It's bad enough coming from your friends and family, but imagine having the people of an entire country pressuring you to get married. That was the situation for Prince William and now-fiancee Kate Middleton, who just announced their formal engagement.

"We'd been talking about marriage for a while so it wasn't a massive surprise," he said in an interview on Britain's ITV. "I had been planning it for a while. It really felt right in Africa. I had done some planning to show my romantic side." The couple, who have been dating for eight years since they first met in university, have long been the subject of intense speculation regarding a possible marriage.

"I was carrying the ring around for three weeks in a rucksack before that," the Prince, 28, said. "And I literally would not let it go, wherever I went." The ring, a blue sapphire that belonged to Princess Diana, was given to William by brother Harry, who had originally received it after their mother's death. Middleton called the gem, "beautiful." She went on, "I just hope I look after it. It's very, very special."

Though British tabloids loved to play the guessing game around their relationship status, things were less uncertain on the inside. "We were planning it for at least a year, if not longer," Prince William said. "Kate wasn't in the dark. We both decided now was a really good time." And though they've been together for almost a decade, William says he knew from the beginning that this was a charmed romance. "When I first met Kate I knew there was something very special about her," he said. "We went through a few stumbling blocks like any other relationship, but we picked ourselves up."

Their wedding will be the biggest that the royal family has seen since that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, something they have not forgotten. "I would've loved to have met her," Middleton said. "She's an inspirational person to look up to, this day and looking forward at things." But in the end, they are committed to making their own path. "It's about carving her own future." William said. "No one's trying to fill my mother's shoes." –AMY LEE

Watch the interview below:

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