Royal engagement announced - William and Kate to marry next year

Prince William is to marry Kate Middleton next year, it was announced today.

After months of speculation, the couple finally announced they will marry in London in spring or summer next year.

William and Miss Middleton, both 28, became engaged while on holiday in Kenya last month.

In a statement issued to the media this morning, Clarence House said: 'The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton.

'The wedding will take place in the Spring or Summer of 2011, in London. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course.

'Prince William and Miss Middleton became engaged in October during a private holiday in Kenya. Prince William has informed The Queen and other close members of his family. Prince William has also sought the permission of Miss Middleton's father.

'Following the marriage, the couple will live in north Wales, where Prince William will continue to serve with the Royal Air Force.'

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Buckingham Palace said the Queen was 'absolutely delighted' at the news.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: 'Both the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are absolutely delighted for them both.'

Prime Minister David Cameron was informed of the Royal engagement during the Cabinet's meeting this morning.

His spokesman said: 'The office took the call during Cabinet. The Prime Minister relayed the news to the Cabinet.'

Prince William and Miss Middleton met at St Andrews University, in 2001.

Their relationship became public in 2005 when they were photographed on a skiing holiday in Switzerland.

Since then, the couple have visited Norfolk, staying on the Royal Estate at Sandringham.

It is not clear whether the couple will join the Queen and other members of the Royal family for their traditional Christmas break in Norfolk.

Any hint that the couple will attend the service at Sandringham Church, on Christmas Day, will draw thousands to the estate in the hope of catching a glimpse of the pair.

One of the UK's most avid royal-watchers today urged The Queen to break with tradition and invite Miss Middleton to spend Christmas with the Royal Family.

Pensioner Mary Relph, 76, from Shouldham, Norfolk, regularly presents members of the Royal Family with flowers when they make public appearances in East Anglia.

Mrs Relph said she hoped Miss Middleton would join the Royal Family in Sandringham at Christmas and attend church on the estate on Christmas Day.

'Normally only family members attend the Christmas Day service at Sandringham,' she said.

'But it would be lovely if they broke with tradition and invited Kate Middleton. People would be thrilled to see her attending the Christmas Day church service with William.'

Miss Middleton is the eldest child of businessman Michael Middleton and former air hostess Carole.