Following in the footsteps of those who came before him. Prince William has known since he was young that one day he will become the king of England, but in the meantime, he has made his own way as a high-ranking member of the British royal family.
King Charles III and Princess Diana welcomed their first child, son William, in June 1982. Their second child, son Prince Harry, arrived in September 1984. However, the brothers suffered two childhood tragedies: first, their parents’ divorce in August 1996 and then, their mother’s death in August 1997.
William has been open about the aftermath of his mother’s untimely death in the years since the loss. “I think when you are bereaved at a very young age, anytime really, but particularly at a young age — I can resonate closely to that — you feel pain like no other pain,” he explained during BBC’s A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health in 2019. “And you know that in your life it’s going to be very difficult to come across something that is going to be an even worse pain than that.”
The Duke of Cambridge and Harry leaned on each other, and William attempted to carry on with his life amid his grief. He eventually met his future wife, Princess Kate, while attending college in Scotland. The country holds a special significance for him because it is the same place where he spent time with family after Diana’s death.
William and Kate married in April 2011. Prior to their enviable royal wedding, they shared rare details about their relationship in their 2010 engagement interview. “Obviously we both have a very fun time together, both have a very good sense of humor about things, we’re down to earth, we take the mickey out of each other a lot, and she’s got plenty of habits that make me laugh that I tease her about,” he gushed.
The Duchess of Cambridge, for her part, raved, “Over the years, William has looked after me, he’s treated me very well — as the loving boyfriend he is, he is very supportive of me through the good times and also through the bad times.”
William got real about adjusting to fatherhood in November 2016. “It’s been quite a change for me personally. I’m very lucky in the support I have from Catherine. She’s an amazing mother and a fantastic wife,” he said on Talk Vietnam. “I’ve struggled at times. The alteration from being a single, independent man to going into marriage and then having children is life-changing.”
He and his family were all in attendance at Charles’ coronation in May 2023. During the ceremony, William gave his father a sweet kiss on the cheek after presenting him with the Stole Royal and the Robe Royal.
Scroll through the gallery below to relive William’s life in photos:
Diana gave birth to Prince William Arthur Philip Louis at St Mary’s Hospital in London on June 21, 1982. Upon his arrival, he became the second in line to the British throne after the late Queen Elizabeth II and her heir apparent, Charles.
William went on his first royal tour in 1983 at just 9 months old when Charles and Diana traveled to Australia and New Zealand. The trip marked his first time overseas.
William attended Mrs. Mynors’ Nursery School from 1985 to 1987 and Wetherby School from 1987 to 1990. He enrolled at Ludgrove School in 1990 and studied there until 1995 when he began going to Eton College. He was known for his athleticism and good grades.
Charles and Diana’s separation was confirmed in December 1992. They finalized their divorce in August 1996.
Diana died in August 1997 at age 36 following a car accident in Paris. William was 15 at the time. “When you have something as traumatic as the death of your mother when you’re 15 … it will either make or break you,” he explained in the 2017 documentary Diana, 7 Days. “And I wouldn’t let it break me. I wanted it to make me. I wanted her to be proud of the person I would become, and I didn’t want her worried or her legacy to be that William or Harry were completely and utterly devastated by it and that all the hard work and all the love and all the energy she put into us when we were younger would go to waste.”
After William graduated from Eton in 2000, he took a gap year, traveling to Belize, Africa and Chile and doing volunteer work. He began attending the University of St Andrews in 2001. He majored in art history before changing his focus to geography.
William met Kate in 2001 while they were both students at St Andrews. They were friends first and later started dating in 2003. They briefly broke up in 2007 but ultimately reconciled.
The prince graduated from college in 2005 and subsequently held internships in land management and banking. In July of that year, he leaned into his royal duties by going on his first solo overseas tour to New Zealand.
William gained admittance to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in January 2006. He became a lieutenant and was a troop commander with the Blues and Royals. He trained with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry was created in 2009 and has since focused on supporting multiple causes, including those involving mental health, children and veterans. The organization became The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2019.
William transferred to the Royal Air Force in 2009 to be a flight lieutenant. He became a helicopter pilot with the Search and Rescue Force in 2010.
Clarence House announced William and Kate’s engagement in November 2010 after he proposed in Kenya one month earlier. Her ring previously belonged to Diana.
The couple tied the knot at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, with 1,900 guests in attendance.
The newlyweds undertook their first royal tour in June and July 2011 when they visited Canada.
William and Kate’s first child, son George, arrived on July 22, 2013. They introduced their baby boy on the steps of the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital shortly after, as they did with Charlotte and Louis in the years that followed.
William’s active service as a search-and-rescue pilot with the Royal Air Force ended in September 2013. He left the military to focus on his royal duties and charitable work.
William and Kate’s second child, daughter Charlotte, made her debut on May 2, 2015. The Succession to the Crown Act of 2013 ensured that Charlotte’s place in the line of succession did not change based on her gender.
William made his next career move in 2014 when he accepted a full-time role in the private sector as a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance. He received further training and officially began the job in July 2015. His position was paid, but he donated his salary to charity.
William left his job as an air ambulance pilot in July 2017 to assume his royal duties full time.
Kate gave birth to her third child with William, son Louis, on April 23, 2018.
Harry confirmed his rift with William in the October 2019 documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey. “Part of this role and part of this job, this family, being under the pressure that it’s under, inevitably stuff happens,” the Duke of Sussex explained. “But look, we’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers. We’re certainly on different paths at the moment but I’ll always be there for him and as I know he’ll always be there for me.”
William and Kate celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in April 2021. “We are enormously grateful for the 10 years of support we have received in our lives as a family,” they wrote via Instagram at the time.
The Cambridges marked the queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a Caribbean tour, visiting Belize and Caribbean islands that are members of the British Commonwealth.
During the sovereign’s Jubilee celebrations, William and Charles received the official Trooping the Colour salute for the first time. Elizabeth, who has previously received the military honor throughout her reign, sat out amid previous health concerns and watched from the Buckingham Palace balcony.
William rushed to be by his grandmother Elizabeth’s side at Balmoral in Scotland in September 2022 as doctors grew concerned for her health. He was joined by his father, Camilla and other members of the royal family before the palace confirmed the queen’s death at age 96 on September 8, 2022.
After the queen’s death, Charles confirmed that his eldest son would be known henceforth as the Prince of Wales, which is the title reserved for the heir apparent. William also gained the title Duke of Cornwall, which was held by his father before he acceded to the throne.
“As my heir, William now assumes the Scottish titles which have meant so much to me. He succeeds me as Duke of Cornwall and takes on the responsibilities, which I have undertaken for more than five decades,” Charles said during his first speech as king. “Today, I am proud to create him Prince of Wales, Tywysog Cymru, the country whose title I have been so greatly privileged to bear during so much of my life and duty. With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the center ground where vital help can be given.”
William continued to do royal engagements solo and with Kate ahead of his dad’s coronation in May 2023. His relationship with Harry, meanwhile, remained strained as the younger sibling dropped the tell-all book Spare.
“William feels that Harry is all smoke and mirrors and is not to be trusted. He’s trying to move on with his life,” a source told Us, adding that “there has been a massive breach of trust” between the brothers.
William attended his father’s coronation in May 2023 alongside his wife, Kate, their children — George, Charlotte, and Louis — and other royal family members. He presented Charles with the Stole Royal and Robe Royal during the ceremony, after which he gave his dad an emotional kiss on the cheek.
“I, William, Prince of Wales, pledge my loyalty to you, and faith and truth I will bear unto you as your liege man of life and limb, so help me God,” William said at the historic event.
William accompanied Charles in the Trooping the Colour parade in June, where they both rode on horses.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Us Weekly.