Prince Charles turns sixty-five today and his wife The Duchess of Cornwall shares about their life in an exclusive interview with the Telegraph. He will break the record of being the longest 'King-in-Waiting' as his mother is like the energizer bunny and keeps going on and on as the reigning monarch.
This is a delightful and relaxed interview the life of the Prince and the Duchess.
For any other couple, it would be the day they could finally start enjoying the benefits of retirement, but the Duchess of Cornwall has described life with the Prince of Wales as “exhausting” in an interview to mark his 65th birthday, which falls today.
The Prince, who is still waiting to start the job for which he was born, is always “working, working, working” and is “not going to stop” just because he is now a pensioner, the Duchess said.
Speaking about their marriage for the first time, she joked that she might have to hold up a sign saying “Happy Birthday Darling” because he was unlikely to pause for celebrations.
The Duchess disclosed that her idea of “bliss” would be to sit in the sunshine with her husband enjoying some peace and quiet, but that she rarely got the chance because “he’s not one for chilling”.
She also described the agonies she has gone through trying to find suitable presents for him, saying he is “hopeless” to buy for, and ends up writing detailed lists of what he wants “so you get it exactly right”.
In her most revealing interview to date, the Duchess’s enduring love for her husband shines through, despite admitting that his many passions can make him frustrating to live with.
Her descriptions of the couple bickering over what to buy each other for Christmas and birthdays are more Fred and Gladys — their nicknames for each other — than Prince and Duchess. They are, it seems, just like any other married couple in many ways.
The Duchess, 66, took time off from the couple’s tour of India to chat to reporters about the Prince’s landmark birthday. Although she often has brief conversations with reporters during official engagements, the eight-minute interview was by far the most extensive she has given since the couple’s marriage in 2005.
Asked whether she would celebrate or commiserate with her husband as he became a pensioner, she gave a knowing smile and said: “It is a special birthday, I think it is commiserate; well in my case I went very quiet about it.
“Last year we were in New Zealand [on his birthday] and this year India, so it has been rather busy. Luckily he has caught up with me now. We are both pensioners and he can join in with me collecting the bus pass.”
Is he someone who does not like to celebrate birthdays?
“No, actually, he does quite like celebrating,” she replied. “He quite likes birthdays. He said it was really nice in New Zealand last year when everyone gave him a bit of a party. He likes people giving him a cake, a bit of a sing song. Some of us go a different way, but he quite likes it.
“The thing is that he is not going to stop at this age. He never, ever stops working. He’s exhausting. No matter what the day, he is always working.
“I am hopping up and down and saying, 'Darling do you think we could have a bit of, you know, peace and quiet, enjoy ourselves together’. But he always has to finish something.
“He is so in the zone. You are outside, but he is always there in the zone, working, working, working.”
The Duchess, speaking completely off the cuff, was talking on Tuesday in the south-west Indian city of Cochin, where she had been addressing members of a Women’s Empowerment Group who generate their own income by selling handicrafts they make in their villages.
Members of the media covering the couple’s tour of India had asked aides if the Duchess would speak about the Prince’s birthday, and the impromptu chat took place on an open first-floor balcony of the Aluva Palace hotel, where the women’s group was meeting.
Wearing a beige tunic and white trousers, and with a garland of red and white flowers around her neck, the Duchess at times struggled to make herself heard because of the noise of a torrential downpour.
But she was typically relaxed and clearly relished the chance to give her own account of a relationship that has been the subject of endless speculation, much of it ill-informed.
The Prince will have a hectic birthday: he will turn 65 in the romantic Kumarakom Lake Resort near Cochin, where he and the Duchess spent yesterday enjoying a mid-tour break, but will be quickly back in business with three engagements in Cochin.
He will then board a flight to Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in place of the Queen for the first time.
Speaking before the couple’s day off, the Duchess suggested it would be anything but restful.
“We are on the plane on Thursday,” she said. “Perhaps we can have an early celebration, then, or celebrate on the aeroplane or something. But he’ll stick with his papers, I know he will, while I am trying to sing Happy Birthday. I might just even have to hold up a sign saying 'Happy Birthday, Darling’.”
Asked what the couple would be doing on their rest day, the Duchess said: “To be honest I think I am just going to chill out, completely, I don’t think I am going to do anything really.”
Would the Prince also be chilling out?
“I doubt it,” said the Duchess with a hint of world-weariness. “Although I shall do my best. If there’s a little hint of sun I might just persuade him to go for a walk or sit outside. He loves walking, so that might do it. We see the sun all the time but we never get the chance to just go and sit in it. So that would be bliss. So maybe I will persuade him. But no, my husband is not one for chilling.”
The Duchess was asked if the Prince might relax by indulging in his hobby of painting watercolours, perhaps with some tips from Catherine Goodman, the director of the Prince of Wales’s Drawing School, who is official artist for the tour of India and Sri Lanka.
She said: “Well, yes, but you see he always has to find the right spot. Catherine is very good at that. She might sit him down and try and encourage him. He just has to find exactly the right spot, though, you can’t just sit him down and say 'right, paint that’.
“I hear there are rice barges or something. That may interest him.”
When the Prince arrives in Sri Lanka he will attend a reception at the British High Commission in Colombo, where he is expected to be given a cake.
“Well, I’ve heard rumours of that too,” laughed the Duchess. “I don’t think others will let it pass, though, and I rather hope we will be all caked-out by the end of it. We were given another cake by the hotel today, a chocolate cake. We will all be having a jolly good munch on the way home.”
The Prince of Wales has mixed memories of India; in 1992 it was the location of his last foreign trip with the late Diana, Princess of Wales, who memorably posed by herself on a bench in front of the Taj Mahal, signalling with one picture how lonely she had become in their marriage. They separated later the same year.
The Duchess’s descriptions of domestic happiness could hardly be further from the unhappiness of the Prince’s first marriage.
The Duchess, of course, has the unenviable task of choosing a present for the man who really does have everything. “I have bought him something,” she said. “I will tell you that he is the most difficult person in the world to buy a present for.
“He is a man! They are hopeless! I spend ages trying to find something that is really wonderful and then [mimes him opening a present] 'Oh, thank you very much’ [in a completely uninterested voice]. It so annoying.
“So he likes to make a list of things that he wants, so you get it exactly right. I find this time of year impossible as it’s his birthday and then it’s Christmas, so you have got two in a row. Everybody else is easy but he is not.”
So what had the Duchess settled for in the end? At first she was reluctant to share her secret, but then relented, saying: “Actually I have bought him something but whether he will like it or not … I don’t know.
“It will be a surprise, I don’t want it to come out before. Well, he collects a lot of things and it is something special — china — that I have found. It’s what he really likes. And I know he will be happy with that