Prince George Only Recently Learned His Destiny as Future King

Can you imagine having your whole life planned for you at age eight?

Prince William Prince George
(Image credit: Getty)

Most eight-year-olds look at life one moment at a time: When’s the next playdate? When’s the next meal? But for one eight-year-old living in the United Kingdom, his entire life is plotted out for him as he sits third in line to the throne of the British monarchy. So, when it comes to telling a little boy about his big destiny, where does a parent even begin?

For the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge—parents to the eight-year-old future king, Prince George—the plan to tell George about his future was done very intentionally, formulated “so that he wouldn’t find out accidentally and be confused,” reports the Mirror.

And he only just found out around his seventh birthday in July 2020, says royal historian and biographer Robert Lacey, author of Battle of Brothers: William and Harry—The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult (opens in new tab). This age was specifically chosen as a “controlled moment of their choice,” he says.

“William has not revealed to the world how and when he broke the big news to his son,” Lacey says. “Maybe one day George will tell us the story himself. But sometime around the boy’s seventh birthday in the summer of 2020, it is thought that his parents went into more detail about what the little prince’s life of future royal ‘service and duty’ would particularly involve.”

This coordinated approach was in stark contrast to the way William himself found out he would one day be king, reflecting “William’s unhappiness at the haphazard fashion in which the whole business of his royal destiny had buzzed around his head from the start,” Lacey says.

That said, one cornerstone of William’s royal education he did enjoy was lessons on how to be a monarch by someone who knows a thing or two about it: his grandmother, the Queen, who William would visit regularly at Windsor Castle while he was a student at Eton College nearby.

“During his school days at Eton College, young Prince William would walk up the hill and come for tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle and would be prepped for his future as king,” the Mirror reports.

William has said many times how much his grandmother’s influence has meant to him growing up.

“There has always been a special closeness between William and the Queen, and she has taken a particular interest in him,” Lacey says. “When William became a teenager, she would have him at Windsor Castle and would open the state boxes and guide him through the papers. It was William’s constitutional education.”

He likely hopes to take notes from that education as he imparts royal knowledge to his own heir.

“It’s been particularly important to me that I’ve had somebody like the Queen to look up to and who’s been there and who has understood some of the more complex issues when you lose a loved one,” William told Sky News in 2016, ahead of Her Majesty turning 90. “So she’s been incredibly supportive and I’ve really appreciated her guidance.”

Rachel Burchfield
Contributing Royal Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.