The second in line to the throne, William Arthur Philip Louis, born 21 June 1982, is the elder son of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
The young prince made his first public appearance, aged nine, when he accompanied his parents on an official visit to Cardiff. He was educated at Ludgrove preparatory school, before going to Eton, where he studied biology, geography and art history at A-level.
Diana Princess of Wales was determined that both her sons should have as ‘normal’ a childhood as possible and tried to give them a range of experiences – from rides on the big dippers at theme parks and trips to McDonald’s, to accompanying her on her official visits to AIDS wards and homeless shelters.
William’s most memorable public appearance as a teenager was at the funeral of his mother in September 1997 after she had died in a car crash in Paris. Along with his father, grandfather and younger brother, the 15-year-old prince walked behind the funeral cortege as it made its way through central London, enduring intense public scrutiny at a time of private grief.
William’s gap year activities included a spell with the British Army in Belize and ten weeks in Chile, where he taught children as part of a Raleigh International programme. He then went on to St Andrews University to study Art History, later changing his degree to Geography. He graduated with an upper second-class honours degree in 2005.
William graduated from Sandhurst Military Academy in 2006 and, as Lieutenant William Wales, entered the Blues and Royals as a troop commander in an armoured reconnaissance unit.
Although William wanted to see active service, government ministers advised that his personal security should be safeguarded. Instead, he went on to train in the Royal Navy and the RAF. William decided to extend his original three-year contract with the armed forces and in January 2009 began training as a helicopter pilot with the RAF Search and Rescue Force. He graduated in September 2010 and started working as part of a four-man crew based at RAF Valley in Anglesey on the north west coast of Wales with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. In 2013 he left the armed services and in 2014 started a short course in land management at Cambridge, with a view to being more actively involved with the Duchy of Cornwall, as well as taking on more royal duties. In Autumn 2014 Prince William began six months’ training for his new job as a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance, which involves acquiring a civil pilot’s licence. The Prince will donate his salary to charity.
During his time at St Andrews William met a fellow student, Catherine Middleton, known popularly as Kate. In June 2008 Middleton attended William’s investiture into the Order of the Garter with other members of the royal family. On 16 November 2010 Clarence House announced their engagement.
On 29 April 2011, in front of a worldwide television audience of two billion, Prince William married Catherine (Kate) Middleton, in Westminster Abbey.
On the morning of the wedding, Buckingham Palace released a statement to say that The Queen had created her grandson, Prince William of Wales, Duke of Cambridge. The title also has lesser (or subsidiary) titles, in this case Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. The correct forms of address for William and Catherine are now His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.
The first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, George Alexander Louis, was born 22 July 2013, the second, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, on 2 May 2015, and the third, Louis Arthur Charles, on 23 April 2018.
William undertook his first independent overseas tour in 2005, when he travelled to New Zealand to participate in World War II commemorations. He has been involved in charity work since an early age and is patron of a number of charities, including the homeless charity Centrepoint, the Royal Marsden Hospital and Mountain Rescue England and Wales. He is also a patron of Tusk Trust, a wildlife conservation organisation based in Africa, and The Queen Elizabeth II Fields, an initiative of the Fields Trust. A full list of Prince William’s charities and patronages can be found here.
To further their charitable work, Prince Harry and Prince William created their own Foundation in 2009, now called the Royal Foundation. The Duchess of Cambridge also became a Patron in 2011, and the Duchess of Sussex in 2018.
The Foundation launched the Heads Together campaign in 2017, which partnered with eight mental health charities to open up the conversation surrounding mental health and to provide help to those suffering from mental health problems such as depression, PTSD, anxiety and loneliness.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with Prince Harry, were Official Ambassadors for Team GB and Paralympics GB for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
William enjoys sport and, like his father, is a keen polo player, although he now mainly plays in exhibition matches for good causes. He is also the vice-patron of the Welsh Rugby Union, and an enthusiastic football fan, who supports Aston Villa and is President of the Football Association (FA).
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis live in Kensington Palace, in the apartments once used by Princess Margaret, and in 2014 also took possession of a country house, Anmer Hall, on The Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk.