— -- Britain's most eligible bachelorette and the younger sister of Princess Kate, Pippa Middleton, became engaged over the weekend to her beau, James Matthews.
The couple, who have been friends for years, briefly dated in 2012. Last August, however, they set tongues wagging when Middleton, her brother James and her mother Carole joined Matthews at his family's resort in St. Barts. The couple returned for the New Years holiday.
Just six months later, Matthews proposed, and Middleton accepted.
"Miss Pippa Middleton and Mr. James Matthews are delighted to announce they became engaged on Sunday 17th July and plan to marry next year," they said in a statement released to the Press Association.
Middleton, who was photographed beaming while wearing her new ring, seems to finally found her Prince Charming, and how.
The son of a mechanic who became very successful in the automobile industry, Matthews is CEO of Eden Rock Capital Management. Eton-educated like Princes William and Harry, he named his investment advisory firm after his family's St. Barts resort, the Eden Rock hotel.
His business has been quite successful, and some time ago, he moved into a $25 million townhouse in Chelsea that he now shares with Middleton and their two dogs. The home includes a home movie theater, a gym, staff quarters and an elevator. Before moving in with her beau, Middleton shared a flat with her brother James nearby in Chelsea -- the same home she once shared with Kate.
However, the couple has more in common than just a shared love of the posh London neighborhood. Like Prince William and Princess Kate, Middleton and Matthews are both accomplished tennis players, and were seen attending Wimbledon together earlier this month. But that's not all: In 2008, Matthews ran the Marathon Des Sables, a 156-mile race through the Sahara. Last September, he and Middleton competed in a 50-mile swim and run endurance challenge in Sweden. A few months after that, they completed the 54-kilometer (about 33 miles) Birkebeiner cross-country ski race in Norway.
They're both charity-minded as well. Many of the couple's athletic endeavors benefit the Michael Matthews Foundation, a philanthropic organization created for Matthews' younger brother, Michael, who died in 1999 on Mt. Everest just before becoming the youngest Brit to scale the mountain. His body was never recovered. In the years since, the Middleton family has supported a number of endeavors for the charity, which assists children in Nepal, Thailand and Africa. Middleton and her brother James also once swam across the Bosphorus in Turkey to Asia to benefit the Michael Matthews Foundation and two summers ago, the newly engaged couple, along with the bride-to-be's brother, finished an epic 3000-mile cycle "Race Across America" to benefit the MMF.
This past weekend, Matthews proposed with a rare stone. Various jewelers who have seen photos of the ring describe it as an Ascher-cut diamond in a octagon shaped cushion cut surrounded by smaller diamonds.
The couple is expected to wed next year.