William and Kate’s new life starts today

Patricia Treble on the news royal watchers were waiting for
Britain’s Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge hold the Prince of Cambridge, Tuesday July 23, 2013, as they pose for photographers outside St. Mary’s Hospital exclusive Lindo Wing in London where the Duchess gave birth on Monday July 22. The Royal couple are expected to head to London’s Kensington Palace from the hospital with their newly born son, the third in line to the British throne. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

It was the announcement that royal watchers had been expecting:

His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge is to leave operational service in the Armed Forces.

He completes his Tour with the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Force at RAF Valley, Anglesey, after more than seven-and-a-half years of full-time military service.

He will continue to support the work of The Queen and the Royal Family through a programme of official engagements, both at home and overseas, with The Duchess of Cambridge.

The Duke will work closely over the next twelve months with the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. He will expand his work in the field of conservation, particularly in respect of endangered species.

The Duke will continue to work with his charities on issues relating to children and young people, veterans and serving members of the Armed Forces. The Duke is currently considering a number of options for public service, a further announcement on which will follow in due course.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George are expected to move into their official residence at Kensington Palace within the next few weeks.

It came two days after Prince William finished his last RAF shift as a search and rescue pilot in Wales—also a little over seven weeks after his son, Prince George, was born—and marks a major transition in his life. No longer will he be able to retreat to the relative privacy of the military. Instead, like his father before him, who did a stint in the Royal Navy, William will take on more and more duties as a full-time royal. Though some had thought he might work part-time as an officer in the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry, that option likely closed once the health of his grandfather, 92-year-old Prince Philip, took a turn to the worse this summer when he had abdominal surgery. The slow recovery of the Queen’s husband created a big hole in the royal schedule. Now William will help fill it up. That will also take pressure off Elizabeth II, 87, and Prince Charles, who turns 65 in November.

As if that wasn’t a big enough upheaval, William and Kate will soon move into their new apartment at Kensington Palace, formerly occupied by the late Princess Margaret. The heritage property has undergone more than $1 million in repairs, largely to remove asbestos, fix the utilities and add a new roof.

And, in a sign that Kate’s maternity leave is slowly ending, she and William will be guests of honour at a gala tonight for Tusk, to recognize conservation workers. It will be Kate’s first official function since George was born in July. After that, the family is expected to go to Balmoral, where the Queen is vacationing.