(Reuters) - Thousands of Britons are planning to get out the bunting, balloons and fold-up tables and hold street parties across the country to celebrate the April 29th wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Here are a few facts about Middleton.
* The eldest of three children, Catherine Middleton was born on January 9, 1982 into a middle-class family from Berkshire, west of London.
* Her father Michael worked as a pilot and her mother Carole as an airline stewardess before setting up a mail order business selling party supplies.
* She met Prince William at St. Andrews University in Scotland in 2001, where she read history of art. The pair lived together in a house shared with friends.
* By April 2004, she was going on the annual ski trip to Switzerland with William, his father and his brother Harry, sending the paparazzi into a feeding frenzy.
* They briefly split up in 2007 after William was posted around the country as part of his military training, according to media reports.
* Critics in the tabloid press nicknamed Middleton “Waity Katie” after a marriage date failed to materialize and accused her of doing little with her life beyond waiting for William to pop the question.
* Britain’s press watchdog received complaints on behalf of Middleton in 2007 after photographers and TV film crews mobbed her outside her London flat, drawing comparisons to the media’s obsession with William’s mother, the late Princess Diana — who died in a Paris car accident while being pursued by paparazzi.
* Their engagement was announced to the world in November 2010.
* William and bride-to-be Kate performed their first official engagement as a couple on February 24, giving them an early taste of the life in the spotlight that awaits them.
— International media and hundreds of local well-wishers descended on Trearddur Bay, on the Welsh island of Anglesey, to greet the couple as they attended the launch of a new lifeboat.
— The couple marry on April 29 at Westminster Abbey in a ceremony expected to be watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world. They are expected to settle in Anglesey following the wedding.
Writing by Peter Griffiths, London Bureau: Additional Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit