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 167.

    Both William and Harry have done a lot to modernise the monarchy. I, for one, have enjoyed watching William grow into a fine young man who does our country proud. Long live the Royal Family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    I hope this is really what he and his wife want and not what is expected of them. What ever your feelings about the monarchy at the end of the day for all the money and privilege their lives are not always their own. Damned if they do damned if they don't it is not a life I would want. Can't even do the simple things like pop to the pub for a quiet pint.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Personally I don't get why young royals feel the need to have a stint in the armed forces, but he's heir to the throne and he's already earned the country his training costs many times over through global interest in himself, Kate and George. There are more important things to whinge about.

  • Comment number 164.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    It would be so good if, when quitting the armed forces, he moved into the upcoming privatised search and rescue organisation.

    At his present age, with other more senior Royals still active, what better way could he serve the country / his people?

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Jon, William has done service for the country on his own accord not cause its expected of but because he wanted to do the lad does more then most people do and the fact we have a royal family its our identity as a nation be proud we have that for me thats a price worth paying for. Scrap state benefits thats the real parasite cost more like a fifth of the UK GDP output

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Disgraceful. So after the customary military position he now spends the rest of his life opening hospitals and going to Africa occasionally to look at poor people? Nice life eh. I'll respect the royal family when they go to work like the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    I wonder if he was told to do that ? Rather be saving lives than shaking hands with a load of numties !

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    The premature ending of his service in SAR means he should repay 400k, but the RAF said they will not pursue William for the charge. They Royal Family just live a charmed life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    People leave their jobs all the time & training is wasted.

    A girl who worked for my employers openingly admitted that she had only come to work for them because the training was considered the best. She got her qualification and left a week later.

    People are so jealous and find it difficult to be happy for others, its a shame considering his Mother seemed to be so loved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    "He will expand his work in the field of conservation, particularly in respect of endangered species."
    How ironic since the RF is one itself! Boring 'news' item, truly dull stuff. Back to my crossword

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Really can't say that representing duties are retirement. Anything but and I actually feel sorry that he has to give up a profession he clearly enjoyed, did well and identified with. Abolishing monarchy? I'll tell you what: The moment you abolish the monarchy this country's tourism will collapse. Who would want to visit anywhere so overpriced with such lousy weather? (Apart from summer 2013..)

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Well, if he's serious about making a contribution to improving life on Earth, he could do no worse than draw people's attention to the unsustainability of diminishing resources, increasing demand on a planet fixed in size.


  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    As an ex member of the armed forces I am, and always will be, a supporter of the royal family. However, no matter how hard the training may have been for his role in SAR he, and all royals, are afforded special privileges according to their position.

    I did my time, he has done his. Have you done yours?

    Every Man should think less of himself for never having being a soldier.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    @85.Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells
    . . .not only is it a waste of money, but we will now have to pay for his replacement to be trained . . .
    No we won't, SAR is being outsourced to private companies, let's hope you never need to rely on their 'expertise'. Comment, but be accurate in your negativity. He's done a good job that he didn't have to, and takes less of my taxes than benefit scroungers

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    How nice to see that the likes and dislikes prove that the rather noisy envious types are not appreciated...
    we just need to remember that this young man has trained for an exacting job - being a royal did NOT get him chosen for it, pilots health has to be perfect, they carry out a job that requires learning at the level of about 4 or 5 degrees in various subjects - he did it well and humbly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    At least he did it!! Good Luck to him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    With the greatest respect, why spend so much money training up a guy to fly helicopters when realistically you know he'll be quitting so soon? Seems incredibly bad value for the RAF. Surely that would be better spent on someone who wants to fly helicopters for the next 25 years?

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    Flying choppers around N. Wales for seven years?. People would pay good money for a hobby like that. Armed Forces? Oh, please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    A year to consider his options? Well, if only the plebs had such time to consider such weighty matters....The Press Release just describes the Royal Family to a tee......


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