Kate Middleton is not the only ordinary British-born girl to have found herself a prince. Born in Bath, Claire Louise Coombs (1973- ) grew up to marry Prince Laurent, younger son of King Albert II of Belgium. Perhaps most famous for her Natan wedding gown which was immediately copied for Anne Hathaway to wear as Princess Mia in The Princess Diaries film series, Claire is one of the few modern royal ladies without a royal job. She holds only a couple of charitable patronages and occasionally accompanies her husband on engagements, but otherwise, she is simply a working mum of three.
Claire's father was a British telephone executive who now runs his own company. Her Belgian mother was a secretary--much like Sophie Countess of Wessex's family background. Claire's family moved to her mother's homeland when Claire was three. She grew up and was educated there, and eventually became a land surveyor.
She met her colorful and sometimes controversial husband through mutual friends. He is a decade older than her, and their marriage has not been without its bumps. First, Laurent was called to testify against corruption charges when it appeared that money from the Belgian Navy was spent on their family villa in Terluven. He also nearly lost his royal funding when he traveled without permission to Africa to the former Belgian Congo. Then, last year started with rumors that the couple was separating after Claire was not seen with her husband or at official family occasions for several weeks. By March 2014, when Laurent was hospitalized for depression and pneumonia, and even placed in a temporary coma, all seemed to be well again. Claire was reported to be with him daily at the hospital and happy family photos soon followed. Since then, Claire has again been seen on family occasions.
Lovely Claire is most commonly spotted among the extended royal family at weddings and christenings, smiling serenely beneath an unusual and/or boldly colored hat on Laurent's arm with their three children, Princess Louise and twin Princes Nicolas (named for her father) and Aymeric, gathered around them. She may have the ideal princess life: continue your career, occasionally wear gorgeous tiaras, hang out with other royals, have beautiful children, rarely be bothered by the press.
For more about Claire:
Her official bio on The Belgian Monarchy
Princess Claire of Belgium on Unofficial Royalty
Top 10 Best Royal Wedding Dresses: #9 on Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor
Blogs about Claire:
Princess Claire of Belgium on Tumblr