How Prince William Spent His 30th Birthday

(Getty Images)Palace officials have described Prince William's 30th birthday on Thursday as a "low-key" affair. A better way to describe it may be to compare it to the American haircut staple, the mullet. Business in front, party in the back.

Despite assurances of a "quiet" "private" affair, the ingredients for a throwdown, albeit an intimate one, were there.

Photos: Kate and Will's romantic year together

A house party, make that mansion party, at Prince Charles' countryside residence was the place to be Thursday night for William's inner circle. Highgrove House, rather than Will and Kate's Anglesey home, became the last minute destination after the Prince's royal air force training required him to be in Gloucester. Not to worry: Charles' 37-acre three-story estate was free in a pinch and roomy enough for a 400-person wedding, with four reception rooms to choose from and nine bedrooms for late-night crashers.

Kate planned the dinner party for around 30 of their closest friends, according to British tabloid Metro. On the agenda after dinner, a role-playing murder mystery party, sources told Now Magazine. The palace wouldn't confirm any details to press, aside from their "low-key" description, previously used to describe Kate's birthday and the couple's anniversary.

It may be a reflection of both Will's maturity, but also of the royal PR folks' desire to keep it classy now that the Prince is a married man with a serious cultural torch to carry. Bacchanalian bashes like the Safari-themed birthday Will hosted at 21 have been replaced by private gatherings tucked away from probing eyes of the paparazzi. Photo leaks of tipsy pub crawls with the entourage have all but disappeared. (Pippa's slip-ups notwithstanding.) But the tight-knit circle of friends have remained, and many of them don't have "low-key" in their vocabulary. Nightclub impresario and royal bachelor party host Guy Pelly was reportedly on Thursday's guest list, and may have been enlisted to enliven to intimate dinner. Pippa and Harry, likely, helped out too.

Photos: Prince William through the years

So just because William turned 30, it doesn't mean party the party is over, there's just less of a need to advertise the incriminating evidence. Even simple peasant-folk in their 30's can relate to that. (See spike in Facebook tagging sensitivity in 30 plus age bracket.)

But as the Prince's public displays of debauchery dwindle with age, the birthday presents grow magnitude.

On Monday, the Queen gifted her grandson with knighthood. Yes, like Sir Lance-a-lot and Sir Elton. As part of the Order of Thistle, the highest honor in Scotland, the thirty-year-old earns the technical right to be called "sir," a privilege the Beatles sold a lot of records to acquire. But the biggest gift came from Will's late mother, when the $14 million trust she left for him became accessible on his 30th birthday. Some royal-watchers speculate the money could go towards a purchase of his own country estate.

So to recap: knighthood, commissioned art, a multimillion dollar birthday check and and a party at dad's massive country house. Not exactly low-key by most 30-year-olds' standards. Then again, everything is relative with royals.

Related:
Kate's best looks in honor of her birthday
Prince William's massive birthday payday
The cost of Kate's beauty routine

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