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After years of friendship and dating, Prince William finally asked his university girlfriend, Kate Middleton, to marry him during a romantic holiday in Kenya.

On the final day of the trip, he surprised his future bride with a night in a remote wooden cabin near Lake Rutundu.

Speaking later, she described the moment as "very romantic" and wrote that it had been a "wonderful 24 hours" in the cabin's guestbook.

However, the couple knew that as soon as they shared the news they would become the centre of a media frenzy – so they decided to keep it secret for a little while.

In her book Kate: The Future Queen, royal expert Katie Nicholl claims that Kate put her new engagement ring – which had previously belonged to Princess Diana – in the safe.

Kate and William on The Steps Of Buckingham Palace after announcing their engagement in 2010

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After a few weeks of enjoying their exciting news privately, they decided it was time to tell the world on November 16.

But William had a very important job to do first, because as a senior member of the royal family, he legally had to ask for the Queen's consent first.

According to the Royal Marriages Act 1772, she then had to sign a notice of approval under the Great Seal of the Realm.

The couple shared a number of beautiful engagement photos
(Image: Getty Images)

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According to Katie, the Queen was having breakfast with Prince Philip when she got the call from her grandson.

She claims that the Monarch was "thrilled to receive William's call, albeit a little surprised at the suddenness of the announcement".

A source told her: "The Queen had no idea that there would be an announcement that morning.

"It was rather hurried, because William was apparently worried about it leaking out."

The Queen, pictured at the couple's wedding the following April, was surprised at how sudden it was
(Image: Getty Images Europe)

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Katie writes: "William enjoyed outfoxing the media, and this was one announcement he wanted to make himself. The last thing he wanted was a newspaper getting the scoop, as had happened with his father's engagement to Camilla."

William made the call from his flat at Clarence House, with an excited Kate sitting at his side.

The couple also called Prince Charles and Camilla, before picking up the phone to speak to Harry, who was in Hampshire at the time.

Katie claims that Harry's response was a very excited one, saying he "turned the air blue with a string of expletives" before joking that it "took long enough".

It was then Kate's time to tell her family, although her dad Michael already knew at William had asked his permission.

It was then time to tell the staff, and William's fears of the news leaking meant they wanted to make the official announcement that same morning.

Palace staff were overjoyed by their boss' happy news, but they had just two hours to get everything ready.

In a change from tradition, the statement was shared on the royal family's social media feed.

It read: "The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton.

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge

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"The wedding will take place in the Spring or Summer of 2011, in London. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course.

"Prince William and Miss Middleton became engaged in October during a private holiday in Kenya. Prince William has informed The Queen and other close members of his family. Prince William has also sought the permission of Miss Middleton’s father.

"Following the marriage, the couple will live in North Wales, where Prince William will continue to serve with the Royal Air Force."