- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 22, 2003

LONDON (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) — Prince William, elder son of Britain’s heir to the throne Prince Charles and the late princess Diana, turned 21 yesterday with a pledge to help the homeless.

In an interview with Britain’s main news agency, the Press Association, William said he had been greatly influenced by his visits as a young boy with his mother to hostels for the homeless.

“I learned a lot from it, more so now than I did at the time,” William said.

“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.”

William said his main task for now remains completing the last two years of his history of art course at Saint Andrews University in Scotland.

“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,” he said.

Away from his studies, William spoke about his passion for riding motorcycles and his father’s concerns about such a pastime.

“Riding a motorbike can be dangerous but so can lots of things, really,” William said.

“Admittedly, there are more risks involved in riding a motorbike than there are with other things.”

“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.”

William — who is second in line to the throne, after his father — will celebrate his landmark birthday with an “Out of Africa”-themed ball.

Three hundred guests will join him for the costume ball at Windsor Castle, one of Queen Elizabeth II’s residences, west of London.

“I thought it would be quite fun to see the family out of black tie and get everyone to dress up,” William told the Press Association.

“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.”

He added: “My grandmother [the queen] 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.”

William — who has a younger brother, Harry, 18 — seems to prefer an anonymous, ordinary life to the role of heir to the throne that his family wants to see him play.

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