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'African' queen for Wills party

Monarch 'apprehensive' about wearing fancy dress


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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Britain's Prince William -- the man set to be king after his father, Prince Charles -- is to celebrate his 21st birthday with a royal "Out of Africa" fancy dress party at Windsor Castle.

William told in a birthday interview with the UK's Press Association to mark his coming of age how he thought it would be fun to see members of the royal family -- including Queen Elizabeth II -- in African fancy dress.

The birthday prince -- second in line to the throne after Charles -- has invited more than 300 family and friends to Saturday night's party -- themed "Out of Africa."

In the interview as well as talking about the party, the student prince talks about continuing the legacy of his mother, Princess Diana, and the influence of his father -- whom he said had been given "a hard time" and deserved better.

The prince said he was looking forward to Saturday evening's party at Windsor.

Senior royals and university students, all in fancy dress, will take to the dance floor to music performed by a band and a DJ.

William said: "I thought it would be quite fun to see the family out of black tie and get everyone to dress up. It just gives it a bit of character."

In the run-up to the party, William still had not decided on his own costume. "I'm a little bit stuck on what to wear," he said. "I haven't thought much about it."

Laughing, he said: "The party is on my birthday, June 21 -- my 21st on the 21st, which is Midsummer's Day, the longest day of the year and the longest night for a lot of people who are helping to organize it."

He added: "My grandmother may be slightly apprehensive as to what she's going to wear, and what's going to happen, but she's very much looking forward to it. She's very positive towards the whole thing."

Then with a hint of fun in his voice, William added: "I don't know what she's going to wear but I'm sure she'll look very amazing in whatever she chooses."

Party guests would be sitting down to dinner, rather than having a buffet, but the menu would not be too exotic.

"We're not going to go drown the whole party in an African theme," said William. "The dress is African and the tables will be decorated, along with the rooms.

"Lots of people will be wondering if we're actually going to be eating crocodile, but obviously we won't be doing that," he said with a wide grin.

"It's not going to be African food, even though it will be hilarious to see everyone's faces when they read the menu!

"We sent out just over 300 invitations -- lots of family and lots of my friends, and my brother and my father have invited friends.

"There'll be the immediate family and also Godparents."

Playing for the prince at the party are Shakarimba, a marimba band from the west-African village of Shakawe, Botswana.

William heard the six-piece combo while on holiday in Botswana in 1999. The band members play on their own instruments made of mukwa wood.

"William was so impressed by the band that he invited them to his party," a St James's Palace spokeswoman told PA.


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