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Invading Wales for His First Proper Walkabout, a Confident Prince Wills Proves He's to the Handshake Born

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Like many an 8-year-old boy, he took one look at a camera and raced in the opposite direction. But not for long. Prince William, after all. is destined to spend a lifetime dealing with “the bloody vultures,” as his dad, Prince Charles, once characterized the photographers dogging his steps. They and the British nation were watching March 1, when Wills ventured to Wales to carry out his first formal engagement. Would their future King be William the Confident—or William the Cowed?

Before the people of Cardiff, his dad and his beaming mum, Wills turned in a gripping performance. Wearing a yellow daffodil in honor of St. David’s Day, the national day of Wales, Wills shook hands firmly and smiled broadly as he worked the crowd of 2,500. Keeping her eye, and occasionally a reassuring hand, on her son, Diana leaned over and asked, “Are you all right?” to which the young Prince replied, “How long is it lasting?”

While Charles nipped off after an hour to visit military wives at a nearby airfield, the future Prince of Wales (who had been granted the day off from Ludgrove School) executed his one official task by unveiling a six-foot plaque promoting the culture and commerce of Cardiff. Afterward he signed the visitors book—left-handed.

By outing’s end it was plain that the young Prince had inherited both his mother’s charm and her tendency to blush. Wills’s cheeks reddened when Lucy Willis, 9, handed him a bouquet of daffodils. “I gave him the flowers because my mum told me to,” Lucy explained later.

Iris Birleston, a 66-year-old grandmother, wasn’t so restrained. When the Prince approached, she leaned over the barricade and kissed him on the cheek. “I just could not resist it,” she said. “I hope the Princess didn’t mind.” Posterity will surely note she did not.