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Video: Prince Harry: ‘I’m three different people’

TODAY contributor
updated 6/1/2009 9:00:09 AM ET 2009-06-01T13:00:09

The youngest son of Princess Diana is a different man than he was just two years ago. In fact, said Prince Harry during his first-ever trip to New York City, he’s three different men.

“I think deep down inside, I’m three different people. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” the 24-year-old soldier, royal playboy and man of the people told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in his only interview during the visit. All three of those roles were on display during the two-day stop in New York City.

Three different worlds
On Friday, the British Army lieutenant, who served in combat in Afghanistan, laid a wreath at the site of the World Trade Center and met with firefighters who had lost colleagues and friends in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Saturday morning, he visited the Harlem Children’s Zone, a community-based organization that seeks to empower families to help themselves out of poverty.

That afternoon, he assisted on the winning goal in a charity polo match on the city’s Governors Island.

Lauer spoke to Prince Harry after the Veuve Clicquot polo match, which drew an A-list crowd that included Madonna, actresses Kate Hudson and Chloe Sevigny and rapper LL Cool J. The event was free to the public, but guests in the VIP tent paid from $50,000 a table down to $500 a head to picnic on the lawn.

“You walk in your life with one foot in one kind of world and one foot in another,” Lauer remarked.

“Bowlegged,” the royal quipped, displaying his signature self-effacing wit.

“You’re playing polo, the sport of kings, yet this morning, you were at a children’s center in Harlem. Do you ever find it difficult, Harry, to kind of make the transition between those worlds?” Lauer asked.

“Massively,” the man sometimes dubbed the “Party Prince” by British tabloids admitted. “I think you have to sort of jump from place to place. And you have to go along with the situation that you’re in. And it’s very different — wherever you are, different places, different people.

“You’ve just got to roll with it. I hope I’m doing all right by that.”

Coming to America
Harry had visited America with his mother before her death in a car accident in Paris in 1997, but this was his first time in New York City. Two years ago, he and his elder brother, Prince William, had sat down in London for an extensive interview with Lauer prior to the 10th anniversary of Diana’s death.

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Image: Prince Harry at the World Trade Center site
Chris Jackson  /  Getty Images
At the site of the World Trade Center, Prince Harry laid a wreath to pay his respects to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
At the time, Harry was already in the British Army and contemplating being assigned to combat duty, something he felt obliged to do. Since then, he’s served in combat in Afghanistan, and he told Lauer the experience has been life-altering.

“I don’t think anyone can really describe it. It’s the same for everybody. I mean, American, British, you know, or any countries that are in Afghanistan at the moment. The guys out there will try and explain to their loved ones and other people what it’s like, but unless you’re actually out there with the boys, with the guys — when everyone’s out there, you’re all brothers, no matter what nation you’re from. And it’s just an amazing feeling. And it does — it changes you.”

The prince is heavily involved in Sentebale, the charity he set up with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to help poor children and AIDS orphans in that small nation in southern Africa.

“Prince Seeiso and I both lost our mothers when we were very young,” Harry said in brief public remarks before Saturday’s polo match. “We set up Sentebale in their memory. And because my mother loved this city, it makes this occasion all the more poignant for me.”

Prince Harry said serving in combat duty in Afghanistan changed him.

Sobering visit
Harry said he was enjoying his first real taste of America. “It’s absolutely fantastic,” he told Lauer. “It really is. I’ve been treated so well by everybody. And just the accommodating-ness of the American people has been truly fantastic.”

He confessed to being unable to hide his emotions when he visited Ground Zero. “I was slightly surprised. I mean, I don’t let myself get moved by too much, especially in public. But it was very surprising to be down there and to just sort of see the scale of it … Just very, very, very moving,” he said.

Slideshow: Prince Harry charms U.S. On a lighter note, Lauer asked Harry if he’d been following “Britain’s Got Talent,” and if so, what he thought of Susan Boyle’s chances of winning that competition. The interview took place before the finals of the show took place, but the prince proved to be a prophet.

“Susan Boyle — I think she’s fantastic. But let’s be honest, I think she’s going to get the fame no matter what. And she’s going to get the opportunity to sing in front of thousands,” he said.

“Are you telling me you don’t think she’s going to win?” Lauer asked.

“I think that’s exactly what I'm saying,” Harry replied.

The prediction, like everything else the royal visitor did during his New York stay, was spot-on.

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