Prince William gives UK long-awaited royal wedding

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Cameron, who said he had camped out on the street the night before Charles and Diana’s wedding procession, predicted this royal wedding would be a “great moment for national celebration” that would unite Britain.

Charles‘ Clarence House office said he was “delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton.” It used Twitter as well as a news release.

Few were surprised. Their engagement was the safest bet in Britain, an event 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.

“Kate has been waiting for so long, I expected her to find someone else,” said London tour guide Gabrielle Sullo, 53. “The media had called her ‘Waitey Katie,’ so it’s about time that she stopping waiting.”

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

Patrick Jephson, Diana’s former secretary, said her son’s nuptials would be “a master class” in wedding planning.

The formal engagement is likely to turn the poised, brunette Middleton _ already depicted approvingly in the fashion pages _ into a global icon. With her confident good looks and long brown hair, Middleton has already become one of the most photographed women in Britain.

The palace will be hoping that she combines Diana’s glamour and charm with a more commonsense approach to life. At 28, Middleton is considerably older than Diana was when she wed at 20 and has had greater life experiences and longer training in dealing with the media.

“She seems quite competent,” said approving 22-year-old student Sarah Madden, “and seems to be just as wonderful as Diana.”

William and Harry have spent a lifetime in the spotlight, with their drunken nights out and female friends the subject of constant tabloid gossip. William, who turned 28 in June, once told an interviewer he wouldn’t marry “until I’m at least 28 or maybe 30.” But since joining the military, both have kept a lower profile.

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.

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