LONDON (AP) – The world watched as Prince William grew from a schoolboy 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 so far: 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 the center stage at an extravagant 70-year-old concert on the throne of Queen Elizabeth II, praising his grandmother as a pioneer in environmental protection as he called for action against climate change.
“Tonight was full of optimism and joy – and there is hope,” he said, as images of wildlife, oceans and jungles were projected on the walls of Buckingham Palace behind him. “Together, if we make the most of humanity and rebuild our planet, we will protect it for our children, our grandchildren and future generations.”
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Slowed 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.
Together with his wife Kate, William took the role of an advocate of greater openness regarding mental health, as well as a supporter of organizations working to end homelessness. This month, he was spotted selling Big Issue, a magazine that supports the homeless, on a London street.
In an article for the magazine, William pledged to “continue to do what I can to shed light on this solvable issue.”
“And although I may seem like one of the most incredible proponents of this goal, I have always believed that I use my platform to help tell those stories and draw attention and action to those who are struggling,” he wrote. “I plan to do it now that I’m 40, even more than I’ve had in the past.”
William’s position as the final heir to the throne was, of course, sealed by his birth on June 21, 1982, the first son of Charles and the late Princess Diana. This brought him to the public eye from the second Charles and Diana introduced him to TV cameras in front of Lindo Wing St. Paul’s Hospital. Mary’s in London.
The world followed William from his school days in London to his courtship of Kate Middleton at the University of St. Louis. Andrews in Scotland and their spectacular marriage in 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 a civilian ambulance before moving to full-time royal duties five years ago.
His charitable actions and goals – from mental health to the environment – gave hints of what a monarch might one day be.
Royal expert Pauline Maclaran, author of The Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture. he said William wants to show “how he will treat things differently”.
“And so we see it more and more, where the future of the line is emphasized, with Charles putting more into a kind of William posture. We are always reminded that William is chasing Charles, ”she added.
Events just before and during the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations began to give a clearer indication 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 by brass bands and gala dinners, but also by demonstrations of protesters demanding reparations for Britain’s role in enslaving millions of Africans. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told members of 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 perpetuating images of British colonial rule.
But instead of returning to Windsor’s traditional “never complain, never explain” response, 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 questions about the past and the future,” William said. “In Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, people decide that future.”
“Catherine and I are committed to the service,” he continued. “It is not for us to tell people what to do. It’s about serving and supporting them in the way they think is best. ”
That willingness to be affordable 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’s important for William to show that there will be a change in the monarchy,” she said. “Otherwise, you know, I doubt he really can survive.”