The Duke of Cambridge must decide on his career and his new family’s housing arrangements in coming months
As they prepare to become parents next summer, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are understood to have started making plans for their family’s future living arrangements.
The most pressing decision the couple face is the question of whether the Duke will opt for a change of career once his current RAF tour of duty ends, which will in turn decide where the family live.
The Duke and Duchess have enjoyed the privacy they have been afforded for the past two years at their rented farmhouse on Anglesey, near the Duke’s base at RAF Valley.
But the couple may consider it too isolated for the lengthy periods the Duchess will have to spend alone with the baby while the Duke is on his 96-hour round-the-clock shifts.
If the Duke decides to switch to another branch of the armed forces or leave active duty altogether, the couple could use some of the Duke’s £10 million inheritance to buy a country home within easy reach of their families.
A royal source said: “When the Duke finishes his current tour of duty next summer, he will have three options.
“He could sign on for another RAF tour of duty lasting between two and three years, he could transfer to another branch of the armed forces, or he could leave active service to concentrate on his duties as a working member of the Royal family.”
Royal aides said that if the Duke decided to sign on for another tour of duty as an RAF Search and Rescue pilot, he could expect to be posted to a different RAF base, potentially even further away from the couple’s families. RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland would be one possibility.
The Duchess’s illness, however, is likely to have concentrated their minds on the need for her to have her family close at hand, which would make a career based in London or the Home Counties a more attractive proposition.
The Duke is serving in the RAF on secondment from the Household Cavalry, and if he decided to return to his regiment he would be based in either London or Windsor.
He and the Duchess already have a home in Kensington Palace, where they will soon be moving into a larger apartment, and it is only a matter of time before the Duke buys his own country home where the couple can spend weekends.
If they begin house-hunting in the next few months, they are likely to use Berkshire as their starting point, as it will mean the couple are close to the Duchess’s family in Bucklebury, near Reading, with the Prince of Wales’s home at Highgrove and the Queen’s weekend residence at Windsor Castle both within easy reach.
A royal source said: “The Duke has made it clear ever since the couple got engaged in 2010 that he wanted the Duchess to have every possible support, and that the Middletons would not be airbrushed out of the picture.”
The Duke is acutely aware from the loneliness his mother, Diana Princess of Wales, suffered during her marriage of the need for his wife to retain her close ties with her family.
He inherited an estimated £10m when he turned 30 earlier this year from the estate left in his mother’s will, and has been saving the money to buy a family home.
The third possibility for the family’s future is that the Duke will leave active service and take on more royal duties to ease the burden on the Queen, who is 86, and the Duke of Edinburgh, who is 91.
It would allow the Duke to spend more time bringing up his child, but having watched his father wait a record 61 years so far for the throne, the Duke may feel it is too early in his life to give up the forces career he so enjoys.
The couple are also likely to increase their domestic staff to help them cope with the arrival of their baby. At present they have no full-time servants in London or in Wales, doing their own cooking and shopping.
The Duchess is expected to take on a nanny, cleaners and other household staff once the becomes a mother.