05/19/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
What better way for Prince William
to hide his girlfriend from prying eyes than to date one of his roommates? That's the talk in the Scottish town of St. Andrews, where Will is at college—and living with Kate Middleton, 20, along with two other students. "Everybody knows he is with Kate," says one local. "They are together." But only, insists the Palace, in the most literal sense of the word. They were together at a ball on May 3. They often walk to classes—together. And recently they were spotted cozily watching a rugby tournament in which William—who turns 21 next month—took part. Alas, it was a different girl who gave him a rubdown after the match, much to the disappointment of the proof-hungry British press. Says one frustrated Palace source, who had spent her day quashing false reports that Will was moving to New York: "Can't he have a friend who is female?" Well, sure—if you take the meaning of girlfriend literally.