Britain's Prince William to join army next year

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Prince William, elder son of heir-to-the-throne Britain's Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, will join the army next year as an officer cadet at Sandhurst military academy, Buckingham Palace said on Friday.

William, 23, who graduated from university earlier this year and will be joining Britain's biggest bank HSBC in November for work experience, has long been thought to have his eye on the army -- following in the footsteps of his younger brother Prince Harry, 21.

William has now passed the Regular Commissions Board exams -- a series of tests and tasks to gauge the ability of candidates to meet the mental, physical and emotional demands facing army officers.

"I am absolutely delighted to have got over the first hurdle, but I am only too well aware, having spoken so much to Harry, that this is just the beginning," William said in a statement.

"I am really looking forward to taking my place alongside all the other cadets at Sandhurst," he added.

As second in line to the throne, William has the prospect of eventually becoming Commander in Chief of Britain's armed forces -- the role traditionally occupied by the monarch.

William said in a wide-ranging interview last November that he was considering joining the army after finishing his geography degree at St Andrews University in Scotland, but would not expect or accept special treatment if he did so.

"The last thing I want to be is mollycoddled or wrapped up in cotton wool," he said then. "If I was to join the army, I would want to go where my men went and I would want to do what they did."

Harry, who entered Sandhurst earlier this year and who will therefore be senior to William, has joked that he was looking forward to his elder brother having to salute him.

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