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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 06:34 GMT 07:34 UK
Prince celebrates 21st birthday
Prince William, photographed by Mario Testino
The prince said he was an admirer of photographer Mario Testino
On his 21st birthday Prince William has defended his father in a landmark interview.

The prince called on those who have criticised the Prince of Wales to give his father a break.

His interview with the Press Association came ahead of an African-themed party at Windsor Castle for 300 friends and family to celebrate his birthday on Saturday.

The prince was interviewed and also posed for photographs by Mario Testino - the renowned celebrity photographer who famously took pictures of William's mother Diana.

'Guiding principles'

Speaking at St James's Palace, the prince - second in line to the throne - defended his father.

"He does so many amazing things, I only wish people would see that more because he's had a very hard time and yet he's stuck it out and he's still very positive."

"He's very happy and protective towards Harry and me as well," he added.

The prince summed up his own personal goals as he embarks on adulthood.

Prince William
I think it's very important that you make your own decision about what you are
Prince William

"My guiding principles in life are to be honest, genuine, thoughtful and caring," he said.

The prince spoke with honesty and humour, mixing boyish charm with self-assured certainty.

"I'm not an over-dominant person," he said, "I don't go around and expect everyone to listen to me the whole time.

"But I like to be in control of my life because I have so many people around me, I can get pulled in one direction and then the other.

"If I don't have any say in it, then I end up just losing complete control and I don't like the idea of that. I could actually lose my identity."

He defended his "stubborn" streak, which he said was a necessary attribute to his role.

"You have to be slightly stubborn because everybody wants you for one reason or another.

"If you don't stick to your guns and stick to your decision, then you lose control."

High office

But William insisted he could still listen to advice, before making his own judgement.

Riding a motorbike can be dangerous, but so can lots of things

"I think it's very important that you make your own decision about what you are.

"Therefore you're responsible for your actions, so you don't blame other people."

Prince William is midway through a four-year History of Art degree at St Andrews University in Scotland.

He steps into the role of Counsellor of State with delegated powers to act on behalf of the Queen.

In this he joins his father, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex.

In taking up the high office, he replaces the Princess Royal.

Prince William and Prince Harry
Prince William spoke of his love for his brother Harry
During the interview, the prince also talked about the influence on him of his mother Princess Diana, who died when he was just 15.

He also talked of using his position as a Royal to help others as she did.

"I was influenced by my visits to hostels with my mother when I was younger.

"I learned a lot from it, more so now than I did at the time."

'Common bond'

"My mother used her position very well to help other people, as does my father, and I hope to do the same," he said.

And referring to his younger brother Prince Harry, 18, he spoke of their "very good relationship" saying they will always share "that common bond".

The prince talked also of his love of sport - he excels in water polo, swimming and rugby.

An Aston Villa football supporter, Prince William also revealed his love of high-speed motorbike riding.

He admitted his father had concerns for his safety as he indulges his passion, but said: "It is a risk, but as long as you've had sufficient and thorough training you should be okay."

His other hobbies include music - with his tastes embracing the latest R&B acts.

The BBC's Jennie Bond
"The interview is marked by a fierce loyalty to his father"

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