08/13/2012

Prince William ponders part-time flying solution to his royal dilemma

Sea kingOne of the very clear signs that emerged from the Olympics is that there is a changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

This has nothing to do with the daily march of the bearskin-capped soldiers, but rather aging residents inside -- and it’s putting particular pressure on the future plans of Prince William.

The Olympics was clearly a ‘young royals’ show. Queen Elizabeth did her modern Bond girl twist at the opening ceremony, but after that it was all William, Kate and Harry.

That was all by design -- for months the 86-year-old Queen has been signalling that the 20 and 30-somethings are the new faces of royalty. She is by no means stepping into the shadows, but the others are definitely increasing their royal load.

As second in line to the throne, the focus is on William’s immediate future as he balances royal duties with his career as a RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot.

He is in the second year of what is supposed to be a six-year commitment to the service. With the cost of training a single helicopter pilot at well over $1 million, it would not look good for the prince to give up the flying suit at the end of his current tour of duty in January 2013.

On the other hand, even he acknowledges that “the pressures of my other life are building.”

That includes his second major tour with Kate, Sept. 11-19 through Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

What to do? In searching for the best of both worlds, the Telegraph reports that one plan being worked on is retaining the prince as a part-time flying instructor, which presumably would give him more flexible hours to attack royal duties.

BrothersThe option of him leaving the service is, well, not an option.

“It could cause a problem with officers who want to leave early,” one source told the paper. “At the moment, officers have to serve a six-year tour of duty and we don’t want others to demand the same treatment.”

William is expected to make a decision on his future in the fall.

As for William’s brother Harry, the pressure for more royal duties is less, though his popularity his risen substantially in the past six months with his participation in the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee. His commitment to the military can afford to be larger, simply because he is not expected to take the throne.

The Apache helicopter pilot is expected to be deployed to Afghanistan this year.

Between Harry and William’s absences, it can only mean Kate is likely to be a lot more visible.

Unless, of course, she has a baby. The betting (1-4 at Paddy Power) overwhelmingly predicts a royal newcomer in 2013.

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