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Britain's Prince William to turn 30 on June 21

posted 18 Jun 2012, 15:49 by Mpelembe   [ updated 18 Jun 2012, 15:49 ]

Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne, will celebrate his 30th birthday on Thursday (June 21st).

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - JUNE 22, 1982)  (BBC) - William Arthur Philip Louis was born on June 21, 1982, the first child of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and Princess Diana, the most photographed woman of her generation.

William's royal position and film-star good looks would soon attract intense media attention. Shortly before his second birthday the young prince appeared fascinated by the clicking cameras at his first photo opportunity in the gardens of Kensington Palace. But William's largely unwilling relationship with the camera became evident as he watched the break-up of his parent's marriage played out in the world's media.

At the age of 13, William became the first future monarch to attend Eton College, an exclusive private school west of London noted for having educated 19 British Prime Ministers. In an attempt to head off a frenzy by reporters and paparazzi, British newspapers were threatened with new legislation if they infringed a voluntary code of practice designed to protect William's privacy during his schooling at Eton.

In August 1997, a year after his parents were granted a decree absolute ending their 15-year marriage, William and his brother Harry joined their father at Balmoral Castle, the royal family's summer home in the Scottish highlands. The royal holiday was shattered with the news of Diana's death in a car crash in Paris on August 31.

Millions of flowers were left by well-wishers outside London's royal palaces and silent mourners brought the capital to a halt as Diana's funeral cortege, escorted by her sons, made its solemn way through the streets.

To help mark William's 18th birthday, videotaped pictures of the Prince at work and play during his final days at Eton College were released. It was also William's way of thanking the media who had largely left him to enjoy his schooldays in peace.

In September 2001 William arrived at St Andrews University in Scotland to begin a four-year degree course on the history of art. The university saw a 44 percent increase in student applications - many from young women - after the handsome prince decided to enrol.

William acted as an official witness when his father married Camilla Parker Bowles in April 2005. Polls published at the time showed wide public opposition to Camilla who was blamed by many for the breakdown of Charles' marriage to Diana. Narrow majorities of the British public also voted in favour of Queen Elizabeth skipping a generation and passing the crown to her grandson William rather than to her son Charles.

In June 2005 William graduated from St Andrew's University with an upper second class honours degree, becoming the most academically accomplished member of the royal family. While at university the prince met Kate Middleton, the daughter of self-made middle-class entrepreneurs, and their relationship attracted intense interest in the royalty-obsessed tabloid media once they left the relative privacy of university life.

After a year at the elite Sandhurst military academy William graduated as an army officer in December 2006 and spent the next two years training with the army, airforce and navy in preparation for his future role as head of the armed forces. In January 2009 he began an 18-month training course as a pilot with the Royal Air Force's Search and Rescue Force (SARF).

In January 2010 William carried out his first official overseas tour, visiting Australia and New Zealand as his grandmother's representative.

In the following November Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of William and his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton. The couple broke up briefly in 2007 but were finally married in April 2011 after a courtship that lasted nearly a decade.

More than a million people thronged London's streets and a world-wide audience of over 2 billion watched the sumptuous show of British pageantry which breathed new life into the monarchy. To mark the marriage, the Queen made William the Duke of Cambridge and Kate became Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge.

For their first overseas tour the royal couple visited Canada and America in July 2011. They delighted cheering Canadians by showing their sporty side and taking part in dragon boat racing, with William giving Kate a consoling hug after his boat won.

In California they mingled with Hollywood A-listers at a BAFTA charity party held to raise money for the American Friends of The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry which is dedicated to preserving the environment, helping young people and those in the armed forces.

In February William arrived in the Falkland Islands for a posting as a military search-and rescue pilot, adding to resurging tensions between London and Buenos Aires. His seven-week deployment ended a month ahead of the 30th anniversary of the 1982 war between Britain and Argentina over the British-ruled islands.

At the beginning of June William and Kate joined the Queen, Prince Philip and other senior royals on board a gilded royal barge in a spectacular highlight of four days of nationwide events marking the monarch's Diamond Jubilee. In driving rain and biting wind, cheering crowds celebrating the Queen's 60th anniversary on the throne watched a flotilla of 1,000 boats follow the royal barge on a 7-mile (11 km) journey down the River Thames.