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Prince yet to ascend throne at 65

The Prince of Wales turns 65 this month - but at the age when most seek to retire, Charles has yet to start the job he born was to do.

Heir to the throne since he was three years old, Charles will soon be a pensioner.

And like thousands of others he will be claiming his pension this year - but will be donating it to a unnamed charity which supports the elderly.

The Prince is entitled to the state benefit because he paid National Insurance contributions whilst in the Navy in the 1970s and made voluntary contributions later.

This year, he has also experienced the joy of welcoming his first grandchild, Prince George, into the world.

A king in waiting for more than 60 years, he has carried out countless royal engagements over the decades, undertaking 480 in the UK and 112 overseas in 2012 alone.

The Prince is the oldest heir to the throne for almost 300 years and the longest serving heir to the throne.

His role supporting the Queen has strengthened in recent years and the day after he celebrates his 65th birthday on November 14 he will perform one of his most significant duties to date as a future king by stepping in for the monarch at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) opening ceremony in Sri Lanka.

He has never before attended in place of the Queen at the bi-annual gathering of Commonwealth leaders.

Charles recently told the US magazine Time he wanted to make the most of his position.

"I've had this extraordinary feeling, for years and years, ever since I can remember really, of wanting to heal and make things better," he said.

"I feel more than anything else it's my duty to worry about everybody and their lives in this country, to try and find a way of improving things if I possibly can."

As well as being patron of more than 400 charities, he has set up The Prince's Charities, a group of not-for-profit organisations, which raises over £100 million a year. He also founded The Prince's Trust youth charity.

The Prince, who is known for his strong opinions, particularly on the environment, architecture and farming, has faced criticism in the past over his "black spider memos" to ministers - the name given to the handwritten letters he penned to government ministers expressing his views.

In July this year, the Attorney General's decision to block public disclosure of letters Charles wrote to ministers in 2004 and 2005 was upheld by three High Court judges.

It was a defeat for the Guardian newspaper which said it had been fighting an eight-year battle to shed more light "on the way the heir to the throne seeks to influence government ministers even though he holds no elected position''.

In the nineties, Charles faced turmoil in his private life, played out on a public stage when he split from Diana, Princess of Wales, and anguish when Diana - mother to sons William, now the Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry - died in a car crash.

Now nearly two decades later, life is more settled for the future king.

He has been married to the Duchess of Cornwall for eight years and Camilla, once derided as the "other woman" in Charles and Diana's relationship, has established herself as a senior member of the Royal Family, attending the state opening of parliament and riding next to the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee carriage procession.

Proud grandfather Charles has spoken of how he and Camilla were " overjoyed'' at the birth of his first grandchild Prince George in July and ''so thrilled'' for William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

Ahead of turning 65, the Prince warned that the retirement industry risks becoming ''unfit for purpose'' if it fails to adjust to the effects of an ageing population on the environment.

In a pre-recorded speech for the National Association of Pension Funds' (NAPF) conference in Manchester in October , Charles told pension funds that ''your grandchildren, and mine for that matter, will be consigned to an exceptionally miserable future'', if the sector merely concentrates on the short term.

Clarence House was unable to confirm at present whether the Prince was entitled to a pension from his days in the armed forces.


From Belfast Telegraph