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Cakes galore for pensioner Charles


The Duchess of Cornwall said she thinks she has found the perfect gift for her husband, the Prince of Wales, who is celebrating his 65th birthday

The Duchess of Cornwall said she thinks she has found the perfect gift for her husband, the Prince of Wales, who is celebrating his 65th birthday

The Duchess of Cornwall said she thinks she has found the perfect gift for her husband, the Prince of Wales, who is celebrating his 65th birthday

The Prince of Wales officially became an old age pensioner today - turning 65 as his birthday celebrations threatened to light up the heir to the throne.

Charles, who is touring the Indian sub-continent with Camilla, spent the day with the sound of wellwishers singing Happy Birthday ringing in his ears.

H is collection of presents grew larger and larger and the number of cakes he received reached five.

The duchess has already revealed that her husband is "the most difficult person in the world to buy a present for" but she was able to find a gift he wanted - china.

At the start of his day the prince toured a bazaar in Kochi, southern India where a large temple oil burner lit with 65 lamps to mark his milestone threatened to singe his suit jacket.

But a quick thinking Metropolitan Police protection officer pulled it out of the flames and Charles turned to him and joked: "How quickly did you put me out?"

The prince's public birthday celebrations ended in Sri Lanka where he was presented with a cake by John Rankin, the British High Commissioner at his residence in the capital Colombo, ahead of a Commonwealth summit which Charles will host tomorrow.

The guests, who included leading Sri Lankans, joined a group of school children in singing Happy Birthday before the prince cut a slice of the carrot cake, covered in white icing and decorated with an image of the Prince of Wales' feathers and surrounded by the the words Happy 65th Birthday.

The High Commissioner proposed three cheers for the heir to the throne who winced in apparent embarrassment as a chorus of "hip, hip hooray" rang out.

A toast was proposed for the prince and the royal couple were handed glasses of champagne and they raised them to the wellwishers.

Charles asked jokingly if he was allowed to drink the bubbly and then sipped the drink.

Charles and Camilla's nine-day tour of India ended in Kochi where the royal couple toured the old Jewish quarter, visiting a 16th century synagogue and the area's popular bazaar.

The prince was wished happy birthday at every turn as he walked along a narrow road stopping in shops to look at the crafts, goods and antiques on sale.

A group of people on a balcony began singing happy birthday to Charles who stopped and acknowledged them with a wave.

The prince was carrying a rose he had been given by a wellwisher and he threw it up to the group and it was caught by holidaymaker Trish Lewis from Wendover in Buckinghamshire.

Miss Lewis, who sings with local group The Panda Players, said: "'I feel so thrilled and flattered he threw me a rose. How wonderful. I just can't believe it."

The heir to the throne has received almost half a dozen birthday cakes today - from the presentation made at the Indian resort he stayed in last night to another on the chartered jet that flew him to Sri Lanka and two from the nation's president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Charles' anniversary falls on the eve of the start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) he will host in Colombo.

It will be one of his most significant duties to date as a future monarch as he will be deputising for the Queen on the world stage.

But the gathering of national leaders is being overshadowed by concerns about alleged human rights abuses committed by the Sri Lankan regime towards the end of a bitter civil war in 2009.

The prime minister of India Manmohan Singh and his counterparts Canada's Stephen Harper and Mauritius leader Navin Ramgoolam are boycotting the meeting in protest.

Hosting the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka will be a new challenge for Charles who is assuming the role, traditionally performed by the Queen, for the first time.

The monarch, who decided not to fly to Sri Lanka following a review by Buckingham Palace of her longhaul flights, traditionally plays no part in the private discussions that happen between the leaders.

But she is a unifying figure during the three-day summit who will have met all but the very newest presidents and prime ministers.

Charles will have take on this symbolic role making the leaders feel welcome.

Steve Crawshaw, director of the office of Amnesty International's secretary g eneral Salil Shetty who is in Colombo representing the organisation around Chogm, said: "Prince Charles is clearly in a difficult position representing the Queen who famously avoids politics in all contexts.

"But I very much hope that in private Prince Charles will make absolutely clear how dismayed anybody who cares about human rights would be, seeing what is happening in Sri Lanka today.

"As the representative of the Queen he will no doubt choose his words carefully when speaking publicly, but I hope that even there we will see a reflection and understanding of how serious the problems are that Sri Lanka is facing, and one would hope that will not be swept under the carpet."

Anti-monarchy pressure group Republic used Charles' birthday to launch a new campaign.

Republic's chief executive Graham Smith said: "As he turns 65, it's time to shine a spotlight on Prince Charles and his political agenda.

"He is a politician in all but name and must be challenged on those terms. It's time the public were told the full facts about the extent of his interference and lobbying of our politicians."

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