LONDON - Prince William hosted his first ever investiture ceremony this morning at the queen's request, a move regarded as a step toward his becoming a full-time royal.
The Duke of Cambridge, 31, presented various awards to nearly 90 people from across the United Kingdom, recognizing their accomplishments in fields including charity work and, in the case of 2012 U.S. Open tennis champion Andy Murray, sporting success.
Murray was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by the duke, who has, along with wife Kate Middleton, who is known to be a huge tennis fan, watched Murray play on several occasions.
Although Prince Charles and, on occasion, his sister, Princess Anne, have conducted some of the 25 or so investitures that take place each year, the Daily Mirror's Royal Reporter Victoria Murphy told ABC News that hosting this senior duty is a big moment for William.
"It's incredibly significant because it reflects the fact that now that he has left the military, he is focusing on royal duties and he is learning the ropes and learning about everything he is going to have to do when he becomes king," she said.
Having left his role in the military last month, new dad William is undergoing a "transitional year," according to palace officials, as he prepares to take on more royal responsibilities. But his taking on more royal tasks does not necessarily mean he will go full-time just yet, Murphy stressed.
"While he is taking on this investiture, and it is a significant step, it doesn't mean we're going to see him do 400 engagements this year," Murphy said, adding that William will concentrate on his charity work this year and, in particular, his work in conservation.
William was named last month as president of a newly created partnership, "United for Wildlife," that will "tackle the global challenges to the world's natural resources," according to the palace.
He and Kate made their first, official public appearance together after the birth of Prince George at a charity dinner to benefit Tusk Trust, a British charity that funds conservation projects in Africa.
As part of the investiture ceremony that took place today in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace, William pinned medals on the various award winners and, for the couple of people who received a knighthood, he tapped them on the shoulder with a sword.
Aside from wanting to give William more royal responsibility, Murphy believes, grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, now 87, is looking to share some of the more physically demanding royal engagements. Investitures, which require standing for more than an hour at a time, fall under that category, Murphy said.
"Perhaps she is starting to realize that it's something she is not going to be able to do as often from now on," she said, "and so she's looking at the younger, senior members of the royal family to step in and take some of that strain from her."
ABC News' Katie Kindelan contributed from New York.
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- Prince Charles