At one point in their interview with TODAY co-host Matt Lauer, Prince William and Prince Harry said they'll never be normal. But over the two-day broadcast of their conversation, what stands out is just how normal they are.
They are hounded by paparazzi, their every public sighting chronicled in the breathless tabloid press. They are analyzed, characterized, dehumanized but rarely sanitized. And yet when they are together, they are just two brothers who share a heritage, a family, a history and a lot of teasing fun.
Harry, at 22 the younger of the two and also the more chatty one, feels their ability to accept what they are is because, unlike a famous athlete or rock star, they did not have fame thrust upon them as a consequence of what they became, but rather were born to lives that have been public from the day of their births.
"I think it's very different when you're famous for sport, famous for this and this," he told Lauer. "We were born into it. So if you're born into it, I think it's normal to feel as though you don't really want it, if that makes sense.
"You don't really think about it, you know?" William said, picking up the thought. "You just take every day as it comes and get on with stuff."
They say they rarely see more than a snippet of the things that are written about them, their own self-image not dependent on what others say about them.
They can't do many of the things in public that private citizens do, but that's not something that was taken away from them. They never had that ability.
Hounded by photographers
It can be difficult, Harry said, particularly when it comes to dating. When he and girlfriend Chelsy Davy vacationed in the Caribbean, it seemed nearly everything they did ended up on the front pages of the tabloids.
"You always find yourself hiding somewhere and doing something that you don't really want to be doing," he said. "Why? Because you just don't want to get photographed."
Lauer asked whether that made it difficult for a couple to get to know each other.
"It's difficult," Harry said. "But the private time that we have, it's amazing. And that's the way we want it to be. That's the way we want it to stay."
Lauer asked William whether the media coverage of his relationship with Kate Middleton was a factor in their break-up.
"No," he said. "What I do with my private life is really between me and — and myself basically. I don't listen to newspapers. I don't take any advice from them."
"Do you read any of it?" Lauer asked.
"Well, you occasionally see a bit of it here and there," he said. "But you just let it wash over you, you know? I'm bigger than that. I don't need the press to tell me what to do."
Created stars often get whiny and prickly when talking about their lives.
Many love to talk about how difficult it is for them.
But William and Harry never complained, never whined. When Lauer talked about how difficult it must be for them to make friends because they can never be sure of the motives of people they meet, they instead talked about how difficult it is for their friends to hang out with the heirs to the throne.
"You gotta understand that it's just as hard for our friends as it is for us," said Harry. "There's a massive element of trust.. . . The reason I say that is because our friends have to put up with a lot when it comes to us."
Their image in the United States, where they had never been interviewed on television until they sat down with Lauer, might be different than it is in Great Britain, Lauer suggested. What followed was an exchange of quips and jibes that brought out the self-deprecating best in both.
Lauer started it by suggesting: "Let me talk a little bit about your image in terms of in the United States separately."
William: "We have an image? That's news to me."
Harry: "It can't be good."
Lauer: "All right, William, you're seen probably as studious, thoughtful, dutiful, proper."
Harry: "Was that 'dutiful' or 'beautiful?'"
William: "And beautiful."
Lauer: "Dutiful and beautiful."
William: "Just, just…"
Lauer: "So Harry, how close is that in describing your brother?"
William: "Now, be honest. Don't just come out and go "It's all rubbish.""
Harry: "Well, I think it’s - you can't really ask me because I'm his brother, so I see a different side of him. But, you know…"
Lauer: "So how would you describe him?"
Harry: "No, you don't want to know that. No, I'm sure that's fantastic that the American people think that of William. I think there's, I mean, as long, as long as we want to be fools, we can…"
Lauer: "Well, what is the thing that-- that people should know about William that they don't know?"
William: "Just a legend."
Harry: "No, I don't know. He enjoys himself more than people think. You know, he works very hard. He's definitely the more intelligent one of the two of us - as I'm sure that's the next point that's going to come up."
Lauer: "I wasn't going to say that at all."
Harry: "What do you mean 'Don't put myself down?' You're knocking me down the whole time!"
Lauer: "So are you telling me, William, that Harry is not a little more volatile, carefree, a bit of a wild thing?"
William: "Oh, he's a wild thing, all right. Yeah."
No wonder that, when people meet them, their response , according to Harry, often is: "'You're so not what I thought you were.'"
To which the princes will respond: "'Well, what did you think?'" And hear back: "'Oh, I best not say it to your face.'"
"Well, thanks a lot."
Despite all they've been through, from the separation and divorce of their parents, to the media pursuit of their mother, Lady Diana, to her tragic death in Paris 10 years ago, they are, William insisted, "very lucky. We have lots of things that we are very fortunate to have. We have a house. We have, all these sort of nice things around us. And so, we're grateful for that because so many people don't have that."
"We've had a good education," added Harry. "Doesn't show but we have.
"And we are very privileged, in many ways, and we're very lucky. And we're very grateful for that."
Most of all, they know who they are, and what their obligations are in life.
"At the end of the day, neither of us care much about images," William said.
"We're ourselves. And if what gets reported and what people make up that assumption or their opinions is, is up to them. But we don't go about trying to do anything we wouldn't normally do."