01/22/2007 at 01:00 AM EST
If there were any lingering doubts about whether Kate Middleton is Britain's It Girl, the events of early '07 have put them to rest. As she prepared to celebrate her 25th birthday Jan. 9, a group of Kate aficionados had just launched the Unofficial Kate Middleton Fan Club (first announced meeting: outside one of Kate's favorite nightclubs, Boujis), British oddsmaker William Hill decided a royal engagement wasn't even in doubt and stopped taking wagers on the matter, and the mere sight of Kate leaving her Chelsea apartment for her job as an assistant accessories buyer for high street woman's clothier Jigsaw set off a blinding burst of flashbulbs.
All that attention has aroused the concern of Kate and her princely beau; her lawyers are exploring ways to keep the paparazzi at bay, while William, 24, issued a statement expressing his desire for photogs "to stop harassing her." Ken Wharfe, a former royal protection officer, says Kate has handled the hoopla "with dignity and poise. She seems to be putting a brave face on it."
Together for nearly five years, the couple have managed to enjoy some quality time away from the media circus, including, on Jan. 5, a best-seats view of Cirque du Soleil's Alegría—a show about the transfer of power to a new generation. Any glamorous young royals come to mind?