Even Prince William Took a Gap Year to Travel — but Prince Charles Was Apparently Not Happy About It

Prince William during his Raleigh International expedition December 7, 2000 in the village of Tortel, Southern Chile.
Prince William crosses a bridge on his way to repair walkways during his Raleigh International expedition December 7, 2000 in the village of Tortel, Southern Chile. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

In the year 2000, a fresh-faced, 18-year-old Prince William had just graduated high school and was well on his way to attending the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland. But, before he started his freshman year of classes, William was hell-bent on taking a gap year. Though normally that’s a fine thing to do, Prince Charles wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea.

That’s because instead of taking a gap year to intern or traipse around the rest of Europe, William wanted to go on a rugged backpacking trip through Argentina, according to royal author Katie Nicholl in her 2010 book “William and Harry.”

As Nicholl wrote, William’s choice in gap year activities made Charles quite anxious and the two had their very first father-and-son fight.

“Charles sighed in exasperation and noted how determined and extremely stubborn his elder son could be,” Nicholl wrote, according to the International Business Times. “To [William’s] anger, Charles had vetoed the suggestion. ‘It’s not fair,’ William complained. ‘Everyone else is allowed to go backpacking, why can’t I?’”

As a compromise, Prince Charles relented and allowed his son to take an adventure-filled year off. Only, he didn’t go to Argentina. Instead, William and Charles agreed his gap year should be “vocational, educational and safe.” Prince William eventually joined Welsh Guards on exercise in Belize, the “toughest expedition of his life,” according to Nicholl.

Prince William then went on to travel through Kenya, the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues, and volunteered in Patagonia, South America, the International Business Times reported. He then went on to attend Saint Andrews, where he met his future wife, Kate Middleton.

And in a bizarre twist, at nearly the same time Middleton was on her own gap year journey with a sustainable development charity in the country of Chile. Prince William traveled with the same tour company just weeks prior to Middleton.

"She was by herself, like most people. She was definitely one of the fitter and stronger members of her group, which assisted her for sure. At times it was physically demanding. She was pretty easy going,” Expedition leader Malcolm Sutherland previously told the Evening Standard. "There are no hair dryers, and there are very few showers to be seen. Even if you are a princess, it's very hard to operate as a princess."

Looks like these two were headstrong adventurers who were meant to be after all.

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