Britain's Prince Charles proving popular at 60

Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:16am EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain's Prince Charles celebrates his 60th birthday on Friday with an improved rating in popular opinion, laughs, parties and an official portrait in the uniform of the Welsh Guards.

The Prince of Wales, who is one of the longest-serving heirs to the British throne was greeted on his birthday by a poll showing more people prefer him to succeed his mother Queen Elizabeth as monarch than his photogenic elder son William.

The poll, carried out by YouGov, found 42 percent of people were in favor of him succeeding the Queen, compared to 35 percent who thought the throne should skip a generation to Prince William, Charles's elder son.

When the same question was asked in 2005, only 31 percent backed Charles, while 42 percent preferred William, whose mother was the late Princess Diana.

Over the years there have been suggestions that Charles should renounce his claim to the throne, with some arguing that his divorce from Diana and eventual remarriage conflicts with the monarch's role as head of the Church of England.

Charles was just three when his mother became Queen, making him, as her eldest son, heir to the throne. The Queen, now 82, is the oldest reigning monarch in the history of the nation and is still in good health. Her mother lived to be 101.

Only George IV, who became king in 1820, and Edward VII, who reigned from 1901, were kings-in-waiting for longer, spending 58 and 59 years respectively as heirs to the throne.

Celebrations to mark Charles's birthday included a comedy gala, featuring John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson and Robin Williams, as well as a concert and banquet at Buckingham Palace.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles, will also host a private party at Highgrove, their Gloucestershire home, at which Rod Stewart will perform.

For the official birthday portrait, Charles wore the ceremonial uniform of the Welsh Guards, minus the headdress. He has been Colonel of the Welsh Guards since 1975.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato)

<p>Britain's Prince Charles meets actor Robin Williams backstage at the Wimbledon Theatre, in London November 12, 2008. REUTERS/Alastair Grant/Pool</p>