How did Kate Middleton meet Prince William?

Image Gallery: Princess Brides Now, they're a power couple. But once upon a time, Kate and Will were just two nervous college students. See more pictures of princess brides.
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When Prince Charles married Lady Diana in 1981, it confirmed what everyone had long suspected: The royal dating pool was as limited as ever.

Sure, a young lady from a common background could attract royal attention, but any prospective future queen would have to come from a royal bloodline. A generation later, however, Charles and Diana's eldest son, William, upended that prudish tradition when he proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton.

Middleton is beautiful, glamorous and not at all royal. Her parents founded a party supply company that has made them millionaires, so she's no stranger to privilege. Yet, detractors still claim that the opulence of the Windsor clan is above her station, and the press hasn't always been kind toward Kate.

Criticism of her family's background has been printed in everything from tabloid rags to respected papers. Kate's sense of style has turned her into a fashion icon thanks in large part to the paparazzi, but the couple's prolonged courtship also earned her the nickname "Waity Katie."

But Kate's not waiting anymore. In fact, barring any unforeseen circumstances, she'll one day be queen of England -- common background or not. To celebrate the couple's royal nuptials, we thought it'd be a good idea to bring you up speed on the origins of their long-term romance. We'll dish the details on when, where and how they met and reveal what keeps them together. (Hint: It isn't their shared value of public poise.)