Britain's Prince William and his bride-to-be, Kate Middleton, will sit down with royal advisers today to begin planning their wedding day.
The couple ended months of speculation yesterday by announcing their engagement and William revealed he used his mother Diana, Princess of Wales’s engagement ring to propose to his fiancee as a way of honouring her memory.
A date for the wedding has yet to set but it will take place in either spring or summer next year.
A St James’s Palace spokesman stressed that the couple would be very hands-on and involved in organising the details of the event.
He said: “It’s very much their day like any other couple, and they will make the decisions all the way through – they want the day to be enjoyable for everybody.”
With the country barely out of recession and stringent cuts announced by the British government last month, the spokesman added that they would also be “mindful of the economic situation”.
A whole host of decisions will need to be taken, from the date and location of the ceremony down to the stationery used for the guests’ invitations.
The creation of the bride’s dress and which designer will be given the commission will be something for Kate Middleton alone and will generate much media speculation.
During an interview held last night with his fiancee, William explained why he had used his mother’s priceless ring.
He said: “It’s my mother’s engagement ring so I thought it was quite nice because obviously she’s not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all – this was my way of keeping her close to it all.”
The wedding is expected to take place in London with prospective venues including St Paul’s – where William’s parents married – or Westminster Abbey, where Diana’s funeral was held.
Speculation on the date of the wedding will be rife in the coming weeks.
In a frantic day yesterday, the couple also revealed intimate details about their life together, including how their break-up three years ago had brought them closer together.
At the time it was reported that William’s military life drove them apart but during last night’s relaxed interview he stated: “Well, I think, to be honest, I wouldn’t believe everything you read in the paper but in that particular instance we did split up for a bit.”
He suggested that their time apart helped the relationship saying: “It was very much trying to find our own way and we were growing up, it was a bit of space and a bit of things like that and it worked out for the better.”
Kate revealed that she was upset about the break-up: “I, at the time, wasn’t very happy about it, but actually it made me a stronger person. You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realised. I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you are younger and I really valued that time for me although I didn’t think it at the time.”
The couple also divulged that they were planning to have children in the future.
The intricacies of proposing were revealed by William, who said he took the unusual step of asking his girlfriend to marry him before asking the permission of her father, Michael.
He revealed that he carried his mother’s engagement ring around in his rucksack for three weeks before proposing while on holiday.
For the past six months Miss Middleton has spent part of the week living with William in a rented cottage on Anglesey. The couple are expected to set up home there following their marriage.
The royal wedding will take place in London in the spring or summer of 2011, Clarence House said.
The Queen and the Prince of Wales both commented on William’s tardiness in proposing.
The Queen told a guest at a Windsor Castle reception for leaders of British overseas territories: “It is brilliant news. It has taken them a very long time.”
Charles said he was thrilled about his son’s engagement, joking: “They have been practising long enough.”
Prince Harry, a trainee Apache helicopter pilot, said he was “delighted” his brother had “popped the question”, adding: “It means I get a sister, which I have always wanted.”
Speaking outside their home in Bucklebury, Berkshire, Kate Middleton’s parents, Michael and Carole, said they were “absolutely delighted”.
Prime Minister David Cameron described it as “a great day for our country” and said the Prince was “thrilled” when he rang him to offer his congratulations.
Tom Bradby: People are obviously very curious about you, so let’s start with the obvious.
William, where did you propose, when, how, and Kate, what did you say?
William: It was about three weeks ago on holiday in Kenya. We had a little private time away together with some friends and I just decided that it was the right time really.
We had been talking about marriage for a while so it wasn’t a massively big surprise. I took her up somewhere nice in Kenya and I proposed.
Kate: It was very romantic (laughs). There’s a true romantic in there.
TB: So you said yes, obviously?
Kate: Of course, yes.
TB: And you knew you were going to do this from day one of the holiday or you waited until the end?
William: I’d been planning it for a while but, as any guy out there will know, it takes a certain amount of motivation to get yourself going. I was planning it and then it just felt really right out in Africa. It was beautiful at the time. I had done a little bit of planning to show my romantic side.
TB: Kate, you’d been on holiday a while so did you see this coming, was he getting a bit nervous and jumpy?
Kate: No, not at all because we were out with friends and things so I really didn’t expect it all.
I thought he might have maybe thought about it but no. It was a total shock when it came, and very excited.
TB: And produced a ring there and then?
William: I did, yes. I had been carrying it around with me in my rucksack for about three weeks before that and I literally would not let it go. Everywhere I went I was keeping hold of it because I knew this thing, if it disappeared, I would be in a lot of trouble and, because I’d planned it, it went fine. You hear a lot of horror stories about proposing and things going horribly wrong – it went really, really well and I was really pleased when she said yes.
TB: It’s a family ring?
William: It is a family ring, yes. It’s my mother’s engagement ring so I thought it was quite nice because obviously she’s not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all – this was my way of keeping her close to it all.
TB: I guess we’d better have a look at it. What kind of ring is it, are you an expert?
William: I’m not an expert. I’ve been reliably informed it’s a sapphire with some diamonds. But I’m sure everyone recognises it from previous times.
Kate: It’s beautiful.
TB: Kate, you’re going to be the envy of many.
Kate: Well, I just hope I look after it. It’s very, very special.
TB: It has to be said, you both look incredibly happy and relaxed.
William: We are. We’re like sort of ducks, very calm on the surface with little feet going under the water. It’s been really exciting. We’ve been talking about it for a long time so, for us, it’s a real relief and it’s really nice to be able to tell everybody.
Especially for the last two or three weeks it’s been quite difficult not telling anyone, keeping it to ourselves for reasons we had to. And it’s really nice to finally be able to share it with everyone.
TB: You obviously had kept it a secret. Did you ask Kate’s dad and what did he say and what did your respective parents say when you told them?
William: Well, I was torn between asking Kate’s dad first and then the realisation that he might actually say ’no’ dawned upon me. So I thought if I ask Kate first then he can’t really say no. So I did it that way round. I managed to speak to Mike soon after it happened really and then it sort of happened from there.
TB: Kate, what did your mum say?
Kate: I think, as any mother would be, she was absolutely over the moon. And actually we had quite an awkward situation because I knew, and I knew that William had asked my father, but I didn’t know if my mother knew. So I came back from Scotland and my mother didn’t make it clear to me whether she knew or not so both of us were there sort of looking at each other and feeling quite awkward about it. But it was amazing to tell her and obviously she was very happy for us.
TB: One of the things that has been clear for a long time is you very evidently have a close-knit family and family’s very important to you.
Kate: Yes. It’s very important to me. And I hope we will be able to have a happy family ourselves. Because they’ve been great over the years - helping me with difficult times. We see a lot of each other and they are very, very dear to me.
TB: People are bound to ask you know... children, do you want lots of children? See what comes? What’s your...?
William: I think we’ll take it one step at a time. We’ll sort of get over the marriage first and then maybe look at the kids. But obviously we want a family so we’ll have to start thinking about that.
TB: When did you first set eyes on each other and what did you think?
William: It’s a long time ago now, Tom, I’m trying to wrack my brain about it all. We obviously met at university – at St Andrews. We were friends for over a year first and it just sort of blossomed from then on. We just spent more time with each other had a good giggle, had lots of fun and realised we shared the same interests and just had a really good time.
She’s got a really naughty sense of humour, which kind of helps me because I’ve got a really dry sense of humour, so it was good fun, we had a really good laugh and then things happened.
TB: Kate, what did you think of William. It’s clearly not quite the same as meeting your average university student, or maybe it was. What was your first impression?
Kate: Well I actually think I went bright red when I met you and sort of scuttled off, feeling very shy about meeting you. Actually William wasn’t there for quite a bit of the time initially. He wasn’t there for Freshers’ Week, so it did take a bit of time for us to get to know each other but we did become very close friends from quite early on.
TB: There’s a story that goes around that you had a picture of him on your wall.
William: There wasn’t just one, there was about 20.
Kate: He wishes. No, I had the Levis guy on my wall, not a picture of William, sorry.
William: It was me in Levis obviously.
TB: You ended up in the same flat. Was that, if you don’t mind me asking, before you were going out?
William: No. We moved in together as friends because we were living together, we lived with a couple of others as well, it just sort of blossomed from there really. We just saw more of each other, hung out a bit more and did stuff.
TB: Does William ever cook or indeed do anything useful around the house?
William: Define useful, Tom.
TB: Let’s not go there.
Kate: He did cook for me quite a bit at university, and it would always come with a bit of angst and a bit of anger if something had gone wrong and I would have to wander in and save something that was going.
TB: So, being honest, is that a skill that’s declining over time or improving?
William: I would say I’m getting better at cooking. Kate would say I’m getting a lot worse.
Kate: I don’t give him enough chance to practise.
William: No, that is true. I get quite lazy about cooking because when I come back from work it is the last thing I want to do, really is spend loads of time cooking. When I was trying to impress Kate I was trying to cook these amazing fancy dinners and what would happen was I would burn something, something would overspill, something would catch on fire and she would be sitting in the background just trying to help, and basically taking control of the whole situation, so I was quite glad she was there at the time.
TB: Slightly awkward for the other flatmates or OK?
William: No, to be honest they were used to it, watching things catching fire - they found it very amusing.
TB: But I mean having the two of you going out in the flat, or did they just not bat an eyelid?
William: I think at first they were a bit surprised that it had happened, then they realised it was really nice and it was good fun and we got on really well. They were good friends of ours as well so we had a good giggle with them as well.
TB: I suppose a lot of people are going to wonder, the first meeting with the families, again, not necessarily your average meeting. Kate, what was your first impression of the family?
Kate: Well, I was quite nervous about meeting William’s father, but no, he was very, very welcoming, very friendly, it couldn’t have gone easier really for me.
TB: Meeting the grandmother, the Queen, again not your average meeting with a grandmother. Were you nervous about that too?
Kate: Well, I first met her at Peter and Autumn’s wedding and again it was in amongst a lot of other guests and she was very friendly.
William: She was very welcoming, she knew it was a big day and everything was going on with Peter and Autumn. She had wanted to meet Kate for a while, so it was very nice for her to come over and say hello. We had a little chat and got on very well.
TB: You clearly are tremendously fond of each other’s families and I’m guessing that is going to be a big part of your life going forward.
William: It definitely will, as you know, Kate’s family, Kate’s got a very, very close family. I get on really well with them and I’m very lucky that they’ve been so supportive. Mike and Carole have been really loving and caring and really fun and have been really welcoming towards me so I’ve felt really a part of the family and I hope that Kate’s felt the same with my family.
TB: People are bound to ask, you leave university, you have been going out a bit and you split up, famously, all over the papers, what was all that about, people are bound to want to know.
William: Well, I think, to be honest, I wouldn’t believe everything you read in the paper, but in that particular instance we did split up for a bit. We were both very young, it was at university, we were both finding ourselves as such and being different characters and stuff. It was very much trying to find our own way and we were growing up, it was a bit of space and a bit of things like that and it worked out for the better.
Kate: I think at the time I wasn’t very happy about it, but actually it made me a stronger person, you find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realised, I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you are younger and I really valued that time for me as well although I didn’t think it at the time.
TB: It was a chance to re-centre yourself.
Kate: Yes, definitely, yes.
TB: Did you always have at the back of your minds that you wanted to marry each other. Did that come slowly or did you decide a couple of weeks ago? People have assumed you were going to be married for a long time. How did you both come to it in your heads?
William: When I first met Kate I knew there was something very special about her. I knew there was possibly something that I wanted to explore there. But we ended up being friends for a while and that was a good foundation.
I do generally believe now that being friends with one another is a massive advantage. It just went from there. I knew over the years, I knew that things were getting better and better and we went through a few stumbling blocks as every relationship does, but we picked ourselves up and carried on. From were you had the odd problem when you are first getting to know each other, those have all gone and it is just really easy being with each other, it is really fun and I’m extremely funny and she loves that so it’s been good.
TB: Kate, you were obviously upset when you split up but all your friends, both of your friends talk about there being a very substantial love that has built up over a period of time that’s part friendship and more than that.
Kate: Well, I think if you do go out with someone for quite a long time you do get to know each other very, very well, you go through the good times, you go through the bad times. Both personally and within a relationship as well. I think if you can come out of that stronger and learn things about yourself, it certainly, it’s been a good how many years?
TB: He did take his time, it must be said, did you ever want him to come on...
Kate: We’ve had our conversations, but I think it was...
William: We’ve talked about today for a while, we’ve talked about this happening so Kate wasn’t in the dark at all. We’ve been planning it for at least a year if not longer, it was just finding the right time and that’s what most people say about couples – it’s just about timing.
I had my military career and I really wanted to concentrate on my flying and I couldn’t have done this if I was still doing my training, so I’ve got that out of the way and Kate’s in a good place in terms of work and were she wants to be and we both just decided now was a really good time.
TB: You are obviously going to enter this family, the most famous royal family in the world. William’s mother was this massive iconic figure, the most famous figure of our age. Is that worrying? Is that intimidating? Do you think about that a lot both of you, you particularly Kate, obviously?
Kate: Obviously I would have loved to have met her and she’s obviously an inspirational woman to look up to. Obviously to this day and going forward and things, you know it is a wonderful family, the members who I’ve met have achieved a lot and very inspirational and so, yes, I do.
William: There’s no pressure though. There’s no pressure because like Kate said it is about carving your own future. No-one is trying to fill my mother’s shoes. What she did is fantastic. It’s about making your own future and your own destiny and Kate will do a very good job of that.
TB: This is a life in the public domain to a degree that you can’t escape, you both know that, you (William) obviously know it better than Kate does, you are obviously very protective of her.
William: Massively so. Her and her family, I want to make sure they have the best guidance and the chance to see what life has been like or what life is like in the family. That’s kind of almost why I have been waiting this long – I wanted to give her a chance to see in and to back out if she needed to before it all got too much. I’m trying to learn from lessons done in the past and I just wanted to give her the best chance to settle in and to see what happens on the other side.
Kate: I’m also glad that I’ve had the time to sort of grow and understand myself more as well so hopefully do good job.
TB: Part of the reason it has taken you this long is you’ve both spent a long time contemplating the future, being calm about it, pondering it, thinking about it, is that right?
William: We’ve talked about it lots. It has always been something we’ve had a good chat about and, like I said, both of us have come to the decision pretty much together. I just chose when to do it and how to do it and obviously, being a real romantic, I did it extremely well.
TB: Kate, people have put, placed some criticisms about you about your work and so on, does that hurt? How do you respond to people who say those things?
Kate: I think I know I’ve been working very hard for the family business. Sometimes those days are long days and I think if I know I’m working hard and I’m pulling my weight, both work and playing hard at the same time, I think everyone who I work with can see I am there pulling my weight and that’s really what matters to me.
TB: You have said your family are very close, does it hurt about what’s said or do you let it run off all your collective backs on the grounds that’s just what you have go to live with?
Kate: Again, I think, the people around home are very supportive to us and those are the people who really matter to us, our close friends and close family and, I think, if they feel you are doing the right thing, you can only be true to yourself and you sort of have to ignore a lot of what’s said, obviously take it on board, but you have to be yourself really and that’s how I have stuck by it really.
TB: It’s a massive thing you are going into now, obviously marriage is a big thing for everyone, but it’s in such a public way, excited? A little bit terrified?
William: Massively excited, quite happy when the interview’s over, but, no, we are hugely excited and we are looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together and seeing what the future holds.
TB: Kate, you’ve had a long time to contemplate this moment.
Kate: It’s obviously nerve-wracking, because I don’t know the ropes really. William is obviously used to it, but I’m willing to learn quickly and work hard.
TB: A lot of opportunities obviously within the family, a huge ability to change people’s lives for the better. I guess that’s something you must have contemplated as well.
Kate: Yes, well, I really hope I can make a difference, even in the smallest way. I am looking forward to helping as much as I can.