Britain's Prince William is to marry his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton next year, after an on-off courtship lasting nearly a decade, bringing months of speculation about his intentions to an end.
William, 28, the elder son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, and Middleton, 28, daughter of self-made entrepreneurs, became engaged while on holiday in Kenya last month, his father's office said on Tuesday.
Their marriage will take place 30 years after Charles's spectacular but ultimately ill-fated wedding to Diana.
"The wedding will take place in the spring or summer of 2011, in London," Charles's office Clarence House said in a statement. "Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course."
The statement said William had informed Queen Elizabeth and also sought the permission of Middleton's father.
The queen and William's grandfather, Prince Philip, said they were delighted at the news, while a cabinet meeting held by Prime Minister David Cameron was interrupted by a call from Buckingham Palace with the announcement.
"A great cheer went up and a great banging of the table," Cameron told reporters. "A great day for our country, a great day for the royal family and obviously a great day for Prince William and for Kate."
He said he had spoken to William personally to pass on his congratulations.
"He was obviously extremely excited about the news and thrilled about what lies in store," he said.
"I just said the government stood ready, anything we could to help make sure that what I know will be a great day of national celebration will be a great success."
William, who is currently serving as a helicopter search-and-rescue pilot for the Royal Air Force, met Middleton when they shared a house at university in Scotland in 2001.
They split up in 2007 because, newspapers said, Middleton, who has been dubbed "waity Katie" by the tabloids, was getting fed up with waiting for William to propose, but they got back together soon afterwards.
William has previously said he did not want to get married until he was 28, an age he reached in June. The engagement has been long predicted and rumors have abounded for months that an announcement was imminent.
"I think everyone was wondering what on earth was taking so long and everybody loves Kate," royal biographer Penny Junor told Reuters.
"She has shown herself to be a lovely, dependable, loyal, trustworthy girl and she will be wonderful for him and wonderful for the royal family. It's been pretty clear that he has been mad about her for a long time and she about him."
Royal writer Ian Lloyd said the world had been waiting for a royal with the captivating presence of William's mother Diana.
"What she's got and what obviously Diana had was this thing of star quality, something that you can't manufacture, you've either got it or you haven't," he told Sky TV. "She's certainly got that extra special thing that makes people different."
Charles's wedding to Diana in 1981 was the most lavish ceremony Britain has witnessed in recent times and it became the center of enormous interest around the world.
Some 600,000 people crammed the streets of London to watch the wedding procession head to St Paul's Cathedral and Cameron revealed he himself had slept on the Mall, the grand road leading to Buckingham Palace the night before.
The ceremony itself attracted a global television audience of some 750 million viewers.
However, the couple divorced in 1996 and Diana was killed aged 36 in a car crash in Paris a year later after a high-speed chase with paparazzi in pursuit.
Charles's second marriage to long-time lover Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005 was a far simpler affair with the couple tying the knot at a registry office.
With Britain currently facing austere times and its worst peacetime budget deficit, Clarence House said the wedding plans would bear this in mind.
"The couple are mindful of the current economic situation and the wedding will absolutely reflect (their) wishes -- it's very much their day," a spokesman said.
Cameron said: "It's great to have a piece of unadulterated good news that everyone can celebrate."