‘William’s life with Kate is all change with new home and Welsh lessons,’ says expert
While Queen Elizabeth II was lying in state at the Palace of Westminster last week, the new Prince and Princess of Wales greeted mourners at Sandringham – a place that held a special place in the Queen’s heart.
Although the pair have undoubtedly had an emotional week, they smiled and looked moved as they admired flower tributes and gifts left by well-wishers to honour the late monarch.
For the first time in 70 years, Britain has a King on the throne. The incredibly sad loss of the Queen marks a huge shift for the country and while the nation mourns, our grieving royal family navigates their changing roles and responsibilities.
As King Charles III ascends the throne, it’s William and Kate’s duty to step up. It’s a mammoth task, but one the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge will take in their stride, says royal expert Duncan Larcombe.
“Prince William has been groomed for this moment from the day he was born. But even he will now be aware of changes to his life that he hadn’t considered,” he observes. “Right now, they’re holding onto the side of the ship and working out what happens next as the storm of new life passes. The Queen’s death is seismic, changing everything for William – most notably his life with Kate.”
The couple are now first in line to the throne as King and Queen. According to the official royal website, William’s main role as Prince of Wales is to “support His Majesty the King as the focal point for national pride, unity and allegiance”.
They are likely to represent the King on foreign travel and Commonwealth visits, welcome dignitaries to the UK and attend dinners during state visits.
It will be a challenge to match Charles’ huge achievements in his time as the longest-serving Prince of Wales. He has raised millions of pounds per year for more than 400 environmental, sustainability and educational charities, including The Prince’s Trust. It’s a daunting prospect, but well within the couple’s skill set.
“The Waleses are experts, but I know how much pressure William feels. Back in the day, he’d ask journalists how we thought he was doing,” recalls Duncan, who was previously a royal reporter. “Nowadays, he’ll consult his team behind the scenes. He’s meticulous in his preparation and detail. I think he and Kate will both be fine. William’s new role was one of the few things that the Queen didn’t worry about.”
In the months leading up to the late monarch’s passing, the couple were already essentially playing the role of Prince and Princess of Wales by assisting Charles in his support of the ailing Queen. However, now that the King has officially handed them the titles, a team of advisors will help them with their rocketing workload.
For starters, the number of official engagements the prince attends will increase (Charles carried out 112 more events than his son last year). Plus William is now responsible for the £1 billion Duchy of Cornwall estate, comprising land across 20 counties. Back in 2019, the estate generated £20.5 million, which Charles used to fund his charitable activities.
“The most significant change we’ll see for them was hidden away in the King’s speech,” Duncan explains. “Charles effectively said ‘that’s it for me and charities’. He’s not a political activist any more but my God, he’ll expect William to take the reins.”
A huge part of Charles’ identity as the Prince of Wales was tackling climate change on a global scale, and eco-warrior William is already on board with his own project, The Earthshot Prize, which awards individuals for their contributions towards a better environment.
“Besides all these new titles and privileges, William is now the royals’ official environmental chief. He’ll be dealing with these political hot potatoes, getting down and dirty delivering speeches and saying things that Charles (as King) cannot.” William has already carried out his first official duty as Prince of Wales with a phone call to the country’s First Minister Mark Drakeford.
The royal couple have a rich history with Wales, having started their married life in Anglesey – where Kate carried out her first royal engagement. It was while Prince William was working as an RAF search and rescue pilot there.
In a statement from Kensington Palace, William expressed the “great respect” with which he and Kate will take on their roles.
“They want to do their part to support the aspirations of the Welsh people and to shine a spotlight on both the challenges and opportunities in front of them,” the palace added. “The Prince and Princess look forward to celebrating Wales’s proud history and traditions. They will seek to live up to the proud contribution that members of the royal family have made in years past.”
“The template for what William and Kate will do next is already there,” says Duncan. “It was forged by the former Prince of Wales. We’re going to see a lot of the pair learning and talking Welsh. They’re a couple who love Wales, have lived in Wales and who I think the Welsh will welcome with open hearts.”
While William follows in his father’s footsteps, his wife has the undeniable pressure of being the first Princess of Wales since Diana’s sad passing in 1997.
“Kate will try to live up to the person who was described as the ‘People’s Princess’. But just look at how she stepped out to thank crowds at Windsor Castle. Kate carried herself beautifully.”
Kate enjoyed a close relationship with the late Queen. They were often spotted chatting and laughing together during official engagements and no doubt spoke at length behind closed doors. It’s a bond Kate will remember as she builds her new identity within the monarchy.
“The Queen was determined not to make the same mistakes she did with Diana,” says Duncan. “Kate and the Queen forged a very close relationship – they knew each other well. Kate would talk, and Her Majesty would listen.
“Perhaps the Queen’s greatest achievement was the fact that there was still a royal family when she died. William and Kate will continue her legacy.”
The couple’s three children – Prince George, nine, Princess Charlotte, seven, and four-year-old Prince Louis – will experience big changes in their lives, too.
Just weeks ago, the family moved to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor’s Home Park with the children beginning a new school year at Lambrook. But, with William now heir to the throne, they’ll be expected to move to Windsor Castle or at least a larger house on the estate. It’s thought they’ll delay the move to avoid further upheaval for the children, but it must happen eventually, says Duncan.
“They’ve just moved into a four-bed home in the Queen’s garden effectively, but now the family have been chucked the keys to Windsor Castle. Charles doesn’t want Windsor, but it must be occupied by a royal – after all, the Queen will be laid to rest there at St George’s Chapel. Can the Prince of Wales really carry on ‘living in the garden’? I don’t think so.”
Despite their new responsibilities, William and Kate will still be the relatable and ever-popular royals we love. And their qualities will future-proof the monarchy for generations to come.
“The late Queen was never supposed to be Queen, and there was a feeling of public sympathy towards her. But I don’t think people feel that way when they look at William and Kate,” muses Duncan. “They haven’t quite got the top job, but it will come and when it does, they’ll be OK.”
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