A year after they declared their love for each other under the intense glare of the global spotlight, Prince William and Catherine are keeping their first wedding anniversary celebrations private.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to spend part of the weekend with friends to mark the day in low-key style, according to reports, far different from the lavish wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London one year ago.

They were also expected to return to Anglesey, the island off the northern coast of Wales where they have a home, by Sunday, the day of their anniversary. St. James's Palace would only say the couple planned to mark the day in private at an undisclosed location in the U.K.

The two were married on April 29, 2011 in front of 1,900 guests and a television audience estimated at two billion.

One million people lined the streets of London to catch a glimpse of William, the second in line to the throne, and his bride, a commoner he met while they were students at St Andrews University in Scotland.

Whirlwind tour of Canada remembered

Shortly after the royal newlyweds returned from their honeymoon in the Seychelles they were off on their first official overseas tour, first to Canada and then California. They now have a slew of public events ahead of them for the Queen's Diamond Jubliee.

In the year since they tied the knot, Catherine, known to many as Kate, has been credited with breathing new life into the monarchy, much needed in the aftermath of three broken royal marriages, most notably that of William's parents, Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales.

'The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had years to get to know each other before they were  married. They dated for a long time, whereas Charles and Diana didn't know each other very well.'—Royal historian Carolyn Harris

Royal watchers say Will and Kate's nine-day, whirlwind tour of Canada showed the couple at their best and working together with ease, in contrast to the tension noted between Charles and Diana in public as their marriage unravelled.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had years to get to know each other before they were  married. They dated for a long time, whereas Charles and Diana didn't know each other very well," royal historian Carolyn Harris told CBC on Sunday.

"And then Prince William was born within a year of their wedding, so Diana was negotiating the roles of wife, mother and public figure all at the same time, whereas William and Catherine really seem to be easing themselves into the role and taking things one step at a time," said Harris, who teaches at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.

The more informal attitudes of the Duke and Duchess set the tone for their Canadian tour as they freely mingled with the crowds, participated in sports such as street hockey, and faced off against one another in a dragonboat race.

Kate's now legendary fashion sense was also on full display as she modelled outfits from homegrown designers and even donned the national colours in honour of Canada Day.

Harris said William's mother Diana and former aunt Sarah Ferguson both complained about feeling isolated and overwhelmed in their first years of marriage to royalty. Kate has received extensive coaching on maintaining a balance between public and private responsibilities, she said.

Between official engagements at home and abroad, the couple lives in comparative seclusion in Wales, she said. William has continued his military career as a search and rescue pilot and recently completed a six-week deployment to the Falklands earlier this year.

The fact that William and Kate have managed to carve out a private life, Harris said, has helped to preserve their mystique by making sure they're not over-exposed in the public eye.

With files from The Canadian Press