Prince William: Born to Be King

From his royal christening to his knighthood, see how Diana's eldest son is being groomed for the throne

01 of 11

HEIR APPARENT

HEIR APPARENT
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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

02 of 11

WILLIAM THE PROTECTOR

WILLIAM THE PROTECTOR
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Now 7, William steps up his role as big brother to Harry, nearly 5, who joins him at Notting Hill's Wetherby School for his first day of pre-prep in September 1989. At a young age, William also becomes Diana's "chief comforter" as marital tensions rise in the royal family.a

03 of 11

A COMMON TOUCH

A COMMON TOUCH
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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

04 of 11

PUBLIC MOURNING

PUBLIC MOURNING
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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

05 of 11

PRINCE-IN-TRAINING

PRINCE-IN-TRAINING
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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

06 of 11

FAIRY-TALE BEGINNINGS

FAIRY-TALE BEGINNINGS
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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

07 of 11

A ROYAL SENDOFF

A ROYAL SENDOFF
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Days after his 23rd birthday, William graduates from St. Andrews, an event that brings out his father, new stepmom Camilla Parker Bowles and grandparents Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. "Today is a very special day for me," he says, "and I am delighted that I can share it with my family."a

08 of 11

LINE OF DUTY

LINE OF DUTY
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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.

09 of 11

A MOTHER'S LEGACY

A MOTHER'S LEGACY
Fame

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.

10 of 11

KNIGHTLY DUTIES

KNIGHTLY DUTIES
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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

11 of 11

FLYING HIGH

FLYING HIGH
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Prince Charles presents William with his wings at graduation from the Defence Helicopter Flying School at Royal Air Force Shawbury in January 2010. In the audience is Middleton, who cheers on her longtime beau as he moves one step closer to squadron pilot – and becoming future king of England.

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