It's a wedding being played out on the grandest of stages, where a once-shy prince waiting in the wings prepares to stand proudly, center stage, for the world to see.
"You never get used to it because it's something that is very alien to most people," Prince William said while attending St. Andrews, the school he attended with his future bride. "There are very few people you can talk to about it because no one really knows what it's like. Being in the center of the spotlight is kind of awkward, but it's something I've got to do."
In June 1982, he was the most famous newborn in the world. The first images of Prince William, carried out in the arms of his father, Prince Charles, were captured by cameras larger than he.
As he grew into a little boy, he got his first lessons on the price of being a prince.
"There are people in there. Look at them. See the faces. Trapped," Charles said, as William peered into a camera.
William was trapped in the role of royalty, even as his mother, Princess Diana, struggled to provide him and his younger brother, Harry, with normalcy. He went through his first day of school, took trips to amusement parks. Still, Diana fought to shield her sons.
During a ski trip, she once asked that no pictures be taken.
"As a parent, can I ask that you respect my children's space?" Diana asked.
It's been said that as a boy, William told Harry: "I want to be a policeman when I grow up and look after Mommy." And Harry responded: "You can't. You're going to be king."
And then, in 1997, the boy who wanted to protect his mother was left without her when Diana died from injuries suffered in a car crash in a Paris tunnel.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Princess Diana's family, in particular her two sons. The two boys," said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.