LONDON (AP) – Prince William looks like someone who has it all: royal status, a charming fiancee, good health, and an easy touch with his future subjects. But there is one thing he lacks: a full head of hair.
Casual observers who have not paid much attention to Britain's future king in the years before his recent engagement to Kate Middleton have been surprised by the extent of the 28-year-old's hair loss. William still cuts a tall, imposing figure, but his bald spot has been spreading as his hairline recedes.
It's even more apparent since his 26-year-old brother Prince Harry still sports a luxuriant supply of tousled red hair.
The British tabloids have been merciless in their coverage, constantly punning the "hair to the throne" theme, and comparing his hair loss to that of his father, Prince Charles, and the follically challenged prime minister, David Cameron.
William keeps his hair short, as befits a Royal Air Force helicopter rescue pilot, but the military look only emphasizes the way his hairline has changed.
Is hair loss dampening William's appeal? Jennifer Engelhart, a 19-year-old student, doesn't think he should worry.
"He's got the prince appeal and I don't think ... the lack of hair can ever take that away," she said.
Zoe Robinson, another student, also doesn't see a problem with the thinning hair: "It's just kind of a part of him, isn't it?"
William's receding hairline has a genetic link. His father, Charles, and his grandfather, Prince Philip, also experienced it, although at a slower pace.
Dr. Bessam Farjo, a British hair restoration surgeon who has treated patients as young as 14, said William should take steps now to keep as much hair as possible.
"Considering his young age and the unpredictability of where his hair loss is going to end, his main priority should be to stabilize his situation," Farjo said. "Some medications certainly have a track record of stopping the hair loss so long as the person continues to use (them)."
Farjo said it has become socially acceptable over the last decade for men to intervene to prevent hair loss.
There is a simpler solution: William could just follow in his grandmother's footsteps and develop a fondness for hats.