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Prince William: Reluctant Royal

Britain's Prince William holds birthday balloons given to him Thursday, June 19, 2003, during a visit to the Anglesey Food Fair in north Wales, The Prince, 21 this coming Saturday, and his father, Prince Charles, are in Wales for the day, and went on to visit Newport Action for Single Homeless in south Wales
AP
Britain's Prince William has been making the rounds in his country as part of the celebration of his 21st birthday, which is Saturday.

CBS News Correspondent Tom Fenton reports that the trip Thursday to Wales is an introduction of Princess Diana's eldest son, a young man who falls in line behind his father to become king of England. This rare public appearance is part of a palace plan to ease him into the limelight.

William has his mother's looks and his father's manners, a combination destined to make him the future star of Britain's royal family. The public already loves him, but right now, he's what you might call a reluctant royal.

Robert Jobson, royal reporter of the Express newspaper says, "He doesn't like being called 'His Royal Highness'(HRH). He's delayed that and calls himself William Wales. He doesn't want to do royal engagements."

Above all, William is weary of the press. Since the death of his mother in a car that was being pursued by paparazzi, the palace and his father have tried to shield him from the media. The glimpses we are getting of William on the eve of his 21st birthday are carefully sanitized.

There have been casual pinup photos on the beach of a young man whom his mother used to describe as "drop dead gorgeous."

The real William has been carefully guarded from the public while he attends university in Scotland. There, he gave one printed interview, in which he said almost nothing. But stories have been leaking out.

Jobson says, "There's been stories of different girlfriends. There's been stories of drinking binges and things like that which have been denied. But effectively, a lot of them have been pretty much supported."

It's the potential girlfriends, of course, that the media wants to zoom in on. He's been glimpsed with a number of mostly tall, attractive girls with posh backgrounds.

Jobson says, "He's going to be seen out with young girls from now on. It's going to be a massive story. Not only in this country, but in other countries around the world. He is effectively one of the world's most eligible bachelors."

Unlike his father who had been given 10 titles by the time he was 21, this prince charming wants to be named just William Wales for as long as possible. But his reluctance to accept his destiny is beginning to annoy the media.

Jobson says, "The reality is there is no choice. He is the heir apparent and if he doesn't take that job, then the system itself starts to fall apart. So even if he has reservations about it, it's probably best to get on with the job."

Some say William is even thinking about going to America for a few years for graduate studies to delay the day when his life will revolve around royal family duties like the trip to Wales. But if Prince William thinks he can escape the limelight, he should think again.

The royal family celebrates his 21st birthday with a huge party at Windsor castle this Saturday. More than 300 will attend.