' Yes, because I believe that she is very responsible and a fantastic role model. She is not afraid to take on difficult challenges such as becoming a princess and being in the public eye all of the time and, as well as that, she is beautiful. However, there would also be a lot of pressure from everyone watching every move that you make and people looking out for any mistakes. I would hate not being able to have privacy anywhere I went and not being able to go home to my family for Christmas.'
Michelle Môitié: ' There are some aspects of Kate's life that I would like to have, such as her riches, jewellery and gorgeous clothes. I would love to have a title, such as duchess, and to have her status and popularity and to attend huge banquets. She is lucky to get to meet famous stars and know lots of designers too.
' There would be downsides too, such as her loss of privacy and pressure from the media. A lot of her outfits are often scrutinised by people and I would not be able to live a normal life because of the media attention. It would also be important to keep a good reputation as part of the royal family.'
Aisling Byrne: 'I would like to be her for the amazing lifestyle that she has. I would enjoy her wealth and the title of royalty.
'I'm not sure how I would cope with the media, though. It would be very tough as she has to fit a certain role and she is confined to act in a certain way. Kate would be criticised greatly if she did any little thing out of place. I wouldn't like the loss of independence and freedom involved in the royal title, and this would be a negative aspect in my opinion.'