Page last updated at 20:03 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 21:03 UK

William 'defends' 'copter trips


Watch Prince William's visit

Prince William appeared to defend his controversial helicopter trips around the UK, as he chatted with a pensioner in south Wales.

Last month the prince was criticised for flying Chinook helicopters to locations which included a trip to his girlfriend's home.

William said he had been accused of "joyriding", but was trying to clock up as many flying hours as he could.

He made the comments during a visit to a Rhondda community centre.

It emerged last month that William used the military aircraft to fly over Highgrove - the home of his father, the Prince of Wales - and over Sandringham, the Queen's residence in Norfolk.

I'm trying to do as much flying as I can. But I've been accused of wasting money - joyriding
Prince William

And he also landed a helicopter in a field belonging to his girlfriend Kate Middleton's family.

The prince spoke to Mildred Francis, who was taking part in an "armchair aerobics" session, and told her: "I'm working on my licence.

"I'm trying to do as much flying as I can. But I've been accused of wasting money - joyriding."

After, Ms Francis said: "I congratulated him on his pilot's licence, but he said he's not had that, just his wings.

Prince William playing a computer game

"He said he's got into a bit of trouble for flying, but he was very nice about it."

William's tour of south Wales also included a trip to the Valleys Kids Project at the Pen Dinas Flats in Dinas, Rhondda, where he was challenged to a game of tennis on the computer console by 18-year-old Martyn James.

The prince showed his competitive side when he joked: "You know you are not allowed to beat me".

He added: "I never thought I would be playing Wii on an official engagement."

Mr James, who lost the game, later joked: "I was stitched up."

William was also entertained during the day by the Rhydyfelin Youth Music Group and break dancers the Dinas Breakers.

As the prince greeted them after the performance nine-year-old Jessica James asked if he was going to be the future King of England.

William replied: "Not yet."


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