65th birthday duties for Charles
Throws singer a rose Receives six cakes Almost sets self alight
LONDON: As the longest-serving heir to the throne in British history, Prince Charles is well versed in representing his country in a ceremonial role.
And this week, as he reached his landmark 65th birthday, he fulfilled his official duties in India with his usual style and bonhomie.
As he walked along bustling Jew Street in the city of Cochin, Kerala, he stopped in his tracks when he heard an English voice serenading him with a tuneful version of Happy Birthday from a balcony.
Charles waited until Trish Lewis finished singing and then threw her a gift-wrapped red rose a well- wisher had given him. After a little scrabbling, and to the prince’s cheers, the holidaymaker managed to grab the flower.
“We couldn’t believe we were coming half way round the world and here they are,” said Lewis. “I feel so thrilled he threw me a rose.”
As well as flowers, the prince was the recipient of no fewer than six birthday cakes – the last following a 75-minute flight from India to Sri Lanka.
At the High Commission in Colombo he was presented with a large carrot cake deco- rated with the Prince of Wales feathers. Back in Kerala, his staff had teased him with a cake in the shape of a free bus pass, which he can now claim as a pensioner.
Marked with Westminster Council, it said: “HRH Prince Charles. Valid from 14 Nov 2013. Concessionary travel funded by HM Government with your local authority. Happy 65th Birthday!”
For most people reaching the age of 65, such a relaxing and carefree day would be a fitting way to start slipping into a comfortable retirement.
But with his mother the queen now in her 88th year, he is likely to be asked to assume more and more of her duties.
His mission now – with his chosen consort Camilla at his side – is to prove himself a worthy king-in-waiting.
His first task – opening the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in Sri Lanka today – is at best a challenge, at worst a diplomatic minefield. Canada, India and Mauritius have boycotted the meeting in protest at Sri Lanka’s alleged human rights abuses against its Tamil minority, and the atmosphere in Colombo is crackling with ten- sion. Clarence House has refused to comment on whether Charles plans to raise in private the human rights issue with Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, but Amnesty’s Steve Crawshaw urged him to take action.
“Prince Charles is clearly in a difficult position representing the queen who famously avoids politics in all contexts,” he said. “But I very much hope that in private Prince Charles will make absolutely clear how dismayed anybody who cares about human rights would be.”
The prince started his birthday in the £500-a-night presi- dential suite of the luxury Kumarakom Lake Resort. On waking, Charles was presented with cake number one, featuring a portrait of himself and his wife. He cut a slice and arranged for the rest to be sent to a local orphanage.
After that it was very much business as usual with a breakneck string of engagements.
At a souvenir shop Charles almost set himself alight on a 100-year-old oil burner that had been lit with 65 wicks to honour his big day. One of his Metropolitan Police protection officers lunged forwards to stop the prince’s clothing catching alight but slipped on the shop’s highly polished doorstep and stumbled against his boss – to comic effect. It was also to Charles’s relief because of the intense heat from the wicks – and the Indian sun. – Daily Mail
● Sapa- AFP reports that Britain’s Princess Anne has suggested that her compatriots should consider eating horses.
Queen Elizabeth’s daughter, a former eventing champion, said farming the creatures for their flesh in Britain could improve their welfare.
Horsemeat consumption is generally taboo in Britain and Anne’s comments come just months after a major European scandal involving horsemeat mislabelled as beef.
SPECIAL DAY: Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall, at the Mattancherry Palace in Kochi, India.