"It's great he's got a solid girl with a good head on her shoulders," a pal of William's says of Kate.
ANWAR HUSSEIN/GETTY; INF
10/06/2005 AT 12:00 PM EDT
Being the sweetheart of William Arthur Philip Louis Windsor is a job with a few requirements – among them good breeding, impeccable manners and the ability to pull off a silly designer hat. But as Kate Middleton knows firsthand, no quality is more important than grace under pressure. Back in June, the 23-year-old commoner made her public debut as William's girlfriend at the wedding of a family friend, Hugh van Cutsem – and had to stroll to a quaint English country church while the prince attended to his duties as an usher. Rushed by shouting photographers, Middleton smiled the whole way, but observers say she was so badly rattled she slid into a waiting car rather than walk to the reception. Says one observer: "it was outrageous."
But when you date a future king, it's all part of the drill – one that Middleton has since gotten down pat. Attending a horse show with her mother at the estate of Princess Anne on Aug. 6, a cool and confident Kate employed a far different tactic on swarming paparazzi: the royal brush-off.