LONDON: Prince William and bride-to-be Kate Middleton announced news of their royal engagement on Tuesday.
The pair met at St Andrews University, which boasts a tradition of students getting married after graduating from the institute, has dubbed itself "Britain's top-matchmaking university".
The future monarch proposed to his girlfriend of nine years while on a private holiday in Kenya, presenting her with his mother late Princess Diana's diamond and sapphire ring, which had been given to her by current heir to the British throne Prince Charles. According to People magazine, the ring was originally chosen by Prince Harry to keep as a momento of his mother when taken by Prince Charles to Diana's home in Kensington Palace after her death.
In a television interview by Britain's ITV News, the prince, asked about where he proposed, said "It was about three weeks ago on holiday in Kenya. We had a little private time away together with some friends and I just decided that it was the right time really".
Speaking about Diana's famed ring, he said "I had been carrying it around with me in my rucksack for about three weeks before that and I literally would not let it go, everywhere I went I was keeping hold of it because I knew this thing, if it disappeared I would be in a lot of trouble and because I'd planned it, it went fine."
"It's my mother's engagement ring so I thought it was quite nice because obviously she's not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all - this was my way of keeping her close to it all", continued William.
Amidst the country's dwindling economy, news of the royal engagement was welcomed as a sigh of relief and a much needed distraction during tough times. The rest of the royal family also expressed their joy at the pending nuptials.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also voiced his support for the pair, suggesting that a "national day of celebration" be held to honour the marriage, reported Sky News.
When asked about her reaction to the proposal, Kate said "it was very romantic. There's a true romantic in there. It was a total shock when it came, and very exciting".
Speaking about whether plans of starting their own family were underway, Kate said "I hope we will be able to have a happy family ourselves." William, 28, then added "I think we'll take it one step at a time. We'll sort of get over the marriage first and then maybe look at the kids. But obviously we want a family so we'll have to start thinking about that."
When asked about the decision to go public with the proposal, William said "it's been really exciting because we've been talking about it for a long time so for us, it's a real relief and it's really nice to be able to tell everybody".
Reports in the British press say Prince William and Kate Middleton have chosen Westminster Abbey as the venue for the wedding next year. The gothic church has played a central role in the history of the British monarchy: 17 kings and queens are buried there, and it was also where the funeral was held for Prince William's Mother, Princess Diana.