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Updated: Thu, 12 Sep 2013 15:01:15 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Prince William leaves military to focus on royal duties

Prince William leaves military to focus on royal duties

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is leaving operational service with the British armed forces after more than 7½ years of full-time military service to focus on royal duties and charity work, Kensington Palace announced on Thursday.

William, 31, who has served as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in Wales since 2010, completed his final shift earlier this week.

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He will continue to support the work of the Queen and the Royal family through a number of official engagements, both at home and abroad along with his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

"The Duke is currently considering a number of options for public service," a release said.

William, who is second in line to the British throne, will focus on his work on endangered species and is "considering a number of options for public service."

Signalling his new path, William joined sports stars David Beckham and Yao Ming on Thursday in recording public service announcements to call for an end to the illegal trade of rhino horns and ivory.

"At the root of the illegal wildlife trade … is the demand for products that require the deaths of tens of thousands of these animals every year, pushing them further towards extinction," said William in the public service announcement. "We must work together to prevent this catastrophe and allow our children the opportunity to experience wildlife in its many beautiful and varied forms."

On Thursday evening, the duke and duchess attended the inaugural Tusk Conservation Awards at the Royal Society in London.

The couple welcomed their first child, Prince George, in July.

William, Kate and their newborn son are expected to move into their official residence at Kensington Palace in London in the coming weeks.

Rented home

The couple had been living in a rented home on the quiet island of Anglesey in north Wales, where they were able to enjoy a degree of privacy among residents and fellow military personnel.

Kensington Palace said William had participated in 156 search-and-rescue operations, helping to rescue 149 people. He has completed more than 1,300 flying hours.

Air Chief Marshal Andrew Pulford said William flew in demanding conditions in the mountains of north Wales and in the Irish Sea.

"He has earned the respect of all who have worked with him as a highly professional and competent pilot," he said.

William's younger brother, Prince Harry, remains active in the military and has served in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter pilot.

With files from The Associated Press

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