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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June 2003, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Rap poem marks William's 21st
Prince William, DJ Floyd D and Prince Charles
DJ Floyd D shows Prince William how to mix during a visit to Newport

Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has written a poem in rap form to celebrate Prince William's 21st birthday on Saturday.

His tribute entitled On The Record - published below - consists of a "kind of rap" and a sonnet, Mr Motion said.

The poems are designed to reflect the prince as a "new kind of royal figure" who retains traditional responsibilities.

Prince William is known to be a fan of comic rapper Ali G and was said to have been influenced by him when doing some DJ work during his gap year in South America in 2000.

Here is the rap poem, the "A side" of Mr Motion's tribute:

The Prince on Tortel Radio in Southern Chile, December 2000
Prince William did a DJ slot during his gap year in South America

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.

Better stand back
Here's an age attack,
But the second in line
Is dealing with it fine.

It's a sign of what's to come,
A start, and then some;
It's a difference growing,
A younger sort of knowing.

It's a childhood gone,
A step towards the crown;
It's a trigger of change,
A stretching of the range.

Better stand back
Here's an age attack,
But the second in line
Is dealing with it fine.

In contrast, here is the "B-side", in more traditional prose form:

Is twenty-one the threshold any more?
Why not eighteen? Whatever. Most of us
Can choose which line we draw between the past
And future; we can call our lives our own.

But you're not 'most of us'. You cannot tear
Yourself from your inheritance, or pass
Unnoticed to find out what suits you best.
You stand apart but never stand alone.

That's what our 'happy birthday' means today:
A wish that you'll be free to claim your life
While destiny connects with who you are -
A Prince and yet familiar common clay;
Your father's heir but true to your own faith;
A mother's son and silvered by her star.

Mr Motion said the form of the poem with its A and B sides was inspired by vinyl LPs and 45s.

"They're both meant to suggest that Prince William is a new kind of royal figure, but still faces many of the old pressures and responsibilities," he said.


We asked for your views on Mr Motion's verse. Here is a selection of your responses:

I think the rap poem thing was really bad. Prince William looks really confused.
Hattie, England

"Better stand back it's an age attack", eh? I can see why they made him Poet Laureate, Ms Dynamite watch out. I reckon my Dad could ape "yoof" culture better than that.
Dave Darkside, UK

I am genuinely appalled at the standard of Motion's birthday "rap". The biggest rule on imitating style is that you can actually do it well - this sounds amateurish and misses the mark entirely. Nice idea, badly executed, I'm afraid. William deserves better.
Justin Webb, UK

Goodness gracious me. Our poet laureate is wasting his time - and his sadly limited talent, it seems - producing this kind of bilge. Dear, dear me. Tennyson would be turning in his grave.
Matt Vaughan, England

The rap is, uhhh, interesting. As a 26 year old who enjoys rap, I'm not too sure I'd be eagerly tearing the wrapping off of that particular CD, but it's a nice try, anyway. The "B-side" is truly lovely and rather moving. A pleasure to read.
Erin, France

The greatest argument for the abolition of the monarchy yet.
Clive, London

Andrew Motion is an epically awful poet. How he got the job of Laureate is beyond me (crown does not rhyme with gone, by the way)
Olly Newton, England

God spare us from this tosh. Before they even think of dismantling the royal family, first boot out the poet laureate and the dreadful Mr Motion. I cringe with embarrassment on his behalf.
CCC, England

My ten year old could do better! Does everything have to be dumbed down?
F.McKenna

Whoa! Go Wills happy 21st birthday!
Josephine Irish, Montserrat

Cromwell would not have been so cruel to the Royal Family.
Alasdair Semple, USA (UK expat)

Excruciating. I'm not sure what's worse: the royal family or poets being hip.
Alun Ford, UK

Oh. My. That is so terribly wrong, stomach turningly awful. It's middle aged men everywhere trying desperately to be relevant, it's my Dad saying "hey, cool man!" over and over again, it's my grandmother wearing a miniskirt.
Arthur Taylor, USA / UK

Andrew Motion ain't no Slim Shady. Rock is dead, and now so too is poetry.
Charles W. A. Prior, Canada

The rap should have been written by Benjamin Zephaniah, whom I feel is far more of an interesting poet than Motion. The sonnet is the better poem.
Andrew Downie, United Kingdom

Both rap and prose seemed apropos for this young prince-in-waiting. While he waits, his life will grow as he will also. He needs all the luck, compassion and fortitude necessary for such a highly visible persona.
Sean John Reidy, East Greenwich, R I USA

I am 71 yrs of age & cannot believe I have been moved to make a comment in this public way. I found the rap poem really ,really endearing & embracing of the new multicultural age generation of Prince William. Excellent!
Mrs Margaret Robinson, England

The 'rap' poem might well go down in history as the cringiest piece of prose ever.
Alexander Sirbu, France

I think it's brilliant! The person who came up with it is very talented. A rap is a cool way to celebrate the prince's birthday!
Rory Windsor, United Kingdom

I loved both sides but the B side made me teary-eyed. Well done!
Lue Roberts, USA

I think Andrew Motion's Birthday poem for Prince William's 21st is great, and a clever idea to do two forms, modern and traditional.
Angela Johnson, England

Poetry must evolve and recognise the moment, and the rap poem is fitting. Linton Kwesi Johnson is one of only two living poets to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics, yet at the time his poetry caused heated debate.
Paul, Battersea London

I think this is dreadful. It is a poor attempt to be 'modern' - sometimes tradition is not such a bad thing
Chloe Smythe Horton, England

For this reason alone should the monarchy be abolished. Diabolical
Becky, England

That is an absolutely appalling Rap! It's an embarrassment to the world of Rap and everything that goes with it! Maybe Eminem should have been asked to write it, it would have been a LOT better and being an Eminem fan, I'm sure William would have appreciated it more than the one he got!
Vic Roy, England

I'd like to think that Harry (at least) will have already berated it! Probably employing the words "spoon" and "pants" amongst others in his prosaic vocabulary.
Al Blaney, UK

It's an opportunity lost A traditional mess; Soul-free, patronising, I'm unimpressed!
Liz Finch, UK

A poet laureate's work for the royal prince's birthday is a charming if slightly anachronistic idea. But his attempt to be relevant and contemporary defeats the purpose. which is a metaphor for the state of the monarchy i think. King-wise, the best William can hope to achieve is scott-of-the-antarctic type dignity and a five star lifestyle. meanwhile, he's 21 and posh at a time when it's deeply un-hip to be posh. PS. if this poet had any respect for the rap form he would not have pastiched it like this.
James, Spain

I think that the Poet Laureate has created something interesting here, and one could say that it is a sign of the times and of multiculturalism to have a rap as a birthday celebratory prose. I both like it and find it wrong. I like the fact that the rap is new and "hip" , but sometimes i think that the b-side alone would have been better, in a traditional way. If the Prince likes it, then job's a good 'un.
James Sharples, Leipzig, germany

What a load of nonsense. An archaic institution trying to sound hip - and failing badly. Viva La Republique !
Simon Watkins, Wales

Why not use Ali G to create a rap poem to celebrate the birthday? After all he is William's idol and he's got what it takes! Why not have more than one poet laureate?
Gaby Esser-Hall, New Zealand

What an insult to talented rappers - true linguistic swordsmen who bring life to rhyme and rhyme to life. The Royals should modernise by being real and honest about who they are and how they feel rather than pandering to what they think the world wants to hear.
Steve Cahill, UK

Andrew is stirring another eMotion As he rapped up his new birthday gift Would Shaky approve, or Burns make a move At this poetic paradigm shift? At least the debate brings the art form to life Regardless of how well its done Its not the best rap, but for those in a flap It seems that the Laureate's won
Jim Cornall, England (currently living in Canada)

I'm a republican, but even I wouldn't wish this poem on Prince William.
Matthew Chandler, England

Is that rap with a silent 'c', then?
Jennifer, Oxford, England

OK, so it's no Eminem. Yes, it is quite corny, but Prince William is a good guy. Happy Birthday man.
Travis, USA

I think the rapper made a good try on making a poem to honor the Prince. I thought part A was good. Part B was confusing at some parts. But I thought it was a good effort.
Amber J-W, United States

thats hilarious! and also, dreadful. i'm canadian and i'm feeling embarassed all the way from here in toronto. i'm so sorry, Prince Wills.
yas,




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