interview from the Prince of Wales's Website
By Peter Archer, Court Correspondent, PA News.
To mark his 21st birthday, Prince William agreed to be interviewed by the Press Association and posed for photographs by Mario Testino. In the first part of what is his frankest and most revealing interview ever, William answers questions about his life, his mother and father, the Queen, a Windsor Castle birthday party and fast motorbikes.
"My guiding principles in life are to be honest, genuine, thoughtful and caring," said the 21-year-old Prince.
Sat on a golden sofa at St James's Palace beneath a gilt-framed picture by Van Der Meulen, he was a modern Royal in denim jeans and open-necked shirt.
William slipped off his shoes and sipped still mineral water, at ease in surroundings fit for a king.
But the unassuming young man, who has already experienced much in his relatively short life, is equally at home in a student's room with utility furniture and posters for Old Masters.
At times amusing but always sincere, the heir of Charles, Prince of Wales and second in line to the throne, was intriguing, yet easy to be with.
His firm handshake, welcoming smile and boyish charm were a winning combination.
However, William left no doubt who was in control.
"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."
Without prompting, he continued: "A lot of people think I'm hugely stubborn about the whole thing.
"But 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."
However, William insisted that he did listen to advice.
"I do listen, of course I listen. I listen to what people have to say to me and I make my own judgements from there.
"I don't go off and say 'Oh no no, I'm not listening to you', and completely ignore their advice.
"I do take in whatever people say to me and around me, and then I'll make my own decision.
"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."
William, who is midway through a four-year Master of Arts degree at St Andrews University in Scotland, had come to London where earlier his grandmother, the Queen had celebrated the 50th anniversary of her Coronation.
But he is not rushing into a life of public service and regulation as a full-time Royal.
With his grandmother in robust health at the age of 77 and his father still in his prime, William knows there is time enough.
However, he is already developing leadership skills as a peacemaker and mediator among his peers.
"If I can do something to help as me and not just because of who I am, then that's really important to me. I can calm situations," he said.
William remains particularly close to his younger brother, 18-year-old Prince Harry, with whom he suffered the terrible trauma and heartache of their mother, Diana's early and tragic death.
"I have a very good relationship with my brother," he said. "We've grown up together and we have to go through a lot of things together.
"We've grown up around the same things and the same people, and we'll always have that common bond.
"We ring each other quite a lot. He usually rings me up to tell me some incredibly amusing story and the things he gets up to.
"He is a very nice guy and he's very caring."
In many ways, William, who was born into an extraordinary life, manages to be an ordinary student.
He cuts a dashing figure. At just under 6ft 4ins, he is sporty and keeps fit, excelling in water polo, swimming and rugby.
He supports Aston Villa Football Club and sticks with the Birmingham-based Premiership side, partly because he likes the fans.
"Villa supporters are dedicated – they are great because, although Villa don't always win, they stay loyal."
William loves new-style R&B music and enjoys dancing. He revels in banter with the boys and nights out drinking cider.
If he fancies a girl, he chats her up. But he is concerned that his girlfriends must be protected from the media spotlight, knowing the pressure his own mother was subjected to when she married into the Royal Family.
He watches TV and admits to having "very square eyes" at the moment. He likes going to the cinema to see action movies and he drives a car but prefers his high-speed motorbike.
"I have a small lap-top computer mostly for university work but I use it occasionally for playing the odd game and surfing the Internet," he said.
"But I haven't checked my e-mail for so long I think it's vanished – wiped away."
The 21-year-old Prince may not keep in touch on-line but he is certainly in touch with modern Britain and knows that the monarchy must be relevant to ordinary people's lives to survive.
How he handles the tabloid tales and maintains a higher sense of purpose could be his key to a happy and fulfilled life.
Fun-loving William chose an "Out of Africa" theme for his 21st birthday party to get the Royal Family into fancy dress.
More than 300 family and friends were invited to tonight's (Saturday) Windsor Castle party to mark William's coming of age.
Senior Royals and university students, all in fancy dress, will take to the dance floor to music by a band and a DJ. And William likes to dance.
Having a family party was the idea of the Prince of Wales who, with the Queen, set about helping to organise it.
William, who is teaching himself Swahili and loves his trips on safari, chose the fancy-dress theme.
"I thought it would quite fun to see the family out of black tie and get everyone to dress up," he said.
"It just gives it a bit of character. You can decorate a place and really make it feel like a party. Black tie is good but it's a little bit sterile. I thought fancy dress would be quite fun."
In the run-up to the party, William still had not decided on his own costume.
"I'm a little bit stuck on what to wear," he said. "I haven't thought much about it."
Laughing, he said: "The party is on my birthday, June 21 – my 21st on the 21st, which is Midsummer's Day, the longest day of the year and the longest night for a lot of people who are helping to organise it.
"My father very kindly suggested having a party, although he's probably regretting it now. But he very kindly offered, and my grandmother and my father basically helped to organise it all.
"My grandmother may be slightly apprehensive as to what she's going to wear, and what's going to happen, but she's very much looking forward to it. She's very positive towards the whole thing."
Then with a hint of fun in his voice, William added: "I don't know what she's going to wear but I'm sure she'll look very amazing in whatever she chooses."
The 21-year-old student Prince loves music, particularly new-style R&B, rap, hip-hop, dance and even pop.
"We're having a band and a DJ," he said. "They'll play a selection of classic soul covers and 70s funk.
"I like most music really. I'm not that fussy. But I do like my music.
"I'm not one for buying a lot of CDs. I listen to the radio a lot and I don't go out and buy something unless I really like it. But there is quite a lot of good music out at the moment."
Party guests would be sitting down to dinner, rather than having a buffet, but the menu would not be too exotic.
"We're not going to go drown the whole party in an African theme," said William. "The dress is African and the tables will be decorated, along with the rooms.
"Lots of people will be wondering if we're actually going to be eating crocodile, but obviously we won't be doing that," he said with a wide grin. "It's not going to be African food, even though it will be hilarious to see everyone's faces when they read the menu!
"We sent out just over 300 invitations - lots of family and lots of my friends, and my brother and my father have invited friends.
"There'll be the immediate family and also Godparents."
William added that he would also like to have a barbecue party this summer at Highgrove, which he refers to as "home".
"It would be for people who've helped to look after me at home," he said.
Diana showed him the way and now William wants to help the homeless just as his mother did.
He told of the influence Diana had on him and how he hopes to use his position as a Royal, to help people.
William said: "I was influenced a lot 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.
"It's made me aware and I think homelessness is one of those topics that people kind of gloss over and don't really focus on.
" It is an important issue that needs to be understood and highlighted.
"My mother used her position very well to help other people, as does my father, and I hope to do the same."
But William was wary of committing himself.
“There are a few areas that I am particularly interested in but at the moment I've got to concentrate on university and get through that."
The Prince also mentioned his mother, Diana when he talked about his 21st birthday photographs taken by Mario Testino.
"He did take some pictures of my mother – I've seen them and I think they're amazing," said William.
Then jokingly, he put himself down: "I chose Mario because he's the only person who could make a moose look good," he said.
William called on his father's critics to give the Prince of Wales a break.
Taking up the mantle of his father, William said Charles had been given a hard time and deserved better.
"He does so many amazing things," said the supportive son. "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.
"And he's very happy and protective towards Harry and me as well."
William said his father had been a "huge influence" on him, especially concerning rural issues, like organic farming and sustainability, for example.
"I'm one of his biggest fans in that sense," he said. "He's been given quite a hard time reccently and I just wish that people would given him a break."
Among other issues, William shares his father's concern for the future of the countryside and warned that rural communities were dying partly because of a dearth of affordable housing for young people.
He said: "At the moment there are quite a few challenges facing the countryside. To me one of the worrying things is the lack of affordable housing for the younger generation. If younger people leave, there's no future for the countryside.
"All the inherited skills you get passed down from farmers, for example, will be lost.
"But I know this is a problem, beyond the countryside, for young people who are just starting out."
William recalled when he worked on a farm in the West Country and how hard country life was for farm workers and their families.
"Working as a farm hand during my gap year was very, very hard," he said. "It was the toughness of it. Admittedly, I was exhausted after only a week as a dairy farm hand, and the guy I was working with did it every day of his life.
"There's hardly any social life because of the hours you work which makes it an even tougher job.
"There were so many genuine people. They didn't care who I was and made me do the jobs I should be doing, like mucking out and driving tractors in the fields.
"They made me see what actually goes on and they trusted me as well."
William said he had always wanted to help out at the Highgrove Home Farm in the summer holidays but had not yet got round to it. "The early mornings are putting me off," he said, laughing, perhaps recognising his reputation for sleeping late.
The Prince said he liked to enjoy the countryside on long walks which gave him the opportunity to unwind.
"I love going for walks," he said. "My father is a great walker - he does a lot of it. But it's quite nice because you can just go off and ponder. You can think about things. It's your own time."
He particularly liked to walk in the Scottish Highlands, on the Queen's Balmoral estate, and on the broad, sandy beach at St Andrews, his university town north of the border.
A concerned Prince of Wales worries about William's safety as he indulges a passion for speed and fast motorbikes.
But the 21-year-old Prince shrugs off the danger and lives life to the full.
"Riding a motorbike can be dangerous but so can lots of things really," said William.
"Admittedly there are more risks involved in riding a motorbike than there are with other things.
"It is a risk but as long as you've had sufficient and thorough training, you should be okay. You've just got to be aware of what you're doing."
However, William conceded: "My father is concerned about the fact that I'm into motorbikes but he doesn't want to keep me all wrapped up in cotton wool.
"So you might as well live if you're going to live. It's just something I'm passionate about."
Enthusiastically, William disclosed that he has a Yamaha 600 trials bike.
"It's an on-off road bike, so you can do either," he said.
If he was hoping for a new motorbike for his 21st birthday, he was not letting on. But it is perhaps unlikely to be something his concerned father would buy.
"There's nothing specifically I would like – I'll just have to wait and see what's given to me," he said.
"I've dropped many hints to my father about pretty much everything. I think I've gone round in circles about what I want and he's given up on me. He'll do the paternal thing and decide what he thinks is best – I'm sure he'll give me something lovely."
William also has a car – a secondhand VW Golf – but is less passionate about driving and is content with the model he has.
"Everyone, I'm sure, hopes some day they'll get a new car but I'm very lucky with the car I've got at the moment. It's fast enough and it's very comfortable," he said.
"I've got a good stereo in it. Not one of those mega super woofers or what ever they're called – there's quite a lot of them around," William said laughing.
"I imagine my father would go absolutely bananas if he saw me driving, blaring music out of the windows.
"I prefer my motorbike. I don't know what it is about bikes, but I've always had a passion for motorbikes ever since I was very small. I used to do a lot of go-karting when I was younger and then after that I went on to quadbikes and eventually motorbikes."
William rides his motorbike mainly at Highgrove and around the country roads of Gloucestershire.
"It does help being anonymous with my motorcycle helmet on because it does enable me to relax," he said. "But I just enjoy everything about motorbikes and the camaraderie that comes with it."