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William ready to taste army life

Britain's Prince William, second-in-line to the throne, is set to exchange the fun-filled lifestyle of a party prince for the rigours of army life.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2006 20:54 IST

Britain's Prince William, second-in-line to the throne, is set to exchange the fun-filled lifestyle of a party prince for the rigours of army life.

Coming straight from a romantic skiing break in the Swiss Alps with his girlfriend, Kate Middleton, the 23-year-old prince will report for officer cadet training at Sandhurst military academy, near London Sunday.

William will be taken to Sandhurst by his father, Prince Charles, and follow in the footsteps of Harry, his younger brother, who is already in the middle of his training course at the elite academy.

 Coming straight from a romantic skiing break in the Swiss Alps with his girlfriend, Kate Middleton, the 23-year-old prince will report for officer cadet training at Sandhurst military academy, near London Sunday.

Prince William is the most senior British royal in recent memory to attend the prestigious military academy, where the late King Hussein of Jordan, the Sultan of Brunei and wartime leader Winston Churchill received their military training.

Prince Charles, his younger brother Prince Andrew and their father, Prince Philip, all followed the royal tradition of serving in the Navy or the Royal Air Force (RAF).

"The last thing I want is to be mollycoddled or wrapped up in cotton wool," William said in an interview just over a year ago. "If I was to join the army I would want to fight with my men," he added.

Alluding to fears over his safety, Prince William said he would find it "very awkward" to live with the thought that he was being "kept back for being precious".

William, who as future king will also be head of the armed forces, said that Sandhurst would be a "great place to learn how to lead and to earn respect".

British troops in Iraq were "fighting their hearts out", said William, adding that it was up to the young to make sure that the sacrifices of those who fought in two World Wars were not forgotten.

Commentators said William's own possible future involvement in Iraq was very much dependant on how long British troops would stay in the country.

For the time being, the prince will face the gruelling routine of a 44-week training course at Sandhurst, designed to push new recruits to the brink of exhaustion.

For the first five weeks, the prince will not be allowed out to see Middleton, his girlfriend of four years with whom he graduated from St. Andrew's University in Scotland last summer.

Friends said the pair, who have both said they want to spend the next two years "gaining life experience", had been determined to "make the most" of their time together on the ski slopes, where they were photographed locked in loving embrace and kiss.

When William arrives at Sandhurst, his brother Harry, aged 21, will have seven months of training behind him. "I put my brother in as a guinea pig first," William joked about their roles.

The brothers will overlap for three months, with William having to salute Harry when his younger sibling completes his training.

But once William finishes, the situation will reverse. William will take on a higher rank than Harry because he joined as a university graduate.

--DPA

sg

First Published: Jan 07, 2006 20:54 IST