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William gives Kate Diana's ring

Prince William has given his fiancee Kate Middleton his mother's engagement ring as the couple announced they will marry next year.

Nine years after they met, the heir to the throne proposed to his long-term girlfriend on holiday in Kenya last month.

At a press conference today, Miss Middleton said that joining the Royal Family was a "daunting prospect" but added: "Hopefully I'll take it in my stride."

Her husband-to-be Prince William said: "The timing is right now, we are both very, very happy."

He added that giving Kate his mother, Diana's engagement ring was "my way of making sure my mother didn't miss out on today and the excitement".

The Royal wedding will take place in London in the spring or summer of 2011, Clarence House said.

After getting married the couple will live in north Wales, where the Prince is serving as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are "absolutely delighted", Buckingham Palace said.

The Prince of Wales said he was thrilled about his son's engagement, joking: "They have been practising long enough." His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, who is William's stepmother, told a wellwisher the news was "absolutely wonderful".

Miss Middleton's millionaire parents Michael and Carole, a former air hostess, run a mail-order business called Party Pieces which sells toys and party paraphernalia. They said they were "absolutely delighted" and "thrilled" at the announcement.

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