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From the Music Room of Buckingham Palace, Princess Diana and Prince Charles's first child, His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales (born June 21, 1982), squeals as baptismal water is dribbled on his head. "He's a good speech-maker," Queen Elizabeth II jokes at her grandson's first official ceremony.a
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A COMMON TOUCH
In 1991, the 8-year-old prince – nicknamed Wombat by his father – shows he's inherited Diana's trademark charm while greeting an adoring crowd of 2,500 at his first formal engagement on St. David's Day. "He has some of his mother's magic with people," says his uncle Earl Spencer. A year later, when Diana and Charles separate, William and Harry split their time between their feuding parents.a
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On Sept. 6, 1997, William, 15, and Harry, 12, say farewell to their mother, who dies in a Paris car accident at 36. The boys maintain a resilient front as they walk behind Diana's coffin in front of more than a million people who line the route of her funeral cortege. "There's not a day goes by I don't think about it,"
William later says of Diana's death.a
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At the prestigious boarding school Eton College, William, 18, matures into a dashing royal and international heartthrob. "I enjoy water polo, football and rugby – mostly team sports," says William, who also excels in geography and art history. "I've really enjoyed being able to go about Eton as just another student."a
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After graduating from Eton, William heads to university at St. Andrews in Scotland, where he meets Kate Middleton. The smitten coeds eventually begin dating and move off campus together with friends in their sophomore year. "William really has picked an absolute diamond," a source says of Middleton.a
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A ROYAL SENDOFF
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LINE OF DUTY
William enters the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2005, – where Harry is already training. His graduation the next year marks his entry into the army and Middleton's entry into the royal inner circle – it's her first official engagement in the presence of the Queen. "She is a natural," says a palace insider.
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A MOTHER'S LEGACY
Like his mom, William makes time for those less fortunate, including special needs students at Eresby School in 2008, and becomes the royal patron of the Child Bereavement Charity – to which Diana was closely linked. "I took on this role because I know what it is like to lose someone you love so much," he said.
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With Middleton looking on and his father at his side, William is formally appointed by the Queen a Royal Knight Companion – signifying his seniority within the royal family – in June 2008.a
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