In a series of remarkably candid comments, Prince Charles hinted that he feared his legacy as king would be cut short.
During a visit to Dumfries House, the stately home in East Ayrshire which the Prince helped save for the nation, he joked about his reputation for pursuing projects with notorious vigour but made a poignant reference to his mortality.
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.”
The comments, which were recorded for a film on the Clarence House website about the Prince’s involvement with Dumfries House, will fuel ongoing speculation that Prince Charles, 64, is more eager than ever to take the throne after 60 years of waiting.
In 2008, he became the longest-waiting heir to the throne in British history, overtaking his great-great grandfather, Edward VII.
While royal aides insist that he is fulfilled by his current role as heir apparent, supporting the Queen and being actively involved with the Prince’s Trust and his numerous other charities, many royal commentators have suggested that he feels frustrated his reign has not yet begun.
With a history of longevity in his family – the Queen is 86 and in good health while Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother lived to the age of 101 – Prince Charles may yet have a while to wait until he succeeds his mother.
The Prince has previously hinted at his impatience with the long wait for succession. In 1992, on the eve of the Queen’s 40th anniversary on the throne, he attended the funeral of his father-in-law, the 8th Earl Spencer, where he is believed to have remarked to Charles Spencer, his then brother-in-law: “You are fortunate enough to have succeeded to the title when still young.”
In 2004, in conversation with a Guards officer at Wellington Barracks who congratulated him on his 56th birthday, the Prince is reported to have replied: “I’m now at the age at which my grandfather died.”
Penny Junor, the royal biographer said: “He is impatient, but when he becomes king, his activities and all the projects he most enjoys where he can make a difference, will be seriously curtailed. He has spent an awful lot of his life searching for a role, but I think he does now feel fulfilled pursuing his various interests.”
Prince Charles may also feel sidelined by the surge of affection displayed for his mother during her Diamond Jubilee and the soaring popularity of younger members of the Royal family.
In an Ipsos Mori poll conducted earlier this month, the Duke of Cambridge was named as the most popular member of the Royal family with an approval rating of 62 per cent – the highest since Ipsos Mori began is royal poll in 1984. Prince Charles’s approval rating was 21 per cent, behind the Queen, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge.
The Duke also experienced a major boost in popularity following his engagement in 2010, when two polls by ICM and YouGov found that most people believe he would make a better king than his father and think Prince Charles should stand aside for his son.
However, aides close to the Duke have said that there is “no question in his mind” that Prince Charles will be the next monarch.
Professor Robert Hazell, the director of University College London’s constitution unit, said: “He is an age when most people are starting to contemplate retirement, yet he’s not actually started the job he has spent his adult life preparing for. That is burdensome.”
Source: THE TELEGRAPH