How Prince William Has Stepped Up In The Year Since The Queen's Death

William, Prince of Wales was born to King Charles III and Princess Diana as the eventual heir to the throne, and upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022, he became the second in line for the job. A day later, his father appointed him Prince of Wales, passing on a title that the king had held since 1958. And in Scotland, William became known as the Duke of Rothesay. But it's not just fancy new titles that William has taken on in the year since Queen Elizabeth died.

William is one of the most popular members of the royal family. A YouGov survey published shortly before the one-year anniversary of the queen's death showed 74% of those polled had a positive opinion of William — his wife, Catherine, Princess of Wales came in at 72%. And that's surely due in large part to the ways that he's stepped up in his role as the next in line to the throne.

Prince William founded a new homelessness charity initiative

William, Prince of Wales has expanded his philanthropic work since the queen died. One major new initiative is Homewards — launched along with The Royal Foundation in 2023, it aims to eradicate homelessness in five years, making it something that's "rare, brief, and unrepeated." Homewards works with local organizations, and it provides funding of up to £500,000 to take on the issue from a variety of angles. One of those angles is to build new housing, and it could even be on royal land. William said he's looking into what it would take to build public housing on part of the massive Duchy of Cornwall estate, which he took control of when his father became king, and to be able to scale it sustainably.

This has long been a cause near and dear to William's heart. Princess Diana took him to visit charities helping the homeless when he was little. One of those was The Passage in London, of which he is now a patron. At a 2023 visit to the charity as they opened two new residential facilities, William spoke about what he's learned from coming there for so long. "The work that I have seen first-hand over many years is the reason I know that ending homelessness must be thought of as more than simply a wishful aspiration. Instead, it should be viewed as an achievable goal, one that working together we can and must accomplish," he said, according to People.

Prince William's international travels show his new role

The British government has described the role of the monarch on the world stage as "a unique soft power and diplomatic asset," via the U.K. Parliament. And increasingly, Prince William is proving how adept he will be in that role. Since the passing of Queen Elizabeth, William has gone on some important international visits that have shown his increasingly elevating role in world affairs.

While in Boston for The Earthshot Prize award ceremony in December 2022, William met with President Joe Biden and Caroline Kennedy, who is the American ambassador to Australia. Aside from affirming the special relationship between the two countries, the meetings showed William's personal dedication to playing a role in combating the worldwide problem of climate change.

Then, in March 2023, William took another trip with international implications when he visited troops in Poland near the border with Ukraine. William was there to voice his support for their work in the Ukrainian fight against the Russian invasion. He didn't say anything specifically against Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin, but his presence in Poland made his disapproval clear. William explained the reason for his unannounced trip in a statement via CNN:  "I want to personally thank the Polish and British troops working in close and crucial partnership. I also want to pay tribute to the inspiring humanity of the Polish people. You have opened your hearts as much as your homes." 

Prince William's role as future king was clear at Trooping the Colour

Sometimes, it's subtle symbols that show how William, Prince of Wales has moved up in the line of succession and taken on new responsibilities in the year since the queen died. Some of those symbols were on display at the 2023 Trooping the Colour, if you knew where to look. Trooping the Colour marks the birthday of the monarch in June, and in 2023, William had a new role in the military parade as the appointed ceremonial Colonel of the Welsh Guards; previously, he'd been the Colonel of the Irish Guards. William's updated uniform at Trooping the Colour reflected the new role with the white and green plume of the Welsh Guards in his bearskin cap and a leek embroidered on his collar — the leek has long been a symbol of Wales.

Before the big day, William led two rehearsals, inspecting the regiments to confirm that they were ready to be presented to the king. And during the parade itself, he rode horseback right behind King Charles. It was the first time that a monarch had ridden on a horse in the parade since 1986. And for many, the image of William right behind his father was a powerful one, representing the line of succession.

Prince William was a notable part of the coronation events

All eyes were on King Charles III and Queen Camilla at their coronation on May 6, 2023, but Prince William had an important part to play on the day as well. In resplendent robes denoting his role as Colonel of the Welsh Guards, William was one of three to make vows of homage to the king immediately after he was crowned, and the only member of the royal family to do so. After kneeling and saying the vow, William kissed his father on the cheek and returned to his seat. Previously, other royal dukes also formally pled their fealty to the new monarch as a part of the coronation, but in this case, that would have included non-working royals Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Prince Andrew, Duke of York. King Charles decided the only royal who would kneel and pay homage to him would be William.

William's role on the coronation weekend extended beyond the ceremony itself. The day after the coronation was the star-studded coronation concert at Windsor Castle, and William was the only royal to speak publicly at the event. He thanked the crowd and noted the role of the monarch as one of service. William discussed his father's own dedication to service, and in doing so, it was easy to see how seriously William takes his own role as the future king.

Prince William has gotten to work in some unexpected places and ways

As exciting as all the pomp and pageantry is for events like the coronation and Trooping the Colour, Prince William has been showing up to help in some decidedly un-royal locations, and it's a testament to his dedication to service. In April 2023, he and Catherine, Princess of Wales picked up and hand-delivered nearly two dozen pizzas to the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team, a volunteer search and rescue charity in Wales. Then in July 2023, visitors to a London food truck were surprised and delighted to see William was the one serving them their veggie burgers. He used it as a way to promote The Earthshot Prize and bring attention to some of its past winners. 

And in support of his work to end homelessness, in September 2023, William donned an apron at Pret-a-Manger sandwich shop in Bournemouth and helped out in the kitchen. He also met with some employees who'd been through The Pret Foundation's Rising Stars Program, which gives jobs and support to those who've been homeless or have had a criminal record.

While the year following the queen's death has likely been emotional for Prince William, at least he can take comfort in the fact that he's stepping up in a way that would make his grandmother proud.