Prince William to swap armed forces for royal duties

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge The royal couple attended the inaugural Tusk Conservation Awards in London on Thursday

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Prince William is to leave the military after more than seven years of service, Kensington Palace has announced.

The Duke of Cambridge completed his final shift as an RAF search and rescue pilot on Tuesday.

He will now focus on royal duties and charity work together with the Duchess of Cambridge, a palace spokesman said.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George are expected to move from their Anglesey home to Kensington Palace within the next few weeks.

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt tweeted that royal officials said the next 12 months would be "transitional" for Prince William. He will not become a "full time royal" at this stage, they said.

Conservation work

The duke, with the Duchess of Cambridge, will continue to support the work of the Queen and the Royal Family through a programme of official engagements - both at home and overseas, the palace added.

He plans to expand his work in the field of conservation, particularly in respect of endangered species, through the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Prince William, a cautious royal, has bought himself some more time.

He's second in line to the throne, not the heir, and he's in no rush to become what he once called a "royal ornament".

So, with his military career at an end, the talk is of this being a period of transition and not the moment when William becomes a full time royal.

He's keen to take on what's being called "public service". Other Windsors have tried to escape their inherited straitjacket.

Past plans which never saw the light of day have included Prince Philip working down a mine and Prince Charles working in a factory, becoming Governor General of Australia or Ambassador to France.

But as William adjusts to family life - and life away from the RAF - he knows he has now taken one more "Prince George" sized baby step towards embracing his destiny.

The foundation has partnered with seven of the world's most influential conservation organisations under United for Wildlife, a long-term commitment to preserve the world's natural resources.

Prince William said: "The threats to our natural heritage are extensive, but I believe that this collaboration of the best minds in conservation will provide the impetus for a renewed commitment and action to protect endangered species and habitats for future generations.

"At the root of the illegal wildlife trade, for example, is the demand for products that require the deaths of tens of thousands of these animals every year, pushing them further towards extinction.

"We must work together to prevent this catastrophe and allow our children the opportunity to experience wildlife in its many beautiful and varied forms."

The duke recorded two public messages in London on Thursday focusing on reducing demand for rhino horn and ivory. They will air globally later this year.

The duke and duchess attended the inaugural Tusk Conservation Awards at the Royal Society in London on Thursday evening.

In a speech to guests, Prince William started by joking about spending his first night away from baby son Prince George.

"As you might have gathered, Catherine and I have recently become proud parents - of a baby who has a voice to match any lion's roar," he said.

"This is actually our first evening out without him, so please excuse us if you see us nervously casting cheeky glances at our mobile phones to check all is well back home.

The duke continued: "Like any new parents, our thoughts inevitably turn to the world that our child will inherit.

"It is unfathomable to imagine a world in which children who have been born in the past couple of months may grow up in a world in which rhinoceros have ceased to exist in the wild."

'Immensely special'

The palace said the duke was considering a number of options for public service and will make a further announcement in due course.

Tuesday's final RAF shift brought to an end a three-year posting on Anglesey for the prince.

Kensington Palace Kensington Palace has undergone renovations ahead of the family's arrival

In an interview for the BBC Wales documentary Helicopter Rescue, he said: "There's no greater feeling than when you've actually done some good and saved someone's life.

"I don't think there's any greater calling in life... to be able to see a son or daughter's face when you bring their mother or father back from the edge of death - it's quite powerful."

The head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, praised the duke's work in the air force.

Sir Andrew said Flight Lieutenant Wales had been an "integral" part of the RAF's search and rescue force, "often in the most demanding of conditions, [he] has contributed directly to saving lives in the mountains of North Wales and from the ravages of the Irish Sea.

He added: "He has earned the respect of all who have worked with him as a highly professional and competent pilot."

In a speech at the Anglesey Show in August, the duke thanked the island's people for being so welcoming to him and his wife.

Flight Lieutenant Wales

  • 1,301 total flying hours with the RAF
  • 3 years in search and rescue
  • 156 operations
  • 149 people rescued

"I know that I speak for Catherine when I say that I have never in my life known somewhere as beautiful and as welcoming as Anglesey," he said.

"I know that both of us will miss it terribly when my search and rescue tour of duty comes to an end next month and we have to move elsewhere.

"From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making my wife and me so welcome when we arrived here, as you do thousands of visitors each year."

He said the island had been their first home together and would always be an "immensely special place for us both".

Though their main home will be the newly refurbished Kensington Palace, the royal couple are also expected to take up their country retreat Anmer Hall on the Queen's private Sandringham estate in Norfolk later this year.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Princes William and Harry leading the "next gen" of Royals have dragged the Royal family into the C21st. Yes, this change of direction WILL be at the cost of the public, but what the Royals do for charities and British tourism will return this many times over.

    Good to see the anti royal comments getting marked down. Yes they lead privileged lives. Some very bitter people out there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    The old "Royal duties" chestnut. How many hours a week and how many weeks a year will that be then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    I understand perception people have, We're all talking from the perspective of the country and are its guardians. Times have changed, our armed forces are there for when war may happen this will happen and that's what they're paid for. William leaving is like other pre-serving members who have done before him. Do not ask for war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    There are some deluded delinquents spelling out nonsense on this story.
    Anyone who is criticising him for this story is just simply narrow-minded. Get over the fact that he is lucky enough to be a Royal and is given opportunities that most people envy him for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    You have to love the haters who call the monarchy a waste of money. They're mostly republicans who want to replace the monarchy with an elected head of state as if that would save money. Just look at the billions the US spends every 4 years on completely pointless elections because the guy who comes in can't do squat. Our royals cost nothing in comparison and do more to benefit society

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Lovely guy, making a very important decision for the benefit of his family. What an example!

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    William will be the King one day and it time for him to begin preparing.

    People moan about the cost but the Royals make shed loads for this country, somehwere I read they bring in 10 times what they cost.

    They have little privacy and I for one wouldn't want their life at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Seems like a sensible decision, as the Queen's reign draws to a close now is the time for Prince William to prepare for a more public role once he becomes the new Prince of Wales.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Free now 2 continue exotic travels of the World & on his way perhaps he'd like to find his Gun? Then he will be fully equipped with Harry, Cameron Hague Osborne & their stockbroker cronies to name but a few, to lead the charge into Syria singing from the same page as Douglas Hague in WW1 after he's learned to release the handbrake on his Austin Martin! Another victim of austerity measures? NOT HA!

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Whoa! I'm no royalist but surely what we have to ask ourselves here is this! Is this really Prince William's own choice, or has it been forced upon him? true there is a job lined up for him (whether he wants it or not) but let us not jump to the wrong conclusions; it was quite possibly forced on him!

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    The dull tone of the Anti-Monarchists.

    William has rescued 149 people during his service. Ask them if it was a waste of money training him. He is a great role model for the younger generations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Anyone who serves in the Armed Forces or emergency services deserves respect and gratitude for their efforts, even if it is only for a few years (plenty of non-royals serve for a few years only).Those who have served realise that not every role involves engaging the enemy on the battlefield. And Search and Rescue pilots and crews take huge risks every day to save lives. William gets my respect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    King? I, never voted for him! ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    I love doing charity work for the sick kids hospital in Edinburgh in my spare time, but I've never worked out how to support my family if I was to make charity a full time vocation?

    Still, if he knocks on my door with a charity form, I'll be happy to spare a quid or two.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    the really are a bunch of clowns.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    He would have had no future in SAR because the service is being privatised. He could have transferred to other helicopter duties, but most involve some kind of front-line operations, and the govt wouldn't put him within 1000 miles of a war zone. He was never going to be career military, because of his ultimate role, unlike his brother. The same was true of his father and uncle the Duke of York.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    When you've been in military for seven years or longer then you are in a position to comment on William's reasons for quitting. Otherwise you should be quiet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Can I give up my job and spend my time asking other people what they do and doing a bit of charity work ? Tell you what, I'll forgo the castle and servants if you like... deal ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    So he's changed jobs then? M'Kay...
    Move along... Nothing to see...


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