Prince William

Boisterous and at times rebellious as a child, Prince William of Wales has matured into a strong, sensitive man, who is the pride, not just of his family, but the nation as well.

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Born William Arthur Philip Louis Windsor on June 21, 1982, he is the eldest son of Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

From an early age he was already breaking with tradition. His mother gave birth in St Mary's Hospital, London making him the first direct heir to the throne to be born outside palace walls. Unlike his father and paternal grandmother, who had private tutors, he also attended nursery school.

In 1995, after spells at Wetherby and Ludgrove Prep Schools, he started at Eton College, one of Britain's most prestigious secondary schools. There he excelled at sports – particularly swimming – and settled down to become a serious student.

His parents divorced in 1996, and the following year he was hit with the devastating news of his mother's death in a car crash in Paris. With immense courage he insisted on walking behind Princess Diana's hearse in the funeral procession.

A year later, William issued a joint statement with his younger brother, Prince Harry, asking both press and public to let the two of them get on with their lives in peace.

It was a tactic which proved largely successful, and the Prince voiced his appreciation at the tenth anniversary of the Press Complaints Commission in February 2001, his first official engagement.

After graduating from Eton with 12 GCSEs and three A-levels, William decided to study art history at the University of St Andrews in Scotland enrolling simply as "William Wales".

Before embarking on his studies in 2001, William took a gap year travelling to Chile, Kenya and New Zealand to carry out community and conservation work. Meanwhile, student applications skyrocketed at St Andrews.

In an interview before the start of his course, William insisted he planned to continue as normal a life as possible. "I just want to go to university and have fun I want to be an ordinary student," he said, adding: "I'm only going to university. It's not like I'm getting married."

Eighteen months into his studies, the Prince admitted his adjustment at St Andrews had been quite a rocky. "It's new surroundings, new scenery and I wasn't quite sure what to expect," he said in the run-up to his 21st birthday.

Feeling "a little uneasy", and unsure about whether to continue or drop out, he went home during the holidays to get some solid advice from dad. "My father was very understanding about it and realised I had the same problems he probably had... In the end I definitely realised that I had to come back."

He was also helped greatly by pretty fellow student Kate Middleton, who was one of his housemates.

Friendship blossomed into romance and the Berkshire lass proved a hit with his father and brother, when she joined them on family holidays.

Whilst William remained reticent about marriage, royal observers noted that Kate's ever-increasing presence in the young Prince's life might soon lead to wedding bells.

In 2007, just when it was thought an engagement was imminent, the duo went their separate ways. Royal watchers realised the break up was temporary when the pair were spotted kissing passionately and dancing closely at a party held in William's Army barracks.

The split had no doubt been prompted by the future King's desire to focus on his military career. He'd graduated from Sandhurst military academy the previous year, before going on to RAF Cranwell, where he earned his pilot's wings, leading to a post with the search and rescue service.

Engagement speculation once again reached fever pitch in 2010, following a visit by Kate's parents to Birkhall – Prince Charles’s private residence on the Balmoral estate.

Clarence House confirmed that William had indeed presented his sweetheart with Princess Diana's iconic sapphire ring and the couple were to wed the following year.

On April 29, 2011, they exchanged vows in a magnificent ceremony and became known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The unity and rapport between the couple meant the royal family was riding high on a wave of popularity. Wherever they went large crowds turned out, resulting in unprecedented coverage of their tour of North America, the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympic Games.

Eighteen months after their wedding the Duke and Duchess announced they were expecting their first baby. On 22 July at 4.24 pm Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge was born.

Named after the Queen's father and grandfather he is expected to reign as George VII some time towards the end of the 21st century. Britain celebrated the birth of the new royal heir with gun salutes in Green Park and the Tower of London, while the bells of Westminster Abbey rang for three hours continuously.

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