Birthday shopping for Prince Charles

The heir hits 65 next week. How to celebrate the milestone? Here's Patricia Treble on the options

Tim Graham/Getty Images

On Nov. 14, the heir to the throne hits a big milestone, his 65th birthday. While his sons are no doubt planning on wacky presents (this family is known for its fondness for inexpensive gag gifts—Kate reportedly gave brother-in-law Harry a “grow your own girlfriend” kit). But there’s no thought of retirement for Prince Charles. Indeed, he’ll spend the day in the most pedestrian fashion—getting on and off planes as he travels between India and Sri Lanka. He’s on the subcontinent for a tour with his wife, Camilla, that culminates in the Commonwealth heads of government meeting that his mother is skipping this year. At least he won’t have to go through those irritating security lines.

So some presents have been handed out in advance. And since this isn’t the easiest guy to buy for, they’re more on the “experiential” vein than a gold watch. To capitalize on his love of classical music, a new choral work was created. It debuted at the North Wales International Music Festival in late September. And keeping the royal connections alive, the Prince’s first official harpist (no it isn’t a full-time gig but a prestigious post), Catrin Finch, and the current harpist, Hannah Stone, performed. As the festival’s artistic director, Ann Atkinson, told the BBC, the theme built on Charles’s passion for the environment: “The whole piece is intended to emphasize the principle of stewardship of the world and its human and natural resources.”

And on that same vein, he’ll also be the guest editor of Country Life, the magazine bible of rural Britain. The 116-year-old magazine gets an exclusive interview and a cover shoot, while Charles gets to ruminate on how to keep the agricultural areas of Britain alive and vibrant. So, as the Press Association explains, his edition will feature 10 “countryside champions” as well as ideas on overcoming the affordable housing shortage in rural Britain. The issue will be published a day before his birthday. What do you bet there will be a gift-wrapped version waiting upon his return from Asia?

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