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Meet the Middletons: Carole and Michael are 'hard working, lovely people' and Kate 'lives in the real world'

05 NOVEMBER 2010

The engagement buzz surrounding Kate Middleton and Prince William is steadily gathering pace.

And with Kate's parents Carole and Michael being invited to a shooting party on the Queen's Balmoral estate, plus reports saying Kate could be invited to Sandringham for Christmas, interest in the Middleton family is at an all time high.

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The story of how Kate's parents became self made millionaires after leaving their jobs at British Airways to set up their own birthday supplies company is well known.

But what are they and their daughter really like? Does Kate have what it takes to be a Princess, and ultimately a Queen?

The search for the answer to those questions has led journalists to Bucklebery, Kate Middleton's Berkshire village.

There, locals are certain that the second-in-line would be lucky to have her as his wife, and Carole and Michael as his parents-in-law.

Butcher Martin Fidler tells a Daily Telegraph journalist: "The royals should count themselves lucky if they marry into the Middleton family rather than the other way round.

"If only there were more people like them in Britain, it would be a better place."

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He adds: "You won’t hear a bad word said about the Middletons round here. They are really lovely people, without airs or graces and we often see William and Kate walking about together; they make a brilliant couple."

Interior design shop owner Lynda Tilotson is equally complimentary.

"I think Kate is the epitome of a modern princess, who lives in the real world, which is just what we need in this day and age," she says.

"Kate looks like a supermodel - she is actually even more beautiful than in photographs - and is tall, slim and very poised.

"But it's her personality that really dazzles, she's so friendly and open and upbeat. She often comes into the shop and she's great fun."

Villagers in the leafy village – also home to Chris Tarrant - are keeping quiet on any engagement whisperings they might have heard first hand.

But they're not shy about speaking up in support of Kate's dad and mum – who has been criticised in the past for reportedly breaking royal protocol when she met the Queen.

Carole was frowned upon by the media when it emerged she'd apparently chewed gum when meeting the monarch, and reportedly said "nice to meet you" instead of "how do you do?"

But in Berkshire, locals are steadfastly loyal. "The Middletons are solidly middle class people who have done very well for themselves," says Lynda. "There's no shame in hard work and they can hold their heads high in the company of anyone."

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