I’ll say this – it felt like the Duchess of Cambridge spread out her 40th birthday keenery a lot better than Prince William. Over the course of about 48 hours this weekend, several major pieces about William’s 40th birthday dropped and, taken together, they reveal a spoiled, lazy man-child who blames everyone else for his own faults, mistakes and bad judgment. The Telegraph’s birthday piece – surprisingly NOT by Camilla Tominey – was one of the worst. This piece is called “Prince William at 40 – his ‘limbo’ years might well turn out to be his best.” What limbo? Some highlights:
Comparing Charles-at-40 to William-at-40: “While Charles had already been Prince of Wales for 31 years by that stage, founding organisations that will long outlive him, William’s public life – or the part of it that he will be remembered for – has barely begun. As the heir to the heir, William’s royal duties are yet to get out of second gear. The public side of his life is dominated by the unavoidable fact that he could himself become the Prince of Wales at any moment. At a time when his contemporaries might be mapping out the next five to 10 years of their careers, the Duke of Cambridge finds himself in limbo.
Preparing to be Prince of Wales: “His life will change hugely when he becomes Prince of Wales,” says one source close to the Duke. “He will be in charge of the Duchy of Cornwall, a billion-pound business empire, and will be expected to carry out far more royal engagements, especially abroad. It’s part of the reason he has never really had a grand plan that might have involved signing up for something that might take 20 years to achieve, because he has always known this is coming down the line.”
William’s plans were hampered by his brother’s exit: William has been as much a victim of events as of circumstance: he did settle on a plan to spend the second half of his 30s tackling the world’s ills using the star power of the Cambridge/Sussex ‘Fab Four’, only for Harry and Meghan to walk away. Friends say Megxit left him having to “start from scratch”, with Covid further hampering his attempts to define his public role.
He’s not fretting about the state of his legacy. Those close to him say he is “more comfortable in his skin than ever”, and does not regard his birthday next Tuesday as a significant moment, even though he has joked that turning 40 is a “daunting” prospect.
Happier than ever with Kate: “He and Kate are in the happiest period of their lives now, before the weight of the world lands on their shoulders,” says a friend. “They try to not think about what’s ahead.”
Stability by moving to Windsor: Their move to the four-bedroomed Adelaide Cottage on the Windsor estate is all part of their plan to give their children as ‘normal’ a childhood as possible (as well as being closer to the Queen) though their longer-term plan is likely to involve a move to Windsor Castle, which is not the Prince of Wales’s intended future home. By migrating to Windsor now, the Cambridges will ensure stability for their brood. When he takes over his father’s current role, William is expected to carry on using Kensington Palace as his working London base, with Anmer Hall in Norfolk continuing to provide a country retreat for the Cambridges.
The future of Balmoral: Yet, unlike his father, who regards Birkhall on the Balmoral estate as his true home, closely followed by Highgrove in Gloucestershire, William has no real affinity with Scotland, and spends little time there. The future of Balmoral as a royal residence is open to question; as the Queen’s personal possession, it would be in Prince Charles’s gift to donate it to the nation, keeping Birkhall as a more modest bolthole north of the border. Her Majesty’s other personally-owned grand house, Sandringham, is likely to remain in the family and will almost certainly become the Cambridges’ Norfolk home in the long term.
William hasn’t accomplished anything: William’s achievements at 40 will inevitably be compared with his father’s at the same age (as well as the Prince’s Trust, Charles had set up Business in the Community, the Prince’s Foundation and others), but allies of the Duke of Cambridge rightly point out that Charles had the added status, wealth and infrastructure that comes with the job, making it far easier for him to make an impact.
William isn’t intellectually curious: Where Charles was intellectually restless, seeking stimulation from mentors like Laurens van der Post and Armand Hammer, shaping Highgrove and Clarence House in his own image, William is content for his life to revolve around home and hearth.
Charles & William are closer: “In the aftermath of Megxit, William has started to appreciate his father more and Charles trusts his son’s judgement more than ever,” says one insider close to the Duke. “You saw during the Platinum Jubilee a flavour of how the Prince of Wales is more involved with his grandchildren than ever before, and William is less reliant on the Middletons for that sense of family.”
What goes unsaid is not William’s lack of accomplishments as compared to his father at this age (although those comparisons are brutal for William), but William’s lack of similar accomplishments compared to Prince Harry. Harry will turn 38 in September, and he founded Invictus before his 30th birthday, started Sentebale in his early 20s, served two tours of duty on foreign soil and started a brand new life in America, including another successful foundation and several businesses. Meanwhile, William has spent the past year publicly begging his father to give him a fourth home in Windsor so he can stash away his lazy wife and children.
The “limbo years” waiting to be Prince of Wales are apparently “the reason he has never really had a grand plan that might have involved signing up for something that might take 20 years to achieve,” which makes zero sense if you consider the fact that Charles has been in “limbo” his whole adult life and he built the Prince’s Trust, multiple foundations and charities and has something like 500 patronages. “But if I work on something now, I might still have to work on it 10 years from now” is not the flex/excuse William thinks it is.
Photos courtesy of Instar and Avalon Red.