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Life begins at 40 for William

The Duke of Cambridge (PA)
The Duke of Cambridge (PA)

The old adage that “Life begins at 40” may be true for the Duke of Cambridge as he gears up for a more prominent role in the decade ahead.

William appears ready to embark on the next step of his life in the monarchy that will ultimately see him become king after channelling his efforts into issues like mental health, homelessness and protecting the environment.

Married to wife Kate for more than 10 years and with a young family – they will be the face of the modern monarchy for decades to come.

With the death of his grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh and his brother the Duke of Sussex stepping down as a working royal, his position as a senior royal is even more pivotal and he appears to have played a part in the “family decision” to limit the Duke of York’s role at the recent Garter Day service.

William’s early life was overshadowed by the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales in a Paris car crash in 1997 and he still speaks about her influence, including how as a young boy she took him to a shelter for rough sleepers and introduced him to the issue of homelessness.

Royalty – Princess of Wales Funeral – Westminster Abbey, London
The Prince of Wales, Prince William, Prince Harry, Earl Althorp and Duke of Edinburgh walk behind Diana, the Princess of Wales’ funeral cortege (Adam Butler/PA)

He found love at university meeting fellow student Kate Middleton, who he would wed in 2011 at Westminster Abbey, and the couple went on to have three children, firstborn George – also a future king – in 2013, followed by Charlotte in 2015 and Louis in 2018.

As a future king, a career in the Armed Forces beckoned and after graduating as an officer from Sandhurst he trained with the RAF and flew missions with the air force’s Search and Rescue Force, before later joining the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) as a helicopter pilot.

Supporting the mental health of the nation under the Heads Together initiative with brother Harry and Kate was one of his early projects, and later in life William has spoken about the effect on his wellbeing of flying rescue mission for the EAAA.

Prince William passing out at Sandhurst
William on his graduation day from Sandhurst (Tim Clarke/PA)

William set up the his United for Wildlife umbrella organisation to tackle the illegal trade in animal products, and became patron of the homelessness charities Centrepoint and The Passage.

His flagship project to date is his ambitious Earthshot Prize – a 10-year £50 million initiative to recognise innovative ideas to repair the planet.

The Royal Wedding
William and Kate on their wedding day (Chris Radburn/PA)

The inaugural prizegiving ceremony was held in October last year and featured a host of famous faces from Sir David Attenborough to Dame Emma Thompson.

In the background there was turbulence within the royal family with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepping down as working royals for a new life in America, and the civil sexual assault case involving the Duke of York that left his reputation in tatters and still threatens to tarnish the royal family.

William was forced to publicly defend the monarchy against accusations of racism made by his brother, during his Oprah Winfrey interview, saying: “We’re very much not a racist family.”

Earthshot Prize Awards
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during the Earthshot Prize awards ceremony (Alberto Pezzali/PA)

And there are reports William, alongside his father the Prince of Wales, lobbied the Queen to stop Andrew making a public appearance at the Garter Day service.

William now appears set to take a more prominent royal supporting his grandmother the Queen and in time his father, the next monarch, in their duties as head of state.