LONDON ( Associated Press) – The world watched as Prince William grew from a student with a wolf’s head to a flying pilot of a lifeguard in the air and sea to a bald father of three.
But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, William is making the biggest change to date: taking on an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his final accession to the throne.
That was clear two weeks ago when William took center stage at an extravagant 70th anniversary concert on the throne of Queen Elizabeth II, praising his grandmother as an environmental leader as he called for action on climate change.
“There was a lot of optimism and joy tonight – and there is hope,” he said, while images of wildlife, the ocean and the jungle were projected on the walls of Buckingham Palace behind him. “Together, if we harness the best of humanity and renew our planet, we will protect it for our children, our grandchildren and future generations.
Get ready to see more of this.
Slowed down by age and health problems, the 96-year-old queen is gradually handing over more and more responsibilities to her son and heir, Prince Charles. This in turn gives William, his eldest son, a more important role and more opportunities to put a stamp on the new generation of the monarchy.
“William was eager to show how he would treat things differently,” said royal expert Pauline Maclaran, author of “Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture.”
“And that’s how we see it more and more, where the future of the line is emphasized, with Charles increasingly putting himself in a kind of attitude to William. “We are always reminded that William is chasing Charles,” she added.
William’s position as the final heir to the throne was, of course, sealed after his birth on June 21, 1982, the first son of Charles and the late Princess Diana. That brought him to the public’s attention from the second Charles and Diana introduced him to the TV cameras in front of the Lindo Wing of St. John’s Hospital. Mary in London.
The world watched William from his school days in London until his courtship of Kate Middleton at the University of St Andrews in Scotland and their spectacular marriage at Westminster Abbey.
He once again paraded in front of the camera when he graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and then went into active service in the army, navy and the Royal Air Force. Finally, he became a pilot of the civil air ambulance before moving to full-time royal duties five years ago.
His charitable actions and goals – from mental health to the environment – have hinted at what a monarch he might one day be.
But events just before and during the celebration of the Queen’s platinum jubilee began to give clearer indications of William’s vision of the future.
William and Kate represented the Queen last March when they made an eight-day tour of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, three of the 14 independent countries where the British monarch still serves as head of state.
They were greeted with brass bands and gala dinners, as well as demonstrations by protesters seeking reparations for Britain’s role in enslaving millions of Africans. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holnes told the royal family that his country intends to become a republic, severing ties with the monarchy.
After the trip, young members of the royal family were criticized as “deaf to tone” for maintaining images of British colonial rule.
But instead of returning to Windsor’s traditional response, “never complain, never explain,” William took the unusual step of issuing a statement reviewing everything that happened.
“I know this tour has led to an even sharper focus on past and future issues,” William said. “In Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, people decide that future.
“Catherine and I are committed to the service,” he continued. “For us, that doesn’t tell people what to do. It’s about serving and supporting them in the way they think is best. “
That willingness to be accessible is key to the Windsor House as it seeks to remain relevant to younger people and solidify its role in British society, Maclaran said.
“It is important that William shows that there will be a change in the monarchy,” she said. “Otherwise, you know, I doubt he really can survive.”