When it comes to being a great ruler, knowing when to follow tradition and when to break it is an important distinction. In the case of Prince William, the heir to the English throne has grown up surrounded by the customs and the traditions of the Royal Family. But William’s childhood also included witnessing one of the most publicized breaks in Royal tradition, his parent’s divorce, an act that was frowned upon by the Royal Family.
It’s likely that Charles and Diana‘s decision to end their marriage, coupled with their unwavering devotion to their children, helped shaped the parent William has now become. Along with his wife Catherine, the pair have welcomed two children, George and Charlotte, who by birth, are also heirs to the throne.
Following the arrival of the couple’s first child George, William requested special permission to break tradition in 2014 and fly with his son to Australia and New Zealand for a royal visit. In the past, members of the Royal Family who are in close line to the throne have not been allowed to travel together should something happen to both. With George third in line for the throne, behind his father William and his grandfather Prince Charles, William was required to ask for permission from his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, to travel with his son; a request the Queen granted.
That was three years ago, and since then William and Kate have welcomed their second child Charlotte, who now stands fourth in line to the throne. Even with the addition of another heir to the family, William continues to break tradition and travel with his children, including boarding the same plane for the Royal Family’s 2016 visit to Canada.
Although separating heirs for travel does make sense in terms of ensuring the line of succession remains intact, Prince William knows all too well that the time a parent has to spend with their child can be cut short far too quickly.
In a new documentary released this summer titled Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, William and his brother Harry spoke publicly for the first time about their personal relationship with their mother, who was killed in a car crash when the boys were only 15 and 12 years old. “She was very informal and really enjoyed the laughter and the fun,” says William in the doc. “But she understood that there was a real life outside of Palace walls.” Thankfully, that’s a life that William is intent on enjoying with both his children.