Kate Middleton: welcome to the firm
Kate Middleton's social life became a whole lot busier with the announcement of her engagement to Prince William.
As Prince William's fiancee prepares to join the royal family, we run the rule over Kate Middleton's own family and friends.
The 29-year-old has been associated with Prince William since 2003, when she began sharing an apartment with him in her second year at St Andrews University in Scotland. It means the couple now share many of the same friends and contacts.
But family is also an important component of Kate Middleton's background. As Claudia Joseph, author of Kate Middleton: a Princess in Waiting, told Channel 4 News, the fact that she comes from an apparently secure domestic environment is "one of the things that attracts William to her".
Kate Middleton's mother, Carole, has already been the subject of several tabloid dissections.
A former air stewardess, she is descended from a long line of Durham miners. When she was photographed chewing gum during Prince William's Sandhurst passing out parade, she was deemed "too common" in some sections of the press.
Last year her brother, Gary Goldsmith, was caught selling cocaine to an undercover reporter in a News of the World sting.
The father of Prince William's bride-to-be was working as a pilot when he married Carole Goldsmith in 1980.
Seven years later the couple founded Party Pieces, a successful mail order business which sells toys and party paraphernalia. The company operates from a converted barn near Reading, in Berkshire. The Middleton family home is nearby, in a village outside Newbury.
Michael Middleton has refused to comment to the press about his daughter's relationship with Prince William. Questioned in the wake of tabloid allegations about Gary Goldsmith, he replied: "You know we don't ever talk to the press, and the situation remains the same."
He broke his silence, however, when he announced: "We all think he (William) is wonderful and we are extremely fond of him. They make a lovely couple. They are great fun to be with, and we've had lots of laughs together."
Kate is the oldest of three children. Her younger sister, Philippa, was educated – like Kate – at Marlborough College (current boarding fees: £29,310 per year).
Clearly not immune herself to the charms of the British aristocracy, Pippa shared accommodation while at Edinburgh University with Edward Innes-Ker, son of the Duke of Roxburghe, and George Percy, son of the Duke of Northumberland.
In 2007 it was reported she had broken off her three-year relationship with Jonathan "JJ" Jardine Paterson, scion of the Hong Kong banking family (last October, incidentally, Kate and Prince William attended the marriage of JJ's brother, David, to Emilia d'Erlanger – for more, see below).
A year later, in 2008, Pippa Middleton began working for Table Talk, a London-based events catering company.
The youngest of the Middleton children, James Middleton also attended Marlborough College. Like Pippa, he moved on to Edinburgh University – but quit after a year. In 2007 he established The Cake Kit Company, providing ingredients and decorations for children's cakes.
By the summer of this year, however, it was reported that he was business development manager for investment company Forestry for Life (website currently "under development"), into which the Financial Services Authority was "conducting active inquiries".
Emilia d'Erlanger is said to be one of Kate Middleton's closest friends. She also attended Marlborough College and St Andrews, where she is rumoured to have introduced her friend to the future king.
Ms d'Erlanger, who runs the interior design business d'Erlanger and Sloan, was herself once touted as a possible bride for Prince William. Her marriage in April to David Jardine-Paterson, who was in the same year as Prince William at Eton, reignited speculation about William and Kate's possible engagement.
In their second and third years at St Andrews, Kate and William shared an apartment, and then a house, with Olivia Bleasdale and Etonian Fergus Boyd. By 2009, however, the friendship with Boyd appeared to have waned when couple failed to show at Boyd's wedding to Sandrine Janet (who also attended St Andrews).
Thomas Van Straubenzee, William's oldest friend, is thought also to be close to Kate. And reports suggest nightclub entrepreneur Guy Pelly, a confidant to both Princes William and Harry, enjoyed a brief relationship with Kate's sister, Pippa. Pelly is involved in the running of Mahiki and Whisky Mist - establishments frequented by William and his brother.
The first social occasion attended by Kate and Princess William as a couple was the 2005 marriage between Hugh van Cutsem and Rose Astor, where William served as an usher (Prince Charles became a close friend of van Cutsem’s father while they were students at Cambridge).
The couple were subsequently seen at several other high-profile society weddings, including that of Laura Parker Bowles, the prince's stepsister, to Harry Lopes in 2006, and the betrothal in May 2006 of Peter Philips, William's cousin, to Autumn Kelly.
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Who are we talking about?
Prince William's fiancee
It was announced on 16 November 2010 that Kate Middleton and Prince William, second in line to the British throne, were engaged to be married.Connections: 20 (See map)
Second in line to the throne
Prince William is Harry's brother and second in line to the throne. He is also the president of the Football Association.Connections: 12 (See map)
Mother of Kate Middleton
Carole Middleton is the mother of Kate Middleton, fiancee of Prince William.Connections: 4 (See map)
Father of Kate Middleton
Michael Middleton is the father of Kate Middleton, fiancee of Prince William.Connections: 4 (See map)
Sister of Kate Middleton
Pippa Middleton is the younger sister of Kate Middleton, fiancee of Prince William.Connections: 4 (See map)
Brother of Kate Middleton
James Middleton is the younger brother of Kate Middleton, fiancee of Prince William.Connections: 4 (See map)