Prince William Quits Military To Focus On Royal Duties

Britain's Prince William and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, stand outside of Westminster Abbey following their wedding in London on Friday, April, 29, 2011. (AP)
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(CBS News) LONDON - Prince William became a father over the summer, and now the Duke of Cambridge is getting ready for a new phase of life.

After serving in the Royal Air Force for seven-and-half years, Kensington Palace announced Thursday that William was leaving the military to focus on supporting "the work of The Queen and the Royal Family through a program of official engagements."

The second-in-line to the thrown is also "considering a number of options" to continue his public service, according to the palace. One of William's first initiatives will involve expanding his work in the field of conservation, with a focus on protecting endangered species and habitats. He will serve as president of a new collaboration, Royal Foundation for United for Wildlife, focusing on inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders. One of the first orders of business will involve the illegal wildlife trade.

William said in a statement: "The threats to our natural heritage are extensive, but I believe that this collaboration of the best minds in conservation will provide the impetus for a renewed commitment and action to protect endangered species and habitats for future generations."

As CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports, Flight Lieutenant William Wales has been a search and rescue helicopter pilot with the RAF for the past three years.

He's credited with saving lives during his deployment in some of the toughest flying conditions.

His base is located on a remote island off Britain's west coast -- about 300 miles from his Kensington Palace home in London.

In August, William and wife Kate bid farewell to the quiet town where they had taken refuge since the birth of their son George.

"I know that both of us will miss it terribly when my search and rescue tour of duty ends next month, and we have to move elsewhere," said William at the time.

With July's arrival of Prince George -- Georgie to friends and family -- William and Kate have had to learn to juggle parenthood with their royal responsibilities.

After staying low-key since the baby's birth, the couple has begun to make a few public appearances.

The palace has been careful not to describe his new role as that of a full-time royal, but the statement released Thursday said there would be more official engagements both in the U.K. and overseas.

It also said William and Kate would be moving into their official residence at Kensington Palace in the next few weeks.
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