The royal acknowledges he's been accused of wasting money for "joyriding"

By Ellen Tumposky
Updated May 09, 2008 06:00 AM
Michael Dunlea/Solo/ZUMA

Prince William openly acknowledged the controversy surrounding his military helicopter flights during a public appearance Thursday.

During a visit to a community center in Penygraig, Wales, William told Mildred Francis, 82, “I’m working on my license. I’m trying to do as much flying as I can.” Then he added with a smile, “But I’ve been accused of wasting money – joyriding.”

“He said he’s got into a bit of trouble for flying,” Francis told reporters, “but he was very nice about it.”

Last month, William was called a “show off” by one British paper when he landed a chopper in a field behind girlfriend Kate Middleton’s family home. The prince has been trained to fly a Chinook as part of his stint with the Royal Air Force. At the time the Ministry of Defense rushed to William’s aid saying it was part of his ongoing instruction.

Earlier on Thursday, William, dressed in gray suit and red striped tie, visited a bleak public housing project in the picturesque Rhondda valleys, where he defeated Martin James, 18, in a Nintendo Wii tennis game. “You know you’re not allowed to beat me,” he joked to James.

While at the apartments, William also watched a group of children from the Valley Kids project break-dance. Jessica James, 9, asked him if he was going to be the king of England when he gets older.

“Not yet. It’s far away,” he told her.

Later, he knelt down to chat with younger children who were waving Welsh flags and asked many of them “rugby or football?” The answer was “rugby” in an area of Britain where the sport is dominant.

The kids gave him good reviews. Carly Davies, 10, declared of the royal: “Kind, nice, gentle face, pleasant, fancy suit.”