He is the only member of his Middleton clan never to have had a serious relationship – and is rated as one of Britain’s most eligible bachelors.
But James Middleton has now been taken off the market by the millionaire TV presenter Donna Air – who is seven years his senior and has a nine-year-old daughter.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that the younger brother of the Duchess of Cambridge has been secretly romancing the Newcastle-born blonde for three months.
James, 26, and Donna, 33, first met at the exclusive private members’ club, No 5 Hertford Street, in London’s Mayfair in February and have been on a string of dates since.
But now, after months of shrouding their budding romance in secrecy, James and Donna have finally told friends they are officially a couple.
‘It’s still early days but James thinks she’s great,’ says a close friend of the pair. ‘They’ve been out together to a few places – but they always choose discreet restaurants where they are less likely to get spotted.’
In March Donna took James along as her date for New York socialite Heather Kerzner’s 44th birthday party at Downtown restaurant in Mayfair – but few guests realised that they were an item.
The close friend added: ‘They have been dating for about three months. They enjoy each other’s company and are getting to know each other.’
Donna wasn’t in the UK to celebrate James’s 26th birthday last Monday as she is currently holidaying in Barbados with her daughter Freya. Freya’s father is Donna’s ex-fiance Damian Aspinall, son of zoo tycoon John Aspinall.
James is believed to have already met Freya at Donna’s home in South London. In turn Donna, who counts Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice among her friends, is believed to have met James’s other sister, Pippa.
James is a keen sportsman who has a health-conscious lifestyle. He has always preferred country house dinner parties to wild nights out on the town.
James shares the Middleton family flat in Chelsea, South-West London, with Pippa – but he enjoys spending time at the family home in Bucklebury, rural Berkshire.
James commutes there daily from Chelsea as it is the headquarters for his cake-baking business Nice Group. Party Pieces, the party decoration company founded by his parents, is also run from there.
James is said to have been keen to find a girlfriend since seeing Pippa, 29, settle down recently with 35-year-old stockbroker Nico Jackson.
James will also become an uncle for the first time this summer when sister Kate has her baby and moves into the family home for several weeks.
A friend added: ‘Donna thinks James is a kind and wonderful guy. He is a real gentleman and very generous and he is showing her a good time.’
The former Byker Grove actress split from entrepreneur Aspinall in 2007 and has since dated Campbell’s soup heir John Dorrance but has never settled down again.
In 2011 she wrote a monthly dating diary for website eHarmony, and told followers: ‘We are all united in the search for the right mate.’
James has had few long-term relationships. His first love was pretty Australian Amy Bradshaw. The relationship fizzled out when she returned home.
Most recently James had a long-distance relationship with model Emily Steel. She worked and lived in Japan and they dated from summer 2012 to January 2013.
Like his sisters, James was a student at Edinburgh University – but he dropped out of his four-year environmental resources management degree after one year.
He is said to have had several female admirers while in Scotland.