Catching Memories Through The Lens

Prince William’s 40th birthday photos offer clues as to what he’ll really be like as king – The Telegraph

The Duke of Cambridge has made it known that his version of monarchy will, one day, look rather different to anything that has come before.

As he celebrates his 40th birthday on Tuesday, that message is unmistakable as he chooses a series of new portrait photographs displaying himself not as a future king, but on the street as a Big Issue seller.

Three images, released by Kensington Palace for the milestone birthday, do not feature the Duke in a formal pose, nor in full regalia or sending a dynastic message with his family around him.

Instead, in a significant deviation from Royal family custom, they show him working with a Big Issue seller, interacting with unsuspecting members of the public as he vows to use his position of privilege to direct attention to those struggling unseen on Britain’s streets.

The pictures for the Duke of Cambridge’s 40th birthday are strikingly different to those released by other royals for the milestone

Credit: The Big Issue

The Duke of Cambridge is keen to speak out about issues that are important to him

Credit: Andy Parsons/The Big Issue

Taken shortly after the Platinum Jubilee weekend as the Duke sold copies of the magazine in Rochester Row, near Victoria in London, they serve to illustrate his blueprint for the future – others before self, action before image.

The Duke, whose mother introduced him to homelessness charities when he was just 11 years old, pledged to use his birthday to “shine a spotlight on this solvable issue not just today, but in the months and years to come”.

His birthday and the public appetite for photographs and news at Royal family milestones was a “good opportunity” to “highlight something that matters to me”, he said.

That policy is by no means unique to the Duke. His grandmother, the Queen, has made it a lifelong mission to sprinkle her star power on hundreds of charities, while the Prince of Wales has made use of his position to command attention for good causes.

But the birthday photographs mark a new direction, even for them.

Other Royal family 40th birthdays have involved black tie parties at palaces, formal portraits to capture the Queen and her heir for the history books and – in the case of the Queen’s children – photographs on mugs to be sold as souvenirs.

The Prince of Wales’ portrait was a posed shot with the Princess of Wales and their sons Princes William and Harry, radiating a message of family harmony and continuity.

Even the Duchess of Cambridge approved formal portraits for her recent 40th birthday this year, in a photography project designed to boost her patronage of the National Portrait Gallery.

The Duchess of Cambridge opted for more traditional photos for her 40th birthday

Credit: Paolo Roversi

The Duke’s images show him on the job, wearing a baseball cap and Big Issue ID that authorises him to go out selling again until September – something a source said he was “keen” to do.

Joining Dave Martin, 60, an experienced seller, the pair sold 32 copies in a 45-minute session. The Duke agreed to trade sales for selfies with curious members of the public. The Big Issue confirmed the pair had set a new record for speedy sales, albeit with the slight advantage of having one of the most recognisable men in Britain as a seller.

Mr Martin kept the proceeds from the day.

Passers by were somewhat surprised to see the Duke selling the Big Issue

The Duke of Cambridge also wrote an article for the magazine and interviewed Mr Martin

Credit: Andy Parsons/The Big Issue

In an effort to boost sales of the magazine and raise awareness about homelessness, the Duke wrote his own piece for the issue and took part in an interview with Mr Martin.

The decision also placed the example and legacy of Duke’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales, front and centre of his birthday celebrations.

“I was 11 when I first visited a homeless shelter with my mother, who in her own inimitable style was determined to shine a light on an overlooked, misunderstood problem,” he wrote.

“In the years ahead, I hope to bring George, Charlotte and Louis to see the fantastic organisations doing inspiring work to support those most in need – just as my mother did for me.

“As she instinctively knew, and as I continue to try and highlight, the first step to fixing a problem is for everyone to see it for what it truly is.”

The Duke of Cambridge plans to show his children the work of homelessness charities, just as his mother did for William and Harry

The Duke acknowledged that his experience of easy sales and interested customers is not enjoyed by most Big Issue sellers, who are “barely given a second glance” by members of the public walking through the streets.

Sources close to the Duke have told The Telegraph that he hopes to use the next stage of his life to focus on key themes, including homelessness, the environment and mental health.

The Duke of Cambridge, seen here with Sir David Attenborough, has also spoken out about the environment

He is becoming more comfortable with speaking out about issues that matter to the country, they said, and hopes to reflect the younger generation with a degree of openness about his life and opinions, as well as “reacting” publicly to current affairs.

He will celebrate his birthday privately, an aide said, and is expected to be at Kensington Palace with his young family.