Published: Nov 16, 2010 6:19 PM EST
Updated: Nov 16, 2010 3:19 PM EST

LONDON (AP) - The college romance that seemed to falter under the pressure of adulthood and the glare of the paparazzi has blossomed at last. Prince William is finally engaged to his longtime girlfriend and will give Britain its biggest royal wedding since Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer almost 30 years ago.

Royal officials announced Tuesday that William will marry Kate Middleton next spring or summer in London, ending years of rumored splits, reconciliations and will-they, wont-they speculation.

William is second in line to the British throne after Charles, his father. Kate and William's first child would move ahead of his younger brother Prince Harry to become third in line to the throne.

Many in Britain welcomed the royal engagement as a rare piece of good news in a time of economic uncertainty and cutbacks - a time much like 1981, when millions watched Charles and Diana's fairy-tale wedding. That union of William's parents ended in divorce - but no one was dwelling on that Tuesday.

William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and her husband Prince Philip "are absolutely delighted for them both," Buckingham Palace said. Prince Charles said he was "thrilled."

Prime Minister David Cameron wished the couple "great joy in their life together," and said when he announced the news during a Cabinet meeting it was greeted by cheers and "a great banging of the table."