Kate Middleton: 7 Things You Didn't Know About the Future Royal

Royal Watchers Dish on Family, Fashion and Food

Nov. 16, 2010— -- Sorry, ladies. Britain's Prince William is now officially off the market.

The gal who won his heart is Kate Middleton, a striking, leggy 28-year-old brunette who, although not of royal blood, is certainly up for playing the part.

Wills, as Prince William is affectionately known in the U.K., proposed to Middleton in Kenya last month, using the oval, blue 18-carat sapphire and diamond ring that had belonged to his mother, Princess Diana.

The nearly nine-year courtship, including a short break-up in 2007, is long enough to have allowed for more than a tad of royal-watchers' Kate-Middleton scrutiny.

Here're seven things you need to know about England's highly anticipated princess-to-be.

She's a fashion trend-setter in the making. There may be no more off-the-rack for Middleton. The Mail on Sunday's royal correspondent, Katie Nicoll, reported earlier this month that the dress she wore to the wedding of one of William's friends was custom-made by her favorite dress designer, Brazilian Daniella Issa Helayel, who has also designed couture gowns for Madonna.

The publication noted a comment from one of Middleton's friends: "Kate knows she's going to need conservative yet attractive outfits once they are engaged and she's started collecting a very enviable wardrobe."

She's a daughter of entrepreneurs. Middleton's parents -- dad is a former pilot, mom a former flight attendant -- created Party Pieces, a mail-order, party-supply company. The Daily Express refers to the Middletons as "self-made millionaire parents" who sent Kate to the elite Marlborough School. An article in the Daily Telegraph noted "the oft-repeated dismissal of the self-made Middletons as being too 'middle class' for the hoity-toity haut monde."

She's sporty. An article in the Sunday Times this summer noted that Middleton's "real strength lay on the field." The author of the article, Camilla Long, wrote: "A set of school photographs showed team shots of a thrilled 12-year-old Kate on the hockey, tennis, netball, rounders and swimming teams: a winning streak her mother encouraged."

To this day, Long noted, "Kate remains a total sports obsessive" who works out in the gym nearly every day.

Fun Facts About Kate Middleton

She's food savvy. In her Sunday Times article, Long noted that Middleton watches her weight with care. A friend, interviewed for the story, attributed Middleton's thinness to "not eating so much. She's never had an eating problem; she's just extremely disciplined."

The friend described Middleton as sticking to "beans, salads, salmon and barbecues," but added that a recent slimming down might be the result of stress. Now, the friend said, she's "wedding-dress skinny."

She and William were buddies in college. The adage that young people should see each other at their worst before making a commitment seems to apply even to royal mash-ups.

The Daily Express reported that, during their second year at St. Andrews University, in Scotland, they shared a house with two other students. At the time, Middleton was dating a fellow student. The article included a reference to royal biographer Penny Juror, who claimed the eventual relationship between William and Middleton would have benefited as a result.

"They saw each other under every possible circumstance, feeling lousy, feeling grumpy, flu-ridden," according to the report. "It's a good basis for a marriage."

She's privy to the gamekeeper's cottage. One palace is seldom enough, which is why the Queen of England hangs on to the 50,000-acre Balmoral estate. The Daily Mail also described Birkhall as "an imposing 18th-century mansion" -? the former home of the Queen Mother that is part of the estate.

It's good for walking and salmon-fishing, too.Although William has his own cottage, his father, Prince Charles, offered Birkhall to accommodate the visit from Middleton's parents. Although William and Middleton have spent regular weekends in the house, they've also been "romantically ensconced in a 120-year-old gamekeeper's cottage in the grounds."

She has famous relatives across the pond. Who'd have guessed that Kate Middleton has blood ties to George Washington? According to the Associated Press, the New England Historic Genealogical Society said that Middleton is "an eighth cousin eight times removed to George Washington. Their common ancestor, Sir William Gascoigne, died in 1487."

Her other U.S. relatives "include explorer Meriwether Lewis, who teamed with William Clark for their renowned 19th-century Western expedition. He's a ninth cousin seven times removed," according to the Associated Press, and she's a "thirteenth cousin three times removed of World War II General George S. Patton."