William has endured more of the public gaze than ever before following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s surprise announcement that they would be stepping down as senior royals in January. The two brothers have reportedly fallen out over the last year or so, despite once being incredibly close, and the devastating rift is believed to have contributed to the Sussexes’ so-called ‘declaration of independence’.
Although Harry and Meghan are still in their transition period before they become financially independent, they have already relocated to Canada and are expected to spend the majority of their time in North America.
William and his wife Kate Middleton have been left to occupy centre stage within the Royal Family – although there was a time when the Duke of Cambridge wanted to move abroad too.
According to The Scotsman in 2003, William had considered relocating across the Atlantic after finishing his stint at the University of St Andrews.
Reporter Louisa Pearson explained: “Having enjoyed a degree of privacy as a student at St Andrews, perhaps it’s not such a surprise that William has announced his intention to spend a few years living in the US after he finishes his degree.
“Work in a gallery or auction house, and the possibility of a postgraduate degree, have apparently been discussed.”
When William started university he studied history of art. Yet in a 2003 interview with The Guardian, he confirmed that he was “torn” between staying with history of art or specialising in geography at the time – he ended up studying the latter.
However, in 2003 a courtier told The Scotsman: "William is determined to maintain a degree of anonymity and feels America offers him the best chance of that."
Ms Pearson continued: “This would be an unprecedented move.
“But William seems determined to forge his own path – he rarely undertakes royal duties and signs his cheques ‘William Wales’.”
William was accused at one stage of being a “reluctant royal”, but he has since turned this around and taken on more responsibilities.
Yet this determination to “forge his own path” in an “unprecedented move” may have laid the foundations for Harry’s seemingly sudden decision to leave the UK.
In his January announcement, he declared that he and Meghan wanted to “carve out” a “new progressive role” within the royal institution where the two of them could have one foot in North America and the other in the UK.
However, Buckingham Palace soon put its foot down. The couple had to accept that “stepping back” meant renouncing many of the privileges that come with being part of the Royal Family – and the two of them conceded to spending the majority of their time in Canada.
Although it is believed Meghan’s American roots and the years she spent living in Canada influenced their decision, some reports show plans to escape across the Atlantic may have come from Harry’s mother too.
Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell told the Daily Mirror in 2003 that the royal had planned to move to California herself after her separation – taking Mr Burrell with her.
Yet, Harry will be the only one out of the Royal Family to actually move across the Atlantic.
Despite the upheaval this has caused, a report from The Sunday Times last month showed how the Duke of Cambridge has actually supported his brother’s decision.
An insider claimed William had told a friend: “I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that anymore; we’re separate entities.
“I’m sad about that. All we can do, and all I can do is try and support them and hope that the time comes when we’re all singing from the same page.
“I want everyone to play on the team.”
Roya Nikkhah, The Sunday Times royal correspondent, told NBC News at the time: “I think there’s been a lot of tension in both camps for a while and at the moment things are quite broken, but from what I’m told William is very keen to see if he can try and support Harry and Meghan in their new lifestyle in the new path that they take, and everyone is hopeful that at some point down the line they’ll reconcile.”
Harry and Meghan are expected to make a reappearance in London in March for the Commonwealth Day Service.