Middleton is playing it cool until the prince is sure he wants to commit, friends say

By People Staff
Updated July 06, 2007 07:30 AM

The on-the-sly romance between Prince William and Kate Middleton is heating up – but friends say she’s playing it cool until the prince proves he’s ready to commit.

“They are clearly seeing each other,” an intimate of the pair tells PEOPLE in its new issue. “But whether they are officially dating is another matter.”

The couple, who split in April, have definitely been spending more time together. From partying at William’s army barracks in Dorset to exchanging flirtatious glances at the Concert for Diana, the royal is once again courting Middleton – but the once-burned Middleton is holding back until she has a better idea of where the relationship is headed, friends say.

“Kate isn t going to put herself up for everything again unless their relationship is going somewhere,” says one.

Somewhere as in an eventual engagement? “I think that’s the idea,” says the friend.

But there is a lot at stake for Middleton. On the rise at the fashion chain Jigsaw, she “can have a wonderful career in the fashion world,” notes royals expert Judy Wade. “That would all stop with an engagement. He has to prove to her that somehow he will make it okay for her.”

For now the prince and his maybe-girlfriend are doing their best to hide in plain sight. And insiders say they’ll stay under the radar at least until they sort out their relationship.

“If they do get back together properly, it will all be down to them,” a friend says. “Why should they tell everyone?”