William at 40: A milestone birthday in a life under scrutiny

Britain_Prince_William_49967 FILE - Britain's Prince William visits at the Heart of Midlothian Football Club, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday May 12, 2022. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_62567 FILE - In this June 22, 1982, file photo, Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and wife Princess Diana take home their newborn son Prince William, as they leave St. Mary's Hospital in London. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_21281 FILE - Britain's Prince William, the 6-month old son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, with his mother during a photo call at Kensington Palace in London, England on Dec. 22, 1982. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_47267 FILE Prince William holding the hands of his mother, Diana the Princess of Wales, on his arrival for the first day at his new school, Wetherby School, a pre-prep for boys, in Penbridge Square, London on Jan. 15, 1987. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_53450 FILE - Britain's Prince Charles and Princess Diana and their sons, Princes William, right, and Harry begin a cycle ride, June 1, 1989, around the island of Tresco, one of the Scilly Isles. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_61931 FILE - Britain's Prince William shakes hands with admirers during a stop at St. James Cathedral in Toronto, Canada, in this Oct. 27, 1991 file photo. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_33541 FILE - Britain's Princess Diana and her son Prince William applaud the Wimbledon Ladies' Tennis Championship presentations after the final, July 1, 1994. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_23796 FILE - Prince William walks with his head bowed behind the coffin of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, on its way to London's Westminster Abbey for a funeral ceremony, Saturday, Sept. 6, 1997. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_59974 FILE - Britain's Prince William, wearing a Union Jack waistcoat, poses for a photo in this 2000 photo in Eton, England. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_01014 FILE - Britain's Prince William carries out maintainance work in the village of Tortel, Southern Chile during his Raleigh International expedition in this recent but undated photo made available Monday Dec. 11, 2000. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_47967 FILE - Britain's Prince William blows out the candles on a birthday cake given to him, Thursday, June 19, 2003, during a visit to the Anglesey Food Fair in North Wales. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_68020 FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II; her eldest son, Prince Charles left; and his eldest son, Prince William, pose for a photograph at Clarence House in London., June 2, 2003 The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_94384 FILE Britain's Prince William, left, cheers as he makes his water polo debut for the Scottish national universities squad in the annual Celtic Nations tournament against Wales and Ireland in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, April 17, 2004. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_39235 FILE - Prince William kicks a rugby ball during a training session with some members of the British and Irish Lions players in Wellington, New Zealand, Friday, July 1, 2005. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_39533 FILE - Britain's Prince William pauses in St Salvator's Quad at St Andrews University where he is a student in St Andrews Scotland Monday Nov. 15, 2004. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_05711 FILE - Britain's Prince William, marches with other graduates, during the Sovereign's parade at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, near Camberley, England, Friday Dec. 15, 2006. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_83465 FILE - Britain's Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton walk in RAF Cranwell, England after William received his RAF wings from his father the Prince of Wales Friday April 11, 2008. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_98625 FILE Britain's Prince William gestures as he walks across the airfield at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire, England, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_64157 FILE - Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton pose for the media at St. James's Palace in London, Tuesday Nov. 16, 2010, after they announced their engagement. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_00608 FILE - Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge stand outside of Westminster Abbey after their Royal Wedding in London Friday, April, 29, 2011. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_18030 FILE - Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton exchange rings in front of the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey, London, Friday April 29, 2011. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne. Photo via AP, File)
Britain_Prince_William_84379 FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is escorted by Prince William, during a visit to RAF Valley, Anglesey, Wales, where he is stationed as a search and rescue helicopter pilot, Friday April 1, 2011. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_99589 FILE - Britain's Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge holding their son, Tuesday July 23, 2013, as they pose for photographers outside St. Mary's Hospital exclusive Lindo Wing in London. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_69865 FILE - Britain's Prince William, holds his son Prince George as they arrive at Chapel Royal in St James's Palace in London, for the christening of the three month-old Prince Wednesday Oct. 23, 2013. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_92170 FILE- Britain's Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge walks, with an East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) in the background, as he begins his new role, at Cambridge Airport, Cambridge, in England, Monday July 13, 2015. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_71108 FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, left, attends the annual Festival of Remembrance with Prince Philip, Prince William, right and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, in London, England, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_75969 FILE From left, Britain's Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry attend a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, in Vimy, France, Sunday, April 9, 2017. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_21870 FILE Britain's Prince William, background centre, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, background and Prince Harry take part in a relay race, during a training event to promote the charity Heads Together, in London, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_53694 FILE - Britain's Prince Harry, left, reacts as he walks with Prince William as they arrive for his wedding to Meghan Markle at St. George's Chapel, in Windsor, England, Saturday, May 19, 2018. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_46607 FILE - Britain's Prince William delivers a speech, during the launch of the Heads Up Weekends, in London, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_99874 FILE Britain's Prince William, left and Prince Harry unveil a statue of their mother Princess Diana, on what woud have been her 60th birthday, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, London, Thursday July 1, 2021. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_32816 FILE Prince Harry, left, and Prince William stand during the unveiling of a statue of their mother Princess Diana, on what woud have been her 60th birthday, in Kensington Palace, London, Thursday July 1, 2021. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_92117 FILE - Britain's Prince William delivers a speech at the Tusk Conservation Awards in London, Monday Nov. 22, 2021. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_93891 FILE Britain's Prince William, left and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge attend the 'Royal Carols - Together At Christmas', a Christmas carol concert hosted by the duchess at Westminster Abbey in London, Wednesday Dec. 8, 2021. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_59796 FILE - Prince William salutes veterans on Horse Guards Parade during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, Sunday Nov. 14, 2021. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_14415 FILE - Britain's Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge attend the 1st Battalion Irish Guards' St. Patrick's Day Parade at Mons Barracks, Thursday March 17, 2022 in Aldershot, England. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_88684 FILE - Britain's Prince William, President of The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, leaves after visiting to learn about the innovative work that is currently carrying out to improve cancer diagnosis, in London, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_79239 FILE -Britain's Prince William sits by the The Imperial State Crown in the House of Lords Chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament, in the Houses of Parliament, in London, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_52912 FILE - Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, and Prince William watch from the balcony of Buckingham Place after the Trooping the Color ceremony in London, Thursday, June 2, 2022. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
Britain_Prince_William_88248 FILE Britain's Prince William speaks during the Platinum Jubilee concert taking place in front of Buckingham Palace, London, Saturday June 4, 2022, on the third of four days of celebrations to mark the Platinum Jubilee. The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a father of three. But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, June21, 2022, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.
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LONDON (AP) — The world watched as Prince William grew from a towheaded schoolboy to a dashing air-sea rescue pilot to a balding father of three.

But as he turns 40 on Tuesday, William is making the biggest change yet: assuming an increasingly central role in the royal family as he prepares for his eventual accession to the throne.

That was clear two weeks ago when William took center stage at the extravaganza concert marking Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne, lauding his grandmother as an environmental trailblazer as he delivered a call to action on climate change.

“Tonight has been full of such optimism and joy — and there is hope,” he said, as images of wildlife, oceans and jungles were projected on the walls of Buckingham Palace behind him. “Together, if we harness the very best of humankind, and restore our planet, we will protect it for our children, for our grandchildren and for future generations to come.”

Get ready to see more of this.

Slowed by age and health problems, the 96-year-old queen is gradually handing over more responsibilities to her son and heir, Prince Charles. That in turn gives William, his eldest son, a more important role to play and more opportunities to put the stamp on a new generation of the monarchy.

William, along with his wife Kate, has staked out a role as an advocate for more openness about mental health, and as a supporter of organizations working to end homelessness. This month, he was spotted selling the Big Issue, a magazine that supports the homeless, on a London street.

In an article for the magazine, William pledged to “continue doing what I can to shine a spotlight on this solvable issue.”

“And while I may seem like one of the most unlikely advocates for this cause, I have always believed in using my platform to help tell those stories and to bring attention and action to those who are struggling,” he wrote. “I plan to do that now I’m turning 40, even more than I have in the past.”

William’s position as the eventual heir to the throne was, of course, sealed at his birth on June 21, 1982, the first son of Charles and the late Princess Diana. That put him in the public eye from the second that Charles and Diana presented him to the TV cameras outside the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London.

The world has watched William from his school days in London to his courtship of Kate Middleton at St. Andrews University in Scotland and their spectacular marriage at Westminster Abbey.

He paraded before the cameras once again when he graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, then went on to active duty in the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force. Finally, he became a civilian air ambulance pilot before moving into full-time royal duties five years ago.

His charities and causes — from mental health to the environment — have given hints of what sort of monarch he might one day be.

Royal expert Pauline Maclaran, author of “Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture.” said William was keen to show “how he will treat things differently.”

“And so we see that more and more, where the future of the line is being emphasized, with Charles being put more in a kind of holding position for William. We’re always reminded that William is after Charles,” she added.

Events just before and during the celebrations of the queen’s platinum jubilee started to give a clearer indication of William’s vision of the future.

William and Kate represented the queen last March when they made an eight-day tour of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, three of the 14 independent countries where the British monarch still serves as head of state.

They were met with brass bands and gala dinners, but also with demonstrations by protesters demanding reparations for Britain’s role in the enslavement of millions of Africans. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the royals his country intended to become a republic, severing ties to the monarchy.

After the trip, the young royals were criticized as “tone deaf” for perpetuating images of Britain’s colonial rule.

But rather than falling back on the House of Windsor’s traditional response of “never complain, never explain,” William took the unusual step of issuing a statement reflecting on all that had happened.

“I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future,” William said. “In Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon.”

“Catherine and I are committed to service,” he continued. “For us, that’s not telling people what to do. It is about serving and supporting them in whatever way they think best.”

That willingness to be approachable is critical for the House of Windsor as it seeks to remain relevant to younger people and cement its role in British society, Maclaran said.

“It’s important that William shows there are going to be changes to the monarchy,” she said. “Otherwise, you know, I suspect it really can’t survive.”

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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