31 MAY 2004

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Prince William got to grips with some farm chores at the weekend, when he spent the day helping out on his father's estate. The 21-year-old was shown how to check sheep and lambs for foot rot at the Prince of Wales' Duchy Home Farm near Highgrove.

With a little help from shepherd Ken Foster, Wills got to work by taking a bleating lamb from the flock and making sure its hooves were all healthy. But his next charge, a 13-stone ewe, proved rather more challenging. The statuesque prince had to use all his strength to wrestle the reluctant animal to the ground. But he soon got the better of the creature and, after checking her hooves, signalled the all-clear.

William - who has often been less at ease in the presence of the press than his younger brother Harry - seemed particularly confident and relaxed as he laboured in front of journalists and cameramen. Showing off his driving skills by using a tractor to clear a field of thistles, he quipped: "If anyone wants their lawn cut, give me a ring."

The rural photocall was staged as part of an agreement between Clarence House and the media to allow the Prince privacy the rest of the year. And staff at the farm seemed impressed with their royal helper's talent for animal-husbandry. "William spent much of his childhood here," revealed manager David Wilson. "Both he and Harry would help out with the lambing each year. He would make a good farmer."

The prince has meanwhile been dropped as captain of St Andrew's University water polo team. Apparently it was decided to replace him because he has been unable to attend regular training sessions.


Wills makes a fleecy friend at the Gloucestershire farm. Some of the older animals weren't quite so cooperative, however
Photo: PA
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The proprieter of Duchy Home Farm was also on hand to keep an eye on his son's efforts
Photo: PA

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