British Royal Family

How Prince Charles REALLY feels about facing the big 7-0

At an intimate reception, the Prince of Wales talks about his 52-year relationship with Australia and the pains of turning 70. The Weekly's Royal Correspondent Juliet Rieden joined HRH at Queensland's Government House.

By The Australian Women's Weekly
On a beautiful Brisbane night, Queensland Governor His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey hosted a very special reception for his house guest the Prince of Wales.
It was a sort of 70th birthday bash in advance of the Prince's birthday in November. In a room filled with the Prince's special friends from around Australia, people he has got to know over his 52-year relationship with this wide brown land, plus a group of guests also turning 70 in 2018 and an impressive collection of Queensland's great and good, the Prince was in his element as he worked the room speaking to as many people as possible.
There was Katie Noonan who sung so beautifully only a couple of nights ago at the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony. The Prince told her his favourite part of the Ceremony musical performances was the didgeridoo orchestral piece. "It was amazing talking to him," Katie told The Weekly.
"My mum met his dad when she performed in The Tempest as an opera singer 36 years ago. It's nice that I now get to meet Prince Philip's son."
Two really old friends had travelled from Melbourne and Sydney to catch up with the lad they taught at Timbertop 52 years ago. Michael Collins Persse, 86, had come from hospital to spend the evening with the Prince.
Michael was Prince Charles' history tutor here in Australia when the royal attended Geelong Grammar. He has stayed in touch with the future King ever since and says that whenever they meet "we just pick up the same conversation we've been having for 52 years.
He is a such a special person," explains Michael who says Charles was fascinated with history and was a very diligent deep-thinking student. "He gives inspiration to those who know him."
His French teacher from Timbertop, Dr Janet West, 82, was also thrilled to be catching up with her former student. "He spoke beautiful French," she muses.
"He had perfect pronounciation. My husband taught him Latin and Greek but his favourite thing to do was to go off trout fishing. He'd go on his own, well with one of his police officers. He also liked going skiing on Mount Buller with the other boys."
Also in attendance was Dame Quentin Bryce and her husband Michael Bryce who hosted the Prince many times when Dame Quentin was Governor-General, and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and her mother Narelle who was one of those turning 70 this year.
Following a warm speech from the Governor, the Prince had the room in peels of laughter one minute and spellbound the next with his speech, as he shared the growing pains of turning 70 with surprising candour, his genuine passion for Australia forged 52 years ago as a newly arrived pom, his love of Queensland and his ongoing mission to work in harmony to save Australia from ecological imperatives like climate change.
"It is always a joy to come back to Queensland," said the Prince, adding with a wicked smile "and apart from anything else it is a great pleasure always to stay in this wonderful old house which has a particularly comfortable bed."
At the prospect of turning 70, the Prince said, "I do know only too well the strange feeling of disbelief that this is actually happening. Never again for instance will it be possible to squeeze into a pair of budgie smugglers...I don't know about you, but now bits of me keep falling off."
"Don't worry, they keep telling me, you have brilliant genes, but honestly I can't even get into them either!"
On a more serious note, the Prince praised the Australian spirit and unique form of mateship that characterised those who fought in his father's and grandfather's generation during two dreadful world wars.
"Whenever it has been tested the Australian character has always come up trumps. ...and your qualities of determination, tenacity and valour demonstrated so conspicuously on the western front are still evident today as much expemplified by the firey's helmet as of course the slouch hat," he said.
It was clear the Prince was enjoying himself and so were his guests who gave the Royal a rapturous round of applause on his last night in Queensland.

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