Prince William at 30: A milestone in Royal Family birthdays
Prince William poses in the cockpit of a helicopter at RAF Valley in Anglesey, Wales, earlier this month. (Reuters)
For a generation that watched him grow up, it’s hard to believe that Prince William turns 30 on Thursday.
Wasn’t it only yesteryear when he was crawling across royal carpets, and only yesterday when he was the hot teen on campus?
Now he’s a married man with thinning hair and way too earnest to be anything but royal.
Nevertheless … he’s one of the most popular royals on the planet, though perhaps lagging somewhat behind his wife Kate (and the Queen). And he is, my any measure, well accomplished. He has just earned his stripes as an operational search and rescue captain, he is socially conscious with his varied charitable interests, and he is very rich. His 30th birthday marks the milestone where he is able to cash in on the $16 or so million that his mother Princess Diana left him in her will.
There aren't any details about how he'll be spending the day, a St James's Palace spokesman saying "he'll be spending it in a low-key, private fashion."
Word is he'll likely be at his home in Wales near the RAF base, celebrating with a few friends and his wife Kate, who's five months his senior.
As he hits 30, the questions abound: When will he have children with Kate? Will he stay in the military? Will he get to the throne at a relatively young age? These questions will all be answered in time, of course.
How do we measure his progress to date? Well, we can’t. But we can at least put it in context. Hence, a look back at some of William’s royal lineage, and where those lives (and looks) were in the year they turned the big 3-oh.
Victoria had been the ruling British monarch for 12 years by the time she was 30 in 1849. She had also been married for nine years, to Albert, and had given birth to six children (she eventually had nine). The year 1949 also marked Victoria’s first visit to Ireland, which had it share of nationalist fervor. The visit was deemed a success, though any peace wouldn’t last.
King George V, 1895:
George, a grandson of Queen Victoria and cousin to Tsar Nicholas II, was given the title Duke of York in 1892. A year later he had married Princess Mary of Teck. Together they lived quietly in York Cottage at Sandringham. By the age of 30, he had young boys, Edward and Albert.
King Edward VIII, 1924:
Edward was still known as the Prince of Wales at age 30, still a dozen years from inheriting the throne from his father. He had earned his country’s respect with his service in the First World War, earning the Military Cross with his treks to the front lines to visit troops. He was also stubbornly single, settling for a variety of affairs instead of a wife.
King George VI (1925):
At the age of 30, the future king was known as the Prince Albert, Duke of York. Two years earlier, he had married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a commoner. As he turned 30, Albert’s stammer problems were very noticeable in public. A year later, he turned to Lionel Logue for help, a lifelong relationship that was the basis for “The King’s Speech.”
Duchess of York (Queen Mother), 1930:
By the age of 30, the former Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was leading a comfortable royal life as a duchess, with two small children, Elizabeth, 4, and Margaret, who was born in August 1930.
Prince Philip, 1951:
The Duke of Edinburgh earned the rank Lieutenant-Commander of the frigate HMS Magpie in 1950, and later was appointed commander. At the age of 30, he was also father to two young children, 3-year-old Charles and year-old Anne. His active military life was to end in 1952 with the death George VI and the ascension of Elizabeth to the throne.
Queen Elizabeth, 1956:
At 30, Queen Elizabeth was already a several years into her job as monarch, as well as the mother to Charles and Anne. With the children in their formative years, this is one period where the Queen spent much more time close to home, aside from a two-week tour of Africa. Although she still met a few movie stars, like Marilyn Monroe, below.
Prince Charles 1978:
There were two main questions as Charles hit 30: When will the Queen step aside for her son, and when will this guy get married? Both questions have been answered over time, but in 1978 the picture presented of Prince Charles was, believe it or not, as a young heartthrob. By this time, he was also doing royal duty full-time, having spent the last nine months of his navy career in command of the minehunter HMS Bronington.
Princess Anne, 1980
The Princess Royal had been married to Capt. Mark Phillips for six years by the time she turned 30. She had a 2-year-old son, Peter (photo), but was also heavily involved in Britain’s equestrian teams coming off her Olympic appearance in 1976.
Prince Andrew, 1990:
The military was still very much a part of Andrew’s life when he turned 30, being a pilot and flight commander on the HMS Campbelltown. He was also the father of two princesses, Beatrice, 2, and newborn Eugenie. The military commitments took their toll on the marriage to Sarah Ferguson (photo), however, and the couple would separate two years later.
Princess of Wales, 1991:
In her 30th year, the marital problems between Charles and Diana were public knowledge, though they still maintained a family life after 10 years. She had two boys -- William, 9, and Harry, 6 -- and was very active in her charities. Her devotion to her boys, though, was paramount, and very much on display during the family’s tour of Ontario in October (right).
Prince Edward, 1994:
The baby of the Royal Family, Edward short-circuited the traditional military route of Windsor sons, instead concentrating on the arts. As he turned 30, he was getting Ardent Productions off the ground in the UK, a company that produced TV documentaries before it went belly-up on 2009. The Prince had some girlfriends, but nothing on the horizon, until Sophie Rhys-Jones appeared about four years later.