Triangle’s ‘Prince Chad’ basks in resemblance to England’s Prince William

jmurawski@newsobserver.comFebruary 1, 2014 

Store clerks do double-takes. Strangers take out smartphones and snap pictures. Restaurant waiters ask: Do you know who you look like?

His wife’s friends just call him Prince Chad.

The attention has not let up for the past five years, and technology entrepreneur Chad Eckhardt still hasn’t wearied from his brush with fame as the Triangle’s unofficial Prince William lookalike.

Four years older and an inch taller than the genuine article, Eckhardt’s resemblance to the British royal lineage is unmistakeable. Like the celebrity heir of Princess Diana and Prince William, Eckhardt has a penchant for dark blazers and comfortable sweaters, lending the electrical engineer a dapper air.

Eckhardt, 35, doesn’t try to pass himself off as a monarch-in-waiting. No telling what the visual effect would be if Eckhardt donned a freshly pressed bespoke suit twilled by the Prince’s favorite Savile Row haberdashery (ascot optional).

“It would be interesting to go to England, just as an experiment, to see how people react,” Eckhardt agreed last week over lunch at a downtown Raleigh restaurant.

In real life, Eckhardt is CEO of GridBridge, a 2-year-old business that’s developing electronic devices for the electric utility industry.

Eckhardt’s likeness to Prince William prompted stares again last week during a business trip to the DistribuTECH conference and smart grid trade show in San Antonio, Texas. A waitress and two flight attendants remarked on Eckhardt’s appearance, all par for the course for the Raleigh startup executive.

“It’s not an inconvenience,” Eckhardt said with just a touch of noblesse oblige. “If someone wants to take a picture of us shaking hands and show it to their kid, what harm does it do?”

Judging by photographs circulating online, Eckhardt could neatly fill in for Simon Watkinson, who holds himself out to be the world’s foremost Prince William impersonator. Watkinson has appeared on a slew of TV programs and public events, accompanied by a complete set of veddy veddy British royal lookalikes.

Eckhardt’s princely glow was on full display in 2011, when Prince William wed Kate Middleton and the royal pair was televised daily. That’s when the parallels began to appear more than just coincidental.

Eckhardt announced his wedding, to Burt’s Bees marketing director Mariah Kulp, to be held April 30. A month after the Eckhardt wedding was announced, Windsor Castle issued a date for William and Kate’s nuptials: April 29.

Like Kate, Mariah is a slender brunette with a photogenic smile.

Not long after the couples sealed their vows, Eckhardt recalls, rumors swirled that Kate was pregnant with twins. Mariah was also expecting – yes: twins. As it happened, Kate gave birth to a single scion, Prince George.

How long will Eckhardt play the doppelganger to Prince William? Weight gain, hair loss and other inevitable physical changes could soon sunder their twin trajectories.

“That’s something I’m intrigued about: Will we age the same way?” Eckhardt pondered. “But I don’t spend hours in front of the mirror trying to analyze the situation.”

Murawski: 919-829-8932

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