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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 23:46 GMT 00:46 UK
Duty calls for private prince
By Peter Hunt
BBC royal correspondent

Prince William
Prince William sees becoming King as his duty

Control is a word which resonates around Prince William.

He wants to exercise it, remain in the driving seat, not be bossed around by courtiers steeped in tradition - and access to him is tightly controlled.

No free-for-all news conference or Paxman style television encounter. Rather, one man and his shorthand notebook.

These interviews are part of a pact with the media. A few facts, crumbs off the regal table, in return for a quiet student life at St. Andrews University.

We don't know what questions Prince William wouldn't answer or was uncomfortable about. But there are some nuggets which help give us a sense of the man.

There's William the ordinary bloke - if you can call polo an everyday pursuit. He supports Aston Villa, likes R&B music, chats up girls and has "very square eyes" from watching television.

I think about it a lot, but they are my own personal thoughts
Prince William, on becoming King

Then, there's a far more revealing insight into His Royal Highness Prince William who, one day, will have to confront his destiny.

In an attempt to dismiss stories he's a reluctant royal, he insists it is something he was born into and it is his duty.

He sidesteps the crucial question of whether he wants to be King - want was "not the right word".

Private loss

He mightn't practise walking around everyday in ermine with a crown on his head - but the subject is on his mind.

"I think about it a lot, but they are my own personal thoughts. I don't really ever talk about it publicly."

With the Queen in rude health, and his father next on the accession waiting list, Prince William could have plenty of time to spend with his private musings.

Prince William's few public utterances have revealed a person uncomfortable with being the centre of attention

He is effusive in his praise for his father; more guarded in what he says about his late mother. This is a young man determined to live with his loss and not discuss it in public.

What these interviews deliberately don't provide is much sense of what Prince William will do after university.

He expresses concern about rural affairs and the plight of the homeless and talks about wanting to help people as his parents have done.

But he doesn't commit himself to a particular mission or charity. That will, no doubt, be the subject of another media encounter in the future.

Down the years, Prince William's few public utterances have revealed a person uncomfortable with being the centre of attention. He likes the countryside because he can go for walks and ponder - "it's your time".

He reveals a passion for motorbikes - in part because he can relax when he's riding one because his helmet gives him anonymity.

Some day soon, he'll have to take off that helmet.




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