When might Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis take on royal duties?

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·7 mins read
Charlotte and George, and Louis, will one day take on royal responsibilities. (Getty Images)
Charlotte and George, and Louis, will one day take on royal responsibilities. (Getty Images)

It may seem a long way off, but one day the young Cambridge children will be working royals.

Prince George, seven, and Princess Charlotte, five, will be able to have a relatively normal school life first at Thomas’s Battersea, where they will likely be joined by their youngest brother, two-year-old Louis.

However, their parents will no doubt be conscious of the future that lies ahead for them.

While they’re growing up, George, Charlotte and Louis will make lots of public appearances, at big royal events and possibly even on future tours.

As they already have done, William and Kate will take a cautious approach to their children’s exposure, as illustrated by how Kate is often the one behind the camera when official portraits are released.

This approach means that even in an age of social media, the young royals have been protected from excessive intrusion.

William and Harry were able to expect some privacy when they were at school as well, often in exchange for photo calls.

Prince William attended Eton College, and then took a gap year before going to university. He did his best to take on normal experiences, not shying away from household duties when he stayed in Chile, volunteering to teach children for 10 weeks.

William and Kate will probably be keen for their children to also experience the real world, and the flexibility William was given to spend time abroad is something he might want for George, Charlotte and Louis.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 08: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Louis of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge watch a flypast from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping The Colour, the Queen's annual birthday parade, on June 8, 2019 in London, England. The annual ceremony involving over 1400 guardsmen and cavalry, is believed to have first been performed during the reign of King Charles II. The parade marks the official birthday of the Sovereign, although the Queen's actual birthday is on April 21st. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Louis, George and Charlotte, here with their parents at the Trooping the Colour, go to royal events but are too young for engagements. (Getty Images)

After a relatively quiet university life, William enrolled in Sandhurst military academy in 2006, and became Lieutenant Wales.

One of William’s first royal roles was becoming Counsellor of State at 21. Being appointed to this role meant he could carry out duties on the monarch’s behalf.

That could indicate George may expect to be appointed to that role in 2034, when he will be 21.

In 2003, to mark his 21st birthday, William went to Wales with his father, on an official visit. A similar joint engagement might be carried out with George, who is likely to be second in line to the throne when he turns 21.

Over the next few years, William represented his grandmother at a few events around the world, but he also carried on with military training.

The Royal Family and the military have a long history, and so it is a natural fit for younger royals to have some training in either the Army, Navy or Air Force.

An undated handout photo issued by Kensington Palace of Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte and Prince George taken in Norfolk earlier this year by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, obtained on December 25, 2019. The Duchess of Cambridge/Handout via REUTERS   THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO COMMERCIAL OR BOOK SALES.     THIS PHOTOGRAPH MUST NOT BE USED AFTER 31ST DECEMBER 2020 WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION FROM KENSINGTON PALACE.     NEWS EDITORIAL ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE (INCLUDING ANY USE IN MERCHANDISING, ADVERTISING OR ANY OTHER NON-EDITORIAL USE INCLUDING, FOR EXAMPLE, CALENDARS, BOOKS AND SUPPLEMENTS). THIS PHOTOGRAPH IS PROVIDED TO YOU STRICTLY ON CONDITION THAT YOU WILL MAKE NO CHARGE FOR THE SUPPLY, RELEASE OR PUBLICATION OF IT AND THAT THESE CONDITIONS AND RESTRICTIONS WILL APPLY (AND THAT YOU WILL PASS THESE ON) TO ANY ORGANISATION TO WHOM YOU SUPPLY IT. ALL OTHER REQUESTS FOR USE SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO THE PRESS OFFICE AT KENSINGTON PALACE IN WRITING. THE PHOTOGRAPH MUST INCLUDE ALL OF THE INDIVIDUALS WHEN PUBLISHED. NOTE TO EDITORS: THIS HANDOUT PHOTO MAY ONLY BE USED IN FOR EDITORIAL REPORTING PURPOSES FOR THE CONTEMPORANEOUS ILLUSTRATION OF EVENTS, THINGS OR THE PEOPLE IN THE IMAGE OR FACTS MENTIONED IN THE CAPTION. REUSE OF THE PICTURE MAY REQUIRE FURTHER PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER.     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
William and Kate are keen for their children to have a normal life. (Duchess of Cambridge)

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William trained as a pilot and was in the RAF for several years as a search and rescue pilot, before transferring to the East Anglian Air Ambulance in 2015.

He was paid, but his salary was donated to back to the charity.

After two years with the EAAA, William left the role to take on full-time royal responsibilities. He was 36.

Though he had carried out some royal tours at this point, he was given time to build up to them slowly, and to keep working in order to increase his experience of the wider world.

That could be a model he passes on, as he and Kate prepare their children for their work. It would mean Prince George wouldn’t become a full-time working royal until 2047.

For Charlotte and Louis, there may be a different approach, as they are further down the line of succession.

They could model their futures on their uncle Prince Harry’s path or on the paths of their great-aunt Princess Anne, or their great-uncles, Andrew and Edward.

Sandhurst, UNITED KINGDOM: (FILES) This picture taken 12 April 2006 at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, southern England, shows Britain's Prince Harry (R) and his brother Prince William attending the Sovereign's Parade. Prince Harry is to serve in Iraq with his regiment the Blues and Royals, the Ministry of Defence said 22 February 2007. The 22-year-old, who is third in line to the throne, is a second lieutenant in the regiment, which will deploy to Iraq in May and June for six to seven months. He is the first British royal to see active service for 25 years. AFP PHOTO FILES/CARL DE SOUZA (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images)
Harry and William, here in 2006, both did their military training at Sandhurst. (AFP)

Harry also took a gap year, but when he came back he chose to go into the military, not to university like his older brother had.

He completed his training at Sandhurst and even served in Afghanistan and Iraq - the first time a royal had served in a war zone since his uncle Prince Andrew had flown helicopters in the Falklands War.

Even though he was in the Army, Harry did make some official trips during his 20s and early 30s. Once he left, he carried out more and more royal duties, even taking on some patronages from his grandmother on her 90th birthday.

In 2020, Harry and Meghan sought to carve out their own role for themselves and said they wanted to be able to earn money and carry out duties for the Queen.

However, that was deemed impossible and the pair decided instead to step back from their senior royal roles.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the Commonwealth Day Service 2020 at Westminster Abbey on March 09, 2020 in London, England. The Commonwealth represents 2.4 billion people and 54 countries, working in collaboration towards shared economic, environmental, social and democratic goals. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan, pictured here in March 2020, decided to step back when their half in, half out suggestion didn't go down well. (Getty Images)

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It remains to be seen how the Royal Family, in particular Charles and William, will approach the duties of those lower down the line of succession as a result of Harry and Meghan’s stepping back.

Charles has reportedly wanted a slimmed down working monarchy, though he almost certainly saw his younger son as part of it before the Sussexes left their roles.

In the generation above, however, there are several other examples of royal life that Charlotte and Louis can look to.

Princess Anne, the Queen’s only daughter, has retained a strong commitment to the crown despite her position in the line of succession moving down because of her younger brothers and their children. She carries out hundreds of engagements and is regularly said to be one of the hardest working royals.

As well as this, she runs a farm at her home in Gloucestershire and keeps horses. She was a skilled rider, an accomplishment her daughter has also taken on.

Charlotte could look to this model of to carve out a path in the Royal Family as the eldest daughter of a future monarch.

Or she and Louis may choose to take a similar route to their great-uncle Prince Edward and great-aunt Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.

406179 07:  Edward and Sophie Wessex ride in a carriage at the head of a parade from Buckingham Palace to St Paul's Cathedral celebrating the Queen's Golden Jubilee June 4, 2002 along The Mall in London.  (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)
Edward and Sophie Wessex, here in 2002, gave up their jobs to become full time working royals. (Getty Images)

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Both of them had their own careers and did not carry out working royal duties for many years while they were married. Edward ran a production company, though this was not an entirely successful business. Sophie also worked, but she faced some criticism after she was stung by the fake Sheikh.

Sophie had to apologise to then prime minister Tony Blair, as well as former Tory leader William Hague and her brother-in-law Prince Charles, after she was recorded making disparaging remarks about them, including saying Blair was “ignorant of the countryside”.

Edward and Sophie do now carry out royal duties, having given up their working life during the Queen’s Jubilee year in 2002.

While Charlotte and Louis won’t want to follow exactly in their great-aunt and great-uncle’s footsteps, they will be able to see multiple routes through royal life, and know that they could keep some options open.

After the fallout of Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back as senior royals, Charles and William might be willing to offer more flexibility to Charlotte and Louis to make sure something similar doesn’t happen again.

There is no set timeframe for the three children to become full time royals, with the pressure more likely to be on George, as he is the highest in the line of succession of the three siblings.

Back in 2016, ahead of the Queen’s 90th birthday, William said: “As far as we're concerned, within our family unit we are a normal family.

“I love my children the same way any father does and I hope George loves me the same way any son does to his father, so we are very normal in that sense.”

He added: “I want to bring my children up as good people with the idea of service and duty to others as very important. But if I can't give my time to my children as well [as work], I worry about their future.”

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