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The Duke performs official duties and engagements on behalf of the Queen. William holds patronage with over 30 charitable and military organisations, including the Tusk Trust, Centrepoint, and London's Air Ambulance Charity. He undertakes projects through The Royal Foundation, with his charity work revolving around mental health, conservation, and emergency workers. In December 2014, he founded the "United for Wildlife" initiative, which aims to reduce worldwide illegal wildlife trade. In April 2016, the Cambridges and Prince Harry initiated the mental health awareness campaign "Heads Together" to encourage people to open up about their mental health issues. In October 2020, William launched the Earthshot Prize, a £50 million initiative to incentivise environmental solutions over the next decade.
Known informally as "Wills" within the family, William was nicknamed "Wombat" by his mother, who wished him and his younger brother, Harry, to obtain broader life experiences than those usually available to royal children. She took them to Walt Disney World and McDonald's, AIDS clinics, shelters for the homeless, and bought them items typically owned by teenagers, such as video games. His parents divorced in 1996. Diana died in a car accident in the early hours of 31 August 1997. William, then aged 15, together with his 12-year-old brother and their father, were staying at Balmoral Castle at the time. The Prince of Wales waited until his sons awoke the following morning to tell them about their mother's death. William accompanied his father, brother, paternal grandfather Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and his maternal uncle Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, at his mother's funeral. William and Harry walked behind the funeral cortège from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey.
The decision to place William in Eton went against the family tradition of sending royal children to Gordonstoun, which William's grandfather, father, two uncles, and two cousins all attended. Diana's father and brother both attended Eton. The royal family and the tabloid press agreed William would be allowed to study free from intrusion in exchange for regular updates about his life. John Wakeham, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, said of the arrangement, "Prince William is not an institution; nor a soap star; nor a football hero. He is a boy: in the next few years, perhaps the most important and sometimes painful part of his life, he will grow up and become a man."
After completing his studies at Eton, William took a gap year, during which he took part in British Army training exercises in Belize, worked on English dairy farms, visited Africa, and for ten weeks taught children in southern Chile. As part of the Raleigh International programme in the town of Tortel, William lived with other young volunteers, sharing in the common household chores--including cleaning the toilet--and also volunteered as a guest disc jockey at a local radio station. His interest in African culture prompted him to teach himself Swahili.
By 2001, William was back in the United Kingdom and had enrolled at the University of St Andrews. The extra attention did not deter him; he embarked on a degree course in Art History, later changing his main subject to Geography, and earned a Scottish Master of Arts degree with upper second class honours in 2005. While at university, he represented the Scottish national universities water polo team at the Celtic Nations tournament in 2004. He was known as "Steve" by other students to avoid any journalists overhearing and realising his identity. William returned to St Andrews alongside his wife in February 2011 as patron of the university's 600th Anniversary Appeal.
To prepare for his eventual management of the Duchy of Cornwall, in 2014 William enrolled in a vocational agricultural management course at Cambridge, which was organised by the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL), of which his father is patron. According to a CNN report in 2014, the duchy is "a £760 million (about $1.25 billion) entity established in 1337 to provide a private income for use by the reigning monarch's eldest son", which William will inherit when his father becomes king.
Military and air ambulance service
Military training and secondments
William in Royal Air Force uniform (2010)
Having decided to follow a military career, William was admitted to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in January 2006. William officially received his commission as a lieutenant at midnight. As "Lieutenant Wales"--a name based on his father's title Prince of Wales--he followed his younger brother into the Blues and Royals as a troop commander in an armoured reconnaissance unit, after which he spent five months training for the post at Bovington Camp, Dorset.
The Prince's position as second-in-line to the throne and the convention of ministers advising against placing that person into dangerous situations cast doubts on William's chances of seeing combat. These doubts increased after Prince Harry's deployment was cancelled in 2007 due to "specific threats". William, instead, went on to train in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, obtaining his commission as a sub-lieutenant in the former and flying officer in the latter--both broadly equivalent to the army rank of lieutenant. After completing his training, William undertook an attachment with the Royal Air Force at RAF Cranwell. Upon completing the course he was presented with his RAF wings by his father, who had received his own wings after training at Cranwell. During this secondment, William flew to Afghanistan in a C-17 Globemaster that repatriated the body of Trooper Robert Pearson. William was then seconded to train with the Royal Navy. In June 2008, William participated in a £40m drug bust in the Atlantic, north-east of Barbados. He was a part of the crew on the Lynx helicopter, which helped seize 900 kg of cocaine from a speedboat.
Royal Air Force service
Sea King helicopter being flown by William in 2010
William's first rescue mission as co-pilot of an RAF Sea King was a response to an emergency call from Liverpool Coastguard on 2 October 2010. In November 2011, he participated in a search-and-rescue mission involving a cargo ship that was sinking in the Irish Sea; William, as a co-pilot, helped rescue two sailors.
In June 2012, Prince William gained a qualification to be captain or pilot in command of a Sea King rather than a co-pilot. His active service as an RAF search-and-rescue pilot ended in September 2013.
Air ambulance pilot
In 2014, it was announced that William would accept a full-time role as a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) based at Cambridge Airport. Despite his qualifications as a military helicopter pilot, William needed a civil pilot's licence and further training before being permitted to take command of the Air Ambulance. Although his position was paid, Kensington Palace announced that William would donate his full salary to the EAAA charity. He underwent part of his training as an EAAA pilot at Norwich Airport. On 13 July 2015, William started his new job, which he felt was a natural progression from his previous role as an RAF search-and-rescue pilot. The Duke has discussed his work with BBC Future, describing working "odd shifts" and dealing mostly with critical care cases. He left his position with EAAA in July 2017 to assume a more active role in royal duties on behalf of his grandmother the Queen. After supporting an anniversary campaign for London's Air Ambulance Charity in 2019, the Duke became the charity's official patron in March 2020. In May 2020, the Duke granted permission to the charity to use Kensington Palace's private lawn to refuel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their relationship was followed so closely by the tabloid press that bookmakers took bets on the possibility of marriage, and the retail chain Woolworths produced memorabilia bearing their likenesses. Media attention became so intense that William formally asked the press to keep their distance from Middleton. On 15 December 2006, Middleton attended Prince William's Passing Out Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
In April 2007, Prince William and Middleton ended their relationship. Middleton and her family attended the Concert for Diana in July 2007 at Wembley Stadium, where she and Prince William sat two rows apart. The couple were subsequently seen together in public on a number of occasions and news sources stated that they had "rekindled their relationship". Middleton was in attendance during the Order of the Garter procession ceremony at Windsor Castle in June 2008, where Prince William was made a Royal Knight of the Garter. In June 2010, the couple moved into a cottage on the Bodorgan Estate in Anglesey, Wales, where William resided during his RAF search-and-rescue training and subsequent career.
His wife's first pregnancy was announced on 3 December 2012. She was admitted on 22 July 2013 to the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, London, where Prince William had been delivered. Later that day, she gave birth to Prince George. On 8 September 2014, it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant with her second child. She was admitted on 2 May 2015 to the same hospital and gave birth to Princess Charlotte. The Duchess's third pregnancy was announced on 4 September 2017;Prince Louis was born on 23 April 2018. The family officially reside at Kensington Palace.
William and his brother Harry inherited the "bulk" of the £12.9 million left by their mother on their respective 30th birthdays, a figure that had grown since her 1997 death to £10 million each in 2014. In 2002 The Times reported that William would also share with his brother a payment of £4.9 million from trust funds established by their great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, on their respective 21st birthdays and would share a payment of £8 million upon their respective 40th birthdays. As the eldest son of the heir-apparent, William is expected to inherit the Duchy of Cornwall, which would bring him an additional income.
In 2014, William and Harry inherited their mother's wedding dress along with many other of her personal possessions including dresses, diamond tiaras, jewels, letters, and paintings. The brothers also received the original lyrics and score of "Candle in the Wind" by Bernie Taupin and Elton John as performed by John at Diana's funeral.
On 3 June 1991, William was admitted to Royal Berkshire Hospital after being accidentally hit on the forehead by a fellow pupil wielding a golf club. He suffered a depressed fracture of the skull and was operated on at Great Ormond Street Hospital, resulting in a permanent scar. In a 2009 interview, he dubbed this scar a "Harry Potter scar" and said, "I call it that because it glows sometimes and some people notice it--other times they don't notice it at all".
On 1 November 2020, it was reported that William had tested positive for coronavirus in April but decided not to alert the media to 'avoid alarming the nation'.The Daily Telegraph reported he had been "very ill" and had isolated away from his family.
Upon graduation from university, William began to undertake his own public duties and privately obtained work experience by interning in land management at Chatsworth House and in banking at HSBC. At the age of 21, Prince William was appointed as a Counsellor of State; he first served in that capacity when the Queen was in Nigeria attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2003. On his 21st birthday, William accompanied his father on a tour of Wales, visiting the Anglesey Food Fair and opening a centre for the homeless in Newport. In July 2005, he embarked on his first solo overseas tour, travelling to New Zealand, to participate in World War II commemorations on behalf of the Queen. For the 30th anniversary of his father's charity The Prince's Trust, William and his brother were interviewed together for the first time by television personalities Ant & Dec. According to Tina Brown in her 2007 biography of Diana, Princess of Wales, William had, like his father, expressed a desire to become Governor-General of Australia.Prime Minister of AustraliaJohn Howard said, "We have for a long time embraced the idea that the person who occupies that post should be in every way an Australian citizen". In 2009, the Queen set up a private office for William with Sir David Manning as his adviser. Manning accompanied him in January 2010 as he toured Auckland and Wellington on behalf of the Queen; William opened the new building of the Supreme Court of New Zealand and was welcomed by a M?ori chief.
William became aware of HIV/AIDS in the mid-1990s when he accompanied his mother and brother on visits to shelters and clinics for patients. In January 2005, William and his brother volunteered at a British Red Cross aid distribution centre to pack emergency supplies for countries affected by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. In September that year, William granted his patronage to Centrepoint, a charity that assists the homeless. The Duke opened their new facility, Apprenticeship House, in November 2019 to mark their 50-year anniversary. In 2005, William worked in the children's unit at The Royal Marsden Hospital, his mother's former patronage, for two days of work experience; he also assisted in the medical research, catering, and fundraising departments. In May that year, he spent two weeks in North Wales with Mountain Rescue England and Wales. In May 2007, William became patron of both organisations. In October 2020, the Duke laid the foundation stone of the hospital's Oak Cancer Centre, 30 years after his mother performed the same for their Chelsea Wing in 1990.
Prince William became a patron of the Tusk Trust in December 2005, a charity that works towards conserving wildlife and initiating community development, including providing education, across Africa. He became associated with the organisation after he witnessed its work first hand in Africa. Stating that "rural African initiatives that foster education, responsibility and participation in the local community light the way to conservation", he carried out his first official duty with the trust in launching a 5,000-mile (8,000 km) bike ride across the African continent in 2007. Later that year, William and Harry organised the Concert for Diana, in memory of their mother, which benefitted the charities and patronages of Diana, William, and Harry. In 2010, he also became a patron of 100 Women in Hedge Funds Philanthropic Initiatives.
Prince William at a Wildlife Transport Taskforce Meeting in 2017
In March 2011, the Duke and Duchess set up a gift fund held by The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry to allow well-wishers who wanted to give them a wedding gift to donate money to charities instead. The gift fund supported 26 charities of the couple's choice, incorporating the armed forces, children, the elderly, art, sport and conservation. The charity has since been renamed The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. In December 2014, The Duke founded the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, which aims to reduce worldwlide illegal wildlife trade. The Duke has spoken out for LGBT rights as part of his work against cyberbullying, stating the importance of being "proud of the person you are" and discussing the effects of online abuse and discrimination. He was recognised at the British LGBT Awards in May 2017. In 2018, the Royal Foundation launched multiple mental health initiatives, including Heads Together, a campaign led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to de-stigmatise mental health. Legacy programmes include Heads Up, launched in May 2019 in partnership with the Football Association, utilising football to affect the conversation surrounding mental health in adults. Later that month, the Duke and Duchess launched Shout, the UK's first 24/7 text messaging service for those who suffer from mental issues. William has cited his interest in mental health to his experiences as an air ambulance pilot, as well as his work with homelessness, veterans welfare, and his wife's advocacy on addiction.
In March 2020, the Duke appeared in a video for the National Emergencies Trust, launching a fundraising appeal to help charities during the coronavirus pandemic. The appeal raised £11 million in its first week, with the money going out to "front line charities" and to the UK Community Foundations to be distributed among "local community foundations". In late March 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge began supporting a new mental health initiative by the Public Health England amidst the coronavirus pandemic. In April 2020, he officially became the patron of the National Emergencies Trust. He made a surprise appearance in The Big Night In, a 20 April 2020 telethon held during the COVID-19 pandemic, in a skit which he held a video call with Stephen Fry, who revised his role as (a descendant of) Lord Melchett, from the Blackadder series. Later that month, the Duke and Duchess announced Our Frontline, an initiative providing mental health support to emergency medical workers. In May and June 2020, the Duke and Duchess, alongside their children, delivered food parcels made on the Sandringham Estate to local isolated pensioners during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2020, The Duke of Cambridge, stated that he had been serving as a volunteer on the Shout hotline during the pandemic. In September 2020, the Duke established the Emergency Responders Senior Leaders Board, commissioned by the foundation to research the mental health and wellbeing of emergency responders. The project is in partnership with King's College London and the Open University.
After two years of research, the Duke launched the Earthshot Prize in October 2020, designed to provide funding and incentive for environmental solutions over the next decade. The Prize is slated to be given every year from 2021 until 2030 to five winners each year, in accordance with five categories detailing the restoration of nature, air cleanliness, ocean conservation, waste-free living, and climate change. The selection process will be performed by the Duke, alongside a council of judges from six continents, overseen by a panel of experts. The first awards ceremony is slated to take place in London in autumn 2021. Following the launch, William gave a TED Talk on environmental protection and conservation as part of the TED Countdown climate change initiative. Later that month, the Duke took over the patronages of Flora and Fauna International and the British Trust for Ornithology, passed on from the Queen and Prince Philip. In December 2020, the Duke and Duchess became joint patrons of NHS Charities Together.
In December 2010, William and Prime Minister David Cameron attended a meeting with FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon at which Chung suggested a vote-trading deal for the right to host the 2018 World Cup in England. The English delegation reported the suggestion to FIFA's ethics investigator because they considered vote-swapping to be a violation of anti-collusion rules. In 2012, together with the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, William launched Coach Core. The program was set up following the 2012 Olympics and provides apprenticeship opportunities for people who desire to pursue a career as a professional coach.
Both William and his brother are enthusiastic motorcyclists; William owns a Ducati 1198 S Corse. In May 2014, William, like his father and paternal grandfather, became president of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC). He enthusiastically took part in a bandy event in Stockholm in January 2018. In May 2020, the Duke of Cambridge appeared in a BBC One Documentary titled Football, Prince William and Our Mental Health as a part of a campaign to promote men to discuss their mental issues using football as a common medium.
In September 2012, the French edition of Closer and Italian gossip magazineChi published photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge sun-bathing topless while on holiday at the Château d'Autet (a private château on a 260-ha estate 71 km north of Aix-en-Provence). Analysts from The Times believed the photographs were taken from the D22 (Vaucluse) road half a kilometre from the pool--a distance that would require an 800-mm or a 1000-mm lens. On 17 September 2012, the Duke and Duchess filed a criminal complaint with the French prosecution department and launched a claim for civil damages at the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Nanterre. The following day the courts granted an injunction against Closer prohibiting further publication of the photographs and announced a criminal investigation would be initiated. Under French law, punitive damages cannot be awarded but intrusions of privacy are a criminal offence carrying a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to EUR45,000 for individuals and EUR225,000 for companies. In September 2017, Closer was fined EUR100,000 and its editor Laurence Pieau and owner Ernesto Mauri were each fined EUR45,000.
In August 2015, Kensington Palace published a letter detailing what it stated were the "dangerous" and invasive efforts of the media to get paparazzi pictures of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Jason Knauf, communications secretary to the Cambridges, wrote the letter to media standards organisations in various countries.
In March 2017, a video of William dancing alongside an unidentified woman at a nightclub in Verbier, Switzerland, surfaced in the media. At the time, he was on a skiing holiday with his friends. The press criticised William's behaviour because he had failed to attend the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, which was attended by other senior members of the royal family.
Titles, styles, honours, and arms
Titles and styles
1982-2011: His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales
As a British prince, William does not use a surname for everyday purposes. For formal and ceremonial purposes, children of the Prince of Wales use the title "prince" or "princess" before their forename and follow it with their father's territorial designation. Thus, before his marriage, Prince William was styled "Prince William of Wales". Such territorial designations are discarded by women when they marry and by men if they are given a peerage of their own, such as when Prince William was given his dukedom.
Although the name of the Royal House is Windsor, the surname Mountbatten-Windsor belongs to all the children and male-line descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, and is used, if needed, by those who do not have the style of Royal Highness and the title Prince or Princess; when a female descendant marries, she traditionally takes her husband's surname from that point onward, and their children take their father's. Both Princes William and Harry used Wales as their surname for military purposes; this continues to be the case for William since his creation as Duke of Cambridge.
Prince William was granted a personal coat of arms on his 18th birthday. It is based on the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, with a white (or silver) label with three points, the centre point bearing a red clam shell (an "escallop"), to distinguish it from the arms of other members of the Royal Family. The escallop is drawn from the Spencer coat of arms, a reference to his mother, who was the daughter of the Earl Spencer.
Quarterly: 1st and 4th, Gules, three lions passant guardant in pale Or (England); 2nd, Or, a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counterflory Gules (Scotland); 3rd, Azure, a harp Or stringed Argent (Ireland).
Dexter a lion rampant guardant Or imperially crowned proper, sinister a unicorn Argent, armed, crined and unguled Or, gorged with a coronet Or composed of crosses patée and fleurs de lis a chain affixed thereto passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back also Or.
As the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, Prince William's coat of arms has a label of three points. The escallop (seashell) alludes to his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, whose Spencer coat of arms includes three escallops Argent.
In September 2013, the Queen granted to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge a conjugal coat of arms consisting of their individual arms displayed side-by-side beneath a helm and coronet denoting the Duke's status as grandson of the Sovereign.
Personal flag for Canada
Flag of the Duke of Cambridge for personal use in Canada
William descends matrilineally from Eliza Kewark, a housekeeper for his eighteenth-century ancestor Theodore Forbes--a Scottish merchant who worked for the East India Company in Surat. She is variously described in contemporary documents as "a dark-skinned native woman", "an Armenian woman from Bombay", and "Mrs. Forbesian". Genealogist William Addams Reitwiesner assumed Kewark was Armenian. In June 2013, BritainsDNA announced that genealogical DNA tests on two of William's distant matrilineal cousins confirm Kewark was matrilineally of Indian descent.
Royal William, a German red rose named after Prince William shortly after his birth
^As a member of the Royal Family entitled to be called His Royal Highness, William does not normally use a surname. He has used both Mountbatten-Windsor, and - at university and in his military career - Wales. According to letters patent of February 1960, his house and family name is Windsor. The middle name Louis is pronounced .
^Lauer, Matt (12 June 2007). "In honor of Diana". NBC News. Retrieved 2020. But when we went to Australia with our parents, and the wombat, you know, that's the local animal. So I just basically got called that. Not because I look like a wombat.
^Prince of Wales - Dumfries HouseArchived 26 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine (Section: April 5th Official Opening of the Tamar Manoukian Outdoor Centre) "...Their Royal Highnesses The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay and the Earl and Countess of Strathearn..." (Accessed 24 July 2013)
^Hern, Alex (14 June 2013). "Are there ethical lapses in the Times' story on William's 'Indian ancestry'?". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 20 August 2013. Retrieved 2013. Although Eliza Kewark was indeed thought of as Armenian, it's not particularly surprising that she would have had Indian ancestors; the Armenian diaspora had been in India for centuries at the time of her birth, and even the most insular communities tend to experience genetic mixing over that timescale.