November 30, 2005 01:00 PM

In a move reminiscent of the compassionate tours of duty undertaken by Princess Diana, Prince William paid a visit to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London on Monday and then spent Tuesday at another of the hospital’s sites.

Like his mother, who would visit hospitals at night in order to make sure the events were as low-key as possible, William, 23, made his calls with a minimum of fuss, unencumbered by bodyguards.

Significantly, Royal Marsden was one of six patronages that Diana still held at the time of her 1997 death. Insiders say that it’s too early to talk of William’s taking on another sponsorship himself – his first is with a charity for the homeless – but that he’s trying to increase his understanding of cancer treatment, a topic of interest to both his late mother and to his father, Prince Charles.

Last week, William also completed a three-week stint at various financial institutions in the city. In fact, he took first place in a stock-picking contest while working at HSBC bank. Next up for the young royal? Some daring work with a mountain rescue unit in the hills of Wales, before joining the rest of the royal family for Christmas.

In other royal news, on Tuesday night Barbara Walters anointed Charles’s wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, the most fascinating person of 2005, over such runners-up as Tom Cruise, Lance Armstrong, Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher.

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