It’s a milestone that Prince William has apparently said is “daunting”. But the future king will no doubt take his 40th birthday in his stride, just as he has been taking on board all of the extra responsibility thrust upon him of late as his grandmother the Queen hands over more of her duties.
This particular birthday signals the beginning of a new phase of life for William, wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and their children Prince George, eight, Princess Charlotte, seven, and Prince Louis, four.
The family is moving to a house on the Queen’s Windsor estate in the next few months as William wants to be closer to his grandmother now that she is permanently based at Windsor Castle.
At the moment, their time is split between their apartment at Kensington Palace, where William grew up, and their country home Anmer Hall at Sandringham in Norfolk. The couple will be retaining both homes, using Kensington Palace for whenever they have to be in London, although it is just 30km from Windsor.
Anmer Hall will also be used regularly, says a palace source. “They love it up there. It’s their happy place.”
But living on the Windsor estate makes sense for many reasons, including the fact that it is closer to Kate’s parents, Carole and Mike Middleton, in Berkshire.
Their home in the village of Bucklebury is just a 45-minute drive away.
“It will be a comfort to Her Majesty to have William nearby to take some of the load,” says the insider, pointing out that the Queen’s heir, Prince Charles, doesn’t spend much time at Windsor.
“William has been taking on more responsibility over the last few years, but the time has come to step it up even further and that will be easier if he is basically on the Queen’s doorstep.”
Other sources say courtiers are impressed by William’s maturity and resolve to do the best job he can of the role he was born into. Royal author Robert Jobson, who has written a book called William at 40, says, “Ultimately, you’re looking at a prince who’s dedicated to public service and is a good family man. He follows the principles of being honest, genuine and thoughtful – and that’s exactly who he is.”
Robert, who has written about the royal family for more than 30 years and has met William on numerous occasions, says, “I’ve watched him develop from a slightly awkward young man into one who’s decisive and self-confident.
“There’s little doubt that he will be a very different monarch from his father or grandmother. He changed his son George’s first nappy, still plays five-a-side football and believes it would be absolutely fine if one of his children told him they were gay.
“William is passionately concerned about climate change and hopes his legacy – apart from being kind and having a loving family – will be making a real impact in finding solutions to save our planet. He understands that we don’t have much time. He wants us all to set our goals high and do something really positive.”
As he heads into his 40s, William will also continue to support other causes close to his heart, including trying to reduce homelessness in the UK. His mother Princess Diana introduced him to the plight of people who had to sleep rough when he was young by taking him to shelters to meet those who did not have a permanent roof over their heads. William genuinely wants to help, asserts Robert.
“He is keen to make a difference. Once he inherits the vast Duchy of Cornwall estate from his father, he will be looking into using the land to house the homeless.”
In the meantime, he has received a special honour in recognition of his 40th birthday. A special £5 coin has been released, on the orders of the Queen, to mark the birthday. It features an engraving of William, along with the number 40, and is the first time he has featured solo on a coin. He appeared on one with Kate to mark their wedding in 2011.
“It’s quite an honour and shows how highly Her Majesty holds William in regard,” says the source.