Nov. 17, 2010 -- Years of quietly smiling in the shadows of her royal boyfriend have given way to a closer look at the woman who would someday be the queen of England.
By all accounts, Kate Middleton is a humble but charming bride-to-be. Her engagement to Prince William has given Middleton, long a darling of royal photographers, a chance to speak publicly for the first time on her nine-year relationship with the prince and her thoughts on life in the royal fishbowl.
"It's quite a daunting prospect but, you know, hopefully I'll take it in my stride," she told British journalist Tom Bradby Tuesday, "and William's a great teacher so hopefully he'll be able to help me along the way and I really look forward to spending my time with William."
Already comparisons are being drawn between Middleton and William's mother, the late Princess Diana. After all, Middleton is now wearing the stunning sapphire and diamond engagement ring that Diana first showed to the world 30 year ago.
But Katie Nicholl, author of the book "William & Harry: Behind the Palace Walls," cautioned against painting the two women as one and the same.
Middleton, she said, is "not showy" the way Diana was.
And while the late Princess of Wales was a shy kindergarten teacher thrust into the spotlight for the very first time when her own engagement was announced, the confident Middleton has had the benefit of nine years getting to know both her groom and all the pressure that comes with being a member of the royal family.
That's not to say there aren't parallels between the two engagements.
"It's obviously nerve-wracking," Middleton said of her first interview.
"Kate admitted to me that she had butterflies," Nicholl. "She was obviously very nervous."
Yet the princess-in-waiting handled the barrage of both questions and camera flashes with grace. She has also been given a full security detail.
Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast and Newsweek, said Middleton looks to give both William and the royal family some stability that's been sorely lacking in the two decades.
"Kate is solid. She's together. She's organized," Brown told "Good Morning America" today. "She's shown a kind of solidity that he absolutely needs after what he's been through in his life."
Nicholl said she thinks the public might be surprised to learn "how nice she is."
"They're nice. They're ordinary," she said of the couple. "They're very charming."
And now that the engagement has been announced, some royal watchers are already speculating on how soon the next heir to the throne might be born. The palace, after all, announced Diana's pregnancy with William a mere five months after her wedding to Prince Charles.
"Breeding up a storm is what she has to do," Brown said. She noted that twins run in Middleton's lineage and there's a chance the princess-in-waiting could produce the "heir and the spare" all in one shot.
Raising a Princess: Kate Middleton's Hometown Celebrates
Brown said the engagement was likely postponed time and time again, despite years of dating, to prevent the very public crumbling of yet another royal marriage.
"They were so afraid, the royal family, of another Diana. They kept putting it off," Brown said. "She will be the queen of England. She has to be able to do it. They can't get it wrong."
News of the royal engagement has also thrust Middleton's suburban family into the spotlight.
The locals in her hometown of Bucklebury say they are thrilled that Middleton has found love within the royal family.
"Absolute magic," local butcher Martin Fiddler said of the news. "A long time in the coming. We are so happy."
Though no blue bloods, Middleton's parents Michael and Carole have made a comfortable living for themselves and their two children. They live in a modest, five-bedroom house in the countryside and their online supply company is said to have made them millions.
And just as the royal family appears smitten with their daughter, the Middletons have embraced the future king of England as their son-in-law.
''As you know Catherine and Prince William have been going out together for quite a number of years which is great for us because we got to know William really well," Michael Middleton said. "We all think he's wonderful and we're extremely fond of him.''
William, likewise, said he has found Middleton's family to be welcoming.
"I get on really well with them and I'm very lucky that they've been so supportive," William said Tuesday. "Mike and Carole have been really loving and caring and really fun and have been really welcoming towards me so I've felt really a part of the family."
ABC News' Bianna Golodryga, Lama Hasan and Jim Sciutto contributed to this report.