As a Little Boy, Prince William Based What He Wanted To Be When He Grew Up Around Protecting His Mother, Princess Diana

He yearned to properly safeguard her, and this desire colored his future career aspirations.

Princess Diana and Prince William young
(Image credit: Getty)

Prince William and his mother, Princess Diana, were famously close—so close that, as a boy, he planned his future career hopes and aspirations around her, and, specifically, around protecting her. (He might not have realized just yet that, well, his career plans were kind of already spoken for.)

As a little boy, The Mirror reports, William aspired to be a police officer, “as he yearned to properly protect his beloved mother, Diana,” the outlet reports. Royal expert Robert Jobson revealed this in his book William at 40: The Making of a Modern Monarch, and in the book, Jobson explained that “part of the reason William was so keen to protect his mother was because she regularly sought him out for emotional support as her eldest child,” The Mirror writes. 

Princess Diana and Prince William in 1992

(Image credit: Getty)

It's true that William was a chief confidante for Diana, who didn’t find emotional support from her husband Prince Charles throughout most of their marriage. (Charles and Diana married in 1981, separated in 1992, and divorced in 1996, just 368 days before her death on August 31, 1997, in a Paris car accident. Although their marriage lasted 15 years, for most of that time, Charles was unfaithful and in an extramarital relationship with then Camilla Parker-Bowles (and now Queen Camilla); Diana also took part in extramarital affairs of her own over the course of the marriage.)

Because William was clued into Diana’s fraught emotional state most of the time, Jobson writes that William “was aware of the reality of her mental state whilst living in the bright spotlight that comes with being part of the royal family,” The Mirror reports. “William was allegedly preoccupied with keeping her safe, healthy, and happy—particularly after her public separation from Charles and during the so-called ‘War of the Waleses.’” 

Prince William Princess Diana

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince William Princess Diana

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“She had taken to calling William 'the man in my life,' and William did his best to be supportive of his mother, once telling her that he wanted to be a policeman when he got older so he could protect her,” Jobson wrote, also noting that Diana’s tendency to use him as an “emotional crutch” meant that he relished his time away from the royal family while at boarding school.

A glimpse into Diana and William’s relationship is played out onscreen in season six of Netflix’s The Crown, which concluded its sixth and final season this month. William was the tender age of 15 when his mother died.

And, though William’s reason for wanting to be a police officer is perhaps more poignant than most children, a 2019 study showed that, at least for American children, a police officer was one of the 10 most popular jobs overall that children in general aspired to be when they grew up; it jumped up to No. 4 for boys specifically, The Mirror reports. 

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.