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Prince William wins spurs as army officer

Britain’s Prince William, eager to draw a line under a decade of conspiracy theories about his mother’s death, graduated as an army officer on Friday and launch his new career.
/ Source: Reuters

Britain’s Prince William, eager to draw a line under a decade of conspiracy theories about the death of his mother Princess Diana, graduated as an army officer on Friday to launch his military career.

The second in line to the throne paraded before his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, at the elite Sandhurst military academy in a ceremony famed for its pomp and circumstance.

“This is a milestone day ... which will stay forever in your minds,” the 80-year-old monarch told the cadets.

Among those watching was William’s long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton, fuelling tabloid speculation about the 24-year-old future king’s possible marriage plans.

It was the first time that Middleton, sporting a bright scarlet winter coat, had appeared at such a high-profile event attended by members of the House of Windsor.

That prompted bookmakers William Hill to shorten the odds on a royal engagement from 5-1 to 2-1. “It is now a question of ’when’ not ’if’,” said spokesman Rupert Adams.

Police inquiry
William took to the parade ground the day after a British police inquiry ruled that his mother, Princess Diana, was not the victim of a murder plot when she and her lover were killed in a high-speed car crash in Paris in 1997.

Diana’s death triggered a string of conspiracy theories that British spies or even her ex-husband, heir-to-the-throne Britain’s Prince Charles, had plotted the accident because her relationship with Dodi al Fayed was embarrassing the royal household.

William and his younger brother Harry said in a statement that they “trust these conclusive findings will end speculation surrounding the death of their mother.”

William is following in Harry’s footsteps -- the younger prince won his spurs as an army officer in April.

William is joining the Household Cavalry’s Blues and Royals Regiment, as Harry did.

Now formally known as 2nd Lieutenant William Wales, he will train to be a troop commander in an armored reconnaissance unit although, as a future monarch, he is unlikely to see front line action.