Prince William and his new fiancee Kate Middletonbegan planning Wednesday for their eagerly anticipated wedding next year after news of their engagement sparked congratulations worldwide.
The country is on tenterhooks for further details about the royal nuptials, due to be held in London next spring or summer, as well as who will pay for it as Britain struggles with deep spending cuts.
William popped the question last month during a holiday in Kenya, offering Middleton, the daughter of a businessman, his late mother Diana’s engagement ring to seal an eight-year romance that began at St Andrews University in Fife.
The 28-year-old admitted he has delayed the engagement because he wanted to make sure Middleton, also 28, knew what she was getting into.
“I wanted to give her a chance to see in and to back out if she needed to before it all got too much,” William said in a television interview to mark the engagement, which was formally announced on Tuesday.
Referring to the difficulty his mother had in adapting to palace life, he added: “I’m trying to learn from lessons done in the past and I wanted to give her the best chance to settle in and see what happens on the other side.”
Earlier, Middleton told a press conference at St James’s Palace that joining the royal family was “quite a daunting prospect but hopefully I’ll take it in my stride”, adding that William was a “great teacher”.
He was also a “true romantic”, proposing with the sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring that his father gave Diana in 1981, she said. He had carried the ring around in his rucksack for three weeks before making the proposal.
Giving Kate the ring “was my way of making sure that my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement and the fact that we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together”, William said.
Asked if they planned to have children, he said: “We want a family so we’ll have to start thinking about that.”
After marrying, the couple will live in north Wales, where William is a search and rescue helicopter pilot with the Royal Air Force.
William and his fiancee will sit down with royal advisors on Wednesday to start planning their wedding.
“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,” a spokesman for the royal family said.
Prince Charles said he was “thrilled” at the engagement while William’s brother Prince Harry said he was delighted as “it means I get a sister”.
Kate’s parents Michael and Carole said the family thought William was “wonderful”.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the wedding would be a “great moment for national celebration”.
Messages also poured in from abroad — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quick to invite the royal couple to his corner of the Commonwealth, while congratulations arrived from New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
Royal officials say the couple want to be very hands-on in planning their wedding, and the first question is where they will hold the ceremony.
Charles and Diana married at St Paul’s Cathedral amid huge pomp and circumstance, but commentators said William was unlikely to follow in the footsteps of his parents, who divorced in acrimony in 1996.
The alternatives would be Westminster Abbey or the Guard’s Chapel, a military chapel near St James’ Park.