May 09, 2005 12:00 PM

Bedsheets must be ironed, creased down the center and crisply tucked in at the corners at sharp angles. Clothes must be folded to the size of a sheet of paper. And shoes should be polished for hours to get that perfect reflection.

Instructions for Buckingham Palace maids? Not exactly. But after 44 weeks of training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Camberley, England, Prince Harry will be able to teach the servants a thing or two about scrubbing toilets. When Harry enters the 200-year-old college on May 8, he’ll begin a 14-week boot camp, rising at 5 a.m. for marching drills (learning how to march at up to 160 paces per minute and in formation), lectures on military strategy and completing a 35-mile nighttime hike. “You find yourself saying, ‘That’s not possible,’ but you come out the other end,” says cadet Samantha Toop, 23.

Royal perks? Not a one. Harry will be called Officer Cadet Wales or simply Mr. Wales and earn $25,000 for military service. Along with other cadets—including princes from Bhutan, Saudi Arabia and Albania—he’ll sleep in a 15-ft.-by-15-ft. room equipped with a sink, wardrobe and bed (lights out at 11 p.m.) and share a communal bathroom—which he’ll take turns cleaning—with 30 others in his platoon. At least he’ll have some sympathy from his dad, Prince Charles, who has said he found his initial stint at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, a “shock to the system.”

“It’s all about decivilianizing you,” says a former Sandhurst cadet, “getting you into a military way of thinking.”

For Harry—whose closest brush with combat has been tussling with photographers outside a London nightclub—it should come as quite a change. “Some of these young people have been used to working for four hours and sleeping for 20,” says Sandhurst Commandant Maj. Gen. Andrew Ritchie, 51. “We reverse the cycle.” At graduation, the gung ho Windsor will join an army regiment such as the Welsh Guards for three years and could serve in Iraq or Afghanistan. “Harry would have to go where his regiment goes,” says royals author Brian Hoey. “He wouldn’t want it any other way.”

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