Royal historian Robert Lacey exclusively writes in this week's PEOPLE about how the charismatic future king and his wife Kate are navigating the road ahead
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Royal historian Robert Lacey, author of the best-selling Battle of Brothers, exclusively writes this week's PEOPLE cover story, offering insights on the state of the monarchy, the Queen's legacy in action, and William and Kate's eye toward their future on the throne

Prince William and Kate Middleton are keenly aware of the potential pitfalls that might face their children in the coming decades, and according to a leading historian they're doing what they can to alleviate those pressures.

Veteran historian and author Robert Lacey writes exclusively in this week's issue of PEOPLE that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, both 39, are "very conscious of the different destinies awaiting their three children."

The "heir" and the "spare" issue has often caught the royal family off guard, with second- and third-born children finding their public roles difficult to navigate.

In some ways Prince George, 8, has a clear path, following his dad William, 39, and his grandfather Prince Charles, 72. But as for Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3, Lacey writes, "How will the younger brother and sister cope with the challenges encountered by Princess Margaret, Prince Andrew and Prince Harry?"

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Those issues have "blighted" three generations, and "William is working with Kate to help all their children develop what they find personally fulfilling," Lacey asserts.

The couple are very present parents making time when they can to do the school drop-off and pickup, and to be home in the evening for dinner.

Kate Middleton, Prince William, family
Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte and Prince George
| Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Mindful of the pressures that the children will face in the family, they have managed to carve out an existence which sees them splitting their time between Kensington Palace in London — where George and Charlotte go to school while Louis is at kindergarten — and Anmer Hall in Norfolk, about 110 miles north of the capital.

william and kate parenting
Credit: Aaron Chown/Getty

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And even as they encounter family scandal and growing cries to abolish the monarchy in the midst of a moment Lacey deems a "crucial inflection point" for the monarchy, William and Kate are centering their parenting approach around stability. Kate enjoyed this security in her youth, but William publicly lost when his mother, Princess Diana, died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

Writes the historian, "As royal parents, both Kate and William have focused on ... working to ensure that all three of their children enjoy the peaceful childhood that eluded William and Harry."