For some men, turning 40 is a time to purchase a shiny red Ferrari and seek out wild adventures. For the Duke of Cambridge, as he looks ahead to his milestone birthday on June 21, it’s all about family focused changes and a significant life upgrade.
Indeed William and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge, along with their three children Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 7 and Prince Louis, 4, are on the move!
Having raised their royal brood in the comfort of Kensington Palace and at their country pile, Anmer Hall in Norfolk, the family are reportedly venturing west of London, taking them closer not only to Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor, but to William’s in-laws , the Middletons in Bucklebury village, Berkshire.
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Robert Jobson, author of William at 40: The Making of a Modern Monarch, believes a new home, with Kate’s parents, in particular Carole Middleton, nearby, could prove a great source of comfort for the future heir during what has been a rather tumultuous time for the monarchy.
“Carole has been an important figure for William since he met her, simply because she’s given him that motherly presence that he no longer has,” Robert explains, referring to the tragic death of William’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales when he was 15.
“He was surrounded by love as a child, but also servants – it was a different way of living. He had a happy childhood but he came from a broken home,” adds Robert, who recalls William describing the Middletons as the family he never had and their home as a relaxed sanctuary.
Of course George and his siblings will be delighted to be living nearer to devoted Grandma Carole, who, with her love of the outdoors, has been teaching them to grow potatoes, onions, beets, and carrots. “Carole is so important as a young and active grandmother in the Cambridge children’s lives,” Robert agrees.
The house move will require a change of school for George and Charlotte, currently enrolled at Thomas’s in Battersea, and new beginnings for Prince Louis, who’ll start his primary education in September. It’s widely rumoured that George will be attending the prestigious £25,000-a-year Lambrook School in Winkfield Row.
But even more significant is the prominent role the Cambridge children will play at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Having until now shielded the trio from the public eye, William evidently feels the time is right to usher them into the spotlight.
“All three children are expected to be part of the Jubilee celebrations this year,” says Robert, who anticipates their appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony on 2 June. It’s hoped this will follow their debut in the lavish carriage procession up the Mall, something William enjoyed at the age of just four.
“While William understands his children must be visible,” adds Robert, “he’s also aware of the daunting future ahead of them. He’s been there himself.
“It’s scary, the expectation and destiny placed upon such a young child. He’ll prepare them slowly and carefully. It’s difficult for anybody, but he’s done a really good job – I saw the children at the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service and they’re a credit to their parents.”
“William is a very loving, kind and tactile father,” Robert continues. “Perhaps a little soft, but he’s a hands-on dad who helps with school work and helps them embrace the great outdoors – just as his own father Charles did in his youth.”
As a modern man it was William who changed George’s first nappy, and according to Robert, “he would be ‘absolutely fine’ if one of his children told him they were gay.”
The Cambridges’ strong marriage is especially vital for the children’s wellbeing at such a monumental time of their life, Robert claims.
“It’s so important that William and Catherine are a team. She’s benefited from not coming from a broken home. He had the issues of dramatic divorce. It all played out in a very public light and it’s the last thing he’d want for his children. It’s very much part of his determination that he has a strong marriage and a strong family.
“But Catherine and William were friends before they were lovers and enjoyed a long courtship before marriage. Because of this they really complement each other. We always see them laughing and making sure the other is relaxed in public.”
During their recent royal tour of the Caribbean, William took to the stage to express his ‘profound sorrow’ during a difficult speech about slavery. Present at the event, Robert recalls, “I could see the speech was a joint act with his wife standing by him as support. I’m sure he’d have bounced ideas off her. They know each other so well and I think he trusts Catherine implicitly.”
Robert says that William has a “notably short fuse” and comments in his new book how the duke’s “fiery temper can blow up at any time – usually when he’s frustrated or when it comes to issues regarding his family.” However Kate’s presence has calmed the future King.
The “quite extreme mood swings” experienced by both William and his brother Prince Harry, have he says, caused Charles to often find it “difficult to gauge [his sons] occasionally unpredictable moods.”
Despite this, the bond between Charles and his eldest child has strengthened in recent years. “The relationship between Charles and William used to be a little strained and Charles would speak more to Harry. But the destiny of what they both have ahead of them [as future kings] plus the rift with Harry, has probably brought father and son closer together.”
Last year the royals faced accusations of racism as a family, following remarks made by Prince Harry and his wife the Duchess of Sussex. But William refused to rise to the bait and maintained composure throughout.
“That was a huge allegation and a difficult moment for him,” Robert observes. “When Harry was coming up with a load of claptrap, William wanted to say ‘no, that’s not the truth and it’s not fair’. But he didn’t. It showed the way he wants to deal with things, right there and then.”
Over the past four decades it has been wonderful to witness William transform from shy schoolboy to confident, level-headed family man and monarch-in-waiting. Robert believes he has matured beyond his ‘Just William’ ways of childhood and developed an ‘inner core of steel’ in anticipation of one day ascending to the throne as King William V.
“Ultimately, you’re looking at a prince who’s dedicated to public service and is a good family man,” Robert says “He follows the principles of being honest, genuine and thoughtful – and that’s exactly what he is.
“William isn’t part of an X Factor monarchy with concerns over polls, but he’s got big shoes to fill – his father has achieved a lot in his time of service, and that won’t be easy to follow. It’ll be a tough time, and the eyes of the world will be upon him and Catherine as the real stars of the Royal Family going forward.”
The end of an era is approaching but, says Robert, William has the power to bring the magical sparkle back to the British monarchy and bolster its popularity. “In his heart – apart from being kind and having a loving family – his legacy will be making a real impact in finding solutions to save our planet,” claims Robert.
“This is a man who’s flown around in helicopters and served time in the military. He understands that we don’t have much time. He wants us all to set our goals high and do something really, really positive.
“It’ll be a tough time, there’s no doubt about it, but he’s kept on the crest of the wave. The eyes of the world will be upon him and Catherine as the real stars of the monarchy going forward.”
William At 40: The Making of a Modern Monarch by Robert Jobson (£17.99, Ad Lib Publishers) is out on 5 May.
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