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Prince William


William crowns gap year with three-month African safari

St James Palace has revealed that LAST WEEK Prince William flew to southern Africa where he will spend 3 1/2 months working in game conservation parks, returning in mid-June.

Traveling with William are Mark Dyer, an ex-Welsh Guards captain who accompanied him on his Chile adventure, some friends from Eton, and two royal detectives.

William is expected to visit more than one African country, with South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and Namibi being mentioned as possible destinations.

According to a palace source: "The prince will not be doing any shooting, except with his camera."

ISSUE 2109 Sunday 4 March 2001 From Telegraph

William embarks on African adventure
By Andrew Alderson, Chief Reporter

Prince William - The British Monarchy

PRINCE WILLIAM has left for a three-and-a-half month visit to Africa on the latest stage of his "gap year" between school and university. The 18-year-old will spend some time on safari and will also become involved in game conservation, learning about Africa's wildlife and environment.
St James's Palace disclosed yesterday that Prince William, 18, had left for Africa with a friend late last week but would not say which country he was currently visiting. A spokesman said: "This visit is independent and is not linked to any particular organisation." There will be no official photographs during his visit to Africa.

St James's Palace also disclosed that before leaving for Africa Prince William had spent a month, until mid-February, working on a dairy farm in the South-West of England. "He worked as a farm hand and was involved in a variety of farm jobs," said the spokesman, adding that he completed his work before the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Britain.

In an appeal that the Prince be left alone to enjoy his visit to Africa, St James's Palace said: "The Prince of Wales and Prince William continue to be grateful to all the media for respecting Prince William's privacy."

Officials close to Prince Charles said that Prince William would initially be accompanied by a friend but would later spend time in Africa on his own. The Telegraph has learnt that the friend is Mark Dyer, a former equerry to the Prince of Wales and an ex-Welsh Guards officer who spent time in Chile with Prince William. They have been friends since 1994.

On his return, the Prince will spend time at home before attending St Andrews University in Scotland, where he is taking a degree in the history of art. Late last year Prince William spent 10 weeks in remote areas of Chile as a volunteer for Raleigh International.

ISSUE 1843 Sunday 11 June 2000 From Telegraph

A very different sort of Royal upbringing
By Andrew Roberts

Prince William, Prince Harry and the Code of Practice [29 Apr '00] - Press Complaints Commission

AS Prince William attains his majority on June 21, those responsible for his upbringing - including of course Prince Charles - can allow themselves a large measure of self-congratulation.
For despite the ghastliness of his parents' public confessions of adultery, then their divorce and his mother's tragic death, Prince William has grown into a well-adjusted, mature, eminently sensible young man.

For all his interest in techno music and motorbikes, he is no angry teenage rebel, as he might so easily have become. Instead, we have a king-in-waiting who is well-mannered, charming and seems eminently ready to embark on the next stage of his life.

In a looks-obsessed age, Prince William's 6ft 2in, blond-haired, blue-eyed film star features are a standing rebuke to any republican movement. This genetically-modified prince has, as Diana, Princess of Wales used to tell her friends, inherited both the Spencer looks and Spencer height.

Here is a dynasty which, for all its commitment to duty and its history of devoted public service, will secure its hold on the throne in part through sheer sex appeal. It is almost a national resource, and must be carefully husbanded and deployed to maximum effect.

The contrasts between Prince William's 18th birthday and that of his father on Monday November 14, 1966, are very instructive, both about the differences between the two men's personalities and about what has happened to the monarchy in the intervening 34 years.

When he turned 18, which under the Regency Acts is the age at which he could sit on the throne alone in his own right, Prince Charles had just returned from a year in Australia.

He had been studying at Geelong Grammar School, much of the time spent in its Timbertop camp in the Outback. He had found the experience testing but enjoyable and his friend and "minder", Squadron-Leader David Checketts, equerry to the Duke of Edinburgh, said afterwards: "I went out with a boy and came back with a man."

None the less, Prince Charles had afterwards to return to Gordonstoun for the remainder of his schooling. "It was pretty good hell coming back here again," he wrote, and for some time his biographer Jonathan Dimbleby says that he suffered from low self-esteem.

When it was announced later that year that the Prince would be studying Modern History at Trinity College, Cambridge, despite only getting a B in his History A-level and a C in French, there were the inevitable chippy complaints about "elitism" and the abuse of the royal prerogative.

Prince William, in contrast, went to a school he thoroughly enjoyed, Eton College, which is moreover one of the best academic schools in the country. While Prince Charles made relatively few long-lasting friends at Gordonstoun, his son is at the centre of a large and devoted set of good friends, albeit with the inevitable complement of toadies and sycophants.

His GCSE results were not officially released, but are believed to comprise five As and seven Bs, whereas his father passed just five (albeit harder) O-levels. Furthermore, William does not suffer from any sense of low self-esteem, itself a very rare complaint amongst Etonians.

The choice of Edinburgh University for Prince William was little short of inspired, as well as being a sign of the times. With the current row over elitism it is fortunate that no one has had to defend an Oxbridge place for someone who is unlikely to achieve three A grades in his A-level subjects of Biology, Geography and History of Art.

Edinburgh is a popular university destination for Etonians, with about 70 going there every year; so unlike his father, Prince William will have a ready-made circle of friends there as soon as he arrives.

It is crucial that he does not act like the arrogant Southern Sloane that political opponents of the Union will be keen to depict him as being. On that thin dividing line between arrogance and self-confidence, Prince William is said to be teetering on the brink, but is still just on the right side of it.

The hope that the Scots will be more likely to retain a Scottish-educated monarch after independence is likely to depend upon how the Prince behaves when up there. They are unlikely to be impressed by a bunch of roaring hoorays screeching around the New Town in their Golf GTIs, but Prince William seems to have developed a good sense of what people like and what alienates them.

His choice of the hitherto-unfashionable, Midlands-based Aston Villa as his favourite football team showed sound good sense, for example, especially when so many of his friends support Chelsea or Manchester United.

Yet Prince William is no slave to public opinion. He exercised commendable disdain for it when he rode to hounds with the Beaufort Hunt, despite the Government's anti-hunting stance and the cries of the outraged New Labour-supporting Daily Express.

His political views are not known for sure - he is far too wise to broadcast them - but they are not generally believed to be sympathetic to New Labour.

His mother told me that during the 1997 General Election he was impressed with the arguments of the Referendum Party that should Britain become immersed in a European superstate there would soon be no constitutional role left for the sovereign of a country which had itself surrendered its sovereignty. It is a sign that he has thought seriously about the meaning of the modern Crown, and such seriousness is also evident in his birthday plans.

The Queen gave an 18th birthday party for Prince Charles at Windsor Castle in 1966, where 150 teenagers danced in the Crimson Drawing Room of the private apartments to the music of a band modestly entitled The Quiet Five.

Prince William is not slated to attend a large party given at Windsor Castle on his birthday as he will be revising for his exams, but it would be surprising if he did not make at least a fleeting appearance to congratulate the Queen Mother on her 100th, Princess Margaret on her 70th, Princess Anne on her 50th and Prince Andrew on his 40th birthday. It is a very modern, meritocratic concept that, even in a future King of England, exams take precedence over celebration.

Prince William can be guaranteed to party all the harder when his A-levels are over. His group of friends are far more sophisticated, worldly-wise and hedonistic than were Prince Charles's at the same age, and in Lord Frederick Windsor and Tom Parker Bowles they include people who have admitted to taking illegal drugs.

Although some newspapers have professed concern that his friends might lead Prince William astray in this area, in fact there is little danger of it. If anyone were stupid enough to offer drugs to him, his answer is almost certain to be "No". The Prince's own sense of self-respect, his commonsense and respect for his father, not to mention his ever-present detectives, are quite enough to protect him from the danger of indulging in narcotics-abuse. His reportedly strong Windsor libido, however, might provide other embarrassments.

Prince Charles aged 18 was known to have written regularly when in Australia to an 18-year-old model called Rosaleen Bagge, the daughter of a Norfolk baronet and landowner, but that was a platonic relationship. It was some years before his name was romantically linked with anyone else's. "The Prince of Hearts", on the other hand, visits nightclubs regularly and has already been photographed "snogging" a girl.

Prince William's name has already been connected, usually in inaccurate tabloid press reports, with any number of pretty, usually well-born, socialite girls who are as discreet as they are fun. With looks that would let him earn a living as a male model if he were not royal, the role of International Playboy Number One is his for the taking, should he want it. Without any set constitutional role for even the heir to the throne, let alone the heir to the heir, it might one day prove hard to refuse the opportunity.

What goes on in country house weekend parties is quite rightly not divulged to the media, but if Prince William is still sexually innocent he is unlikely to remain so for very much longer. While the Press Complaints Commission continues to insist that newspapers respect the Prince's right to privacy, he is likely to be safe from embarrassing kiss 'n' tell "revelations" about his love life. However it is thought unlikely that this self-denying ordinance by the media can last long after Prince William's final term at Eton.

At some point in the probably not too distant future, the public is going to have a legitimate right to know something about the private life of this important public figure. By the time he goes up to Edinburgh University, therefore, it is perfectly possible that the Prince will be living in something like the full glare of global attention which stalked his mother to her death and beyond. How he reacts will probably tell us more about him than the relatively little about his personality that we have been allowed to glimpse already.

Prince William's heartfelt detestation of the print media, and especially the tabloids and their photographers, is well attested. It seems to be only with the utmost reluctance that he agrees to pose for photographs at Balmoral on the opening day of his summer holidays there every year.

Prince Charles was known to be concerned lest the relative vulnerability of Balmoral to the telephoto lens might prejudice his son against the Highlands retreat which he so loves himself. Even the shortest of photocalls is anathema to Prince William, who might very well privately blame the paparazzi for the death of his mother.

While Henri Paul, the Ritz Hotel driver, was undeniably drunk and high on drugs, he would not have been driving so fast had the photographers not been in such hot pursuit of snaps of his mother with Dodi Fayed.

To some extent his privacy has already been invaded by one of St James's Palace's own spin doctors who in August last year persuaded sections of the press to publish the alleged fact that William was behind the decision to invite Camilla Parker Bowles to a Mediterranean cruise with Prince Charles and the boys. One suspects that Prince William is well aware that there are those in his father's circle who regard him as a useful tool in the selling of Mrs Parker Bowles to the British public.

Prince Charles, too, also had a serious problem with the press when he was 18. When he arrived in Australia no fewer than 320 media representatives went to report the event. It was a time when the former sense of deference towards the Royal Family was starting to disappear and a more astringent tone was fast developing.

Squadron-Leader Checketts, the equerry who accompanied him to Australia, described the intrusion into the Prince's life as "the usual business of binoculars on the house, telephoto lenses and chase cars, and although we managed to evade them on the first morning they had caught up with us after a few hours". The problem might have come to a head at the time of the Princess of Wales's death, but it has in fact been around for more than three decades. The era of the telephoto lens is here to stay, and slowly Prince William has established a workable modus vivendi, but how long that might last in Edinburgh - especially once he finds a steady girlfriend - really is anyone's guess.

The Prince, who has been hugely protective of his younger brother Prince Harry since their mother's death, has had to develop a tougher outer carapace than his father needed at the same age. Like many male teenagers, he bottles up his most powerful emotions, to the point that even close schoolfriends are said to be surprised by how little he shows of his feelings about growing up without a mother.

In a sense he also protected her when she was alive, calming her at her vulnerable moments when she was on the edge of hysteria. She therefore relied on him almost as much as he on her, thus forcing him to grow mature before his time. If Prince Charles turned from a boy into a man in Australia, the break up of his parents' marriage did much the same for Prince William.

This meant that responsibility at school came relatively easily. Just as Prince Charles became a "colour bearer" (prefect), "helper" (house captain) and eventually "guardian" (head boy) at Gordonstoun, reputedly entirely on his own merits, so Prince William won the Sword of Honour as best cadet in the Eton Rifles and was elected to the exclusive and pre-eminent school society "Pop". Both men carry responsibility easily.

Another thing they have in common is their love of hunting, shooting and fishing, or "killing things", as the Princess of Wales put it. Prince William is an excellent shot, if not quite so good as Prince Harry, who is also the better skier.

Despite a love of swimming - he is joint-keeper of swimming at Eton - polo, water-polo, and apparently abseiling off Welsh dams, William is more fit than sports-mad. His only public utterance to date was about football - a prediction that "this year the Cup is definitely secure at Villa", a prediction that turned out to be wrong. It is interesting to note that otherwise the British public have hardly heard Prince William speak; his voice, like his demeanour, is much more like his mother's than his father's.

At 18 his father had very different interests indeed. Prince Charles played the cello, and for his 21st birthday a concert was given in his honour at Buckingham Palace at which Yehudi Menuhin and the famous cellist Maurice Genfron played. He was also a keen amateur potter who made mock-grotesque animals out of clay which he gave his family for Christmas. He read John Buchan and Sherlock Holmes books, loved mimicry and the Goons, but hadn't travelled to any European country except Switzerland for skiing.

Above all, at 18 he did not enjoy the prospect of returning to the tough and spartan boarding school whose Teutonic philosophy of education was entirely wrong for him. Jonathan Dimbleby records how: "On the day of departure, members of the household would glimpse him sitting on the lawn at Balmoral, clasping his labrador for comfort. Even as he approached his 18th birthday, he found it impossible to shake off the despair, knowing that once back at Gordonstoun he would return to that isolation imposed on him by birth and character."

Perhaps the best decision Prince Charles and his wife ever made together was to send Prince William to Eton College, and to choose the house of the intelligent and urbane Andrew Gailey. For all the social resentment that Eton inspires, the fact remains that it is a superb school in every area, whereas Gordonstoun was run on some very strange principles indeed.

What a former editor of The Spectator, Iain Hamilton, in a 1966 article on Prince Charles's future education, called "the sinecure of hereditary chief civil servant" does not truly require any great genius to fill. Indeed, of the last genuinely intellectual monarchs, George III lost the American colonies and Charles I lost the Civil War (and with it his head).

The best monarchs are those such as George V and Queen Victoria who exhibit great common sense. So far the auguries are good that the future King William V will manage not to let his superstar celebrity status go to his head. Being the most eligible bachelor in the world might turn almost anybody's, but he seems to be ready to take on the next stage of his responsibilities with confidence.

At his mother's funeral, Prince William's uncle, Earl Spencer, famously insisted that the two young Princes' "blood family" must be allowed to ensure that they were brought up in such a way that "their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition and can sing openly".

For all that it was an unwarranted intrusion into the way that the Prince of Wales would be bringing up his sons, this has in fact happened without the influence or involvement of the Spencer family - Princes William and Harry pointedly turned down an invitation from Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Diana's elder sister, to join a Spencer family holiday the summer after their mother's death.

With a far more relaxed teenage life than his father enjoyed, with his girlfriends and St James's Palace apartment and gold Coutts card and e-mail conversations with the pop singer Britney Spears, Prince William's soul is singing much more openly than any senior member of the Royal Family has done before.

The experiment has worked, and Prince Charles and the rest of the Windsor "blood family" should be congratulated on the way that they have learnt the lessons of his own upbringing and have produced a fine son and future king of whom Britain can be proud.

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