The Duke of Cambridge, who describes his job with East Anglian Air Ambulance as his primary occupation, combines the role with his royal duties but has attended only two public engagements and a funeral in the first 53 days of this year.
Air ambulance bosses said he was doing “a very important job” but the disclosure of his typical hours is likely to add to criticism of the second in line to the throne, who has been labelled “workshy, unwilling William” by some critics.
His brother Prince Harry, who left the Army in June and now works as a part-time civilian volunteer with injured troops for two days per week on average, has a similar record. He has undertaken two engagements in Lancashire and one in Bath in the first two months of 2016.
Harry, 31, has not been seen since he was spotted in London on February 11 but Kensington Palace refuses to discuss his whereabouts.
Royal aides have insisted that William”s job has only ever been described as part-time but an average of 80 hours per month is considerably less than the impression given on his first day of work for the private company Bond Air Services, which provides pilots for East Anglian Air Ambulance.
In July last year, officials initially suggested he would typically work four days on and four days off, doing nine and a half hour shifts either on days from 7am until 4.30pm or nights from 4.30pm until midnight. That suggested he would be working around 114 hours per month, compared to around 170 hours for most pilots. He is one of 12 pilots – eight based in Cambridge and four in Norwich – who respond to an average of five calls per day.
A royal aide said today: “In terms of shifts, over the course of the year the monthly average is around 80 hours on shift. He also has to take mandatory rest days, in line with CAA rules. And then he has his royal and charitable duties on top of that.”
“It”s a demanding role involving both day and night shifts, based at Cambridge airport. But the Duke relishes the challenge of being a modern working father and husband, combining his royal and charitable duties with this work as an air ambulance pilot.”
Under Civil Aviation Authority rules, air ambulance pilots are restricted to working a maximum of 200 hours on shift in any 28-day period and flying hours are limited to 90 hours in 28 days.
However, other royal sources have suggested the air ambulance job was a fig leaf designed to allow William and his wife Kate to base themselves at their 10-bedroom country mansion, Anmer Hall, on the Queen”s Sandringham estate in Norfolk away from the public gaze in London and live the lifestyle of a gentleman farmer, like his friends.
A spokeswoman for East Anglian Air Ambulance said: “As a charity we”re delighted that the region has supported his work and allowed him to get on with the job – the very important job he”s chosen to do.
“The general public has been wonderful – just letting him get on and accepting he”s someone trying to do a job like anyone else.”
A Kensington Palace spokeswoman said: “The Duke is incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to carry out his skilled work with the East Anglian Air Ambulance.
“It is a great opportunity to connect directly with the community and he considers it very rewarding to be part of a team that provides such a valuable, and often life-saving, public service. “