Prince Harry pledges to carry on with his mother's work

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When Prince Harry turns 18 today he still won't be allowed to vote – but at least he'll be able to enjoy a lawful drink.

When Prince Harry turns 18 today he still won't be allowed to vote – but at least he'll be able to enjoy a lawful drink.

Yesterday he gave a full and frank interview to the Press Association, the national press agency, in which he attempted to put his drinking and cannabis-smoking days behind him and look forward to a lifetime of rather worthier royal engagements.

"That was a mistake and I learnt my lesson," the Prince said, adding: "It was never my intention to be that way."

To mark his birthday, his mother's favourite photographer, Mario Testino, better known for his work with models, took a set of pictures, four of which are released today. The pictures will be part of a Buckingham Palace attempt to rebrand Prince Harry as a model royal rather than a less than model teenager.

The Prince said in his interview that he wants to follow in the footsteps of his mother, whose death in 1997 came days before his 13th birthday.

"She had more guts than anybody," he said, "the way she got close to people and went for the charities and organisations that everybody else was too scared to go near, such as landmines in the Third World and Aids. I want to carry on the things that she didn't quite finish. I have always wanted to, but was too young. I would like to think that she would want William and myself to continue, but I've got to settle down to my A-levels first."

Harry started his final year at Eton last week.

On Thursday, on a day of engagements in London to mark his birthday, he visited disadvantaged youngsters in West Ham, sick children at Great Ormond Street Hospital – of which his mother was president – and homeless children in Camberwell. He also said he was donating the money raised from the sale of his "fashion" photos to the media to a little-known charity called Merlin, which provides health care for people in Africa.

In what appeared to be a sideswipe at Ken Wharfe, the bodyguard who detailed Princess Diana's private life in a tell-all book, he said: "The fifth anniversary of her death was important because she wasn't remembered in a way I would have liked."

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