17 APRIL 2007

Tennis racquet in hand and flashing an ear to ear smile, Kate Middleton faced the world as a singleton on Monday, and clearly had no intention of hiding away despite her recent heartache. Showing the feisty yet dignified spirit that has so impressed royal watchers, Prince William's former girlfriend sent a clear message that she is carrying on as normal.

Despite an offer from her boss, millionaire fashion store owner John Robinson, to use his luxury private villa on the Caribbean isle of Mustique for as long as she needed, Kate has apparently turned down the opportunity to get away from it all in favour of facing things out at home. "Kate has decided the last thing she wants is to hide away," said a friend. "(She's) a strong girl with her family behind her. There is no way she wants people's sympathy."

It is understood the pretty brunette is now on "compassionate leave" from her work as a fashion buyer at the High Street chain where she is described by colleagues as "extremely popular". She visited the head office on Monday after being driven by her younger brother James from her parent's Berkshire home, which has a tennis court, to pick up a racquet from her Chelsea pad.

Unsurprising considering her impeccable behaviour while in the royal fold, discreet Kate has agreed with William not to talk about their four-year relationship in public. And although she's no longer a member of the royal family's inner circle, it seems Kate is set to steal the limelight for some time to come.

Photo: © Alphapress.com
William's 25-year-old ex faced the world with spirit and dignity on Monday after reportedly refusing the offer of a Mustique getaway Photo: © RexClick on photo to enlarge

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