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The three princes

Prince Charles and his sons sit down for a light-hearted interview. The royals talk about reality TV, polo, and charities.
Dateline NBC

Flanked by his sweater-clad sons, the famously formal Prince of Wales loosened up for some light-hearted banter in his very first interview with his two boys. Suddenly, 57-year-old Charles just another dad complaining that the kids’ music can drive him crazy.

Prince Charles:  I enjoy the jazz, yes.  But these two play this stuff and I’m sitting there going  (mimics headbanging)  downstairs somewhere as the whole place (laughter)Ant, interviewer:  It’s just like houses up and down the country, turn that racket down!

And the teasing was just getting started. William couldn’t resist ribbing his kid brother Harry when asked if the two young princes have the same taste in music.

Prince Harry:  It varies a bit.Prince William:  I’d say his is pretty shocking, but mine is good. Apart from that, we tend to like pretty much the same music, yeah.

The interviewers, not much older than William and Harry, are a former pop duo who are now wildly famous in England as the hosts of several reality TV shows, including “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here,” a bug-eating ratings grabber which has apparently riveted the royals. 

Prince Charles:  You don’t eat all these disgusting things?  (laughs)Prince William:  Maybe they should do  (laughs)Ant: I once tried some of the green ants. You just bite the bottom of them and you spit the heads out, so. They’re not too bad, but I wouldn’t try any of the eyeballs.(Prince Charles makes a grimace/chomping-teeth face)

Could that chomp from Charles be the mark of a future bug-eating contestant?

Dec, interviewer: We are looking for contestants for the next series of “I’m a Celebrity”  (Prince Charles makes face)Prince Charles:  Have you tried a witchety grub?Ant:  No. Prince William:  Oh they look so nasty.

By the way, this is a witchety grub. They’re actually considered a delicacy by some Australians, and Dateline has photographic evidence that during a March 2nd, 2005 visit down under, Charles came this close to consuming a live one.

Asked about their TV tastes, William and Harry ‘fessed up to engaging in the same couch potato conflicts as the rest of us.

Ant:  Have you guys got the same sense of humor, do you watch the same comedy programs?William:  Yes we tend to mostly, we like the same sort of things. Although there’s usually an argument over the remote control at home about who watches what, that usually goes on for quite a while

But their competition for the remote control ends when “American Idol” comes on — both the boys are secret admirers, as Harry revealed.

Prince Harry: He won’t admit it (points to Prince William) but we did both watch it.

Their favorite part? Those awful audition clips, which they call the cut- offs.

Prince Harry:  The cut-offs were so good. Yeah, the auditions  (laughter).

Walking with the Windsors through the gardens at Highgrove, the family’s country residence, Charles was clearly proud of his green thumb and his creative eye.

Prince Charles: I’ve clipped them. They used to be just puddings, and so we just clipped them into rather eccentric shapes.  See, that’s a bird.Ant: Oh yeah.

Though quiet and peaceful on this day, the gardens are open to the public, and are visited by 25,000 people every year. The crowds and tour guides a little much for sleeping princes at 9 a.m.

Prince William:  We can hear some of them got really sort of dominating, very loud voices. So you’re up in your bedroom fast asleep sort of at 9 o’clock in the morning and you open the window and it’s like “Oh, okay.”Ant:  Yeah… excuse meDec:  Sorry, I’ll put some clothes on…  (laughter)

As down-to-earth as Charles and his sons seem, theirs is a life of privilege. That lemonade they’re sipping? It’s a safe bet they didn’t make it themselves.  Though William cooked for his roommates in college, he admitted his skills in the kitchen are lacking.

Prince William:  I’ve got a long way to go yet.Ant:  Harry, you’re not so good?Prince Harry (pointing to Charles):  Better than him!  (laughter)Ant:  Oh right, I see! Have you put up the odd shelf and changed the odd light bulb, have you had to do that?

Prince William:  Yes, at university I put up a few shelves and sort of put in washing machines and stuff like that when I was up there.  And most of the time things broke and fell down, so definitely nothing to go by there.

If privilege has prevented them from honing their handyman and cooking skills, one lesson not lost on the young princes is the importance of giving back.

Though charitable work has always been a requisite for the royal family, their mother, Princess Diana’s tireless campaigning set a high bar for her sons.

They’re rising to the challenge. 23-year-old William recently became patron of his mom’s favorite charity for the homeless - and 21-year-old Harry has already started a charity of his own, to help children orphaned by AIDS.  

They have both been active for their father’s charity, the Prince’s Trust, which provides job training, mentoring, and financial support to troubled youths - and has helped more than half a million people in its 30 year history.

Harry says it’s rewarding, if sometimes awkward, when princes and paupers meet.

Prince Harry:  You’re expected to ask the questions and make the conversation, and then even more nervous, they’re just sort of going “mmn mmn mmn” and you’ll be lucky to get a yes or a no.  Then eventually just as everyone starts to relax, you get into a conversation, then you have to leavePrince Charles: A lot of it is involved at trying to put people at their ease. They have vague ideas about what you might be like or whatever, so you have to try and encourage them it’s not quite as terrifying or awful or whatever as they thought.

For Charles, the Prince’s Trust comes down to putting trust in the inherent goodness he believes exists in all people.

Prince Charles:  Everybody has something, I think and it’s just that business of giving them self confidence and self esteem. And funnily enough, when you do that, it gives people enormous encouragement and motivation, suddenly they realize they can do things that they never thought they could. Sudddenly, particularly people you know who’ve been offenders for instance, again, their lives can be completely transformed, much to everybody’s amazement.Ant: William and Harry, do you feel as strongly as your father does about the trust?Prince William:  Yeah, definitely. It’d be nice in the future if we can both get a bit more involved in it and help out.

Dad is counting on it, hoping his sons’ efforts in the field of charity someday exceed even his... just as they already have on the polo field.

Prince Charles:  The last time I played with them, the pressure was too great.Prince William: The pressure of playing with his two sons was too much. We’re too good for him now!Prince Harry:  The heart!  (holds his heart)Prince Charles: The last time I played with them in a tournament, we really wanted to win. And I get this stuff you know shouted at me, ‘Silly old father, get on with it,’ the usual thing. And I was trying too hard.Prince William:  That was the politest thing we said!

Prince Charles:  Right. But it was trying too hard, and I had to turn the pony very fast and the next thing I mean the thing the pony came down sideways and I must have landed absolutely smack on my head. Anyway, completely felled me and I ended up being taken to hospital where I finally woke up. This person here (points to Prince Harry) told me later that he thought that when I was lying on the ground that I was, he said ‘Papa’s just snoring’ he said. And there I was busily swallowing my tongue, quietly dying! That was the last time I played with them. They tried to kill me so they could walk off with my ponies. (laughter)

Prince William:  By the way, we won the game.Prince Charles: It is great fun being able to play with them. That was the great thing, I did have some time playing with them.Prince Harry:  Yeah, glad you enjoyed it!  (laughter)

The interview of the three princes was broadcast on Dateline Sunday, May 21, 7 p.m.,  and on portions will be broadcast on the “Today” show on Monday.