Prince William will celebrate his 40th birthday quietly at home today – with plans for a bigger joint party with Kate, who missed celebrating her big day because of lockdown, said to be on the horizon for the royal couple in the summer.
As the Duke of Cambridge marks this milestone birthday, William at 40 appears to be relishing his role as future king, evolving into a global statesman comfortable on any stage – and remaining a figure of composure in spite of his very public recent estrangement from Prince Harry.
At the Platinum Jubilee celebrations earlier this month, Prince William confidently addressed the nation on his grandmother’s behalf, delivering an impassioned speech at the gates of Buckingham Palace.
A doting father to George, eight, Charlotte, six, and Louis, four, his evolution from party prince to future king is now surely complete, with his once famous nights on the town increasingly rare.
Wind back the decades though to the Prince’s teenage years and William cut a very different character, with the young royal regularly photographed enjoying London’s high society nightclubs including Mahiki and the now-closed Boujis in South Kensington.
Senior royal, statesman…and Dad: As the Duke of Cambridge celebrates a milestone birthday on Tuesday – turning 40 – the future king appears to be embracing a more serious role within the royal family (Pictured: William, centre, is pictured beaming with George, right, Charlotte, left, and Prince Louis, on his shoulders, in Jordan – the photo was released to mark Father’s Day on Sunday)
From party prince to global statesman: (Pictured left: Prince William leaving Boujis nightclub in 2007, right: The Duke of Cambridge addressing the nation at Party on the Park during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations)
Right royal night out: William fully embraced his student years at St Andrew’s University and periods of leave from the army in his early twenties; the royal was regularly seen spilling out of London’s glitziest nightclubs (Pictured at now-closed Boujis in 2007)
Mayfair to BoMo: Prince William pictured posing with Brazilian student Ana Ferreira, left, at Elements in Bournemouth in 2007 while he was completing his army training nearby in Dorset
And Kate came too! The Cambridges pictured during their courtship, leaving Boujis nightclub in South Kensington in 2007. Right: Kate and William have embraced their roles as senior royals in recent years (Pictured right, earlier this year during their royal visit to the Caribbean)
Curse of the dad dancing: Prince William hasn’t quite hung up his drinking boots; in 2017, he admitted he got ‘in trouble’ after he was pictured on a wild night out at a nightclub in Verbier
At Eton, William was promoted to prefect and cut a dashing figure in the school’s uniform of a black tailcoat and waistcoat with a starched white collar.
But it was at the country’s most exclusive boarding school that William’s penchant for partying first emerged and by the time he’d enrolled at St Andrew’s University to study geography, the prince was regularly papped enjoying student life.
Famously, Prince William met Kate Middleton while both were in the same year at the university.
The couple became friends in their first year before romance blossomed after William saw ‘hot’ Kate strut down a charity fashion show catwalk in a sheer dress. They graduated in 2005 and William proposed five years later.
Their romance wasn’t without one serious wobble though.
In the spring of 2007, the second in line to the throne’s life in the Army appeared to see him struggling to commit to the now Duchess of Cambridge, as he enjoyed nights out with his fellow soldiers, and reportedly partied with other women at his barracks.
The future of the British monarchy: The Cambridges played a key role in the Platinum Jubilee celebrations joining the Queen and Prince Charles on the balcony of Buckingham Palace
Respect: A teenage William pictured with his grandmother; despite his penchant for partying, the Prince has never wavered in his commitment to public life
Prince William pictured at Eton in 2000, after growing up in public, the Prince now appears to be more confident in his role as future king
An education at exclusive Eton set the tone for William’s love of c arousing with friends; something that continued into his twenties. Pictured: William during his time as an A-level student at Eton College
Action Prince: William’s early twenties were dedicated to his life in the army and having fun when he wasn’t serving – which saw his relationship with Kate Middleton falter as he struggled to juggle life in the military with a long-term girlfriend (Pictured in 2006)
Shortly after his graduation, William joined the Army, stating at the time that he didn’t want to marry until he was ’28 or 30′
After briefly splitting in 2007, the St Andrew’s sweethearts were reunited – and William’s commitment issues apparently resolved – and the couple announced their engagement in November 2010
Doting Dad: Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge leaving the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London, with their newborn son, Prince George of Cambridge in 2013
United front: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in March
Stateman: The couple, pictured at a dinner hosted by the Governor General of Jamaica at King’s House in Kingston, Jamaica in March, have continued to take on the international duties that the Queen can no longer do – often dealing with difficult questions over the future of the Commonwealth
A blonde student who enjoyed a night out with the Prince and his friends while he was training to be an armoured troop commander in Camp Bovington in Dorset described the then 24-year-old royal as the ‘perfect gentleman’; William was also pictured with his arm around an 18-year-old Brazilian student.
The pair announced their dramatic split in 2007. At the time, a ‘close friend’ of the Prince and Miss Middleton told The Sun newspaper: ‘As far as Kate is concerned, William simply hasn’t been paying her enough attention. Kate feels hugely frustrated that their relationship just seems to be going backwards at a rate of knots.’
Just a few months later, William’s fears over committing to Kate appeared to have eased and the couple were reconciled, with the Prince proposing while on holiday in 2010.
At the height of his courtship with Kate in 2008, after his return from a secondment with HMS Iron Duke in the Caribbean, William let his hair down at Raffles in Sloane Square – with the couple spilling out of the club at 3:45am.
Heirs: Prince Charles and Prince William have maintained a close relationship – after revelations from Prince Harry have seen the once-close brothers estranged
While fatherhood has clearly seen Prince William embracing responsibility and middle age, the Duke showed he still loves a night out in 2017, when a then 34-year-old William, already Dad to Prince George, was filmed dancing with fellow skiers in the Farinet nightclub in Verbier.
Prince William skipped a major Commonwealth ceremony with the Queen to party with friends in the Swiss Alps where he was seen enjoying a boozy lunch with a glamorous Australian model.
Hours before other royals attended a service at Westminster Abbey to mark Commonwealth Day, an occasion with deep personal resonance for the monarch, the then 34-year-old future king was drinking and dancing in a club in the upmarket resort of Verbier.
In a series of video clips that emerged, he was seen putting his hands on the waist of a mystery blonde and gyrating with another glamorous clubgoer. William later commented to the BBC that his dad dancing had ‘got me into trouble’.
As Prince William approaches his fifth decade though, the Cambridge family unit has never appeared more united, Kate and William frequently carry out public duties together – including for the raft of mental heath charities they support – and regularly share glimpses into their family life.
On Sunday, the family shared a charming picture – released to coincide with Father’s Day – of William sharing a joke with his three children.
Taken during a family holiday to Jordan, it shows William sitting between Prince George, eight, and Princess Charlotte, now seven, with his youngest, Prince Louis, now four, perched on his shoulders. He beams contentedly as his children roar with laughter.
Ahead of his birthday, friends spoke of the importance of his family. One told the Daily Mail: ‘He just loves being a dad and having a settled family around him. Having children always puts things into perspective… Whatever happens “at work”, he has to go home and be a “normal” person for the sake of his kids, which has made him more at peace with the reality of his other life.’
George, Charlotte and Louis each played a central role in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations earlier this month, with Louis stealing the show with his animated reactions on the Buckingham Palace balcony to an RAF flypast, and in the stands at the Party at the Palace concert.
While today is likely to be a quiet affair for William, he could rediscover his ‘party prince’ later this summer.
Royal sources have revealed that the Duke and Duchess could ‘celebrate their landmark birthdays in style’, in a historic tradition for the family which sees multiple members collaborate their big bashes.