Prince William and Princess Kate Are Introducing Heir to the Throne Prince George to Royal Life in a Way That’s “Not Scary,” Royal Biographer Says

“There’s a lot of thought being given to it, which was not always the case.”

Prince George's tenth birthday portrait
(Image credit: Kensington Palace)

It’s no secret that the Prince and Princess of Wales are very intentional in how they raise their three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, ever careful to strike as much of a balance as possible between the normalcy they crave for their kids and the realities of their life as members of the royal family. In particular, William and Kate are fastidious about how they balance George’s exposure to his future as king and as heir to the throne and are introducing him and preparing him for royal duties in a way that’s “not scary,” royal biographer Robert Hardman told People.

“William is trying to normalize it,” Hardman said. “They’re not in denial and there’s a lot of thought being given to it, which was not always the case.”

Prince William and Prince George

Prince William and Prince George, seen here enjoying Wimbledon together, are not just bonded as father and son but as future heirs to the throne

(Image credit: Getty Images)

No one parents perfectly, and mistakes were made when it came to William’s raising, as well as that of his younger brother, Prince Harry. (The words “heir” and “spare” come to mind immediately.) But William is keen to do it differently with his own children, and, Hardman said, “With George, there’s a sense that the priority is that he and his siblings are not put off this, that it’s not scary, that it’s something that they understand and it’s going to be part of their life. And there’s a belief to make it as unobtrusive and as normal—if you can call it normal—and as pleasant as possible.”

And it’s not just William, of course: “Crucially, it’s both of them—William and Catherine,” that are raising their children this way, Hardman said. And even more than his duties as Prince of Wales, Hardman cites a family friend in his most recent book, The Making of a King, as saying that William training his heir George is “not far off the most important job he has—raising the next king.” 

Princess Kate and Prince George

In addition to his father, Prince George's mother Princess Kate is committed to making his childhood as normal as possible

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's a far cry from King Charles’ upbringing, where his future was largely determined without Charles ever having a say in the matter, Hardman said. “It was laid out for him,” he said. “He was told by a committee, ‘You will do this.’ There was once a dinner, which involved the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury and a few others, where it was decided that Charles would go to Trinity College, Cambridge and would then join the Royal Navy. And he was sort of informed afterward, this is what you are going to do.”

This improved when it came to William, who was given what People calls “a notable level of autonomy in selecting his university education, engaging with the armed forces, and undertaking initial royal responsibilities”—and the outlet writes that “he [William] wants the same for his son.” 

Prince William and Prince George at the Rugby World Cup

Prince George is 10 years old and won't be expected to undertake royal duties until deep into his 20s

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In Hardman’s book, a Kensington Palace source is quoted as saying that “There is no expectation that any royal duties are going to kick in until George is well into his 20s. Before he was even made a Page [of Honor] at [Charles’] Coronation, William and Catherine wanted to ask him if he felt comfortable about it because he was clearly the youngest. It turned out he was keen.”

As William is hopeful for as normal of a life as possible for his three kids, he himself wants as much normalcy as the first in line to the throne can possibly have, a source said. “William loves the sort of regular, normal life,” they said. “Yes, he’s heir to the throne, and he has all these castles, art, and everything else, but in a way, he is happiest at home with [his] wife and kids, doing the same things other families do, kicking the ball around, going bike riding, swimming, these kinds of things.” 

Queen Elizabeth took a substantial role in preparing William for his future duties as monarch—William would famously visit his grandmother from Eton College, nearby to Windsor Castle, for afternoon teas and chats. But, Hardman said, the same shouldn’t be expected from Charles when it comes to guiding his grandson George: “I think it’s very much parents first,” he said. “If he was asked to, he’d be delighted, but I think this is very much parent-driven. I suspect the time will come rather like that rather sweet rapport between the late Queen and Prince William, but I suspect not yet.”

As royal health issues continue to loom—specifically Kate’s abdominal surgery in January—William has made it abundantly clear that his role as a husband and as a father comes first, taking time off of royal duties to support Kate in her care and keep a normal schedule for George, Charlotte, and Louis. “We know they are a very tight family unit, and he wants to be there for them,” Hardman said. “So much of what they do with those kids is about normalizing life and not making them feel like they are in a special gilded cage.” He added of William and Kate that “They are a modern royal couple. There would have been more delegation [in the past]. He doesn’t want to leave it all to the nanny.” 

Wales family Christmas card 2023

Prince William has made it very clear that his first priority is to his family, seen here in their Christmas card photo from last year

(Image credit: Josh Shinner/The Prince and Princess of Wales)

As his father is also battling a health scare following Charles’ diagnosis with cancer last month, William is expected to be the face of the monarchy along with Queen Camilla, a source close to the royal household said. “It is hard with Kate being ill as well, but he will step up,” they said.

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.