Prince Charles, the waiting heir to the royal throne of England is set to celebrate his 65th birthday at the British High Commission in Colombo later today.
Shortly after downing his slice of celebratory Victoria sponge, he will go on to shake the hand of his host President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
For most people, a 65th birthday signals the end of one’s working life and hopefully the chance to begin a long and happy retirement. But then, Prince Charles is not most people and the “job” he was born to take on is a unique one.
Unlike the Queen, who had to demonstrate wisdom beyond her years when she acceded the throne aged just 25, Prince Charles has had to live most of his life preparing for the day he will be King.
At times that may well have been frustrating, but it has also allowed him to speak out on matters which are important to him in a way the constraints of kingship would not have allowed.
The Queen is now eighty-seven-years-old and the process of handing over duties to her son is well under way. This week is an important sign of that transition. For the first time since 1973, the Queen will miss the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
The official reason for her absence is to protect her from the long-haul flight to Sri Lanka, but it is also a chance for the Prince of Wales – who will represent her – to take his place on a global stage.
Over the coming months and years other duties which the Queen currently performs which involve travel or physical exertion will be taken on by the Prince.
However, it still may be many years before he becomes King.