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What Is Prince William on Paternity Leave From?

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Prince William, second in line to the throne of the oldest constitutional monarchy in the world, began his six-week paternity leave this week after the birth of his second child, Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge. But what exactly is he on leave from?

The 32-year-old Duke of Cambridge does, in fact, have a job. The former Royal Air Force pilot took a position with Bond Air Services, the “largest operator of air ambulance aircraft in the UK,” which began March 30. Drawing on his roughly five years of experience in search and rescue, he’ll be piloting helicopter-based rescue missions for the East Anglian Air Ambulance this summer. According to British news reports, he’ll be earning around £40,000 a year—just slightly more than the London median of around £35,000 and less than double the national median of £22,000 (His wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, doesn’t work outside of her royal duties and charity involvement). That’s hardly enough to support one adult human, living with roommates in a less-than-desirable part of London, let alone a growing family. What's more, William will reportedly be donating his income to an undisclosed charity. 

So how do Will, Kate, George, and Charlotte live? Where does their money come from? And how much work does Prince William really do? 

It's good to be (a future) King

Prince William doesn’t really have to work: He is worth an estimated $40 million, none of it earned on his pilot’s salary. His mother, Princess Diana, died on August 31, 1997, leaving behind an estate then valued at £21 million (about $31.5 million), or roughly £17 million after estate taxes. The bulk of this was left to William and his younger brother Harry, held in trusts until their 30th birthdays, although they each began receiving the interest and investment income from their trusts when they turned 25. When William reached his mid-20s, that income was estimated to be around £250,000 to £300,000 annually; their lump sum payments when each brother turned 30 was approximately £10 million (about $16 million). 

And don't forget about the trusty old Bank of Dad. William’s father, Charles, is the Prince of Wales, and thus is the lucky beneficiary of the Duchy of Cornwall, a vast land and investment holding that has been the hereditary right of his title since 1337. It’s from this estate, which includes an unfathomable 53,154 hectares of land in 24 counties, that Charles earns most of his money—according to the 2014 Annual Review, the Heir to the Throne took in £19.5 million (nearly $30 million) from the Duchy. (He does pay income tax on his Duchy earnings, at a rate of 45 percent, but the Duchy does not pay corporation tax). Charles in turn supports William and family, and Prince Harry, in their public and royal duties; the total cost for supporting them all, including paying for their official staff, was £2.89 million from 2013 to 2014, according to the 2014 Annual Review.

There are a few bills that the taxpayers foot. Will and Kate and their growing family live rent-free in Kensington Palace's Apartment 1A, at least part of the time. The Palace, located at the western edge of Hyde Park and among some of the most expensive real estate in London, underwent a £4.5 million renovation before the couple moved in. Much of the renovation, utilities, and general upkeep are paid for by the taxpayers via the Sovereign Grant, the roughly £40 million allotted to members of the royal family for their care and maintenance. The couple’s travel costs are met by the Sovereign Grant, and their 24-hour security detail is provided by Scotland Yard, London's municipal police force.

Duty calls?

But how many work hours does he actually log? Not many, according to Republic, campaigners for a “democratic alternative to monarchy”. They say that William is a royal sponge who only worked 47 full days in the year after he left the RAF. Even worse, they say, a number of those so-called “royal duties” he performed included parties, trips to the movies, church visits, dinners, and visits to sporting events or theme parks. “The claims of hard work by royals have always sounded hollow—hardworking people do long days five or six days a week and get paid normal salaries, while keeping up with the demands of family, mortgages and struggling with the rising cost of living,” Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, said. “This research puts the lie to the claims and shows William to be every bit as lazy and cynical as any other royal.” Ouch.

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Big Questions
How Are Royal Babies Named?
Jack Taylor, Getty Images
Jack Taylor, Getty Images

After much anticipation, England's royal family has finally received a tiny new addition. The birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's second son was confirmed by Kensington Palace on April 23, but the name of the royal newborn has yet to be announced. For the heir to the British throne and his wife, choosing a name for their third child—who is already fifth in line to the throne—likely won't be as easy as flipping through a baby name book; it's tradition for royals to select names that honor important figures from British history.

According to ABC WJLA, selecting three or four names is typical when naming a royal baby. Will and Kate followed this unwritten rule when naming their first child, George Alexander Louis, and their second, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Each name is an opportunity to pay homage to a different British royal who came before them. Some royal monikers have less savory connotations (Prince Harry's given name, Henry, is reminiscent of a certain wife-beheading monarch), but typically royal babies are named for people who held a significant and honorable spot in the family tree.

Because there's a limited pool of honorable monarchs from which to choose, placing bets on the royal baby name as the due date approaches has become a popular British pastime. One name that keeps cropping up this time around is James; the original King James ruled in the early 17th century, and it has been 330 years since a monarch named James wore the crown.

If the royal family does go with James for the first name of their youngest son, that still leaves at least a couple of slots to be filled. So far, the couple has stuck with three names each for their children, but there doesn't seem to be a limit; Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne to George VI in 1936, shouldered the full name of Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Big Questions
Why Does the Queen Have Two Birthdays?
CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images
CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images

On April 21, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will turn 92 years old. To mark the occasion, there are usually a series of gun salutes around London: a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park, and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London. For the most part, the monarch celebrates her big day privately. But on June 9, 2018, Her Majesty will parade through London as part of an opulent birthday celebration known as Trooping the Colour.

Queen Elizabeth, like many British monarchs before her, has two birthdays: the actual anniversary of the day she was born, and a separate day that is labeled her "official" birthday (usually the second Saturday in June). Why? Because April 21 is usually too cold for a proper parade.

The tradition started in 1748, with King George II, who had the misfortune of being born in chilly November. Rather than have his subjects risk catching colds, he combined his birthday celebration with the Trooping the Colour.

The parade itself had been part of British culture for almost a century by that time. At first it was strictly a military event, at which regiments displayed their flags—or "colours"—so that soldiers could familiarize themselves. But George was known as a formidable general after having led troops at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, so the military celebration seemed a fitting occasion onto which to graft his warm-weather birthday. Edward VII, who also had a November birthday, was the first to standardize the June Trooping the Colour and launched a tradition of a monarchical review of the troops that drew crowds of onlookers.

Even now, the date of the "official" birthday varies year to year. For the first seven years of her reign, Elizabeth II held her official birthday on a Thursday but has since switched over to Saturdays. And while the date is tied to the Trooping the Colour in the UK, Commonwealth nations around the world have their own criteria, which generally involve recognizing it as a public holiday.

Australia started recognizing an official birthday back in 1788, and all the provinces (save one) observe the Queen's Birthday on the second Monday in June, with Western Australia holding its celebrations on the last Monday of September or the first Monday of October.

In Canada, the official birthday has been set to align with the actual birth date of Queen Victoria—May 24, 1819—since 1845, and as such they celebrate so-called Victoria Day on May 24 or the Monday before.

In New Zealand, it's the first Monday in June, and in the Falkland Islands the actual day of the Queen's birth is celebrated publicly.

All in all, just another reason it's great to be Queen.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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