Prince Harry Turns 21

updated 09/26/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/26/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

He's Still a Party Boy...
So, you're a prince and you want to let loose far from prying eyes? Prince Harry of Wales—who celebrates his 21st birthday Sept. 15—figured he'd licked the problem by piling a dozen chums on a two-story houseboat and going on safari in Botswana's remote Okavango Delta. Nice try. In the first week of September the prince joined girlfriend Chelsy Davy for a cruise aboard the Kubu Queen. "You could hear rap music and see Harry with a beer in his hand and smoking a cigarette," says one observer. "The locals said they saw loads of extra beers being delivered." Dressed in baggy shorts and T-shirts Harry fished too—while blasting rock on the ship's stereo. "It's bad," said one perturbed local fisherman. "It disturbs the hippos and the elephants."

... Who Can Be the Proper Prince
Back in England, Harry cleaned up his act. After Prince Charles's office let it be known his son wouldn't have a birthday party (news that likely brought despair to pub owners), Harry threw on a spiffy morning suit for the wedding of his new stepbrother, Tom Parker Bowles, in Oxfordshire Sept. 10. Harry—who went stag and boogied with a blonde not named Chelsy—"was in good form and well behaved," says Oliver Jones, a pal of bride Sara Buys. "He just blended in."

Can He Make the Grade?
When Harry returned to Sandhurst military academy, he began the grueling 14-week Term Two, which focuses more on academic studies than on physical training. Harry, who struggled at Eton, will have to write essays and give presentations about military law and history. Cadets falling seriously behind in a subject or two may find themselves "back-termed"—forced to repeat the coursework.

Good Show, Old Boy
If Harry is worried, he didn't let it show during his first television interview Sept. 9, set to broadcast on the magic day. "I was expecting a shuffling young man, but he was articulate and confident," says Sky News's Katharine Witty, who met Harry near the grounds of the Highgrove estate where he and brother William live. "He came across as a normal guy. He is thoughtful." Could it be? If Harry's actual birthday plans are any indication, yes. The prince, who has a four-year hitch in the army ahead of him, will spend the day "in a ditch in Sandhurst," says Witty, "then have a beer in the evening." Now that's a birthday commoners can relate to.

Alex Tresniowski. Simon Perry and Sara Hammel in London and Neil Michael in Oxfordshire

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