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

Tuesday June 21 marks Prince William's milestone 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 through the decades of his life.

Prince William 40th Birthday
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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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 authorized 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 obviously 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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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 train 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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The 2010s

The 2010s saw the young prince enter an even 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 couple 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 full 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 through into the 2020s.

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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 outbreak 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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