Prince Charles is 60, but will he be king? (Lead)

November 13th, 2008 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 13 (IANS) Prince Charles turns 60 Friday and hanging on his coat tails is the eternal question: will he be King?Only Queen Elizabeth II knows the answer. And her comment on the eve of his birthday, that she is “enormously proud” of him seems to have been interpreted by the British media as an endorsement of his fitness to be King.

The remarks by Britain’s reigning monarch came amid mounting media speculation over whether or not Charles will ever be King - chiefly because his outspoken interest in social issues is seen to sit uneasily with the traditional neutrality of the monarchy.

The birthday boy savoured the milestone regardless: he attended a special ‘We Are Most Amused’ comedy gala in London in his honour Wednesday night. There is a Queen’s dinner and concert for the Prince at Buckingham Palace Thursday night with members of the royal family, to be followed by an exclusive party thrown by his wife Camilla.

The Queen paid her tributes on a visit with her husband Prince Philip to the central London headquarters of the Prince’s Trust, a charity that has helped over half a million disadvantaged youths since Charles founded it in 1976.

Choosing her words well, she said: “As the Prince of Wales, our son, approaches his own 60th birthday, may I say that we are both enormously proud to have been reminded here today of his personal contribution to this remarkable organisation.”

“For Prince Philip and me there can be no greater pleasure or comfort than to know that into his care are safely entrusted the guiding principles of public service and duty to others.”

The Queen said the trust, supported by the prince’s “vision and conviction”, had transformed “countless lives”.

A range of royal commentators in the British media - from the BBC to the Telegraph and the Daily Mail - interpreted the comments as the Queen’s backing for Charles to succeed her as King.

“Her words ride a coach and horses through the arguments of those who claim the monarch has considered passing the crown directly to her grandson William,” said the Daily Mail.

And Charles himself weighed in, saying he hoped people would realise one day “that some of the things I’ve been trying to do aren’t all that mad.”

“I like to think, perhaps, that after all this, eventually people might realise that some of the things I’ve been trying to do aren’t all that mad and that I might still have some convening power that could be put to use,” he said in a BBC documentary broadcast Wednesday.

Charles is a passionate advocate of a range of causes that border on the political, including organic farming, social housing, Tibet and - sitting oddly here - hunting.

He has used his ‘convening powers’ to frequently bring together a variety of British and international stakeholders on the issues that interest him.

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