The Queen has called Prince Charles “a dedicated and respected heir to the throne to stand comparison with any in history”, at a party to celebrate his 70th birthday.
At a black tie dinner staged in honour of the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, she said: “It is a privilege for any mother to be able to propose a toast to her son on his 70th birthday.
“It means that you have lived long enough to see your child grow up. It is rather like – to use an analogy I am certain will find favour – planting a tree and being able to watch it grow.
“My mother saw me turn 70, of course. And she was heard to observe that 70 is exactly the age when the number of candles on your cake finally exceeds the amount of breath you have to blow them out.
“Over his 70 years, Philip and I have seen Charles become a champion of conservation and the arts, a great charitable leader – a dedicated and respected heir to the throne to stand comparison with any in history – and a wonderful father.
“Most of all, sustained by his wife Camilla, he is his own man, passionate and creative.
“So this toast is to wish a happy birthday to my son, in every respect a duchy original.
“To you Charles. To the Prince of Wales.”
The toast to her son and heir was peppered with and humour, including the comment he was “a Duchy original” – referencing Charles’s Duchy Originals brand of produce.
Close family and friends gathered in Buckingham Palace’s ballroom for the glittering event including William and Kate, and Harry and Meghan.
Celebrations have taken place across the day to honour the prince’s birthday, including afternoon tea with group of 70 people who also turn 70 this year.
When he arrived at Spencer House with Camilla for the event, he was asked by the waiting press how he felt.
He replied: “I’m not sure, it’s rather like indigestion, many happy returns are not quite the same thing as you get older.”
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41-gun salute from Green Park to mark his birthday.
In the Tower of London, the Honourable Artillery Company fired a 62-gun salute, while Westminster Abbey’s bells also rang out in his honour.
At Green Park, six First World War-era 13-pounder field guns fired blank rounds at 10 seconds intervals until 41 had been fired. The guns had been pulled to the park by 71 horses.
Ahead of his birthday, Clarence House released two new images, showing the prince with his entire dynasty for the first time. The relaxed pictures showed Charles and Camilla in the garden with Prince George on his knee, while his sons and daughter-in-laws stood around him.
The prince has become Britain’s longest serving heir to the throne, and surpasses the age of retirement without having held what will be his biggest job.
(c) Sky News 2018: Queen hails Prince Charles as ‘respected heir to the throne’