Prince William’s 40th Birthday: His Life in Pictures

Prince William’s 40th Birthday: His Life in Pictures




Tuesday June 21 marks Prince William’s meaningful development 40th birthday with the royal expected to be celebrating with wife Kate Middleton and children Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4.

William was born in 1982 and is second in line to the British throne behind his father Prince Charles. Throughout his life, William has faced the many challenges that come with being a member of the royal family from press and media intrusion to finding the right life partner who could one day become a queen.

Perhaps the greatest challenge that William has faced was the tragic death of his mother in 1997 when he was aged 15. The prince has since taken on more royal responsibilities that are expected to increase as Queen Elizabeth II, now 96 years old, sees her number of public appearances reduced in the wake of increased “episodic mobility problems.”

Here, Newsweek celebrates Prince William’s 40th birthday with a pictorial look by the decades of his life.

As Prince William celebrates his 40th birthday, Newsweek looks at some of his most iconic photographs from past decades. Photographed (L) August 4, 2001. And (R) December 11, 2019. And (inset) February 1, 1983.
Sion Touhig/Getty Images/Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images/Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The 1980s

Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales was born on June 21, 1982 at St Mary’s Hospital, London, to Prince Charles and Princess Diana—their first-born son.

Throughout the 1980s William was one of the most photographed babies on the planet, sharing the spotlight with brother Harry when he was born in 1984.

The Wales family lived between Kensington Palace in London, where William and Harry went to pre-school, and Highgrove House in the Gloucestershire countryside. Both children learned to ride horses from a young age on a small gray pony named “Smokey,” William also grew close to his grandmother, the queen, as the family spent summer holidays with her in Scotland.

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Prince William was born at St Mary’s Hospital in London on June 21, 1982. Photographed during his first press call outside the hospital, June 22, 1982.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Prince William was born at St Mary’s Hospital in London on June 21, 1982. Photographed during his first press call outside the hospital, June 22, 1982.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William was christened at Buckingham Palace wearing a historic lace gown used by royal children since the birth of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter. August 4, 1982.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William visited Auckland New Zealand with his parents, April 23, 1983.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William marked his second birthday with a press call in the gardens of Kensington Palace. June 12, 1984.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William enjoyed a cheeky moment during the christening photo shoot for Prince Harry. December 21, 1984.
Lord Snowdon via Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
Princess Diana posed with Princes William and Harry during a photoshoot at the Waleses’ Kensington Palace home, October 4, 1985.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William was collected after his first day of nursery school by Princess Diana and Prince Charles. September 24, 1985.
John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images
Prince William photographed with Smokey the pony at Highgrove, July 18, 1986.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William and Princess Diana watch a polo match together, May 17, 1987.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William rides in the Trooping the Colour carriage procession with his mother and great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. June 17, 1989.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The 1990s

The 1990s became a difficult decade for the young William as at the age of 10 his parents’ marriage had deteriorated to such an extent that they became formally separated in 1992.

This was also the decade which saw the “War of the Waleses” with both Charles and Diana using empowered biographies and television interviews to get their side of the story of their marriage out into the public domain.

The happier moments from William in this decade came from his going to Ludgrove School, his taking up sports and making new friends. He also formed close relationships with his cousins, Zara and Peter Phillips.

The darkest days of the 1990s clearly came during the August/September period of 1997 when his mother Princess Diana was killed in a high-speed car crash. The crash had come as the princess was forging a new path for herself after her divorce from Charles a year earlier.

Both William and Harry walked behind their mother’s coffin during her funeral before being taken to Africa by Charles.

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Prince William attended an annual Christmas church service at Sandringham, Norfolk with his mother, December 23, 1990.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Prince William attended an annual Christmas church service at Sandringham, Norfolk with his mother, December 23, 1990.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William undertook his first royal engagement in Wales, January 1, 1991.
Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images
Prince William went go-karting in Kent with friends, August 1, 1992.
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
Prince William visited Walt Disney World in Florida with his mother and friends, August 26, 1993.
BOB PEARSON/AFP via Getty Images
Princess Diana, Prince Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles watch a military parade on V.J Day, August 1994.
Terry Fincher/Getty Images
Prince William signed his name on his first day at Eton College where he was dropped off by his parents and younger brother, Harry. September 6, 1995.
Jayne Fincher/Getty Images
Prince William along with Prince Charles and Prince Harry went on a skiing vacation to Klosters in Switzerland, January 2, 1996.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William walked behind his mother’s coffin during he funeral procession from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey. September 6, 1997.
JEFF J. MITCHELL/AFP via Getty Images
Prince William waved to royal fans as he left Vancouver with Prince Charles and Prince William after a visit to Canada. March 24, 1998.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William drove himself to a royal photocall after passing his driving test, July 26, 1999.

The 2000s

As William entered the 2000s, he left school and moved to Scotland where he attended St Andrews University, first studying art history before changing to geography.

It was during his time at St Andrews that William was introduced to Kate Middleton and the pair embarked on a long-term relationship.

After graduating, William undertook periods of work experience in various industries including estate management with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth House.

Shortly afterwards William settled down to aim with the Royal Air Force. He promoted to flight lieutenant in 2009 and trained as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot thereafter.

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Prince William photographed at Eton College, June 1, 2000.
Ken Goff/Getty Images

Prince William photographed at Eton College, June 1, 2000.
Ken Goff/Getty Images
Prince William appeared alongside his great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on her 101st birthday outside Clarence House. August 4, 2001.
Sion Touhig/Getty Images
Prince William and Prince Harry were photographed together after watching the Golden Jubilee parade organized for Queen Elizabeth II. June 4, 2002.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William attended St Andrews University in Scotland. Photographed May 28, 2003.
David Cheskin/Pool/Getty Images)
Prince William studied history of art at St Andrews before switching to geography. November 15, 2004.
Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images
Prince William and Prince Harry both supported their father during his marriage ceremony to Camilla Parker Bowles, April 9, 2005.
Hugo Burnand/Pool/Getty Images
Prince William and Prince Harry attended the Sovereigns parade at Sandhurst Military College, April 12, 2006.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Prince William and girlfriend Kate Middleton attended a rugby match together, February 10, 2007.
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Prince William was made the 1,000th Knight of the Order of the Garter by Queen Elizabeth II, June 16, 2008.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince William visited Australia for the second time in his life in 2009 and visited with families who had lost their homes in bushfires. January 21, 2009.
Samir Hussein/WireImage

The 2010s

The 2010s saw the young prince go into an already greater period of change. He broke up briefly with long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton in 2007, but they got back together shortly afterwards.

In 2010 he made the momentous decision to propose to Kate and when she accepted he gave her Princess Diana’s treasured sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring.

The royal wedding took place at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 with over 60 million viewers tuning in to watch in the U.S. alone.

In the years following the wedding, the associate welcomed their three children, George born in 2013, Charlotte born in 2015, and Louis born in 2018.

William continued as a helicopter pilot until 2017 when he took on royal duties complete time.

Despite the 2010s being a decade of joyous events including the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018, it also signified the start of a reported rift between the once close brothers which would carry by into the 2020s.

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Prince William and Kate Middleton became engaged in 2010 during an African holiday and announced it to the public at a St James’s Palace photocall. November 16, 2010.
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Prince William and Kate Middleton became engaged in 2010 during an African holiday and announced it to the public at a St James’s Palace photocall. November 16, 2010.
Samir Hussein/WireImage
Prince William and Kate Middleton married at Westminster Abbey, April 29, 2011.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince William and Kate Middleton famous as they watched events during the London 2012 Olympic Games, August 2, 2012.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Princess Charlotte was born on May 2, 2015 and was shown to the press on the same day outside St Mary’s Hospital.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first child, Prince George was born on July 22, 2013 and his parents introduced him to the press the following day on the steps of the hospital as Princess Diana had done with her children.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince William and Kate Middleton took Prince George along with them on a royal tour of Australia, April 20, 2014.
Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage
Princess Charlotte was born on May 2, 2015 and was shown to the press on the same day outside St Mary’s Hospital.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Members of the royal family including Prince William, Kate Middleton and Queen Elizabeth II attended a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace, December 8, 2016.
Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images
2017 saw Meghan Markle join the royal family and attend the annual Christmas Day service at Sandringham church. December 25, 2017.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince Louis was born on April 23, 2018 weighing 8lbs and 7oz.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince William and Kate Middleton attended Royal Ascot together, June 18, 2019.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The 2020s

Though the 2020s started with the stepping-down from royal life by Harry and Meghan, little could the family foresee that a looming pandemic that would alter the nation’s way of life for over two years.

With the pandemic sudden increase of COVID-19 and national lockdowns starting in March 2020, members of the royal family became national figureheads once again, to a degree not seen since the end of World War II.

The queen made a now famous television address (only the fifth in her reign) rallying Brits with the wartime phrase “we will meet again” and William, alongside Kate and their young family, were filmed clapping for the NHS (National Health Service) from their country home.

The pandemic also saw great change within the royal family with the death of Prince Philip in 2021. The queen also saw the need to reduce her public appearances following a series of health scares and “episodic mobility problems.”

At the time of the joyful national celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee, William found himself taking on more royal duties than he ever had before and as he moves into his fifth decade, he will begin to lay the groundwork for his own reign which is not set to be too far down the dynastic line.

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Prince William and the Cambridge family were filmed clapping for the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. April 23, 2020.
Comic Relief/BBC Children in Need/Comic Relief via Getty Images

Prince William and the Cambridge family were filmed clapping for the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. April 23, 2020.
Comic Relief/BBC Children in Need/Comic Relief via Getty Images
Prince William and Kate Middleton attended the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey alongside Meghan Markle and Prince Harry marking the last official royal engagement of the Sussexes as working members of the royal family. March 9, 2020.
PHIL HARRIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Prince William and Kate Middleton received President Volodymyr Zelensky and the first lady of Ukraine at Buckingham Palace, October 7, 2020.
Jonathan Brady/WPA Pool/Getty Images
Prince William and Kate Middleton undertook a royal tour of the U.K in 2020 aboard the royal aim. December 6, 2020.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince William and Prince Harry reunited to unveil a statue of their mother, Princess Diana, in the gardens of her former home, Kensington Palace. July 1, 2021.
Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images
Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince George attended the UEFA Euro 2020 final match between England and Italy at Wembley Stadium, July 11, 2021.
Frank Augstein/Pool/Getty Images
Prince William and Kate Middleton appeared together at the inaugural Earthshot Prize awards ceremony, October 17, 2021.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Earthshot
Prince William and Kate Middleton met with members of the Jamaican bobsled team on their tour of the Caribbean, March 22, 2022.
Chris Jackson/Pool/Getty Images
Prince William and his family were included in a special Platinum Jubilee balcony turn up celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign. June 5, 2022.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
Prince William and his three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis are shown on a family holiday in Jordan in a photograph released to celebrate Father’s Day, 2022.
Kensington Palace

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