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 87.

    Will he now be eligible for Workfair? A nice little stretch in a pound shop might give him a taste of what the real world is about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.



    Really? Is Prince Edward doing another 'It's A Knockout'?

    Someone best tell him that commentator's no longer 'available' (not sure he watches TV like the rest of us tax paying mortals)...

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    . . . great! we spend a fortune training him to fly multi million pound aircraft . . . and now he decides he 's had enough and wants to do something else . . . not only is it a waste of money, but we will now have to pay for his replacement to be trained . . . he could have had a full career in the RAF as he won't be king for another 30 years at least!

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    I guess he'll get to spend more time with his family...he has served the search and rescue teams well...good luck to him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    When I wanted to leave the RAF I had to pay £600 for the privilege. Guess I'm in the wrong family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Or, perhaps more accurately, "Rich man quits job to spend more time with his family".

    There is no need for a royal family in modern Britain - they're just an expensive version of the Union Flag. The tourists come for the buildings, not the scroungers who live in them at my expense.

    Waving is not a job, nor is opening train stations. We already have diplomats for global relations.

    Republic now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    I wish I could have retired after 7 it is I'll be 67 before I can retire....if I make it that far.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    How sad. He has been such an example of service, and he has had the opportunity to live a normal life, and, especially, have comrades in the same line of work.

    He is bound to miss all that, and really, why can't he do both? Other Royals always have - Prince Philip in particular.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Why are people so anti-royal? I guess you would be different if you knew the individuals personally. Such massive responsibility and level of duty required for life, plus the scrutiny every time you left the house.. I think the royals are a valuable asset to this country and certainly not a drain on tax-payers money as some have said. Royals bring in alot of money and jobs to the country too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    If not a Monarchy, what? A Presidency? We all know that would cost 10 times the amount the Royals do, and would bring in next to no revenue in return.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Fair enough...

    My opinion of him just went up a tiny bit.

    I'll wait and see what he does with the charity work before getting my hopes up though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Where do all these mean-minded people come from? The BBC's antipathy to the monarchy is well-known of course, but that doesn't mean that it should be the receptacle of this graceless torrent of sheer nastiness. Do these people not know that it is possible to have republican sympathies and still behave in a decent and civil manner?

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    So.... A full time royal then? Way younger than me and retiring. Nice

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    I'm sure the country is proud of the fact that as a young man he has risked his own safety, for several years, to save others, as his brother is doing.
    I hope negotiations are going well with the Mrs to keep his motorbikes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    The SAR is being privatised so he would have gone elsewhere anyway. The moaners who seem to delight in moaning and complaining about the likes of Prince William should really get a life. He and Prince Harry have possibly done more for the good of this country than the likes of, 'jon, 'ritey' etc etc have done for their next door neighbour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    He would have cost as much to train as any other pilot that could leave after 6 years. I doubt it is a job you can "fake" so I would assume he has genuine ability, and as for value for money .......... I would ask just one of the people who are alive today because of his bravery and skill for their opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    the issue is not about respect..its about whether ordinary people who work damned hard and pay their taxes should pay for the privileged lifestyle of a bunch of people who are the most wealthy in about them showing some respect for the peasants and not taking the handout every year.......that would "earn my respect" and thats standing on ones own feet.............

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    He only moved across to the RAF a few years ago, no way would his contract be up - is he buying himself out or is it a case of more special treatment for the royals?

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Yes he served his Country, he and his teams saved lives and rescued many people. God bless them all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.


    The RAF's Search and Rescue service is going to be privatised in 2 years' time. He has carried out a 3-year tour, which is standard for officers before moving on to a new role. I don't blame him for not wanting to sit in an office job, as other career-officers would likely do at this stage, when he will never get to fly operationally again due to his royal status.


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