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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
'I share Prince William's birthday'
The man who would be king turns 21 on Saturday - so does Anna Huk, a chemistry student at Oxford. It remains a landmark age, for a prince as for a commoner.

Anna and William ahead of their 21sts on Saturday
The birthday girl and boy
I was born four hours before William - there was an article when I was born in the local paper, my parents have it screwed up in some drawer somewhere in their house in Essex.

So I've always known that we share a birth date, and it's funny finding out things like he got a car for his 18th. I didn't - I didn't want a car.

William's having an Africa-themed party at Windsor Castle on Saturday; that day I'm having a black tie party in my garden, inviting family, friends from university, friends from home. I didn't want it to be black tie, but my parents wanted the chance to dress up. At Oxford, everything we go to is black tie so all the boys here have it and it's quite easy for them.

You always see him playing polo in the papers, and before I came to Oxford I didn't realise other people went out and did that
I have another year of study to go at university. I'm at Brasenose College reading chemistry, and it's a four-year course, a Masters qualification, so I don't have the big decision about what next - not yet anyway.

The fact that I'm about to be 21 should signify old, mature, going to get a job. But I think 18 is a more significant birthday - you can vote, you can legally go to the pub and get a drink. Twenty-one isn't the key to the door it used to be - after all, my friends and I have had keys to our houses since 15, when we had to get the bus home from school.

Cutting loose

For the past six months I've been in the library, just working for my finals, to be tested on three years of work.

Now exams have finished, there are parties every day with an afternoon entertainment and an evening entertainment. On Wednesday there was a garden party; on Thursday the women's drinking society garden party. I think the finalists are trying to fit in as much socialising and drinking as possible because we've all abstained for the last term and a half.

After my 21st, I'm going away to Bosnia to run holiday classes for the children at a refugee camp, the same as I did last summer. Just as William has been trying to teach himself Swahili, I've been trying to pick up a bit more Serbo-Croatian so I can chat to people when I'm in Bosnia.

Portrait of modern youth

The Palace tries to pitch William as a fairly typical example of British youth, but I think he's only typical of a certain class of British youth.

You always see him playing polo in the papers, and before I came to Oxford I didn't realise that other people went out and did that. But he still goes out to clubs and listens to modern music, so in some ways I guess he must be pretty normal.

William scrubs a toilet
Prince William at work in Chile
But I did find his gap year project really interesting [he went to Chile as a Raleigh International volunteer]. Because I didn't take a gap year myself, anything I hear about other people's gap year projects always sounds exciting. And the fact that he did it showed he's willing to get out there and help.

I think William should be king one day - Charles is getting a bit too old to take over. In the same way his mother glamorised the Royal Family, I think he'll renew interest if he takes the throne.

Some of your comments on this story:

My neice Amy Louise was born on 21 June at 7.44am. We will tell her when she is older that when she was born they had a party at Windsor Castle.
Paula, England

Next time you do an article like this can you base it on someone who is from a totally different background - maybe a 21-yr-old who is struggling to pay uni/college fees, someone who can't afford to have a black tie party, a single parent, or someone who works fulltime and struggles to cope with all the bills. The comparisons would make for compelling reading.
Victoria Chambers, UK

I thought Anna's story was an interesting light-hearted insight into her life. Who wants to hear someone moaning on about fees when its supposed to be about their 21st birthday? Oxford is very different from other universities. I come from a working class background and struggle to pay fees/bills, but I still attend black tie events as they are the norm here. Funnily enough, they do not cost any more than a boozy party at other unis, after all it doesn't matter what you wear.
Elise Steinberg, England

My son also celebrated his 21st on 21 June, but since I am a single parent struggling to make ends meet in Austria, we simply went out for a meal in his university town of Innsbruck. He's studying medicine and has his histology Exam today, so was busy learning all day on his birthday. When he was born, Boots the chemist gave him a special party in Carmarthen and presented him with a royal christening gown. If Prince William is anything like my gentle, dignified, hard working son, he will make a great king some day.
Carole G N Bailey, Austria

I was also born on 21 June 1982. Like Anna I was also featured in the local press when I was born. I am graduating this year from Warwick University with a BSc Mathematics and Economics. No black tie event for me on Saturday, instead I am hosting a house party to celebrate my 21st.
John Willoughby, UK

I too will turn 21 this year. It definitely has more significance as an age here in the U.S.A., since it is the age at which you can legally purchase alcoholic beverages. It just depends on the environment in which you grow-up.
Nicola, United States

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