London Calling

Prince William Is Out of a Job. What Now?

William says he’s leaving his post as a rescue pilot to focus on the ‘mentally demanding’ task of raising baby George.

Chris Jackson/Getty

Prince William says looking after baby George is as much hard work as his grueling day job—so it’s just as well he’s decided to quit his full-time post as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot.

The Duke of Cambridge gave the first public insight into the young family’s plans Wednesday when he revealed that he would leave his post and move away from Anglesey, the remote Welsh island where he and Kate had their first home in a cottage that can be most generously described as “cozy.”

The royals’ abrupt departure poses an obvious question: where will they raise their tiny heir? That will depend on William’s new job. It seems a little early for the future king to assume purely royal duties like his father, Prince Charles, and the queen, but there is speculation that he will take on a less demanding role in London with the Household Cavalry, which would allow him to ease into the life of a full-time royal.

Leaving behind the long shifts of a rescue pilot, mostly operating over Snowdon and the Welsh mountains, will also allow William to keep his promise of being a “hands-on” father. "I thought search-and-rescue duties over Snowdonia were physically and mentally demanding,” he told a crowd in Anglesey. “But looking after a 3-week-old baby is right up there.”

During his appearance at the annual agricultural show, William confirmed for the first time that they were leaving the area. "This island has been our first home together, and it will always be an immensely special place for us both. Catherine and I look forward to returning again and again over the coming years with our family," he said.

By all accounts, William and Kate have loved living on the remote island, where they were able to pop in to the White Eagle pub or go shopping in the local supermarket without being disturbed by local residents or the paparazzi. That is going to be a thing of the past if they decide to make their main home in Central London. Later this year they will be able to move into the refurbished rooms of Apartment 1A in Kensington Palace.

“Apartment 1A” may sound modest, but in reality it’s more like a spacious four-story house. It is part of the clock-tower wing of the royal residence, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th century. A $1.5 million refurbish includes three principal bedrooms, nursery accommodation, nine staff bedrooms, two kitchens, and two staff sitting rooms.

Kensington also includes “a private walled garden of a peacefulness that made it hard to believe you were in the heart of a teeming metropolis,” according to The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown. But as Princess Diana found when she lived there, it is very difficult to escape the eyes of the world unless you stay locked up inside the palace gates. Kate’s preference for the quiet environs of her parents’ home Bucklebury, in Berkshire, is well known. She is still there now with George while William completes his tour of duty and says farewell to Anglesey.

Kate’s salvation may come in the grounds of Sandringham, where the queen has gifted the family the use of a 10-bedroom house while they wait for their digs at Kensington to be prepared.

The mansion, known as Anmer Hall, is already relatively secluded. Indeed, there were rumors that Prince Charles used to meet Camilla there for secret trysts while he was married to Diana. Plans for a major refurbishment will further serve to block out prying eyes; drawings submitted to the local parish council reveal that a new pergola will shield the patio, a gate will be installed, and more trees will be planted to screen views of the house.

For now the family is hunkering down in privacy, but royal blood never stays settled for too long. William said plans were already afoot for the baby’s first international trip. Speaking to a pair of tourists from Australia, he said: “George is doing well, thank you. We are all very hopeful of coming to Australia next year.”