Prince William Is Back at Work, Facing a New Normal

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Prince William, the heir to the British throne, stepped back onto the public stage Wednesday, trying to project a steely sense of normalcy, three days after the announcement that his father, King Charles III, had been struck by cancer.

But as William carried out an honors ceremony at Windsor Castle and attended a charity fund-raiser in London, a shadow of uncertainty hung over the 41-year-old prince. Nobody, aside from Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla, faces more lingering disruption from the king’s cancer diagnosis than his eldest son.

The advocacy work, family life, and zone of privacy that William has carved out for himself is very different than that of his father, when he served as the Prince of Wales. Whether William will be able to preserve those qualities while stepping in for his father during his treatment is, at best, uncertain.

“William has tended toward less of the day-to-day routine work of the monarchy, compared to his father, instead focusing on bigger, glitzier engagements,” said Ed Owens, a royal historian. “But now he’ll be expected to fill in on many of these more mundane public outings.”

It is not just question of managing a calendar: William’s professional focus, members of his staff say, has been about pouring his energy into a couple of high-impact social issues — most recently, climate change and homelessness — where he believes he can make a tangible difference.

The scope of William’s ambition is evident in a looming shake-up at his office in Kensington Palace. He and his wife, Catherine, are expected to appoint, for the first time, a chief executive. Using a corporate title rather than the traditional title of private secretary, a person with knowledge of the office said, is calculated to attract candidates with business credentials and to reinforce the office’s professional nature.

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