The future king of England comes of age this Saturday, as Prince William clocks up 21 years.
In contrast with his grandmother's 21st which was declared a public holiday and marked by a broadcast to the Empire, William's having a private party, giving an interview and releasing a few photographs.
"I think 18 is a more significant birthday - you can vote, you can legally go to the pub... Twenty-one isn't the key to the door it used to be," says student Anna Huq, who shares her birth date with Prince William.
Are you about to turn 21? Is it a coming of age for you, or is turning 18 the bigger milestone nowadays?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:
I have recently had my 21st birthday and it was a complete non-event. I don't feel any more mature just for being 21. I think 18 is now the bigger milestone as that is when you are legally an adult.
Happy Birthday to Prince William. I am so happy to see he appears to have the beautiful spirit of his Mom, and the strength of his Dad, Prince Charles. A great combination! I once wrote a Poem for his Mom, I shall have it copyrighted and perhaps published some day. I am so happy to see that "Will" respects his dad and wants the public to know his family better. I wish him happiness and success always, from America!
I heavily celebrated both my 18 and 21 birthdays, although reaching 21 felt more of a milestone. I think culture has a lot to do with it, and although the current laws lend towards 18 being the more important age, culturally and historically 21 is still seen as the bigger milestone. And at 21 (at least for me) I felt like I was finally making the transition from teen to adult.
At 21 (at least for me) I felt like I was finally making the transition from teen to adult.
Ryan, Jersey, CI
My 21st birthday came and went and that was it. I celebrated my 18th with more fuss, which is pretty much how it is these days. By the time you are 21 you can already do everything because 18 is now the real milestone. But still, why not celebrate? William will only be 21 once. I'm 26 on Wednesday and the past five years have flown. I guess being another year older whichever year that may be makes me think I'm getting old!
Helen Longhurst, UK
Happy birthday Prince William! I hope your 21st will be a really happy one and that it will be a milestone in your life you will treasure forever as when you turned 18, you had experienced in a short period of time not only personal tragedy, but also had to learn to cope with the eyes of the world watching you. Now that you are 21, you have had more time to reflect on what has happened and have learned new skills to help you cope with those eyes that so closely watch you. Wishing you all the best today and each day from now on and God bless you, our future King.
Ingrid Mellor, United Kingdom
I think the 20th birthday is something like a milestone in life. Once the "1" in your age has disappeared, you start to realize that youth won't last forever - suddenly you're aware of the responsibilities to come in the next few years.
21. People may think 18 is a milestone and in a sense it is, but being able to vote and buy beer does not mean you are an adult, you are still less mature and less insightful than when you are 21, at which you have grown and experienced any perks you might perceive for three years and can accept your responsibilities better.
I can remember my 18th birthday with fond memories. I am struggling to recall what I actually did for my twenty-first! I can safely say that turning eighteen was more significant. I felt "grown up", I moved out and started to enjoy the freedom that comes with being 18. When you become 21, you have already been taking advantage of the pub/clubbing thing for three years and it becomes less of a novelty.
I can safely say that turning eighteen was more significant
Not so these days. You can drink, marry and die for your country long before the age of 21. In the US most kids have their own car at 16.
With any turn in age comes responsibilities. One tends to think more of the freedoms associated with a turning of a birthday. After 21 who wants to count any more? I think 25 years old is the best age to be. A bit more settled, a few years of work and perhaps a bit more of education - from a school as well as real life situations to have sorted out.
I think it's 30. I didn't have half the insight at 21 that I did at 30 - and I'll probably look back on this age from my 40th birthday and think how naive I was now!
As far as sheer number of new privileges is concerned, 18 is probably the more significant. However, while 21 may not compare numerically, the symbolism of the last restrictions of youth being thrown off cannot be underestimated. Of course the most significant of these restrictions (at least in the USA), the prohibition of alcohol, is a paper restriction; it's far from unheard of for students to drink less after their 21st than before!
Levi Ramsey, USA
For the prince it is a very significant age as he will assume public duties. However, responsibility and growing up comes gradually, and at different ages for every person. Some will not mature until their 30s, more so now than ever before.
Responsibility and growing up comes gradually, and at different ages for every person
Matthew Durkin, UK
My milestone birthday was 33. It was the first time that I could look back on the previous year and not feel embarrassed about what an immature idiot I had been. It's not that I don't do stupid things now, it's just that when I do them it's for all the right reasons.
I think at 21 you officially become an adult. Here in the USA, not only can you purchase alcohol and cigarettes, but in some states, you can gamble as well. At other milestones like 16 or 18, you can start driving (16 in California) and at 18 you can vote.
I think these days we don't really become adults until our mid-twenties. It's reflected in my behaviour and i don't think that's a bad thing. Enjoy youth while you have it!
I think coming of age comes to a young person at any age - in Jewish culture it is 13 at Bar/Bat Mitzvah, among Latinos it is 15, and here among southerners it is 18 when a young woman makes her debut. There is an activity in the Junior Girl Scout badge book about making your own coming of age ceremony and when my daughter turns 12 we will work on it.
Pebbles Smith, USA
Come Tuesday I will finally be allowed to drink the Guinness I have been enjoying in the UK for years. So it will be a milestone for me!
Andrew Kelly, England
Your 21st is much more important as you leave university and really set out into the world for real. Those who celebrate 18 just want their big presents sooner rather than later!
Those who celebrate 18 just want their big presents sooner
Will Hopkins, England
Of course 18's the milestone age. You can vote, buy alcohol and marry without parental consent. The difference between 17 and 18 is the difference between childhood and recognised adulthood. The difference between 20 and 21 is nothing, these days. Unless you are American...
Chris Melville, UK
I think every birthday is a milestone. However, in America you can always tell when someone turns 21, because they are stumbling drunk. I hope Prince William has a happy birthday, and doesn't get that drunk.
21's more significant as it's when your career really takes off if you've been studying in your teens.