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Kate Middleton

Will Prince William make an honest woman out of his longtime squeeze, Kate Middleton, before the decade is through? Despite a brief split last summer (William reportedly needed "space"), all signs now point to yes. If we were the sort of Web site that took bets, in fact, we'd place the odds at ten to one. However, we're hardly the only ones to hear the distant chime of Westminster wedding bells: The production line at Woolworths is ready to roll with commemorative plates (emblazoned with the words "Celebrating the royal marriage of William & Kate") within 48 hours of an announcement. Kate's presence at her boyfriend's induction into the Most Noble Order of the Garter earlier this month—and the queen's invitation of Mrs. Middleton, Kate's mother, to the royal enclosure at Ascot—have ramped up the matrimonial talk to a fever pitch. Meanwhile, rumors circulate that the pretty commoner has moved into the prince's apartments at Clarence House.

Despite her comparatively humble beginnings, Kate, or Catherine, as she's reportedly calling herself these days, is by all accounts perfect HRH material. The daughter of former airline employees who amassed a sizable fortune with a mail-order business, she is poised, well-educated, disarmingly lovely in a fresh-scrubbed way, and blessedly scandal-free. In fact, the worst the paps could dig up on the lass is that she was fond of mooning her classmates at boarding school. If her slightly Sloane Ranger fashion sense—lots of tweeds, Philip Treacy hats, and tailored suits—is a wee bit drab, she is probably wise to err on the side of caution. And no doubt she'll feel more inspired on the glamour front once she has a tiara to work with.

—Evelyn Crowley

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