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Officer cadet Wales says goodbye to civilian life

January 8, 2006
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After a romantic champagne dinner with his girlfriend Kate Middleton, and a manly squeeze from his father, Prince William was off to face one of the toughest challenges of his life. The second-in-line to the throne begins a gruelling year of training today at Sandhurst military academy. There he'll rise at 6am every morning and make his own bed - a task usually performed by servants at his Clarence House home.

On Sunday evening, looking slightly anxious, Wills was seen off in the pouring rain by Prince Charles. Later his nerves steadied enough for him to give a firm handshake to the college's Commandant, Major General Andrew Ritchie, who insisted he will not be given any special treatment.

Reporting for duty meant the young royal missed Kate's 24th birthday but made it clear just how dear she is to him. Speaking at a surprise farewell party, which she helped organise, Wills opened his heart about his "adorable Kate", saying she is always in his thoughts. Just last week on a holiday in Switzerland the Prince was photographed kissing her in public for the first time.

His new life will include polishing boots, ironing his shirts, speaking only when spoken to and a round of endless inspections. Like other recruits officer cadet Wales, as William will be known, also faces a change in look when he gets the traditional military crop, a brutally short "grade three" haircut.

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Photo: ©
Prince William faces a tough 44-week training course, during which he'll speak only when given permission and do all his own chores. The young royal also faces a separation from girlfriend Kate as he is unable to leave the base for the first five weeks after joining upPhoto: © AFPy
Photo: ©
The new recruit gives a firm handshake to Major General Andrew Ritchie, who declared that as of today "the fitness regime and tactics begin in earnest"Photo: © AFP

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