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Middleton met William at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. They shared a house along with other students 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 next year.

St. Andrews congratulated the couple Tuesday, pointing out that the school has a reputation as “Britain’s top matchmaking university.”

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 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, which ended a British media agreement to leave William alone while he was at university.

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

But 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.

At the time, an engagement was so expected that the retail chain Woolworths even commissioned mugs, plates and other Wills-and-Kate memorabilia. The chain has since gone out of business.

Yet 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 in Scotland alongside Charles.

When William graduated from his first flying course in spring 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 _ earning him a drubbing in the press for his perceived sense of entitlement.

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.

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