The INSIDER Summary:
- Simon Watkinson is a civil engineer who moonlights as Prince William lookalike.
- He’s done more than 300 gigs as a lookalike.
- At the height of royal wedding fever in 2011, he and a Kate Middleton lookalike fooled huge crowds of passers-by in London.
Before Simon Watkinson became a professional Prince William lookalike, he didn’t even know that professional lookalikes existed.
He always knew he looked like Prince William, of course. People had been noticing the resemblance since he was 12 years old. But it wasn’t until 2011 — the year the real William married college sweetheart Kate Middleton — that he understood how valuable that resemblance could be.
“Leading up to [the wedding], people were constantly telling me I looked like William,” Watkinson told INSIDER. “I had never realized that I could actually even make money from it. It didn’t all dawn on me until I submitted my photo to a famous lookalike photographer.”
That photographer called him the next day and commissioned him to pose for a spoof photo book about Will and Kate’s relationship. Soon after, he joined a lookalike talent agency on top of his day job as a civil engineer.
After that first photoshoot, the gigs never stopped coming.
“Just before the royal wedding was my busiest time,” Watkinson said. “Sometimes I would do a photo shoot at 4 a.m. or a breakfast TV appearance before my day job, do interviews on my lunch break, and then make an appearance at a party in the evening after work. Luckily I could wear the same suit to both jobs and I’d simply throw on a tie to get into character.”
Today, Watkinson, 35, still works primarily as an engineer. But in the intervening years, he’s also become the most famous Prince William lookalike in the world, able to command thousands of dollars for a single gig.
Watkinson is hired out for all kinds of jobs, from corporate events to TV commercials.
He said he’ll make $650 to $1,300 for a standard event and up to $13,000 for a TV commercial, though these big ticket jobs are less common. He also does some appearances for free when working with charities.
Some gigs are a lot more memorable than others.
Back in April of 2011, for instance, Watkinson and a Kate Middleton lookalike dressed up in wedding finery and rode through London in a horse-drawn carriage just days before the real couple tied the knot. The stunt was so convincing that it brought part of the city “to a standstill,” he said.
“There were hundreds of media and massive crowds gathering around us and we ended up needing a police escort to escape,” Watkinson recalled.
Then there was the time that he and another Kate lookalike appeared in a parodic theater production called “La Trashiata.” In the show, they sat inside a bubble-filled bathtub on stage, lip-syncing along to Italian opera music. Yes, video of this performance exists, and you can watch it right here:
(Sadly, the show got a one-star review in the Telegraph. “These vignettes may have seemed hilarious in the planning,” the reviewer wrote, “but in performance they fall flat.” We’ll let you be the judge.)
Watkinson plans to keep on working as a a lookalike (though he may need to shave part of his head).
“[I am] only 4 months older than Prince William. Being so close in age has meant my resemblance to William has remained as we have both grown up,” Watkinson said.
And people still do double takes when they see him commuting to work in a suit. The only hitch is that the real prince has lost quite a bit of hair in recent years — and Watkinson hasn’t.
“I’m probably the only man in the world who wishes he could be balder!” he said. “I have toyed with the idea of shaving my head but I don’t think my mates would ever let me hear the end of it.”
But Watkinson plans to make the most of his fortuitous looks for as long he can.
“To go from a traditional, serious day job to the craziness and unpredictability of my lookalike job […] is a great contrast that not many people get to experience,” he said. “I feel extremely lucky.”
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