Prince William, the eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, is currently second in line to succeed his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II as monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms. When his father Prince Charles ascends to the throne upon the Queen’s passing, Prince William will become heir apparent and take on the title reserved for the next in line.
The Title of Prince of Wales
The title Prince William will hold when Charles becomes King is the Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales is the traditional title given to the heir apparent to the British throne. It dates back to the 1301 when King Edward I of England gave the title to his son and heir Edward II. Since that time, the eldest living son of the British monarch has typically held the Prince of Wales title.
When the current Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, becomes King Charles upon Queen Elizabeth II’s death, Prince William will automatically become the new Prince of Wales. The title is not hereditary, so it will not pass from father to son. Rather, the new monarch (King Charles) will invest their heir apparent (Prince William) with the title early on in their reign through a formal investiture ceremony.
The investiture ceremony for the new Prince of Wales has traditionally been held at Caernarfon Castle in Wales. The new monarch presents the heir with a coronet, ring, gold rod, sword, and cloak during the ceremony. The last investiture was held in 1969 for the formal installation of the current Prince of Wales, Prince Charles.
When Prince William eventually becomes the Prince of Wales, he will likely go through a similar ceremony officiated by his father at Caernarfon Castle. The Prince of Wales title is highly symbolic, underlining the heir’s connection to Wales as the firstborn son of the monarch.
Other Subsidiary Titles
In addition to becoming Prince of Wales, Prince William will also inherit several other titles subsidiary to that principal title when Prince Charles ascends to the throne. These include:
- Duke of Cornwall
- Duke of Rothesay
- Earl of Carrick
- Baron of Renfrew
- Lord of the Isles
- Prince and Great Steward of Scotland
The Duchy of Cornwall and Duchy of Rothesay titles specifically provide income to the heir apparent. The revenue from the duchies goes to the Prince of Wales. This will transfer over to Prince William when he inherits the main title from his father.
The additional Scottish titles underline the Prince of Wales’ role as heir apparent in both England and Scotland. Carrick, Renfrew, the Isles, and Great Steward of Scotland all tie the titleholder to different areas of Scottish history and mythology.
Currently, as the elder son of the Prince of Wales, Prince William holds the titles Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, and Baron Carrickfergus. When he becomes Prince of Wales, these subsidiary titles will likely pass to his own eldest son Prince George.
The Duke of Cambridge Title
Many people commonly refer to Prince William as the Duke of Cambridge. This title was conferred on him by Queen Elizabeth II on his wedding day in 2011. Dukedoms are traditionally bestowed by the monarch on male children and male-line grandchildren.
As the title is hereditary, the Duke of Cambridge title will pass to Prince George when Prince William becomes Prince of Wales. Prince George will then likely hold the title until Prince William’s death, at which point George will become Prince of Wales and his own son may inherit Duke of Cambridge.
History of the Title
The Duke of Cambridge title has a long history in the British peerage dating back to the 14th century. It has been held by many distinguished figures through the centuries. The title was last held by Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, a grandson of King George III and commander-in-chief of the British Army in the mid-19th century.
It was vacant until 2011 when Queen Elizabeth bestowed it upon Prince William on his wedding day. The title is a fitting one for the heir’s son, giving him a prestigious royal dukedom centred on a university city associated with academia and learning.
Living Former Princes of Wales
When Prince Charles becomes King, this will create a unique situation where there are two living former Princes of Wales for the first time in centuries. The previous Prince of Wales typically becomes King immediately upon the death of the former monarch. But Queen Elizabeth II has now reigned so long that her son Prince Charles is no longer a young man waiting in the wings.
Prince Charles and Prince William will both hold the Prince of Wales title during their lifetimes for a period. Living former Princes of Wales are very rare – the last time this happened was in 1504 during the Tudor period.
Having two generations of Princes of Wales will illustrate the recent longevity of the Windsors. It also shows how the role of the Prince of Wales has evolved into one of active public service, embodied by the long-serving Prince Charles.
Charles’ Tenure as Prince of Wales
Prince Charles has been heir apparent and Prince of Wales for over 70 years – the longest tenure in British history. He was invested as Prince of Wales by his mother the Queen in 1969 at Caernarfon Castle when he was 20 years old. Since that time, he has undertaken many public duties and established charitable initiatives like The Prince’s Trust.
The extraordinarily long period as Prince of Wales has allowed Charles to completely mold and develop the role for the modern era through his interests in areas like the environment, architecture, and social issues. This will provide an intriguing model for Prince William when he takes over the historic title one day.
Prince William’s Preparation
While Prince William has many years to go before becoming Prince of Wales, he has already begun preparations for the role. William has taken on more royal duties and patronages representing his grandmother the Queen in recent years. His training for the top job is very different than Charles’ experience over 70 years ago.
After university, William did a 10-week attachment with the Royal Navy, then went on to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He served actively in the Army Air Corps for several years, doing tours in Belize and the Falkland Islands before completing search and rescue duties as a Royal Air Force pilot. This military service gave William invaluable real-world experience.
Air Ambulance Pilot
After concluding his military service, William became an air ambulance helicopter pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance service. He held this civilian job for several years up until 2017. Working as part of an emergency first responder team treating trauma patients continued to build William’s leadership abilities under challenging circumstances.
Alongside his civil aviation job, William has also increasingly undertaken public royal duties. He has stood in for the Queen at events like State Openings of Parliament and Commonwealth commemorations. William has also used his spotlight to focus attention on causes like mental health and conservation.
His Royal Foundation charity coordinates initiatives like the environment-oriented Earthshot Prize. William is carving out his own public role while also preparing to be King.
Preparations with the “Cambridge Class”
Another key part of William’s preparations has been building his team to support his future roles. Royalty experts have dubbed William and Kate’s staff the “Cambridge Class” – a mix of private secretaries, PR experts, assistants and researchers who will form the core of William’s future Prince of Wales and King’s team.
Notable members include private secretary Simon Case, communications secretaries Christian Jones and Jason Knauf, and senior advisor David Manning. Building this professional royal household will help ensure a smooth transition when William and Kate take on more senior roles in future.
Simon Case – Private Secretary
Simon Case served as William and Kate’s private secretary from 2018 to 2020 before being appointed Cabinet Secretary and head of the British civil service. He was a key aide overseeing the couple’s public life and engagements. Having served in top government administrative roles, Case provided invaluable experience on constitutional issues.
Knauf and Jones – Communications
Jason Knauf originally worked in the Royal Household press office before becoming William and Kate’s communications secretary. He helped build their profile through engagements and media coverage. Christian Jones later joined as Knauf’s deputy press secretary and has continued overseeing strategic communications plans.
Preparation with Prince Charles
While Prince William is increasingly stepping out on his own, he remains very close with his father Prince Charles and is learning by closely watching him. Charles has taken on the public role of Prince of Wales in a way none of his predecessors did over such a long period.
William has seen Charles devote himself full-time to public service, charity work, national issues and preparation to be King. He has attended meetings and ceremonies with his father to gain firsthand experience. William helps keep Charles connected to youth issues. This balance of support but independence is ideal preparation.
The Duchy of Cornwall
Part of Charles’ preparation to be King was learning how to manage the vast Duchy of Cornwall estate that provides income to the Prince of Wales. William has likewise been mentored on running this portfolio of land and properties to educate him for when it passes to him one day as the new Duke of Cornwall.
Public Perception of Prince William
In terms of public perception, Prince William is incredibly popular with over 80% approval according to YouGov polls – even more than his grandmother the Queen. Britons see him as down-to-earth, likable, principled and in touch with ordinary people’s concerns. He is perceived as both modern and traditional.
William and Kate are seen as the future not just of the Royal Family, but also the future face of Britain. Their young family helmed by the beloved Cambridge kids helps reinforce perceptions of youthfulness and vigor. There is widespread confidence that William will make a fine King when the time comes.
As Relatable Young Parents
Despite being royalty, William and Kate have cultivated an image of being relatable young parents managing ordinary family life. Photos of them dropping off Prince George at school or taking the kids on an outing make them seem down-to-earth and normal. This presents the future heir as in touch and connected to regular British families.
As Passionate Public Servants
At the same time, William and Kate are also increasingly seen as passionate public servants deeply engaged with issues like mental health advocacy or climate change. Their Royal Foundation has run major national initiatives like the Heads Together campaign against stigma. This presents them as caring future leaders using their platform for good.
Future Queen Catherine
An important aspect of Prince William’s preparation as future Prince of Wales involves developing his partnership with wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Catherine has grown tremendously in confidence and stature since joining the Royal Family. She will be an incredibly important supporting figure for William both now and in future reigns.
The Cambridges are careful to coordinate their duties and spotlight. Where William is more reserved, Kate has become known for her warmth, graciousness and rapport with the public. She balances her husband’s personality perfectly. Kate has also pioneered her own initiatives like early childhood development advocacy.
There is enormous respect and appreciation for the way the couple have developed their public roles in tandem. They demonstrate true teamwork that bodes well for their future senior leadership in the Royal Family.
Catherine’s Increased Duties
In 2022, Catherine notably took on two major additional leadership roles that reflect her preparation to be a future Queen consort. She became patron of Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League – a prestigious national sports patronage.
Catherine also helped launch the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in June 2022. The center aims to drive focus on the crucial early years of childhood development. Taking on such prominent initiatives helps increase Catherine’s profile as she supports William.
Prince George’s Future Role
While their father prepares to become Prince of Wales, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis have an integral role to play as well. As the firstborn son of Prince William, nine-year-old Prince George understands that he is destined to become King one day after his father and grandfather. George representing the new generation of royals has focused enormous public affection on the young prince.
He may only be in elementary school, but Prince George is already actively being prepared for the public life. George has joined his parents on official tours abroad and made appearances on major occasions like the Platinum Jubilee. His duties will slowly increase over the years to get him accustomed to royal responsibilities and the media spotlight.
One day Prince George will likely lead a slimmed-down monarchy – he faces the challenge of retaining public support without the vast Royal Family of the past. But George benefits enormously from the example and mentoring of his pioneering grandfather and parents who are reinventing what it means to be royal today.
Recent Public Appearances
At important national events like Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, Prince George made his public debuts. He appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony during Trooping the Colour and attended the Platinum Jubilee Pageant. This gave the public a glimpse of the future King participating in history.
George also attended the men’s Wimbledon tennis finals with his parents in July 2022. Very self-assured in front of the cameras, he has inherited the poise and composure of his dad Prince William. His maturation into his future kingly role at his own pace is being thoughtfully managed.
When Prince Charles ascends to the throne, this will spark the first father-to-son succession in the British monarchy in over 60 years. Prince William will inherit the traditional Prince of Wales title marking him as heir apparent and start intensive preparations to one day reign himself.
William benefits enormously from the example set by his father and grandmother. After Queen Elizabeth II’s unprecedented reign, the monarchy is likely to transition to a leaner, modernized version – one that Prince William and Catherine are uniquely positioned to spearhead.
Though just a schoolboy now, the future King Prince George is also being groomed to someday lead Britain into a new era. His namesake grandfather George VI once reluctantly took up the crown. Now the Windsors enter an almost unprecedented phase of having three future kings – Charles, William and George – progressing assuredly through their public roles. Far from struggling for survival as in the past, this thousand-year-old institution is smoothly evolving for modern times.