He was never inclined towards a life in the spotlight, being an introvert.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on April 16, 2021. It has since been updated.
Being a king surely comes with not just a title, but a whole host of responsibilities. While Prince William was always destined to be the future king of England someday, when he was younger, that's not something he wanted. Prince William's future was planned for him before he was even born. Recently he seems more open to the idea of being the head of the British monarchy. The father-of-three has more or less accepted his future role. “I don’t lie awake waiting to be king, because sadly that means that my family will have moved on and I don’t want that,” he told BBC News in 2016.
The Duke of Cambridge is second in line to the throne after his father King Charles, the Prince of Wales. The 38-year-old did mention that the royal duty is “extremely important” and that he takes his responsibilities “very seriously”. Late Queen Elizabeth has influenced him in many ways when it comes to royal duties. “It’s been incredibly insightful for me growing up, watching her leadership in that role,” the Duke continued. “It’s important to grow into a particular role with the right characteristics and the right qualities and I think she’s exemplified that with everything she’s done.” But she doesn't believe in stringent rules for her grandson to follow. She believes in “finding your own path”, but with “very good examples and guidance around you to support you,” he remarked.
The royal's life hasn't been easy. From his parents' tumultuous marriage and subsequent divorce, and the death of his beloved mother, Princess Diana, the young prince has had his share of heartbreak and pain. While growing up, William’s attitude towards the throne wasn't always keen. Royal biography Andrew Morton wrote in William and Catherine: Their Lives, Their Wedding that Prince Harry is the one who broke the news to his older brother that he wouldn't be able to decide his future career. "When William said once that he would like to be a policeman and look after his mother, Harry told him emphatically: 'You can't, you have to be King,'" wrote Morton, as per Express.
According to The List, broadcaster Jeremy Paxman shared a story of young William in the 2019 documentary Paxman on the Queen's Children (via Express). Princess Diana allegedly told him that Prince William often said he didn't want to be king and Harry had an adorably cheeky response. “About a year before she died, her secretary rang me up and asked me to lunch. I’ve no idea why. She was stunningly glamorous, as you can imagine,” Paxman said. “We talked about our children, and she said William often told her that he didn’t really want to be king, and then Harry would say, ‘If you don’t want the job I’ll have it!'”
But it looks like Harry changed his mind as he grew older, having stepped down as a senior working royal along with his wife Meghan Markle last year. In a 2017 interview with Newsweek, the Duke of Sussex pondered, “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”
The two brothers couldn't be more different. "Emotionally, they are very unalike," a royal insider shared. "Harry wears his heart on his sleeve. William is introverted and reclusive. They are bonded together by the unique position they are in and the experience of losing their mother very young. But they don't live in each other's pockets, and while William was at university, they didn't see much of each other at all." Harry had recently mentioned that he and his brother are currently on different paths but he will always love him.
Prince William is currently focusing on mental health awareness along with his wife Kate Middleton. He recently spoke about his own experiences in the documentary Football, Prince William, and Our Mental Health. He also spoke of the time when working as an air ambulance pilot impacted his mental health, saying, "I took a lot home without realizing it. You see many sad things every day that you think life is like that. You're always dealing with despair and sadness and injury. The attrition builds up and you never really have the opportunity to offload anything if you're not careful," he said. Speaking of his mother's death and how he coped, in the BBC special, A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health, he shared, "I think when you are bereaved at a very young age, anytime really, but particularly at a young age—I can resonate closely to that—you feel a pain like no other pain." "And you know that in your life it’s going to be very difficult to come across something that is going to be an even worse pain than that," the Duke of Cambridge added. Although both princes are on different parts, mental health is a priority that both of them seem to believe in now.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Victoria Jones-WPA Pool