11 Signs Prince William Is Not Ready To Be King

With King Charles III's cancer diagnosis being followed soon after with the devastating cancer announcement of Princess Catherine, the current state of the British royal family echoes the annus horribilis. These joint tragedies come just a year and a half after the heartbreaking death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022, as well as the ongoing acrimony following the exile of Prince Harry. With so much ensuring drama in the House of Windsor, one wonders how this has affected the next in line to the throne.

As a mere millennial, Prince William probably wasn't expecting his ascension to be on the cards quite so soon. The royals are, after all, renowned for their longevity, with Prince Philip dying at 99 and Queen Elizabeth at 96 (even Queen Victoria famously reached the remarkable age of 81 at the turn of the 20th century). But with King Charles becoming the oldest monarch to ever assume the throne, his reign is unlikely to match that of his predecessors.

As certain royals may be stepping up amid Catherine and Charles' illnesses, William is no doubt preparing for the myriad roles and responsibilities that he will assume should the worst happen. But there are multiple tell-tale signs that suggest he may not be prepared to take the crown just yet. Here are 11 signs that Prince William is not ready to be king.

By his own admission, he may be unprepared to rule

Though becoming king is an inevitability for Prince William, he has expressed misgivings over assuming the crown. In a 2016 sit-down with the BBC, William was asked to address persistent rumors that he's a reluctant royal and gave a surprisingly blunt reply. "You know, it could be 40 years' time, it could be 6 years' time," he said. "I have no idea when that's going to be and I certainly don't lie awake waiting or hoping for it because it sadly means my family has moved on and I don't want that." 

Considering that his entire life has been leading to the moment he ascends the throne, it was an odd admission. But the prince's supposed reluctance to reign has apparently been present from a young age. According to veteran British journalist Jeremy Paxman, who divulged royal gossip in the documentary "Paxman On The Queen's Children" (via Express), Princess Diana ruminated over the fact that William repeatedly told her he didn't want to be king.

Appearing in the documentary "William & Harry: An Uneasy Truce" (via Cornwall Live), Princess Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, elaborated on this. "Harry always knew that his brother was destined to be king," he explained. "In fact, one day in the nursery, they had a huge row and William stamped his feet and said, 'I don't want to be King!' And Harry said, 'Well, if you don't do it, I'll do it instead of you.'"

Prince William has been accused of being unprepared to modernize the monarchy

Despite being a millennial royal, critics have questioned whether Prince William is sufficiently prepared to modernize the monarchy when he takes to the throne. One major obstacle to the future king is Gen Z's unwillingness to embrace him. In April 2023, it was revealed that a staggering 38% of 18 to 24-year-olds wanted the monarchy to be abolished.

While William has attempted to appear more modern that his predecessors by addressing issues that affect ordinary Britons — most notably by announcing his intention to end homelessness in the U.K. — many remain skeptical. During an appearance on "Good Morning Britain" (via the Daily Mail), historian Tessa Dunlop argued that William is neither a modern royal nor a radical. "He is simply working out how to make the royal family relevant," she claimed.

Furthermore, royal experts have argued that the prince still has much to learn before becoming king, with the cogency of any potential modernisation plans being central to his success. "I think many people already see him as ready to be King but in my view, he has more to learn in his quest to modernize the monarchy," professor and royal author Pauline Maclaran told Express. "This period where he is Prince of Wales will teach him a lot in this respect about what he can do for positive change without ruining the intrinsic mystique of the monarchy that is a core reason why people are drawn to them."

Prince William's apparent unwillingness to address colonialism

In order to reign over modern, multicultural Britain, a monarch needs to not only embrace the changing cultural climate, but acknowledge the country's dark past. King Charles III did a decent job of this by addressing the atrocities of colonialism during a state visit to Kenya in October 2023. Unafraid of ignoring royal protocol that dictates political neutrality, Charles also condemned the U.K. government's plans to send migrants to Rwanda. The same cannot be said for Prince William, who generally opts to adhere to the status quo when it comes to politics.

In 2022, William was widely criticized for a speech he gave in Jamaica, in which he showed sadness over slavery, but seemingly refused to apologize for colonialism. "Expressing 'gratitude for the immense contribution that the Windrush generation and descendants made ... which continues to enrich our society' whitewashes the abhorrent involvement and enrichment of the monarchy of which the Duke is heir," reparations organization Advocates Network said, per The Independent.

The prince's statement was magnified by his disastrous PR gaffes during his Caribbean tour with Princess Catherine. The royals were photographed grinning as they greeted Jamaican children through a wire fence, evoking painful images of Britain's colonial past. A photo of the couple dressed in white as they passed through locals in a Land Rover also appeared a bizarre, albeit unintentional, tribute to imperialism. To appeal to a diverse Britain, the future king will have to address his racially insensitive missteps.

His alleged bad temper may cause problems when he's in power

Monarchs are expected to represent stoicism and restraint in the face of adversity. But according to insiders, Prince William is rather quick to anger. In his 2023 memoir, "Spare," Prince Harry alleged that his elder brother became enraged when he called out his questionable attitude towards Meghan Markle. In 2019, Harry claimed, William grabbed him by the collar and knocked him to the floor. "I landed on the dog's bowl, which cracked under my back, the pieces cutting into me," Harry wrote. Later, Harry alleged, William insisted that his actions did not constitute an attack.

But Harry isn't the only person who has accused William of being hotheaded. In his 2022 book "William at 40: The Making of a Modern Monarch," biographer Robert Jobson also alleges that William is cantankerous. "[William's] fiery temper can blow up at any time — usually when he's frustrated or when it comes to issues regarding his family," Jobson claimed. "Even senior members of his circle will 'check which way the wind is blowing' before becoming too self-assured in his presence or raising problematic issues that might be better addressed at another time." Several former aides have made similar claims against William.

While his father has been known to occasionally lose his temper in public (mainly when in the presence of annoying pens), William will need to keep those alleged tantrums in check when he ascends the throne.

Prince William's carefree lifestyle suggests he may not be ready for the demands of the throne

For many years, Prince William was dubbed "work-shy William" due to his apparent nonchalant attitude towards his royal duties. In 2017, for instance, William left his wife and children behind to go on a skiing trip. He missed out on the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, an event that Queen Elizabeth always deemed of the utmost importance, in order to join his pals on the excursion to the Swiss Alps. 

During the trip, William was also spotted getting close to a woman at a nightclub, allegedly enraging Princess Catherine. "She thought his partying days and larking around with the boys was a thing of the past," a source told Vanity Fair. "I imagine she'll find this humiliating and William will have come in for a pasting." Such behavior is undoubtedly unbecoming of a future monarch.

Since then, William appeared to make amends by taking his royal duties more seriously. However, according to royal author Ingrid Seward, Charles advised William not to forsake his family in the process. "Charles always put duty first because that's what his mother did," Seward told Hello! "And that's what Diana decided she wouldn't do. I think Charles has encouraged William to spend more time with the family and also said ... 'I don't want you to take on any royal duties until you absolutely have to' because you remember we criticized William the work-shy?"

His close relationship with the press may become more strained when he's king

Prince William has long wielded power over the British media. This has led to significant criticism. In 2015, for instance, William was accused of exerting a worrying influence over the press when he threatened photographers to stop taking snaps of his eldest son, Prince George. The press relented: now, the only photos of George released to the public — save for snaps at official events — are those taken by his mother.

Then, in 2021, William took this control over the U.K. media a step further, essentially forcing broadcaster ITV to pull a story that didn't paint him in a favorable light. "There was a time when you could literally write anything about the royals and it was almost guaranteed you wouldn't hear from them," a source told The Daily Beast. "However since about 2016 they have become steadily more interventionist, and seemed to be trying to create a culture where reporters were actively encouraged to go to them with stories for pre-publication guidance."

Such behavior is in stark contrast to that of elder royals; Queen Elizabeth II, for instance, rarely addressed public criticism, adhering to the mantra of "never complain, never explain," and King Charles III has followed suit. When he takes to the throne, and thus comes under substantial press scrutiny, William may be unable to handle his sudden lack of control over the narrative. Subsequently, he may have to learn how to simply ignore unflattering media portrayals.

Is he ready to be beholden to tradition?

Prince William has been routinely criticized for wanting to play by his own rules and disregard tradition, which some have argued is symptomatic of his entitlement. This is something that Prince Harry drew attention to in "Spare," noting that his elder brother had a propensity to draw attention away from King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort.

In 2023, William came under scrutiny for seemingly attempting to outshine his father on his inaugural birthday parade, casting doubt on the level of deference he reserved for the monarch. William gave one of his biggest interviews yet, sitting down with The Times to discuss his dream of ending homelessness. Thereafter, he released his official Father's Day photo in time for it to be splashed across the Sunday papers. 

In doing so, he appeared to overshadow his father on his big day. "The timing of the interview will certainly have raised eyebrows at Buckingham Palace," a palace insider told the Daily Mail. "The interview and the Father's Day picture have blown His Majesty off the front pages on the weekend of his first King's Birthday Parade." The insider also questioned why William opted to unveil his homelessness initiatives at that particular time, considering that his scheme is still in its infant stages. He may want to do things his own way, but the royal family is steeped in centuries' old traditions that William will have to follow when he becomes king — whether he likes it or not.

The questionable way Prince William dealt with Kensington Palace's PR gaffes

Before her mystery illness was revealed as cancer in March 2024, a number of outlandish conspiracy theories regarding Princess Catherine's absence began circulating on social media, leading to #Where'sKate. When Prince William was asked about Catherine's supposed disappearance, he arguably fueled further speculation by outright ignoring the question. In response to the growing concern over Catherine's whereabouts, a spokesman for the prince bluntly told People, "His focus is on his work and not on social media."

Then, Kensington Palace released a manipulated Mother's Day photo of the Princess of Wales and her children, bolstering conspiracy theories. Catherine soon took responsibility for the gaffe, claiming she edited the photo herself. Subsequently, William was accused of throwing his wife under the bus. "It's disgraceful," royal reporter Richard Eden told "Palace Confidential." "I think it's very ungentlemanly of Prince William to put the onus on her. For goodness sake, he's the one who took the photograph."

Accordingly, William was accused of grossly misjudging his younger fans by perpetuating the cloak of secrecy that senior members of The Firm have long sought to maintain. "They were obviously keen to dampen speculation and, of course, it's done the reverse," royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Time. "It's very embarrassing." Moreover, William was criticized for not being present with his wife during her cancer announcement. However, PR expert Dini von Mueffling told Business Insider that the prince's presence would have merely led to further speculation.

Prince William may be struggling to cope amid his family's health struggles

The start of 2024 was a dark time for the royal family, with both King Charles III and Princess Catherine being diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist, told Fox News Digital that caring for ailing family members takes an inevitable emotional toll, but argued that Prince William should be sufficiently prepared for such challenges. "Wills has been trained his whole life to manage and prepare for these types of challenges in both a professional and dignified way," Ludwig explained. "I'm sure he also has a lot of resources at his disposal, which helps."

But according to some insiders, William has been finding it difficult to cope amid his family's health issues. "Times like these do test — a test, I suppose, of character," Richard Fitzwilliams told The Independent. "No doubt this is very difficult. Charles, his father, and Catherine, his wife, unwell."

As royal biographer Tina Brown told CBS News, Charles' diagnosis led to William being faced with the daunting prospect of becoming king much sooner than he anticipated. Coupled with the significant challenges Princess Catherine will face throughout her cancer treatment and caring for three young children, this pandemonium is undoubtedly an unexpected strain on William. How well he deals with these struggles may be an indication of his readiness to undertake the monumental public position of king.

The prince has been unable to dodge cheating rumors

There has long been speculation over the nature of Prince William and Rose Hanbury's relationship. In 2019, rumors began swirling that William cheated on a pregnant Princess Catherine with the Marchioness of Cholmondeley. However, William allegedly sought to have the story culled from the British press, invoking Article 8 to prevent U.K. tabloids such as The Sun and the Daily Mail from publishing it. "The use of a legal letter by William as a future king is very much a move of last resort ... While traditionally, the British royal family would not take specific legal action—the old saying was 'never complain and never explain'—William and Harry are willing to do it in their own way," former Sun journalist Duncan Larcombe told The Daily Beast.

Despite his best efforts to contain them, the cheating claims have persisted. In 2022, DeuxMoi, a celebrity gossip Instagram account, began circulating an unfounded rumor that alluded to William cheating on Catherine, leading to #PrinceOfPegging trending. Then, following the Princess of Wales' absence in 2024, Stephen Colbert joked about the gossip on his eponymous show and explicitly referred to Hanbury, who swiftly sent him a legal notice. 

Though Hanbury has stated that these rumors are untrue, they nonetheless evoke unpleasant memories of Charles cheating on Princess Diana with Camilla, Queen Consort. Moreover, one would expect someone as press-savvy as William to publicly deny such rumors, in turn cultivating a more wholesome image when he's king.

Prince William is allegedly anxious about the prospect of becoming king

Considering that his father waited over 70 years to ascend the throne, it's likely that Prince William thought he had decades to mentally and emotionally prepare for such a monumental undertaking. Although his parents were just shy of their centenaries when they died — and enjoyed long lives mostly free from major health issues — King Charles III was diagnosed with cancer at 75. The king may very well have decades ahead of him, but his illness inevitably raises questions as to how soon William might take the crown.

Appearing on "CBS Mornings" in 2024, Tina Brown claimed that William is scared about his potentially looming ascension. "Whatever the prognosis is for Charles, he's 75 and he has cancer," she said. "That brings William and Kate far closer to being king and queen. That, I'm told, has plunged them into tremendous anxiety."

According to some insiders, the king's prognosis is bleaker than initially believed. Despite waiting his entire life to be king, Charles is allegedly planning on quitting his royal duties. This comes as bad news for William, who apparently isn't ready to succeed his father. "[Charles'] rapidly declining health has him staring death in the eye," a source told OK! magazine. "He's decided he wants to spend his final days quietly with the love of his life. But William is beside himself; he's not ready ... William's begging his father to remain on the job until nature takes its course."