Prince Charles at 65: Will he ever become king?

Prince Charles

As royal 'pensioner' prepares to celebrate his 65th birthday, talk will again turn to his future

LAST UPDATED AT 15:44 ON Wed 16 Oct 2013

WORKERS in the UK are no longer forced to retire at the age of 65. Which is good news for Prince Charles, who celebrates his 65th birthday on 14 November, but still has his eye on a top job.

The Prince will be in India on the big day, a welcome relief, perhaps, given the significance the British press are likely to attach to the event. The milestone - a poignant moment in any man's life - will doubtless trigger another round of speculation about whether the Prince will – or should – ever inherit the crown from his mother.

As the Daily Mail puts it: "The Prince has more reasons than most not to be reminded of his pensioner status and could easily have turned down the chance of holding a big jamboree." Instead, he's accepted the idea of a black tie bash at Buckingham Palace on 21 November, a week after he returns from the subcontinent.

In terms of precedent, there is nothing stopping 65-year-old Charles ascending the throne. But he would be the oldest person to do so. The record was previously held by William IV who was 64 years, ten months and five days old when he became king in June 1830 following the death of his father George III.

If Charles doesn't succeed his mother, he could always take a shot at becoming the oldest heir to the throne. That record is held by Sophia of Hanover. She was heir to Queen Anne, but died in 1714 at the age of 83 without ever getting her hands on the crown.

Surveys have consistently suggested the British public are not keen on the idea of Charles as king and even less keen on the idea of Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as Queen. They are sentiments that are unlikely to improve as Charles and his second wife move into their dotage.

One survey found that about 69 per cent of respondents felt Britain would be worse off without the monarchy. But, when they were asked what should happen when the Queen dies, only 39 per cent wanted the crown to pass to Charles. A "whopping 48 per cent prefer it to skip a generation and for William to be king", says the Daily Telegraph. 

The problem, writes the paper's Allison Pearson, is that the Queen has done her job too well. Who on earth can follow such an act? asks Pearson. "Not Prince Charles, I suspect. We know far too much about his foibles and past errors to revere him as we revere his mother."

One wonders if the Prince keeps a faded clipping from a 2008 edition of the Daily Express in his wallet? It features an 'exclusive' proclaiming: "Charles to rule at 65 as Queen steps aside."

"The Queen, now 82, has apparently said she is willing to stand aside when she reaches 87 and allow Charles to take over," declares the Express. "Senior courtiers were openly discussing the arrangement at a private function to toast Charles's 60th birthday last week."

The rumour does not seem to have resurfaced in the intervening years.

Charles seems to realise he's running out of time. During a visit to the stately home Dumfries House late last year he made a "poignant reference to his mortality", the Daily Telegraph says. Joking about his reputation for pursing projects with vigour he said: "Impatient? Me? What a thing to suggest! Yes of course I am." He added: "I'll run out of time soon. I shall have snuffed it if I'm not careful."

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.

Disqus - noscript

If he was the man he likes to tell us he is he would step aside in favour of William who will be a far better king than Charles ever will.

So, you want to have a monarchy but you want to have a choice in who your head of state is?

here we go again the media trying to run the country by reporters and staff of newspapers if they done their own job and leave the establishment to the people what a great world we would live in ! oh my goodness ! no scandel mongering
the prince and all the other princes work every day from morning to night and if they frown a little like the rest of us do it will be covered by some sleasy photographer you can probably guess i am a royalist and 81 years old and cameron always ready to protect his ministers and set himself up as judge and jury before any trial!!!!should not get carried away with all his riches and temporary !!!! position

He should step aside in favour of his son. The Duke of Windsor had to abdicate in order to marry a divorced woman, so should prince Charles.

King Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry a divorcee. Prince Charles has already done that.
Another idiot.

Yep, he married the divorcee, but he still has designs on being king. Not may of us want him.

wiliam must be the nxst king and his fit good looking wife as charles is a prat

Charles is the next king, regardless of whether you want him or not.

If you have a monarchy, you do not get a choice in who your head of state is! Now who is the prat?

TRU DAT! Wouldn't be the first waste of space we've had on the throne. Besides I'm never going to be important enough to meet him so I can happily dislike him from a distance.

Prince Charles has the right to the throne by virtue of being born into the royal family, regardless of his incompetence.
He does not have to be liked, he just has to be royal.

King Edward VIII was royal, but he still had to abdicate so that he could marry a divorcee. Prince Charles should do the same. He wouldn't even be prince of Wales without King Edward VIII abdication.

Prince Charles has already married a divorcee and he is still first in line to the throne. Without the abdication crisis of 1936, William would not be the future king.
If you have a monarchy, you do not get a choice. If you want a choice then you want a republic.

I hit the vote down instead of the reply, sorry about that.
What you say is true, but there is always hope that his mother will outlive him. We have had adulterous bigots on the throne in the past. It is to be hoped we wont in the future. Come to think of it I might not even be here me self. Now there's a happy thought.

There is every chance that his mother will not outlive him. As I said, Charles is the next king, not on the basis of character but just because of the family he was born into.

...b****r off Hilal Hussain - this is OUR monarchy - perhaps you might like to explain to me how an Asian taxi driver, in Southall, Middlesex is allowed to drive around in his cab, displaying a poster which says - "you have your monarchy - we have your country!" on! Short memories make for dangerous decisions. Our Royals stood by their subjects during the dark days of World War 2 - they have done far more for this country than any number of self-interested, slippery and mendacious politicians.

Cameron's decisions to meddle in Libya and Syria (the latter, thankfully, thwarted by a rare outbreak of democracy at Westminster) simply serve to illustrate what a political gadfly he is - he ignores the lessons of TWO Iraq wars and one, interminable, intervention in Afghanistan, chasing an enemy more slippery than a blob of Mercury (ask the Russians and then go back in history to the previous Anglo /Afghan Wars - Afghans 3, Britain 0).

"Loyalty", is an alien concept to boy-blunder Cameron - witness his treatment of Andrew Mitchell and his cynical manouevres over a Euro referendum.

I was born and raised in Britain and my passport states that I am a British citizen. If this is YOUR monarchy then you should at least know how it works, and that is you get the next in line whether you want that person or not, but then again racists are renowned for having small brains. you know Charles intimately then? seems that racism and judgementalism are popular exports of Pakistan - in many and varied intolerant and violent forms, including ghettoisation, forced/sham marriages, failure to sincerely condemn terrorism on our streets and forcing Moslem views and mosques on our over-tolerant society.

Regardless of whether or not you hold a British Passport you reside in this country and you enjoy the right to freedom of speech -an alien concept in Pakistan.

Witness the Taliban's attempted murder of Malala, the schoolgirl gunned down by the Taliban.

You enjoy the right to denigrate Prince Charles - have you ever met him? Have you ever spoken with him? Or do you think that you know him because you have "read" about him in the media - wonderful!

Perhaps if you don't particularly like our Royal Family you might like to choose another country that will tolerate your views?

If you had read carefully you would know that it was in fact the first poster who was denigrating Prince Charles, claiming that William would make a better king thus undermining the core principle of hereditary monarchy which you clearly support.

Actually, William IV ascended to the throne on the death of his brother, George IV; who it was that actually succeeded Geo. III, following the latter's death, on 29 Oct 1820

Actually, Bilal, I am given to understand that the word "king" derives from the same root as the word "can" - the king was someone who CAN. In Anglo-Saxon times, apparently, the king was voted in - that is, the people decided who was the most capable candidate to be king. It was NOT hereditary. In subsequent centuries, there was an ongoing battle between the aristos and monarchical types over this - which had some bearing, of course, on the Civil War. My main point here is that the idea (or practice) of a monarchy does not in the least include the prescription that it be hereditary.

Bilal: "...regardless of his incompetence."
Quite untrue, though diehard monarchists may try to convince you otherwise

Bilal: "If you have a monarchy, you do not get a choice."
Completely untrue, as I've already indicated.

"If you want a choice then you want a republic."
As it happens, I do, but with Jesus as King

"My main point here is that the idea (or practice) of a monarchy does not in the least include the prescription that it be hereditary."
In the case of the British monarchy, it does.

I agree with that, 'whocanibe'. He is a divorcee and so is the woman that he married!! If the Duke of Windsor hadn't had to abdicate, we would have been following a different line of royalty!!

Thank you scrumpy.

We're not idiots, we just don't want a bigot on the throne. Don't forget he would be head of the church of England. I thought the church didn't recognise divorce, or have they changed their laws to accommodate an adulterer?

You are an idiot if you did not know that having a monarchy means you do not get a choice in whose backside sits on the throne.

Read next

Frog's legs
ZUT ALORS: Frogs legs are British after all – not French