Rolling down London's Mall in a carriage built for Queen Victoria was Queen Elizabeth, 62, followed by her mum, the 87-year-old Queen Mother, and that greener symbol of Windsor vitality, Prince William. Though Wills is not likely to be king until well into the 21st century, he displayed a bit of the manner to which he is born when he offered spectators a magisterial wave during the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony, which marked Queen Elizabeth's official birthday, June 11. So how come William was acting as if it were his party?

Obviously he was just keeping in practice. William Arthur Philip Louis turns 6 on June 21. As if to underscore Wills's new maturity, his 3-year-old brother, Harry, acted particularly childishly for his grandmother's birthday, sticking out his tongue at the crowd back at Buckingham Palace. Big brother, meanwhile, appeared to flirt with his girl relatives, including Lady Gabriella, 7, Lady Rose, 8, and Lady Davina, 10, and is reported to be advanced in other areas too. "William has been able to read for some time now," a royal aide said recently. "He can pick up a newspaper and understand almost all of it. Only the longest words defeat him."

Yet William's attainments have not made him a drudge. He and Harry recently returned from a vacation—without their folks—on England's Isles of Scilly. There they spent the Scilly season digging for crabs in the sand.