May 14, 2004 -- These are not your father's royals. They're a new generation with a pedigree walking a fine line between the sacred traditions of the past and the new rules for royalty in the 21st century.
Today's young royals drive their own cars, occasionally date commoners and hang out at London clubs, while also holding a place in line for a crown. Here's a look at some of Europe's young and privileged.
More Royal Tales: Prince for Hire | Script Made for Hollywood | Royally Risqué | Prince Without a Castle
Britain’s Bachelor Princes
Prince William is a 21-year-old superstar set to inherit $1 billion, not to mention the throne of England. Every time he flashes that doe-eyed grin the world thinks of his mother.
But while William has Diana's looks, it's 19-year-old Harry who is said to embody more of his mother's playful personality.
In many ways they're just like other teens. William drives a little too fast and racks up huge cell phone bills. Both boys like to party, and Harry, nicknamed the "King of Clubs," got himself into trouble at age 16.
But ultimately, they're still royalty. William is treated publicly like a pop star, according to Simon Perry, who covers the royals for People magazine. "He and Harry went to Vancouver with their dad, and it was all 'We love you, Will' banners and things like that," said Perry. "It may have been Britney Spears that got out of the Land Rover."
And like Spears, the young princes face scrutiny in the press.
"They have a love-hate relationship in many respects because they also know, especially as they're moving into adulthood now, that they need the press," said Perry.
"[If] we don't read about William and Harry then we don't connect with them."
The princes have learned to live in this media bubble, finding refuge behind the walls of their family's lavish palaces and enjoying discreet courtships while hiding in plain sight. The woman said to be Prince William's current girlfriend, Kate Middleton, is one of his college flatmates.
"For two academic years he's lived with the girl who's now his girlfriend. I understand that he's probably been dating her for at least a year," said Perry. He said the living situation is a good strategy for the high-profile romance. "He doesn't get seen leaving somewhere at 3 a.m. in the morning. Because, hey, the girlfriend's on his doorstep the whole time."
Perry described Middleton as "sporty" with a lot going for her. "She's quite tall, I think she's at least 5 [foot] 11 and he's 6 [foot] 3. So you need to be quite tall to even kiss him," said Perry.
If "Kiss Me Kate" is not a long-running show, William and his brother will continue to search for the perfect princess. And we'll keep an eye on them. We followed them from boyhood to bachelorhood and we can't stop watching.
Prince for Hire
Being a royal does not exclude you from employment, according to Prince Nikolaos of Greece.
He is the son of Constantine II, the last king of Greece, and has William and Harry as cousins. In his first network television interview, Nikolaos met with ABCNEWS in New York and London, where he leads a fairly normal life.
The Greek prince buys his own paper, eats fast food and drives and parks his own car. He also works, running the Anna Maria Foundation, a charity for disaster victims in Greece. He previously took a job in journalism.
"When I finished university I went to work for Fox TV in New York and I worked as a production assistant," Nikolaos told 20/20.
His colleagues had no idea he was a prince until video of his brother's wedding in England came in over the satellite feed.
As Nikolaos tells it, somebody looked at the screen and remarked, "Look, that's Nick, our PA. What's he doing there?"
He's also been spotted dating Elle McPherson and approves of romance between royals and commoners. "I think there's nothing worse than if you find someone that you like to marry and you can't," said Nikolaos. "Or even worse, like in the olden days, when they would actually force you in to the marriage. That's not going to work."
He may embrace new rules for royals, but Nikolaos very much clings to some of the old. For example, he's a smoker, but would not smoke when our cameras were rolling, as that would be very un-royal behavior.
Prince Nikolaos is also working to build the Anna Maria Foundation. For information, visit this Web site: http://www.greekroyalfamily.org/english/news/news_features19.html.
For more news on all things royal, visit Hello! magazine's Web site at http://www.hellomagazine.com.
A Script Made for Hollywood
A lot of ladies meet their "prince charming" at nightclubs or parties. But Mary Donaldson, an advertising manager from Australia, literally met a prince at a nightclub during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
The man whose acquaintance Donaldson made, and whose heart she would win, was the heir to the Danish throne — His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik.
"The first time we met or shook hands I did not know he was the crown prince of Denmark," Donaldson said. That's because when they met he introduced himself simply as "Fred."
"It was perhaps half an hour or so later that somebody came up to me and said, 'Do you know who these people are?' I said 'no,' and then we found out," Donaldson recalled.
Prince Frederik's life story not only fed the tabloids, it's the story behind Julia Stiles' recent Hollywood film, The Prince and Me.
To appreciate the unusual match of Prince Frederik and Donaldson, you need to go back to the beginning.
While Donaldson was growing up in a middle-class home half a world away, Frederik was already in line to be king. At the tender age of 3, after his grandfather died and his mother became queen, he became heir to the throne of Europe's oldest monarchy. He knew nothing of it until grade school.
"It didn't really coincide with an explanation. I was just told, OK, that you are next in line. You are actually going to become king," the crown prince said.
But his parents — Queen Margarethe II and the French-born Prince Henrik — went out of their way to give the crown prince and his brother a normal childhood. He even studied abroad for a year at Harvard.
Like his British cousins — William and Harry — Frederik, 35, lives on an allowance, nearly $700,000 a year. But unlike the Windsors, he comes and goes as he pleases — even driving himself around town.
Athletic and fiercely competitive, Frederik joined all three branches of his country's armed services, even landing a rare spot in the Danish version of the Navy SEALs.
Images of the rugged, handsome crown prince make for front-page news nearly every week, though his love life has grabbed the most attention. His past girlfriends include a lingerie model and a pop star.
Anna Johannesen, a reporter with Denmark's weekly royal magazine, broke the story of the crown prince's secret relationship. She snapped the first pictures of then 29-year-old Mary Donaldson, the daughter of an Australian college professor.
Until then, the yearlong romance had been hush-hush. Far from the watchful eye of the Danish media, the relationship between working girl and future king had flourished.
Prince Frederik finally proposed to Donaldson — with his mother's royal blessing, of course. But even this modern prince was still required to have a formal stamp of approval from the Danish parliament for his bride-to-be.
She got it. And today, Frederik and Donaldson walked down the aisle in a lavish ceremony in Copenhagen.
Though she was born a commoner, Donaldson appears much more demure than some of today's young princesses. Being a princess was once very formal job — it seemed to be about smiling and waving at people. But when today's young princesses wave and smile, you might just see the flash of a tongue stud, or they may be accompanied by an illegitimate son whose father is a past boyfriend with a drug conviction.
ABCNEWS consultant John Kennedy publishes the Almanach de Gotha, the official Who's Who of Royalty. Years ago, royals could only marry people who were listed in the book. If you married outside the book, you lost real things. "You were out of the family, out of the title, out of the inheritance, out of the pension, out of everything. Out on the street," Kennedy said.
But today's royals are pushing the boundaries — publicly. Monaco's Princess Stephanie, the younger daughter of Prince Rainier III and the late Grace Kelly, is the poster child for "bad girl" princesses.
Stephanie's tried singing, modeling, getting tattoos and dating movie stars like Rob Lowe, and members of the palace staff. She married her bodyguard, whom she then divorced after he was caught by a photographer guarding the body of a Belgian stripper. She's now married to a circus acrobat.
In stuffier England, Zara Phillips, the granddaughter of the queen, got publicity for more minor offenses such as having a pierced tongue, getting photographed drinking beer, and fighting with a live-in boyfriend.
Decades ago, Zara's aunt, Princess Margaret, was considered the bad girl merely for doing things like smoking and falling in love with a divorced man.
"I think Prince Charles was probably the last heir to the throne that had to marry someone that had no past, hadn't been with anybody. That made it pretty difficult at the age of 40," Kennedy said. "Short of raiding a monastery or a kindergarten, where was he going to find such a bride?"
After Diana and Charles, Kennedy says, we're seeing a new type of princess bride. "All of them have got a past, they've got a history, they've been through scandals."
Like Norway's Crown Princess Mette-Marit, a former commoner with a young son born out of wedlock. Before she married Crown Prince Haakon in 2001, Mette-Marit went on Norwegian television and made a tearful apology for her past wild partying.
Charlotte Casiraghi, Princess Caroline of Monaco's 17-year-old daughter, has grown up to be the new focus of the paparazzi because she's beautiful. The press is already talking about her marrying Prince William. The only problem — she's never met him.
So, what's the job of the modern princess? "Try and keep out of the gossip columns as much as possible," said Kennedy.
Prince Without a Castle
But not all royal heirs these days are able to claim their thrones. Italy's Prince Emmanuele Filiberto, prince of Venice and Piedmont, has lived his life in exile as millions of tourists drink in the rich history and culture of Italy.
His family's misfortune stems from World War II, when his grandfather made an ill-conceived decision to support Benito Mussolini's laws that led to the deportation and murder of thousands of Italian Jews.
When the war ended, the throne was abolished and the royal clan was cast into exile. A constitutional ban prevented members of the House of Savoy from entering Italy.
Fifty-seven years later, Prince Emmanuele, 33, longed for his roots and was ready to say what he believed should have been said from the start. "It's a terrible thing," he said of his ancestor's alliance with Mussolini. "It's disgusting. I apologize, but not just apologize myself. I apologize on the name of all Italians."
With the prince's magical apology, the government lifted the ban. Of course there would be no return to monarchy, but the Savoy family, which once ruled all of Italy, was able to come home.
Finally the prince had his country. Now all he needed was his princess.
Enter the lovely French actress, Clotilde Courau, three years his elder, she captured the heart of a prince.
When word of the romance came out, the prince's homecoming turned rocky. Though his title is ceremonial only, there was still consternation over the prince dating a commoner.
Especially when it turned out that the princess-to-be was also a mother-to-be. But the public eventually came around and welcomed the new princess. And now the prince is papa to the newest member of the Savoy dynasty, Vittoria. Her royal father says he has a simple wish for her future.
"I would like my daughter to have a normal life. It sounds stupid to say — to have normal friends, to play games that everyone plays. To be like everyone else."
That's not likely. Just a few months old, Vittoria has already appeared on the cover of a magazine. Once a royal, always a royal.