Prince William's wedding Friday is the next step in his journey to becoming king, but Princess Diana's eldest son has taken his time in getting married, and neither is he in any rush to take the throne.
William has overcome the tragedy of his mother's death when he was 15 to become the great hope of the British royal family in the 21st century.
Opinion polls show a majority of the public want the 28-year-old to leapfrog his father Prince Charles in the order of succession and take the throne after Queen Elizabeth II.
But such a move is highly unlikely and in any case, William has given no indication that he wants it anytime soon.
"Prince William wouldn't thank you for making him king tomorrow or next year," said Andrew Morton, whose book on Diana in 1992 revealed the extent of her loveless marriage to Charles.
"Because everything he stands for is to live his life as normally as possible and to escape the steel trap of being head of state."
It was Diana's wish that her sons lead as normal lives as possible, unlike his father Charles, who is steeped in tradition and surrounded by butlers and aides.
"William cooks for himself, he makes his own bed. He behaves like a normal person and he seems to relish that," said royal author Penny Junor.
Born on June 21, 1982, seven days after the end of Falklands war ended, William, and his younger brother Harry, enjoyed a childhood infused with their mother's sense of fun and a warmth that was lacking in their fathers.
But William became his mother's shoulder to cry on as his parents' marriage disintegrated in public, and then when Diana died, he had to grieve in the eyes of the world.
He and Harry walked behind their mother's coffin through the streets of London for the funeral in Westminster Abbey, the venue for William's wedding Friday.
Ironically, it was Diana's death in Paris in 1997 as her car was chased by photographers that allowed William to grow up relatively undisturbed by Britain's voracious tabloid press.
Charles struck a deal with newspaper editors under which his sons were left in peace in return for carefully choreographed photocalls.
William was schooled at the elite Eton College and then spent a year off in Africa and trekking with the army in Belize.
In September 2001 he enrolled at St Andrews University in Scotland where he met his bride-to-be. They very publicly split up in 2007, but were soon reconciled.
William joined the military, following a well-trodden royal path, and he currently works as a Royal Air Force search and rescue helicopter pilot.
Last year he embarked on his first official overseas tour, to Australia and New Zealand, and received a warm welcome when he returned there this year.
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