William and Kate modernise royal family life
September 9, 2022 12:36 PM
William and Kate have brought a more relaxed and personal approach to royal duties and are raising their children in relatively hands-on fashion, presenting a more modern vision of the monarchy for a new age.
The well-liked couple, formally known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, married in 2011 and have presented themselves and their three children -- George, Charlotte and Louis -- as a model family.
Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams said they had "mastered both the formal and the informal" with carefully curated glimpses into their life on social media, in a clear break with the past and to satisfy constant press interest.
"They've been tremendously successful in protecting this mix of normality and royal status," he told AFP.
William and Kate, both now 40, met while studying at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
At the time, the prince was considered a heartthrob, with his attendance massively boosting applications to the ancient Scottish university.
Like his uncle, Prince Andrew, brother Harry, and father Prince Charles, William opted for a military career, becoming an army officer in 2006.
He qualified as a Royal Air Force search and rescue helicopter pilot in 2009. After marrying Kate, he lived with her and young George, who was born in 2013, for several years in a rented farmhouse on Anglesey off the coast of northwest Wales.
William then switched to work as a civilian air ambulance pilot from 2015, living at Anmer Hall, on his grandmother's Sandringham estate in Norfolk, eastern England.
He became a full-time royal in 2017 and shifted the family's base to an apartment in Kensington Palace, London.
The family moved to Adelaide Cottage at Windsor and this week all three children began at a nearby private school called Lambrook.
Charlotte and George previously attended a private day school in London where fees exceed £6,000 ($8,000, 7,000 euros) per term, while Louis went to a nursery.
Kate and William's children are reportedly being raised to enjoy outdoor pursuits with limited screen time.
William vented about the difficulties of sharing home schooling duties with Kate during the coronavirus lockdown -- albeit living in a 10-bedroom country house given to him by his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
- Causes -
William has gradually taken on more royal responsibilities, including bestowing knighthoods, while also promoting a diverse range of causes.
In contrast to previous generations' emphasis on a stiff upper lip, William has promoted initiatives to improve mental health
He has spoken of his "pain like no other pain" at the death of his mother, Princess Diana, as well as traumatic experiences as an air ambulance pilot.
He has also embraced environmental causes, founding the Earthshot Prize, rewarding people who come up with solutions to the problems threatening the planet.
Like his father, William contracted Covid-19 in 2020 and has spoken out against anti-vaccine disinformation. Both he and Kate were photographed getting jabbed.
The couple have embraced social media and their official Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts have millions of followers.
In August 2022, a YouGov poll put William and Kate as the British public's second and third-favourite royals, trailing only the queen.
"I think William and Kate mirror, in many ways, a young queen and Philip," said veteran royal correspondent Robert Jobson.
"They're not so young now, but in that respect they will certainly give the monarchy, after such old monarchs, a sense of modernity that is probably needed to help with its continuity," he told AFP.
His father's reign "will be seen as a transition to his son -- much younger, more glamourous. And of course, William will be on the throne a lot longer", he added.
- Supportive -
Despite a more modern style, William is fiercely supportive of the royal family and its values, and was reportedly furious when Harry said he and their father were "trapped" in a hidebound institution.
He also reacted sharply after Harry and Meghan claimed an unnamed royal had asked about their unborn baby's skin colour, telling a journalist the Windsors are "very much not a racist family".
In 2021, though, he denied fuelling a rift with his brother following Harry and Meghan's 2018 wedding after a BBC documentary said there was a behind-the-scenes briefing war between the couples.
William makes no secret of his distrust of British media, fired by his mother's death while being chased by paparazzi photographers in Paris.
Both he and Harry were furious when a judicial inquiry confirmed that BBC journalist Martin Bashir used false pretences to obtain a bombshell interview with their mother in 1995.
William urged the BBC never to air the interview with his mother again, saying it had "contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation" in her final years.
Unveiling a statue of Diana in the summer of 2021, he and Harry said they remembered "her love, strength and character" and "every day, we wish she were still with us".
Showing his strong sense of family connection, William named his daughter Charlotte Elizabeth Diana after "Granny Diana".