20 April 2017
The man who would be king
Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life
SALLY BEDELL SMITH
Do you know anyone who actually looks forward to the Prince of Wales becoming king? Me neither. One lady I know, a fervent royalist, came to dinner the other night and declared, apropos the question of whether Camilla should become queen: “Please God the Queen carries on”. Mercifully for monarchists, Elizabeth II, 91 this month, shows no signs of flagging; indeed, fingers crossed, she may outlast her own mother who was cut off at the age of 101. And the longer she carries on, the greater the affection in which she is held; anyone familiar with normal nonagenarians feels something like awe at the spectacle of her going riding, or opening Parliament dressed in robes that need pageboys to carry.
It is now some years since Prince Charles overtook the future Edward VII as the oldest king-in-waiting; he is now 68, and if the Queen inherits her mother’s longevity, he’ll be in his eighties by the time he inherits the throne – though it seems there are plans for a regency if the Queen loses her marbles. In preparation for his seventieth birthday, the biographers have been hard at work.
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