Kate Middleton might not have a ring on her finger yet, but she did get a very special 27th birthday present - a visit from her dashing Prince at her family home.
Determined that her birthday should be a low-key affair, Kate decided to stay at home with her parents and asked 26-year-old Prince William to join her for a private celebratory dinner party with her father Michael, mother Carole, younger sister Pippa, 24, and brother James, 21.
It is the first time the Prince has actually been seen at the Middletons' house in Bucklebury, Berkshire, though he has stayed there several times secretly.
The last time he was there it was a briefer and more controversial occasion, when he landed a £10million RAF Chinook helicopter in a field owned by Kate's father while he was on a training flight.
This time, he drove to the Middletons in his black Audi shortly before 9pm on Friday and stayed the night with his girlfriend of six years. Then he drove to Highgrove yesterday afternoon.
A source said: 'William stayed over and left at about 12.30pm. His three security officers stayed down the road, so William could be on his own with Kate and her family.' William has just enjoyed a romantic break to Balmoral with his long-term girlfriend. But despite continued speculation that the Prince is about to pop the question, a senior courtier told The Mail he has no plans to propose, saying: 'There's no movement on that front; nothing's happening at all.' Friends say William has no plans to marry until he has finished his military training.
They are very close, and recently they have spent some quality time together. Kate was not very well just before Christmas but she was well enough to go to Balmoral afterwards and they had a lovely, relaxed time. In an unusual move it is understood that the couple stayed with Prince Charles and Camilla in the main house at the Scottish Royal estate. Previously they have always stayed in a country lodge in the grounds.
Kate enjoys a close relationship with Charles and Camilla and William is also said to be fond of Kate's family. Mr and Mrs Middleton attended his passing-out parade at Sandhurst. A friend said: 'William gets on very well with Kate's family, especially Pippa and James. They have started to mix in the same circles and have all been on shoots together.
'William often stays at their house and no one ever knows about it. The Middletons are an incredibly tight-knit family and never talk about William and Kate's relationship.' Mrs Middleton did, however, recently confess to a friend that she is worried about Kate's future. She's of the opinion privately that William should make an honest woman out of her, so that she isn't left waiting in limbo.' A spokesman for Prince William declined to comment.