LONDON - Prince William is leaving Britain's armed forces to take up royal and charity duties, beginning with a key role in a new global wildlife conservation partnership, Kensington Palace said on Thursday.
The second-in-line to the British throne, who became a father in July, completed his last shift as a Royal Air Force search and rescue helicopter pilot on Tuesday after seven years in the military.
The 31-year-old Duke of Cambridge is in a "transitional" year, sources have said, and is considering options for his "public service" with a formal announcement to be made about his decision within the next 12 months.
But he said on Thursday that he would start by bringing together seven top conservation organisations in a group called "United for Wildlife", as part of which he has filmed a video with former footballer David Beckham.
The prince said that the new group, of which he will be president, would "provide the impetus for a renewed commitment and action to protect endangered species and habitats for future generations".
Speaking of the danger of extinction, William added: "We must work together to prevent this catastrophe and allow our children the opportunity to experience wildlife in its many beautiful and varied forms."
William's change of career comes just two months after his wife Kate gave birth to a baby boy, Prince George of Cambridge.
Kate made a sparkling return into the limelight on Thursday as she accompanied her husband to an awards ceremony recognising outstanding conservationists, dressed in an eye-catching silver gown.