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Prince William Hones Driving Skills

July 26, 1999

HIGHGROVE, England (AP) _ Braking just in time in front photographers assembled on the gravel driveway of his father’s country estate, Prince William showed off his new driving skills today.

William reached the minimum age for getting a driving license _ 17 _ last month, received a car from his father, Prince Charles, as a birthday present, and hopes to pass his driving test this summer.

The tall prince, who resembles his late mother, Princess Diana, smiled broadly as he stepped from the silver Ford Focus sedan and joined his father and brother, Prince Harry, 14, on the steps of Highgrove, west of London.

``This is just to show how quickly I’m shrinking,″ joked Charles, standing alongside William. Charles is 5-foot-10 _ at least two inches shorter than his older son.

Charles, the heir to the British throne, did the talking while his sons _ their hands in the back pockets of their jeans _ did the smiling at the official photo call at the start of the summer holiday.

The princes hope that, in return, the media will leave them alone for the rest of the vacation.

William has been driving on private roads on royal estates for years. Now 17, he can drive with an instructor on public roads before taking the test for his license.

For security reasons, William drove a borrowed car for the photo call. A police driving instructor sat in the passenger seat.

``He’s going very well,″ Charles said of his son as a driver. Then acknowledged, ``I haven’t actually had the experience of being driven by him.″

William and Harry are home at Highgrove from their boarding school, Eton.

Press Association, the British news agency, said the three princes plan a Mediterranean cruise on the yacht of Greek shipping millionaire John Latsis, and will also spend time at Balmoral, Queen Elizabeth II’s Scottish estate.

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