65th birth­day du­ties for Charles

Throws singer a rose Re­ceives six cakes Al­most sets self alight

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

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.

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