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Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2006, 00:13 GMT
Prince William's royal role grows
As Prince William graduates from Sandhurst, the BBC's royal correspondent Peter Hunt looks at how the prince's increasing royal duties will slowly start to affect his 'normal' life.

Prince William is adopting the softly, softly approach to royal life. This reflects his own heartfelt desire and his parents' wishes.

His mother once remarked, "the one thing his father and I were absolutely agreed on was that William would have as normal an upbringing as possible".

Prince William
The prince will start to undertake more public engagements

Like his brother Harry, the older prince craves normality, although they both must know it is something of an illusion.

The ever present personal protection officers are a constant reminder of their royal status.

But William has succeeded in not rushing headlong into a life of duty and service.

In part, the 24-year-old is helped by his position in the royal pecking order. Being second-in-line to the throne does give him some breathing space.

His father was not so fortunate.

Before he was 21, the Prince of Wales had delivered a speech in Welsh.

At that key age, the Queen had broadcast to the Empire promising to devote herself to a life of service.

Abdication crisis

In the 21st Century, the next but one heir has yet to make such a public commitment.

As he's grown up, he's lived within institutions - Eton, St Andrews University and more recently, Sandhurst - which have given him a degree of protection and privacy.

Away from his military training, in the world inhabited by his future subjects/citizens, Prince William's been on holiday in the clubbers paradise, Ibiza.

He has visited a bingo hall - not to open it, but to take part in a game - and he was refused entry to a lounge on a Dover-Calais ferry because it was full and the stewardess failed to recognise him.

But life for the royal who appears unwilling to pull rank is about to slowly, almost imperceptibly, change.

The British monarchy favours such very gradual movement.

After the Abdication Crisis of the 1930s and the marital discord of the 1990s, they have had enough drama.

Prince William
Prince William and the Duchess of Cornwall on Remembrance Sunday

William, the army officer and future head of the armed forces, is about to embark on a programme to occupy himself in the coming years and decades as he waits to fulfil his destiny.

As well as his army training - he is unlikely to serve in places like Iraq and Afghanistan - he will also spend time with the navy and the air force.

On top of that, he will learn more about constitutional matters and undertake public engagements.

At the moment, he is patron of Centrepoint, the youth homelessness charity and Tusk Trust, a conservation organisation working in Africa.

He is also president of the Football Association.

The list of such bodies he is linked to, will lengthen as time passes.

And then, there is the question of his marital status.

Like Charles in the 1970s, it will pursue him in the coming months and years.

Woolworths has even prepared engagement souvenirs, on the basis he will tie the knot with his girlfriend, Kate Middleton.

The company has no inside knowledge, just a marketing strategy to exploit.

It is a reminder, which Prince William will not want, of the chasm which exists between "normal" life and royal life.




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