By the time he turns 60 today, Prince Charles will have spent a lifetime in line to become king.
That's put him in quite a bind. The longest-waiting heir in British history only ascends to the throne when his mother dies or decides to step down.
Queen Elizabeth II was hosting a birthday party for her son Thursday at Buckingham Palace. The Philharmonia Orchestra, of which the prince is patron, played for invited members of the extended royal family and assorted society figures. Charles' wife, Camilla, was throwing a more private bash Saturday at the prince's rural estate, complete with a performance by sexagenarian rocker Rod Stewart.
But the queen won't be giving Charles the present many believe he craves most: the crown. The queen has indicated informally that she plans to keep the job for life, and some people think the 82-year-old monarch intends to live forever, or at least as long as her mother, who died at 101.
If the queen remains in good health, Charles may be nearing 80 – or past it – when he fulfills the unique destiny that was his at birth.
Britain's next-longest monarch-in-waiting was Queen Victoria's eldest son, who became King Edward VII in 1901, aged just over 59 years and 2 months.