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Will and Kate: They're Just Like Us!
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Will and Kate: They're Just Like Us!How Will and Kate are modernizing the monarchy.

Photograph of Prince William and Kate.

Okay, so they may have palaces, dukedoms and their portraits on currency. And they'll be King and Queen someday! But these twentysomethings may just be the most relatable royals to ever wear crowns. From their "normal" meeting to premarital cohabitation, we take a look at the ways in which Will and Kate are putting a modern spin on the monarchy.

They Date Who They Want
While Kate--er, Catherine--isn't exactly from the wrong side of the tracks, she was a surprising choice for Prince William. She is, after all, a commoner, with no noble title, no aristocratic ties and no previous connection to the Windsor clan. While a young Will was frolicking behind palace walls, little Kate was enjoying an ordinary childhood in sleepy Buckleberry in Berkshire. But who doesn't love a good Cinderella story...

A collage of images from William and Kate's childhood and younger years.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (a.k.a. Scotland), a handsome young prince meets a fair maiden of humble origins on the grounds of a hallowed institution (a.k.a. the University of St. Andrews). The prince finds himself in the same class as said fair maiden. Let ye royal courtship begin! One very sheer dress (pictured above, top right), a brief breakup and eight years later, the maiden accepts her prince's proposal, and thus begins the fairy-tale wedding of the millennium.

The princess' presence at the prestigious school in the first place--and their fateful meeting--owe a debt of gratitude to noisemakers and party favors. Kate's family tree was rooted in the coalmines of County Durham. But in 1987, her entrepreneurial parents, Carole and Michael (pictured below, left), founded the party-supply business, Party Pieces. The sky seemed to be the limit in the balloon biz, as the Middletons quickly rose to millionaire status.

Photographs of Kate Middleton's parents, Carole and Michael, and Prince William's parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

The family's new-found wealth fueled Kate's climb up the social ladder. It enabled them to send Kate and her siblings, little sis, Pippa, and bro, James, to the most proper of prep schools, gain admission to the right uni, and ultimately bunk with an heir! Had it not been for party hats, paper streamers and plastic tiaras, the prince and this pretty "pauper" might never have met.

Kate is destined to become a true people's princess. While Prince William's late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, billed herself as such, that crown may better fit Kate's head. Diana's blood was certainly blue well before her betrothal to Charles. "She was an aristocrat from that great traditional family, the Spencers," says Christopher Andersen, author of William and Kate: A Royal Love Story (Simon & Schuster, 2010). "But Kate is the real deal--a princess of the people."

To really drive this point home, Kate skipped the usual carriage ride to the church on her big day. Instead, she hopped a ride with her dad to the ceremony--though that ride came with a Rolls Royce hood ornament. Common, yes. Poor? Certainly not!