Live

Watch CBSN Live

William Wants to Be More Than "Ornament"

Prince William is chomping a little at the silver bit.

His lament, reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips, is that he wants to actually participate in charitable causes, such as one he recently took part in -- a country excursion for homeless people.

Both William and his brother, Prince Harry, like their mother, the late Princess Diana, are involved in charity work, which in royal terms usually means just showing up and cutting ribbons, Phillips says. But the princes want more.

"There's a time and a place for being an ornament as such, or shaking hands and
being at an engagement and showing support in that way," William remarked, "but I think there's an awful lot more from actually doing stuff, and ... I want to, you know, actually be more involved and be sort of doing a slightly different angle of it, basically."

William's problem, Phillips points out, is at the center of the royal dilemma: the role of the family in British life is to act as figureheads, the symbolic top of the establishment totem pole.

That can be frustrating, Phillips observes, for those royals who feel they actually have something useful to contribute, adding that Diana showed a deep commitment to the causes she adopted -- too deep a commitment, some of the other royals thought.

William's other model is his grandmother, the queen, who's name is associated with hundreds of charities.

"I've been trying to take the best bits out of both of their charitable lives," William says. "You could just turn up and open things -- and don't get me wrong: There's always a good reason to do that. But it's about bringing some other things into it, as well.''

This, Phillips notes, is all part of the princes' bigger problem -- what do with their lives. William's long-term future was laid out at birth: A long, long time from now, he's supposed to be king. But there's a lot of time to fill until then.