Prince William at 40 – cheeky boy, now a commanding duke acting like a future king

He yawned, distracting his cousins, and then cocked his sailor cap askew. At the age of four, Prince William stole the show at his uncle Prince Andrew’s wedding to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.

It’s not hard to see where the cheeky Prince Louis learned it from at the recent anniversary. The then 60-year-old Queen even had to run after her grandson to stop him running after her carriage.

Before becoming the shy, camera-shy, and seemingly reluctant heir at times, Prince William was known for his strong will as a preschooler.

Even Her Majesty agreed with his mother, Princess Diana, that he could benefit from kindergarten, so off he went – where he was reportedly known as “Basher Wills” for a time.

Prince William, dressed in a sailor suit, acts as page boy at Prince Andrew’s wedding


(Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William attend the key ceremony at the Palace of Holyroodhouse


Samir Hussein/WireImage)

But it’s perhaps that intrinsic determination and determination, now refined and matured as he nears his 40th birthday on Tuesday, that we see again in William as he approaches with a newfound public confidence and a new certainty in his ever-closer circle Roll as one emerges -Day King.

The William of recent months is one we’ve never seen before. A commanding duke who appears to be on par with his father and shares decision-making, who is reportedly one day outlining his preferred style of monarchy with fewer staff, without the formalities of titles, bows and curtseys.

A duke enthusiastic about his causes, and one a senior source has claimed, felt safe enough this week to tell the queen he would not be attending the Garter Day service in Windsor if his uncle, Prince Andrew would do so publicly.

But if that surprises us, his mother wouldn’t have done it.

Knowing that behind the shyness was a great personality and a born royalty, Princess Diana privately remarked, “The country is very fortunate to have him.”

William with his mother Diana and brother Harry


(Getty Images)

Former BBC Royal correspondent Jennie Bond recalls the day the princess put it out to her when Prince William was around 12, discussing his future role with his grandmother by the fireplace and worrying about his future .

She recalls: “Diana said William felt the weight of his destiny, his kingship, it weighed heavily on his shoulders.

“He realized that he wasn’t in control of his own destiny like the other boys at school.

“But she said, ‘I think William is fine’ — that was her sentence. “The country is lucky to have him.”

“I think she’s seen a degree of maturity and gradual acceptance of this strange fate. Diana saw then what we are seeing now.”

She may also have been referring to the fiercely protective little boy, whom she referred to as “my wise little old man,” who watched his parents split up when he was ten and comforted her when she cried by handing tissues passed through the door.

He would later guide his brother Harry in a similar manner following their tragic death, while also dealing with “a pain like no other pain,” as he later described his grief.

Prince William and Prince Charles at the State Opening of Parliament


(Getty Images)

He was always, believes royal biographer Ingrid Seward, an emotionally intelligent boy with qualities of future leadership, adept at remembering the names of everyone, all of the staff and even their pets.

Perhaps the difficulties he experienced made that even worse.

“He wanted to know everything about everyone, he was like his mother,” she says.

And he’s always had a clear sense of who he is, says Bond.

“He seems like a lovely, gentle boy, but he’s always known his own mind,” she says. “He also has quite a temper and will go his own way.

“He shows that now by saying openly what he wants.”

She adds: “We’ve seen him struggle with that a little bit when he was younger, stories about him not really doing his bit and shirking his responsibilities.

“Especially since Harry left the scene, William has visibly increased in stature and maturity and now looks like a king-to-be. But a king who does things his way.”

William and Kate with their children


Kensington Palace via Getty Imag)

A commemorative £5 coin bearing William’s portrait will be minted to commemorate his birthday. The Duke himself apparently finds the milestone “scary”.

But when he’s not quite ready for middle age, he seems increasingly ready for monarchy.

His grandmother’s mobility issues have drawn attention to both Charles and his son.

Both attended the opening of Parliament in their place.

William was the focus of the Thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s for the anniversary, his face tight.

He spoke with command, authority and leadership at the palace party.

It is widely believed that he now participates in decision-making with Prince Charles and the Queen.

Bond says: “The Queen and Charles have been very generous in the way they now treat William absolutely equally.”

Seward agrees that a larger space has definitely been curated for William. “He gets a chance to shine,” she says.

But she adds that he’s “ready to cast it” now.

Kate and William during their royal tour in Kingston, Jamaica


Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock)

She points out that Williams’ place is uniquely on par with Charles.

“Charles always wanted to be an interim monarch,” she says. “It’s clearly been managed, so William is on a similar footing as his father.”

In previous years, there were many rumors about William’s unwillingness to rule.

When he turned 21, he tried to appeal to her, saying: “It’s not about wanting to be (king), it’s something I was born into and it’s my duty. Wanting is not the right word.”

Enthusiasm was muted.

But he added something revealing.

“I like being in control of my life because I have so many people around me — I can be pulled one way and then another,” he said. “I could actually lose my identity.”

In the early years of his relationship with Kate, his game plan seemed to be to closely guard that identity privately.

Now he seems to be revealing his identity.

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His rash Caribbean tour with Kate earlier this year appears to have been a game changer. Photos of them standing in a Land Rover and holding hands with children through wire fences hit a bad note.

Breaking with convention, William admitted afterwards that the tour had “put an even sharper focus on questions about the past and future.” Sources added he was “interested in having his own voice.”

Rumors of a new way of governing – a kind of William.

This includes a greater awareness of PR, says Bond.

“Image is everything and I think William gets it.”

And William’s path also includes how he wants his family to live.

The proposed move of his brood to a relatively modest four-bed cottage on the Windsor estate makes him the Queen’s man-in-hand.

It also gives his family their final years of relative normality.

And by his side, every step, is Kate.

Their happy marriage is widely believed to be a key factor for this assured William.

“A lot of his strength comes from having a happy marriage,” says Bond.

“Apparently it’s quite a sparkling relationship. They will have screaming fights if they disagree. She is an equal partner in the truest sense of the word.”

Finding himself as a father, husband and heir appears to have flourished in parallel for the 40-year-old prince.

“He thought, ‘This is my life, it’s not a bad life, and I’m going to make a name for myself,'” says Bond.

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