VF: In 2017, there was ‘a sense of frustration’ Prince William wasn’t working more

In recent months, Vanity Fair’s royal coverage has been either bare-bones PR fluff or throwing everything into their royal podcast, which I still haven’t listened to. It feels like it’s been a while since Katie Nicholl did an exclusive for VF, which is weird because she has sources deep within Camp Middleton and the office of Kensington Palace. Well, here we go – Nicholl did a “Prince William at 40” piece in which she tries to convince everyone that the bald sow’s ear is a silk purse. Much of Nicholl’s evidence for why William is important and why William will be a good king is stuff like “he showed up at an event” or “he made a speech.” While I’m used to Duchess Kate being endlessly infantilized, it’s really strange to see a 40-year-old man discussed in similar terms. “He’s such a big boy, he made a speech all by himself!” There were some interesting parts in this VF piece though. Some highlights:

The long-term future of the House of Windsor lies with William: It is a prospect that once weighed heavily on Prince William. When he was a gap year student, he traveled to Chile where, according to someone he was with, he was painfully aware of the burden of his birthright. “We were all sitting round a campfire excitedly discussing our futures,” the friend I spoke with explained. “William said ‘you’re all so lucky. I’ll have to be king one day.’ It seemed like a lot for him to bear.”

William’s kingly foundations: While there is no chance that William will “leapfrog” his father the Prince of Wales, who will succeed Queen Elizabeth, William is preparing for his future reign by laying down the foundations now. As one person who met William while he was recently selling Big Issue magazine remarked, he is “the people’s prince.” Those who know him believe he will be a modern-day monarch, who wants the Royal Family to be relevant and meaningful to everyday people in a fast-changing world.

He only stepped up when he was forced to: In the past, William has admitted to not giving the idea of being king much thought. But recent events, including his brother Prince Harry’s decision to stand down as a working royal, the turmoil caused by the COVID pandemic and the Queen’s ill spate of health have had a direct impact on William. He has had to step up to the plate. And in doing so, he has proved to be a solid and dependable statesman.

Finally becoming a full-time royal at the age of 35: In 2017, he gave up his career as an air ambulance helicopter pilot. It was a position he loved, but the job that really mattered was calling. At the time Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh had just retired and although the Queen was carrying out around 300 engagements a year, and Charles more than double that, there was a growing pressure on William to take on full-time royal duties. “There was talk at the palace that the duke needed to make up his mind whether he wanted to be a pilot or a prince. I think there was a sense of frustration that he was not doing more official engagements,” says one palace insider. William, who can be stubborn, had refused to be pressured into taking on full time royal duties until this point. It was important to him that he and Kate, and their young family were able to enjoy an “ordinary” family life and he loved having a civilian job that had a real impact on people’s lives.

Charles & William make plans together: While neither Charles nor William want to think about the Queen’s demise, the death of Prince Philip in April 2021 has in the words of one former courtier “sharpened the focus on the future.” According to the source, this is something Charles and William speak about on a regular basis. “They are absolutely on the same page, in fact they are closer now than they have ever been,” says a family friend. “They speak almost every day and they have a very loving and genuine connection. They believe in the monarchy, that it has a genuine purpose and that it has a future. They recognize that it has to modernize and that there will be changes in the future when the Queen’s reign comes to a close.”

An apolitical king? “I don’t think he’ll be a political king, but I think he will speak up on the issues that matter to him,” says a former aide.

How he feels about Harry: Of course, there is still his ongoing rift with his estranged brother Harry. There wasn’t a reunion at the recent Jubilee, however, sources close to the princes are hopeful they will one day smooth things over. “My sense would be that it is something that plays on his mind a lot,” says a friend. “The thing is, William knows they are stronger when they have each other in their lives. In time I’m confident that can happen. The hope is one day it will be resolved.”

William plots the next decade of his life: “William and his team are plotting out the next ten years,” says another source. “That’s what is on the long-term agenda at Kensington Palace. William will focus on the environment and homelessness, these are the big issues he wants to push. Selling the Big Issue wasn’t a flash in the pan or a photo opportunity, it is the first stage in a big new initiative. It will be Royal Foundation led and a collaborative model which we’ve seen in the past.” And expect to see the Duke appeal more to the next generation. They will after all be his future subjects one day. “Nothing can be done if you don’t have the young generation on board and he knows that,” adds the source.

[From Vanity Fair]

In many of the William-at-40 pieces, there are mentions of the fact that William didn’t become a full-time working royal until 2017, as if it merely sprang up out of nowhere. 2017 was a busy year – there were significant changes in Buckingham Palace with the ousting of Christopher Geidt, the world was paying attention to Prince Harry and Meghan, Philip retired from public life and William and Kate were being criticized consistently for being lazy a–holes. Keep in mind that Charles and the Queen absolutely wanted William and Kate to be full-time royals for years before then, but then William came up with that scheme to be an air ambulance “co-pilot” in Norfolk. He didn’t even work part-time there, but he did pose for a lot of photos. Funny how none of that is mentioned.

Re: Harry and “William knows they are stronger when they have each other in their lives” – I don’t know, Harry seems happy, free and strong right now. Sounds more like William is just sitting around, seething about Harry constantly.

Re: the apolitical king stuff… that’s also a lie. William is a Tory stooge. All of his handlers and top advisors are right-wing political operatives. William doesn’t even realize that he’s being “managed” by one political party and how short-sighted that is for his royal future.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Instar.

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81 Responses to “VF: In 2017, there was ‘a sense of frustration’ Prince William wasn’t working more”

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  1. Belli says:

    Personally I can’t wait to see Willy try to appeal to the younger generation!

    • Elizabeth Regina says:

      I’d have thought for his 40th, they’d try to roll out people he ‘worked’ with etc. But I guess none would have a good thing to say about him. He is a do-nothing, a lightweight with no discernible legacy. He offers nothing of value and is devoid of any charm, personality or charisma. Even his emotions run the gamut of anger to incandescence. At least he has his own heir and spares.

    • Kels says:

      @ beli Tik Tok here we come lol

    • ELX says:

      I think there will be a massive sea-change when the queen dies and the monarchy will die a fairly quick natural death because the institution hasn’t been able to modernize at all. Aside from working out of all the money and property issues, they’ll just be rich landowners—private citizen toffs. I think it’s very likely W will never be king (so much for K sacrificing her life to be queen consort), certainly George never will be.

    • nina says:

      How do you do, fellow kids?

  2. Elizabeth says:

    The invisible contract is with the Tories too.

    • ConcernFae says:

      Yes. When Brexit falls apart and the government is held to account, I’m guessing TQ will be gone. There will be some sort of negotiation with Charles. What may be sad is the Royal Family staying on as some sort of sop to keep the Little Englanders happy. But the Left should not give in to that temptation.

  3. Merricat says:

    Lol, William is “the people’s prince” as long as those people are white and titled.

    • WiththeAmerican says:

      This moniker made me sick, trying to Brad himself like his mom the peoples princess.

      NO BILLY.

    • JT says:

      This is just more of William trying to be Harry. Harry has always been called the People’s Prince.

      • ArtHistorian says:

        Harry was recently called the People’s Prince on an official instagram post for some polo association. I bet that really stung William’s ego.

      • windyriver says:

        Yes, mentioned this below too! it was from the Santa Barbara club he was playing for, the first weekend he started. I saw it on their twitter feed – “the people’s prince has arrived…Hands up if you’re swooning already?!” Ouch, and then some.

      • Lady D says:

        The People’s Prince and Madame Duchess. I like their American titles better.

      • DuchessL says:

        Harry is stronger than ever. William would be stronger with Harry. This must absolutely enrage him.

  4. BayTampaBay says:

    I listened to one episode of the Vanity Fair podcast “Dynasty” and it was much more even-handed and fair than I thought it would be.

    • Becks1 says:

      LOL, I listened to the first episode and never listened to another one. The anti-Sussex bias was pretty evident, even if Nicholl tried to tamp it down.

    • SURE says:

      I’ve listened to all the episodes and my takeaway is that it’s predominately pro BRF/Cambridge and anti Sussex.

  5. TigerMcQueen says:

    The “people’s prince”???

    With his four tax payer funded houses and his wife who plays dress up in clothes that cost thousands of pounds?

    Whoooo boy.

    • windyriver says:

      One of the tweets in early May from the SB polo club referred to Harry as “the people’s prince”. I’m sure there’s no connection…

  6. girl_ninja says:

    He is so very unattractive.

    • Lusaka mummy says:


      I cannot get over his poor looks. I think that’s why he is incandescent with rage because he is no longer the pretty boy, lol.

      • Isabel says:

        Which is so funny, because more and more I think he shares certain features with Mark Strong – the front tooth thing, the nose, the hair – but Mark Strong is SO HOT and willnot is…not

    • NotSoSocialB says:

      When I saw the header photo, I involuntarily uttered, “Ick!”
      That’s a face you want to slap, not gaze at lovingly.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        But we all have to thank Kaiser for her magnificent, Nobel Prize worthy photo selection!!!

        Kaiser always knocks it out of the park with her photos!!! She is hands down bring down the Monarchy one photo at a time!!!!!

  7. WiththeAmerican says:

    They’re all conservatives, after all no one else thinks they should be paid millions for doing nothing. What an absolute joke these keen Billy articles are, he hasn’t worked until now and he isn’t really working now. He’s basically a 40 year old man living in grandmas basement with his wife and kids staying upstairs.

  8. Valar Dohaeris says:

    Imagine sitting at a campfire with someone saying “aw man, you guys get to be noooormal while I get to be king”. I’d vomit right into the flames.

    The fact that this is what’s supposed to elicit sympathy for his lot in life? Who are these people running their PR??

    • Laura-Lee MacDonald says:

      This is my biggest take-away. That he (consciously or not) chose to simply wait until he was king, and then his destiny would be fulfilled for him. The intervening years are just filler, and he is treating his life like he’s in a holding pattern, waiting for the ‘goal’. Funny that this commonality with his wife is a bigger part of conversations.

      • Becks1 says:

        And its interesting when you look at what his father has done, when in a similar position. Maybe there were more expectations on Charles since he was PoW but even so, the Prince’s Trust, his work with the duchy, Poundbury, his emphasis on the environment and organic farming – and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head. Charles is privileged and entitled and hypocritical like all of them, but you can’t say that he has just sat around and waited to become king.

      • Cessily says:

        Most people work towards a goal, but I guess RF prefers to just wait for the goal to be handed to them🙄🙄🙄. (Like all that tax money they get for breathing gets handed to them) Prince Harry decided to work for his achievements, the royals left wouldn’t survive in the real world without their luxury welfare benefits.

    • Just Me says:

      Hmm! Was he complaining or bragging?

    • Lucy says:

      That caught me too. How dense he sounds, and this is from a “friend”. “Awww, you guys get to do cool stuff and I have to be king!” Whiiiiine

    • equality says:

      But yet when PH said that was how PW felt, he went into huge denials.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ equality, of course!!! Bullyiam expects nothing but butt kissing as well as permanent scape goat from Harry. Oh, and being the one the actually carry out the duties of being king, while Bullyiam takes all of the glory and monies!!!

  9. Jais says:

    This article does a much better job of not mentioning William’s incandescence over Harry. Maybe that’s bc it’s an American publication? The DM just really needs people raging about Harry and Meghan on the regular.

    • Simone says:

      I’m convinced that either the daily mail is pulling his strings or that they saw the negative reaction to his first bday puff piece slagging Harry off and decided to pivot.
      Even his supporters were mad at Rebecca E for making it all about Harry and threatened to boycott her.

      • Jais says:

        Well, at the end of the day the DM wants clicks so they want lots of details about Harry, regardless of who’s birthday it is, bc that’s what sells. So it doesn’t really matter how mad his supporters get at RE. Also, William effed over the DM by making them think they could publish Meghan’s letter and had evidence that would help them win the appeal, when in reality they had nothing. So the DM doesn’t care if William looks deranged and obsessed with his brother. And of course William’s sources aren’t helping with that either so🤷‍♀️

  10. Snuffles says:

    Nothing will ever convince me that William is ready for this or even wants it. He’s spent his entire life dodging his duties and letting Harry pick up the slack. He fully expected to continue to do so for the rest of his life.

    Now Harry is off living his own life. Instead of accepting this change and spending the last 2 years pivoting and planning for the future, he spent ALL of his energy trying to sabotage and destroy Harry to force him to come to heel.

    Deep down William knows he’s completely useless. And if he’s accepting of anything, it’s him accepting he has no other options because he frittered his life away.

    • Persephone says:

      I’d agree with you, except that I don’t think Baldimort is self-aware in any way.

  11. windyriver says:

    Wasn’t William going to also somehow tackle mental health? That seems to have disappeared.

  12. Becks1 says:

    Yeah, they were absolutely supposed to be FT royals before 2017, remember when there was such hype around that happening when they left Wales and KP had been completely renovated for them etc and then…..they moved to Norfolk. Even in 2017 we were told they were finally finally going to be fT royals and then like a month later they announced Kate was pregnant again and that was the end of that. I’m not sure Kate has ever broken 200 engagements in a year and if William has, it hasn’t been by that much. He’s nowhere near even what his grandmother was doing in 2017 with 300 engagements a year. And I know Kate at least counts stupid things like “having a meeting with her chief of staff.” do we think Charles counts it every time he meets with someone on his staff?

    Anyway, I digress. This 40th bday push just emphasizes what we all have known – there is no there, there. There’s nothing else really to say about William. Maybe Earthshot, but that’s only happened once, so there’s no telling what its legacy will be. And its clear at this point that the Big Issue stunt was organized just so the RRs could have something to talk about for his bday. (it was always a stunt, but I had kind of just figured it was a general stunt, but its clear it was designed as a talking point for his 40th.)

    • Lady Esther says:

      I’m with you Becks1. The new adoption of homelessness as William’s cause can’t be anything but a stunt. I’m sure he cares about the problem as a legacy from Diana (and appears able to ignore the cognitive dissonance given his new property), but unveiling this at the same time as his 40th birthday when he desperately needs to show accomplishments isn’t a coincidence.

      I’m trying to imagine myself as one of his PR team trying to sell this to journalists, even the RR: “So, Prince William thinks homelessness is a bad thing y’all. And he wants to raise awareness.” That’s all they have to work with. Will he do an Earthshot Prize approach, stolen from somewhere else? Top 10 ideas for reducing homelessness? How is homelessness not political, which the RF isn’t supposed to be? So many questions…

      • Becks1 says:

        Well, its weird because homelessness has always been one of his causes, we just don’t hear about it for years on end. So I think that’s part of why this was chosen – it was something to circle back to like “look! He’s so committed!” when its been years since he’s done anything related to a homeless charity or organization.

      • ShazBot says:

        One thing I notice about W&K and their team is that they have zero comprehension on why people are beloved.
        People didn’t love Diana because of her causes, they loved her because she was real and compassionate and she cared about people. She could have picked literally any cause, and it would have had the same effect.
        People don’t love Meghan because of what she wears, or Harry because he’s military or whatever.
        It’s their compassion and how they connect with people.
        In tennis, Djokovic is exactly the same in not being able to figure out why Federer and Nadal are beloved.
        It’s ALL people skills and you cannot fake that, you can’t dress it up, you can’t charity shop. You just have to care about people. And W&K do not.

      • Couch potato says:

        Homlessness is political, just as pretty much all other causes are political in one way or another. Chuck got his ears full and called radical when he talked about environment earlier. Even now, when the topic is “house clean” it’s still very much a political matter. Early years – the best way to provide children with a good start in life is to make sure the parents have living wages, can afford proper housing, proper and enough food, proper health care, daycare, stimulating activities etc. But Kate can’t say that out loud ( not that she would go into that pesifics anyway – she’d have to know about it first), because it’s a political matter. Their tory friends are doing their best to make things worse for the most unfortunate in the UK, so pointing out what can make things better would be to point out the tories failed politics.

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        We’ve all read those PR pieces from racist and approved outlets.

        Let me ask you this. What does he do? Volunteers an hour out of his day to do basic volunteer work anyone can do as long as cameras and press are present? What else? He is in a position to make real impact. He does nothing. He never follows up. We aren’t buying what the RR is selling and believe me. We’ve tried to see the other side of it.

        William has never been suited to be king and he doesn’t seem interested in being king by his own admissions.

      • Becks1 says:

        @Mjane you literally just proved my point. It’s not something he’s committed to on a regular ongoing basis. He does one event a year, maybe not even that. If homelessness is going to be one of his causes, especially Centerpoint, then I would expect him to see him doing several engagements/events related to that on a regular basis, at least several times a year, and that just does not happen.

    • Eurydice says:

      I think the 40th birthday is a convenient coincidence. If TQ were a couple of years younger, or if she had been physically able to attend recent functions, there wouldn’t have been such a retconning of William’s life as the “people’s prince”, there’d be just a cake and some candles. This is about reassuring the public that the monarchy will go on, that William is ready and willing. And not only William, but the infrastructure around him. That’s why we get all the “Charles and William” decision-making and how Kate is a rock of stability and support and how they trot out the kids to show the continuity into the next century. The PR seems the usual mix of clumsy and desperate, but I think they’d be doing it even if William was turning 41 1/2.

      • Becks1 says:

        I think that could be a part of this (the Queen’s health, Phillip’s death, etc) but we did get a similar push around his 30th birthday, and we of course got a PR blitz when Charles turned 70. So the birthday push in itself is pretty par for the course for the royals and the press.

        The problem is that the expectations for a 30 year old are different than what we expect of a 40 year old.

      • MyCatLovesTV says:

        Recently it seems like when I surf the internet there are many articles about how well Kate can walk in high heels. (One article swooned over how she walked in 4″ heels. Ugh.) But that’s something I guess. Kate is a rock of stability all right…she can walk a straight line! (But can she chew gum?)

    • Betsy says:

      What William and Kate have been allowed to count as “engagements” is nuts. If they counted the engagements of Elizabeth, Charles, Anne, Harry, Meghan, etc the way they do William and Kate’s, they’d have thousands.

  13. KASalvy says:

    “she tries to convince everyone that the bald sow’s ear is a silk purse”

    This comment floored me. Kudos, Kaiser

  14. Pentellit says:

    So William is now being called the “people’s prince” since everybody on twitter has been calling Harry the “people’s prince”? These people have no original ideas of their own and try to compete with Good King Harry every chance they get.

  15. Julia K says:

    @ Plums; the same people who outed their refuge on Vancouver Island then pulled their security? Sounds about right. Seeing a pattern here.

  16. Woke says:

    I always found that quite irresponsible and not strategic how deep he in with the Tories. What if the labour are in power tomorrow, with on mind that if they come to power it would be with a little bit of help from the tabloid. What William is going to do ? His base of far right would turn against him, and the labour people would not trust him.

    • Simone says:

      That started happening when he announced eathsht but more after he “wrote” the letter to the capital police officers wife. Their primary base in the US…the MAGA base was so upset at him.
      But William wants the more liberal US /Obama type crowd that are primarily Harry and Meghan supporters. Problem is he’s stuck cause Daily Mail has spent years calling everything Harry and Meghan do “woke” so if he even touches anymore “woke” topics they’ll all turn on him.

      There’s were so many comments warning him not to turn into his brother. So here he is always the follower never the leader.

      • diANNa says:

        Lol — mixed messaging and not understanding who Baldimort’s audience is should yield a similar result to what the late, not-so-great, and unlamented Piss Morgan is experiencing — and that is cancellation due to complete disinterest.
        TOB’s fanbase are the MAGA types and they oppose support for the “environment” and for the less fortunate. They won’t be receptive to messages about these topics from the incandescent one. And meanwhile, the “woke” crowd has already chosen a side, and it’s H&M.
        The KP staff really are culled from the idiot-class.

  17. EnormousCoat says:

    “Birthright”. Well someone sure still believes in the Divine Right of Kings. William exists in this role because the British people still tolerate it. Gross to imply that he’s been chosen divinely.

  18. Blujfly says:

    It is infuriating to hear them call having a two-parent household with the father holding only a part time job and then, only for a year or two, an “ordinary family life.” They are so privileged and out of touch they don’t even see it. Even his rich friends who are (real) estate agents and contractors and developers and financial analysts work more than that.

  19. Lila says:

    The baby fists of rage photo makes me laugh every time. William’s ill fitting pants do not. That boy needs to take some of his spare time and find a tailor!

  20. Mslove says:

    I have really enjoyed the BM’s silly articles about Bill’s birthday. A FFK who hates his brother, doesn’t like to work & is racist AF. Good luck UK.

  21. Lululu says:

    Funny thing is, Meghan literally handed them the blueprint for how to modernize the monarchy. No more statue unveilings and launching ships with bottles of champagne. Forget parading around like the little people should be happy just to lay eyes on you or donate because you showed up at a baby bank with cameras and said six words. They should be doing more meaningful, more active engagements that have actual impact.

  22. equality says:

    Does a “solid and dependable statesman” flop so badly when fired by the Jamaican government?

  23. Saucy&Sassy says:

    MJane, I’m not going to bother reading these articles, because the publications are ones that I recognize as biased toward the brf and Shamebridges. It doesn’t change the optics. Photo ops simply aren’t enough–you have to have compassion and care about people. If you are there to get a photo op? Doesn’t cut it. That’s what the brf just doesn’t get.

    I want to know who believes that Chuck and Wont are close and talk to each other every day? Nope, I’m not buying it.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      “Everyday “ for communication is always what pings my BS meter.

      William needs fluff pieces to state his achievements.

      • Lady Digby says:

        Lord Bird founder of the Big Issue said I was asked a few years ago to give advice to the Royal Foundation about what William should be doing around homelessness. I replied that it’s about time we had a Royal who put prevention, and not emergency, at the top of their list.
        I HEARD NOTHING, until Will wanted to celebrate his 40th birthday by selling copies of the Big Issue.
        Quick hit photo op versus genuine long-standing commitment to cause that he cares about- Lord Bird has a view on what was really needed for the charity but perhaps four homes Willy was literally otherwise engaged counting his own toilets !

      • Charm says:

        @Lady Digby

        What! Did Bird really say that? When and where? LOL Such shady shade shade.

        I’m sure he’s gonna be reprimanded for that by the palace goons. Prolly will be made to pay for it is some punitive way also.

      • HeatherC says:

        @ Charm. He definitely wrote it as an opinion piece in Big Issue. It’s entitled “My Lifetime of Run Ins With The Royal Family”