The Duke of Cambridge tonight said he could only imagine how it would feel to compete in the Olympic Games, and told British competitors: "Glory awaits you."
In a speech at a star-studded gala dinner at the Royal Albert Hall, William said: "You, our Olympians and Paralympians, will inspire people up and down this country, and far beyond its borders."
The Duchess of Cambridge dazzled in a teal Jenny Packham dress, accessorised with a clutch bag and drop earrings. William looked smart in a dinner suit and black tie.
The event, named Our Greatest Team Rises, featured an energetic performance from dance group Spelbound, who won Britain's Got Talent in 2010.
Take That singer Gary Barlow, artist Will Young and singing sensation Alfie Boe were among the other acts set to perform in honour of the sportsmen and women.
William and Kate were greeted by Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, before attending a pre-dinner reception to meet gold medal winners and Team GB ambassadors, including Sir Steve Redgrave, Dame Kelly Holmes and Denise Lewis.
Sir Steve said: "Over the last few years they've been top of the world's publicity so having their support really makes a big difference."
The royal couple took their seats in the audience alongside skeleton gold medallist Amy Williams and former sprint hurdler Colin Jackson.
'Glory awaits you'
The Duke said: "For the athletes of Our Greatest Team, these Games mark the pinnacle of your sporting careers.
"I can only imagine it, competing at home in front of your countrymen and women, with the eyes of the entire world upon you. A dream come true.
"For all of us mere mortals, and I include my brother, who still drones on about beating Usain Bolt - which never counted because it was a false start - this is a lifetime opportunity.
"We will witness an exceptional moment in our island history. The mood in London will be electric, ecstatic and amazing. I simply can't wait."
He joked that he had been invited to take part in the Games, but said London 2012 chief Lord Coe did not have enough faith in him.The Olympic flame was lit in Olympia, Greece yesterday, as the final stages of the countdown for the London Games begin.