Prince William is 21 years old today. 21 years ago this fact would have had the British nation celebrating with street parties, Union Jack bunting and a set of four commemorative plates bought from an advert on the back page of the Radio Times. Not any more. The Royal coming of age has been largely ignored by the public, who all seem far more interested in Prince Harry instead. That's Harry Potter, of course, the new pretender to the nation's hearts. Today's street parties were held outside bookshops in honour of Harry, not William. Groupies will spend the afternoon sunburning in their gardens, flicking eagerly through the latest 768-page volume, not sticking their birthday stamps into a commemorative album. Even the death of a Hogwarts character, however minor he turns out to be, can create many more column inches in the media than the departure of a minor royal.
The Royal family are fighting back at this literary assault on their popularity by attempting to appear more in tune with British youth culture. Prince William was seen in Wales this week assisting DJ Floyd J with his scratching. The suit and tie may have been a serious sartorial mistake, but being pictured behind some record decks makes for a good photo opportunity. William admits he downloads most of his music off the internet, is known to be a fan of comic rapper Ali G and did some DJ work during his gap year in South America in 2000. The rebel. Maybe a name-change to Billy W isn't too far away. Today the Poet Laureate has written a commemorative rap to celebrate the prince's 21st, complete with A-side poem and B-side poem. Yes, it's as poor as it sounds.
Better stand back Here's an age attack, But the second in line Is dealing with it fine.
It's a threshold, a gateway, A landmark birthday; It's a turning of the page, A coming of age.
It's a day to celebrate, A destiny, a fate; It's a taking to the wing, A future thing.
The rap continues in that vein, if not worse, but at least nobody's tried to record it and hype it into the pop charts. Yet. It may be badly misjudged, but at least it's not as dreadful a piece of modern literature as the trendy text message version of the Lord's Prayer I saw on an official church website earlier in the week [Gsus said... dad@hvn, ur spshl. we want wot u want &urth2b like hvn]. Maybe J K Rowling has the right idea after all, basing her timeless stories of heroes and wizards in the traditional world of a Blyton-esque boarding school. The British public seem all too happy to lap up this fairy-tale world of nostalgia, an area the Royal Family once had sewn up for themselves. Have we elevated Harry above William, and Gryffindor house above the House of Windsor?