Prince William of Wales endured the loss of his mother, Princess Diana, in a car accident when he was 15. Now the 32-year-old heir to the throne, who will celebrate the first birthday of his son Prince George on Tuesday, has found happiness with his wife Kate and baby son.
“He said he lost his mum at 15 but there was always a silver lining and you should dust yourself off and carry on,” philanthropist Rob Forkan quoted William as saying during a July event at Buckingham Palace. “He’s got his own family now – that was his silver lining.”
William’s road to fatherhood began in May 2012, just a year after marrying Kate Middleton, 32, in a ceremony watched by millions. During an interview with ABC News’ Katie Couric after the royal Wedding, William said: “I’m just very keen to have a family, and both Catherine and I are looking forward to having a family in the future.”
Seven months later, the palace announced that Kate was pregnant. News had broken that Middleton — now the Duchess of Cambridge — was hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum, a potentially dangerous condition of extreme morning sickness. William visited her at King Edward VII Hospital in London and accompanied her when she was released three days later.
He was also by her side when she went into labor in the early hours of July 22, 2013, at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital, the same hospital where William was born. The palace said the Duke of Cambridge was present when the duchess gave birth to the then-unnamed Prince George Alexander Louis at 4:24 p.m. that day.
The following day, the happy couple showed off their new son to cheering crowds for a photo call outside the hospital. The whole world watched as Prince William carried his son in public for the first time, loaded his baby car seat into the royal vehicle and drove his family home himself. Later in an interview with CNN, he said:
“I think driving your son and your wife away from hospital was really important to me. I had to practice [installing the car seat], I really did — I was terrified it was going to fall off or the door wasn’t going to close properly.”
Before carrying out his first official duty as father — getting his family home safely — William made his first comments as a new dad, saying the couple “could not be happier.”
“He’s got way more hair than me, thank God,” William joked to reporters as the couple smiled, taking turns holding the baby. “He’s got a good pair of lungs on him, that’s for sure. … He’s a bit heavy.”
Throughout his year of parenthood, Prince William has quipped about George, once saying his baby “has a voice to match any lion’s roar!”
“I’m just glad he wasn’t screaming his head off the whole way through,” William later said of Prince George’s big reveal.
In Vanity Fair’s cover story for the prince’s first birthday, palace insiders said that while George behaved well during his public appearances, he spent the first few months of his life crying loudly and not sleeping. William confirmed during his interview with CNN that a then-one-month-old George is “growing quite quickly” but gives the couple trouble at bedtime.
“He’s a little fighter — he wriggles around quite a lot and he doesn’t want to go to sleep that much,” William said. “He’s a little bit of a rascal, I’ll put it that way.”
Most recently, during an appearance at London’s Sub-Aqua-Club where he engaged in the family tradition of snorkeling, Prince William said bath time is just as difficult as bed time for Prince George.
“At the moment bath time is quite painful, but hopefully donning a snorkel and mask might calm him down,” he said. “I hope one day my son, George, might follow in our footsteps.”
For the future, William teased during his CNN interview, his only wish for fatherhood is more sleep — for himself and his son — and less diaper-changing. William said he changed the first diaper, which the British call a “nappy,” because “it’s a badge of honor.”
“At the moment, the only legacy I want to pass on to him is to sleep more and maybe not have to change his nappy so many times,” he said.
Like many new parents, Prince William was apprehensive about leaving the baby at first. In September at the Tusk Conservation Awards, William gave a glimpse into his feelings about “dear George.”
“This is actually our first evening out without him, so please excuse us if you see us nervously casting surreptitious glances at our mobile phones to check all is well back home,” he said.
He’s also shared tender moments in the public eye with his son, like a visit to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo where George played with an australian animal called a bilby.
“For me, Catherine and now little George are my priorities — and Lupo,” the family cocker spaniel, William said.