Birthday Boomer

I just know Slugger will want to mark the 60th birthday of the Prince of Wales. As I’m a year and three months older, I resent all this talk of retirement.

“I think he is finally coasting home, perhaps coming to the realisation that he will never be king or, if he does, he’ll be like one of those elderly leaders at the end of the Soviet era – a sort of royal Andropov, with only a few years.”

Let’s concentrate instead on his tribute to Paddy Bogside ( Doherty), who first rode to fame during the events of August 1969 and went on to touch the Prince’s Trust for funds to rehab part of the old Georgian centre of Derry within the walls, earning this tribute form the prince.

“Those communities which, against all odds, have succeeded in reversing a spiral of decline have done so, in my experience, because of local characters like Paddy Doherty in Londonderry who, in 1981, started to revitalise the bombed-out and rundown centre of his city. The results are spectacular.”

In this week’s BBC documentary he came across as quite a decent bloke not the “preening mannequin” of legend who talks to trees ( and why not?) Some of the legends about him are just that apparently:

There is wincing at mention of the famous allegation that Charles has a man to squeeze out his toothpaste for him – no, no, no, that was just once after he had broken his wrist.”

As to the future when he becomes King, the Daily Telegraph predicts he’ll want to break out from the narrow identification with the Church of England to become “Defender of Faith” rather than the Faith. The Constitution Unit in a new book out this week, thinks there may be a multifaith ceremony as well as the traditional Coronation rites and if the Queen can no longer perform her duties, a regency as a kind of joint monarchy.

Pressure on Charles since Diana’s death has eased. The Belfast Telegraph reports that 53% believe he should become King and only 20% not, an improvement of 22% inhis position since 2005. Approval for a “Queen Camilla” however has slumped to only 17%.

The whole business of monarchy may seem Ruritanian but it continues to evoke the “pageant of British history” and exercise an undoubted fascination, not least in the Republic.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London