Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, KG, KT, PC, ADC(P) (William Arthur Philip Louis;born 21 June 1982) is the elder son of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales. He is second in the line of succession to the British throne, after his father.
William was educated at four schools in the United Kingdom and obtained a degree from the University of St Andrews. He spent parts of a gap year in Chile, Belize, and some parts of Africa. In December 2006, he completed 44 weeks of training as an officer cadet and was commissioned in the Blues and Royals regiment. In April 2008, he qualified as a pilot (earning his wings) by completing pilot training at Royal Air Force College Cranwell. He then underwent helicopter flying training in order to become a full-time pilot with the RAF Search and Rescue Force in early 2009. His service with the British Armed Forces ended in September 2013.
William married Catherine Middleton on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey. Hours before the wedding, he was created Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, and Baron Carrickfergus. The couple’s first child, Prince George, was born on 22 July 2013, and their second, Princess Charlotte, was born on 2 May 2015.
William was born at St Mary’s Hospital, London, on 21 June 1982 at 9:03 pm as the first child of Charles, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to Queen Elizabeth II, and Diana, Princess of Wales. His names, William Arthur Philip Louis, were announced by Buckingham Palace a week later on 28 June. He was baptised in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace on 4 August (the 82nd birthday of his paternal great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie. He was the first child born to a Prince and Princess of Wales since Prince John in 1905.
At age seven, William reportedly told his mother that he wanted to be a police officer when he was older so that he might be able to protect her; a statement to which his brother Harry responded: “Oh, no you can’t. You’ve got to be King.” William’s first public appearance was on 1 March 1991 (Saint David’s Day), during an official visit of his parents to Cardiff, Wales. After arriving by aeroplane, William was taken to Llandaff Cathedral where he signed the visitors’ book, thereby demonstrating that he was left-handed. On 3 June 1991, William was admitted to Royal Berkshire Hospital after being accidentally hit on the side of the forehead by a fellow student wielding a golf club. He did not lose consciousness, but suffered a depressed fracture of the skull and was operated on at Great Ormond Street Hospital, resulting in a permanent scar. In a 2009 interview, he dubbed this scar a “Harry Potter scar”. He was reported to have said, “I call it that because it glows sometimes and some people notice it—other times they don’t notice it at all”.
His mother wanted him and his younger brother Harry to have wider experiences than are usual for royal children. She took them to Walt Disney World and McDonald’s as well as AIDS clinics and shelters for the homeless. She bought them typical teenage items, such as video games. Diana, who was by then divorced from the Prince of Wales, died in a car accident in the early hours of 31 August 1997. William, then aged 15, along with his brother who was 12, and father, was staying at Balmoral Castle at the time. The Prince of Wales waited until his sons woke the following morning to tell them about their mother’s death. At his mother’s funeral, William accompanied his father, brother, paternal grandfather and maternal uncle in walking behind the funeral cortège from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey.
William began to accompany his parents on official visits at an early age. In 1983, he accompanied his parents on an overseas tour to Australia and New Zealand, a decision made by the Princess of Wales that was considered to be unconventional; not only was William so young, but both the first and second in line for the throne would be travelling together.
William was educated at independent schools, starting at Jane Mynors’ nursery school and the pre-preparatory Wetherby School, both in London. Following this, he attended Ludgrove School near Wokingham, Berkshire, and was privately tutored during summers by Rory Stewart. At Ludgrove he also participated in football—along with swimming, basketball, clay pigeon shooting, and cross country running. William sat the entrance exam to Eton College and was admitted. There, he studied Geography, Biology and History of Art at A-Level, obtaining an ‘A’ in Geography, a ‘C’ in Biology and a ‘B’ in History of Art. At Eton, he continued to play football, captaining his house team, and took up water polo. The decision to place William in Eton went against the family tradition of sending royal children to Gordonstoun (William’s grandfather, father, two uncles, and two cousins all attended); however, Diana’s father and brother had both attended Eton. The Royal Family and the tabloid press agreed that William would be allowed to study free of paparazzi intrusion in exchange for regular updates on the Prince’s life. The chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, John Wakeham, said of the arrangement: “Prince William is not an institution; nor a soap star; nor a football hero. He is a boy: in the next few years, perhaps the most important and sometimes painful part of his life, he will grow up and become a man.”
After completing his studies at Eton, William took a gap year, during which he took part in British Army training exercises in Belize, worked on English dairy farms, visited Africa, and for ten weeks taught children in southern Chile. As part of the Raleigh International programme in the town of Tortel, William lived with other young volunteers, sharing in the common household chores, including cleaning the toilet, and also volunteered as the guest radio jockey for the local radio station.
By 2001, William was back in the United Kingdom and had enrolled at the University of St Andrews. News of this caused a temporary increase in the number of applications to St Andrews, mostly from young women who wanted an opportunity to meet him. The extra attention did not deter him, though, and he embarked on a degree course in Art History, later changing his main subject to Geography, and going on to earn a Scottish Master of Arts degree with upper second class honours. While at university, he represented the Scottish national universities water polo team at the Celtic Nations tournament in 2004. He was known as “Steve” by other students to avoid any journalists overhearing and realising his identity.
William returned to St Andrews in February 2011 as patron of the university’s 600th Anniversary Appeal.
To prepare for eventually managing the Duchy of Cornwall Estate, in 2014 William enrolled in a vocational agricultural management course at Cambridge organised by the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL), whose patron is his father, the Prince of Wales. The estate is a “£760 million (about $1.25 billion) entity established in 1337 to provide a private income for use by the reigning monarch’s eldest son”, which William will inherit when his father becomes King.
Having decided to follow a military career, in October 2005 William attended the four-day Regular Commissions Board at Westbury in Wiltshire, where he underwent selection to judge his suitability to become an army officer. Having passed selection, William was admitted to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in January 2006. Successfully completing the course, William was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant at Sandhurst on 15 December 2006; the graduation parade was attended by the Queen and the Prince of Wales, along with other members of the Royal Family. William officially received his commission as a lieutenant at midnight. With his rank obtained, as “Lieutenant Wales” (a name based on his father’s title, Prince of Wales), he followed his younger brother into the Blues and Royals as a troop commander in an armoured reconnaissance unit, after which he spent four months in training for the post at Bovington Camp, Dorset.
Once officially enrolled and commissioned in the armed forces, William wanted active service; in this there were recent precedents: his great-great-uncle Edward VIII, when Prince of Wales, served in France during the First World War; his great-grandfather King George VI served during World War I with the Navy at the Battle of Jutland and in France with the Air Force; and his paternal grandfather Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, served with distinction during World War II. More recently, his uncle Prince Andrew, Duke of York, served in the Falklands War.
Though Major-General Sir Sebastian Roberts, General Officer commanding the Household Division, had said William’s deployment was possible, the Prince’s position as second in line to the throne, and the convention of ministers advising against the person in that position being put into dangerous situations, cast doubts on William’s chances of seeing combat. These doubts increased after Prince Harry’s deployment was cancelled in 2007, due to “specific threats”. William, instead, went on to training in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, obtaining his commission as a sub-lieutenant in the former and flying officer in the latter (both broadly equivalent to the rank of lieutenant in the army). With this complete, William undertook an attachment with the Royal Air Force, undergoing an intensive four-month training course at RAF Cranwell. Upon completing the course on 11 April 2008, he was presented with his RAF wings by his father, who had himself received his wings after training at the same college. During this secondment Prince William flew to Afghanistan in a C-17 Globemaster, which repatriated the body of Trooper Robert Pearson. William had been affectionately known by his fellow airmen as “Billy the Fish”, a pun on the name “William Wales”.
William was then seconded to train with the Royal Navy for two months, from June to August 2008, during which he spent three weeks at the Britannia Royal Naval College, training on units of the surface fleet and submarines, as well as with the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Marines. He spent a day on submarine HMS Talent. During a five-week deployment on HMS Iron Duke in the Caribbean, he took part in a joint operation with the United States Coast Guard that identified and captured a speedboat carrying 900 kg of cocaine worth about £40 million. The ship also took part in other raids.
Owing to William’s future role, a long-term career in the military was considered out of the question; due to his position his desire to see active service was always unlikely to be fulfilled. William originally joined the military on a short-service commission lasting three years. However, it was announced in September 2008 that he would be extending his time in the forces, first by taking on another secondment in 2008, including working at the MOD and non-operational flying with the Army Air Corps. Then it was announced that he would transfer from the Army to the RAF in order to train as a full-time search and rescue helicopter pilot, a role that would enable him to take an active role in the armed forces without being deployed on combat operations.
In January 2009, William transferred his commission to the RAF and was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. He trained to become a helicopter pilot with the RAF’s Search and Rescue Force. In January 2010, he graduated from the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury, where he had been under the instruction of Squadron Leader Craig Finch. On 26 January 2010, he transferred to the Search and Rescue Training Unit at RAF Valley on Anglesey to receive training on the Sea King search and rescue helicopter; he graduated from this course on 17 September 2010. This made him the first member of the British Royal Family since Henry VII to live in Wales.
It was announced on 15 April 2010 that William would remain at RAF Valley for his operational tour, being assigned to C Flight No. 22 Squadron and initially performing co-pilot duties. His operational tour was expected to last 30 to 36 months.
His first rescue mission (as co-pilot of an RAF Sea King Helicopter) was a response to an emergency call from the Liverpool Coastguard on 2 October 2010. William, who was excited to finally take part in an active mission, and the other three members of the crew, flew from their base at RAF Valley to an offshore gas rig in Morecambe Bay, northwest England. A man who had suffered an apparent heart attack on the rig was airlifted to a local hospital. In November 2011, he participated in a search and rescue mission involving a sinking cargo ship in the Irish Sea, when as a co-pilot, he helped rescue two sailors.
William deployed to the Falkland Islands for a six-week tour with No. 1564 Flight, beginning in February and ending in March 2012. The deployment of the Duke to the Falklands close to the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the conflict (2 April 1982) was condemned by Argentina as a “provocative act”.
In June 2012 Prince William gained a qualification to be captain or pilot in command of a Sea King rather than a co-pilot. His active service as an RAF search and rescue pilot ended in September 2013.
In 2014, it was announced that the Duke would take on a full-time role as a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), based at Cambridge Airport. Although a qualified military pilot authorised to operate as a Sea King captain, William needed a civil pilot’s licence and further training before being permitted to take command of the Air Ambulance. The position is paid, but it was announced that the Duke would donate his full salary (estimated as about £40,000 per year) to the Air Ambulance charity. The Duke of Cambridge spent time at Norwich Airport as part of his training as an EAAA pilot. On 13 July 2015, the Duke started his new job, which he felt was a natural progression from his previous job as a search-and-rescue pilot with the Royal Air Force.
Upon graduation from university, William began to undertake public duties of his own, as well as obtaining private work experience by interning in land management at Chatsworth House and in banking at HSBC.
At the age of 21, Prince William was appointed as a Counsellor of State, and first served in that capacity when the Queen was in Nigeria to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2003. For his 21st birthday, William accompanied his father on a tour of Wales, visiting the Anglesey Food Fair and opening a centre for the homeless in Newport. By July 2005, he was on his first solo overseas tour, travelling to New Zealand, to participate in World War II commemorations on behalf of his grandmother in her role as Queen of New Zealand. For the 30th anniversary of his father’s charity, The Prince’s Trust, William and his brother were interviewed together for the first time by television personalities Ant & Dec. In July 2007, Prince William accompanied his grandmother’s cousin the Duke of Kent, who is president of the UK Scout Association, in opening the 21st World Scout Jamboree, celebrating the centennial of the founding of the Scout Movement.
Tina Brown said in her 2007 biography of Diana, Princess of Wales, that Prince William had, like his father, expressed a desire to become Governor-General of Australia. Prime Minister of Australia John Howard said: “We have for a long time embraced the idea that the person who occupies that post should be in every way an Australian citizen.”
In 2009, a private office was set up for William by his grandmother, with Sir David Manning as his adviser.
Manning personally accompanied him in January 2010 as he toured Auckland and Wellington on behalf of the Queen; William opened the new building of the Supreme Court of New Zealand and was welcomed by a Māori chief. William succeeded Lord Attenborough in 2010 as the fifth president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
In March 2011, William visited Christchurch, New Zealand, after the recent earthquake, and spoke at the memorial service at Hagley Park, on behalf of his grandmother. Upon leaving New Zealand, William travelled to Australia, to visit areas badly affected by flooding in the states of Queensland and Victoria. After twice accompanying his parents to Canada, Prince William, with his wife, toured the country and visited the United States in June and July 2011, attending Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill. On 2 November, the Duke and Duchess visited the UNICEF Supply Division Centre for supplying food to malnourished African children in Copenhagen, Denmark. In September 2012, they toured Singapore, Malaysia, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
In April 2014, the Duke and Duchess undertook a royal tour together to New Zealand and Australia. From 20–21 September, he took his wife’s place on a tour of Malta, for the island’s 50th anniversary of its independence from Britain. On 21 October, the Duke and Duchess met the President of Singapore Tony Tan as part of his state visit to the United Kingdom. In December 2014, he met U.S. President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, publicly advocating against illegal wildlife trade.
In 2015, Prince William visited Beijing, Shanghai and Yunnan in China from 1 to 4 March. Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed him as he began the first visit to the mainland by a member of the British royal family in almost three decades.
William became aware of HIV/AIDS in the mid-1990s, when his mother began to take her two sons to visit shelters and clinics for those suffering from the disease. In January 2005, William and his brother volunteered at a British Red Cross aid distribution centre to pack emergency supplies for countries that were affected by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Later, in September, William granted his patronage to Centrepoint, a charity that assists the homeless. During the period when his mother had been patron of Centrepoint, he had accompanied her on visits to its headquarters and projects.
William also worked in the children’s unit at The Royal Marsden Hospital for two days of work experience in 2005, as well as helping out in the medical research, catering, and fund raising departments. The same year, he spent two weeks in North Wales with a mountain rescue team. In May 2007, William became patron of both organisations (his mother had also previously been patron of the Royal Marsden Hospital) and he became attracted to Mountain Rescue England and Wales in order to, in his words, “highlight and celebrate the vital, selfless and courageous work of our mountain rescue organisations”.
Prince William also became a patron of the Tusk Trust in December 2005, a charity that works towards conserving wildlife and initiating community development, including providing education, across Africa. He became associated with the organisation after he witnessed its work first hand in Africa. Saying “rural African initiatives that foster education, responsibility and participation in the local community light the way to conservation”, he carried out his first official duty with the trust in launching a 5,000-mile (8,000 km) bike ride across the African continent in 2007. In 2010, he also became a patron of 100 Women in Hedge Funds Philanthropic Initiatives.
In March 2011, the Duke and Duchess set up a gift fund held by The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry to allow well-wishers who wanted to give them a wedding gift to donate money to charities instead. The gift fund supported 26 charities of the couple’s choice, incorporating the armed forces, children, the elderly, art, sport and conservation. These causes are close to their hearts and reflect the experiences, passions and values of their lives so far.
William plays polo for charitable causes. He is a fan of football and supports Aston Villa. He became President of England’s Football Association in May 2006 and vice royal patron of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) in February 2007 (supporting the Queen as patron of the WRU). The same year, the WRU’s decision to name a new cup for test matches between Wales and South Africa the Prince William Cup caused controversy, with some believing it would have been more fitting to name the trophy after Ray Gravell.
In 2006, William, along with other Sandhurst officers, took part in running one mile to support the charity Sport Relief, as he had done in 2004 with a team from Clarence House. In May 2007, William became patron of the English Schools’ Swimming Association. In 2013 he succeeded his grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh as president of the UK charity Fields in Trust, formerly the National Playing Fields Association.
William and his brother are both enthusiastic motorcyclists, with William owning a Ducati 1198 S Corse.
In May 2014 the Duke followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather to become president of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC).
On 16 November 2010, Clarence House announced that Prince William and Middleton were to marry; the couple had become engaged in Kenya in October. The engagement ring given by William to Catherine was that which had belonged to his mother.
The wedding took place on 29 April 2011 in Westminster Abbey, London. A few hours prior to the ceremony, William’s new titles of Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, and Baron Carrickfergus were announced.
His wife’s first pregnancy was announced on 3 December 2012. She was admitted on 22 July 2013 to the Lindo Wing, St Mary’s Hospital, London, where Prince William himself had been delivered. Later that day, she gave birth to a son – Prince George. On 8 September 2014, it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant with her second child. She was admitted on 2 May 2015 to the same hospital where she had first given birth and gave birth to Princess Charlotte