Prince William once told his mother, Princess Diana, that he didn’t want to be king, the Irish Mirror is reporting. Fortunately, his young brother, Prince Harry, was more than happy to volunteer for the job.
The incident happened about a year or so before Diana died, says royal writer Jeremy Paxman. Doing some quick math, that would have put William’s age at about 14, and Harry at about 12. Paxman says that Diana, feeling sad and isolated, called him up and invited him to lunch. There, they talked about their kids, and Diana dropped this bombshell about William.
“We talked about our children and she said William often told her that he didn’t really want to be king, and then Harry would say, ‘If you don’t want the job I’ll have it’!”
Chances are, no one reading this article will ever have to tell their child, or will ever themselves be told, that they were born to be a monarch, and that at some point in their future, they will ceremonially rule over a powerful country and its 65 million people. Yet, that is exactly what happened to William at some point in his childhood — it’s not clear when or how he was given this information — and clearly it was difficult for him to process and accept.
What’s more, being a member of the British royal family means that, by and large, your career, where you live, even whom you’ll be allowed to marry, is severely limited. You have to live by stifling rules, and all under the watchful eye of the British press, which will be there to cover it in exacting detail if you even slightly step out of line.
It was clearly too much for Princess Diana. At the time of her lunch with Paxman, the journalist noted that Kensington Palace was not unlike a prison, so staid and quiet, and right next to a bustling street with regular Londoners coming and going. In a way, says Paxman, it was like a metaphor for life among the royals vs. life among the regular people of Britain.
Of course, nowadays, William is in his mid-30s, has fathered three children — including his likely successor to the throne, Prince George — and appears to have accepted the fact that he will someday be king. It remains unclear when that will happen, of course. The current monarch, Queen Elizabeth, 92, shows no signs of slowing down. Then William will have to wait for his father, Prince Charles, 70, to reign.
And as for any suggestion that Charles will abdicate in favor of his younger, more popular son? Not a chance. Abdication of the British throne isn’t undertaken lightly, and the last person to abdicate the throne — Charles’ great uncle, King Edward VIII — almost brought down the entire monarchy with him when he abdicated.