FILE - In this June 11, 1969 file photo, Britain’s Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, in the uniform of the Colonel in Chief of the Royal Regiment of Wales, salutes during the Regiment’s Colour presentation, at Cardiff Castle in Wales. It was the first occasion for the Prince to wear uniform. (AP Photo, File)

Heir’s big birthday: 70 candles lined up for Prince Charles

Prince Charles turns 70 Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, still serving in the heir to the throne role he has filled since he was a young child.

Prince Charles turns 70 Wednesday and is still heir to the throne — a role he has served since he was a young child.

He’s not lacking in things to do and shows few signs of slowing down — he is wealthy, extremely active in matters of great importance to him, and preparing to welcome his fourth grandchild into the world when Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, gives birth next spring.

His destiny, however, is to be king, a position he will automatically assume with the death of his 92-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

When that happens, Charles will be bound by the constitutional requirement that the monarch refrain from trying to influence policy. Until then, Charles is free to lobby for action on climate change, support organic farming, and fight genetically modified crops as he sees fit.

He’s doing all that while increasingly stepping in for the queen and supervising the Prince’s Trust, an ambitious charity he founded 42 years ago that has helped hundreds of thousands of young Britons.

Is the candle-crowded birthday cake a signal that it’s time for the elegantly greying prince to take it easy? Not on your life, says Charles’ wife, Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall.

“I don’t think he thinks he’s 70,” she wrote in a birthday tribute in The Telegraph Magazine. “I think it’s just a number to him. There’s no way that he will slow down. You must be joking. I keep saying 70 is getting on a bit. It’s not very old but it is old. You have to slow down a bit.”

The royal family is in the midst of a slow, understated transition. The patriarch, 97-year-old Prince Philip, has formally retired from public life, although he makes occasional appearances in support of the queen.

For her part, the queen still maintains a busy schedule, but she no longer makes long haul flights to far flung parts of the 53-nation Commonwealth, and this year she took the unusual step of lobbying the Commonwealth countries to specify that Charles would be the next leader of the group, a position that is not hereditary.

Related: Another Royal wedding: Princess Eugenie weds beau at Windsor Castle

Related: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

The support for Charles was unanimous, reflecting not only appreciation for the queen’s work over the decades but a belief that Charles has a strong commitment to the Commonwealth.

Charles has also taken a more visible role representing the queen at some important national events, most recently during the Remembrance Day celebrations honouring Britain’s fallen soldiers. He placed the queen’s wreath at the foot of the Cenotaph monument while she watched from a balcony seat.

But his working trips abroad and his speeches at home generate precious little buzz as the press focuses on younger, more photogenic royals and their cute offspring.

In a way, Charles is sandwiched between generations, caught between his mother, a symbol of dignity and continuity who has reigned since 1952, and his two immensely popular sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, who have along with their wives come to symbolize the future of the world’s best known monarchy.

William and Harry also remind many of their mother, the late Princess Diana, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997 after a messy divorce from Charles that for a time tarnished his standing with the British public.

It is William and Harry — along with their wives Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan — who appear on the cover of glossy magazines, not the about-to-be-70 Charles. It is the young royals who are seen as glamorous modernizers with the common touch, while Charles is sometimes perceived as dour, preachy and remote.

Camilla says the public doesn’t understand how “incredibly kind” and funny Charles is, and William and Harry — taking part in a rare BBC interview to mark his father’s birthday — praise the way he has used his undefined position as Prince of Wales to advocate so many important causes, such as environmental protection.

But Harry — who has endeared himself to the British public in part with his impish smile and sunny outlook — urged his dad to cut back a bit on the doom and gloom that often accompanies Charles’ pronouncements.

“I would encourage him to remain optimistic because I think it can be very easy to become despondent and negative,” Harry said. “But hopefully with his children and his grandchildren, and a few more grandchildren to come, he can get energy from the family side and then carry on his leadership role.”

He also had this advice: don’t work so hard, and have dinner earlier.

Gregory Katz, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

East Kootenay illicit drug overdose deaths lowest in B.C.

Local expert credits harm reduction efforts; declares support for legalization of opioids

Donations pouring in for injured Fernie man

GoFundMe page for Rick Kennedy reaches $17,639

Fernie’s Sam Goodison representing Alberta at Canada Winter Games

Fernie’s Sam Goodison will be representing Alberta at the upcoming Canada Winter… Continue reading

RDEK takes steps towards reducing carcass pit use

The first step towards addressing the issue of carcass pits in the… Continue reading

Ghostriders head coach Jeff Wagner commits to another two years

Fernie Ghostriders head coach Jeff Wagner has committed to another two years… Continue reading

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

GALLERY: Fernie Ghostriders get their home game mojo back

Riders post 6-1 win over Columbia Valley Rockies; prepare for playoffs

James says B.C. budget puts priorities on NDP’s poverty, environment plans

She said she expected the government’s poverty reduction and climate change strategies to be priorities in the budget

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Games kicked off in Red Deer this week

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Columbia Valley RCMP searching for misisng person

Police ask for help in finding Elizabeth Stewart, who hasn’t contacted family since Jan. 14

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Most Read