Heir-to-the-throne William reveals his focus on family

The last public outing of William and Kate and their children was on Christmas Day.

The last public outing of William and Kate and their children was on Christmas Day. Photo: Getty

When the Prince of Wales unexpectedly pulled out of an official memorial service at Windsor Castle this week, attention turned to the health of his wife Kate who is recuperating after surgery in January.

It is rare for the British royals to pull out of an engagement, and this was a funeral service for William’s godfather, the late King Constantine of Greece.

Kensington Palace issued a statement saying William, 41, was not able to attend “due to a personal matter”.

An update was later given by a palace aide at Windsor Castle, who declared that “the Princess of Wales continues to be doing well”.

“This is worrying. King Constantine was close to the RF [royal family] and Prince William was due to read a lesson,” wrote British royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams on February 28.

A new kind of royal?

While the Palace has not provided further detail on why William was unable to attend, are we looking at a new kind of royal with the future king of England, one who puts family before service to the Crown?

Is this an insight into how William wants to balance family life and public service?

“William has taken the cue from his own mother [Diana, the late Princess of Wales] that time spent with a growing family is very important, and that royals should be more hands-on with their children during their early development years,” Flinders University royal expert and Associate Professor Giselle Bastin told The New Daily.

“William is also trying to do ‘marriage’ differently to how his parents did it … Diana never felt supported by Charles [the King], and William will want to be the opposite with his wife.”

The Prince of Wales and his family pose for their 2023 Christmas card. Photo: AAP

Following Kate’s operation, William postponed official duties to care for her, George, 10, Charlotte, 8, and Louis, 5, before resuming engagements on February 7.

Kate, 42, has not been seen in public since Christmas Day and is not due to return to public events until after Easter.

William’s absence comes as his father, the King, is unable to perform his public role as he undergoes treatment for cancer.

Reports have said there was no connection between William’s personal matter and the King’s health.

“There are certainly fewer ‘working royals’ than we’ve seen in earlier decades, and this means that if any of the senior royals are ill or infirm that there aren’t as many royal individuals to stand in for them as there used to be,” Bastin said.

“The fact that [the King] willingly announced the medical treatment that he is receiving is unprecedented.”

Health issues kept private

By contrast, she points out the King’s grandfather, George VI, “didn’t even know himself how grave his condition was before he died in 1952”, and the public were never informed of any physical ailments suffered by the late Queen and Prince Philip.

“It was simply never spoken about,” she said.

“All this suggests that changes to the royals’ approach to juggling their public schedules with their private health conditions will be necessary, and marks a move in the direction of them being willing to share health updates in order to carve space in their diaries to care for loved ones.”

Has there ever been a senior member of the working royal family who has put family before country like William is doing?

“Not that I can think of, unless you count King Edward VIII, who put his own desire for personal happiness before his duty to the UK and Commonwealth by abdicating in 1936 so as to marry Wallis Simpson,” Bastin said.

“The Windsors have made it their main focus to appear to be as hard-working and dutiful ever since.”

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