Prince Charles 'overjoyed' at birth of first grandchild
PROUD grandfather the Prince of Wales described his joy tonight at the birth of his first grandchild.
In a touching statement, Charles spoke of how the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby son was "an incredibly special moment for William and Catherine".
The heir to the throne said he and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall were "overjoyed" at the baby's arrival and "so thrilled" for William and Kate.
He reflected on the special status grandparents enjoy and said he was looking forward to meeting his new grandson soon.
The Prince said: "Both my wife and I are overjoyed at the arrival of my first grandchild. It is an incredibly special moment for William and Catherine and we are so thrilled for them on the birth of their baby boy.
"Grandparenthood is a unique moment in anyone's life, as countless kind people have told me in recent months, so I am enormously proud and happy to be a grandfather for the first time and we are eagerly looking forward to seeing the baby in the near future."
Charles had already spoken of his delight at the prospect of a new addition to his family after Kate's pregnancy was announced.
The heir to the throne said he was "thrilled" and even joked about how the latest development in his eventful life had come at the age of 64.
He said previously: "It's a very nice thought to become a grandfather in my old age, if I can say so."
Behind the trappings of state, the future king lives a life as normal as possible at his London home Clarence House and his country retreat Highgrove in Gloucestershire.
This was reflected in how he approached becoming a father and suggests he will bring the same attitude to becoming a grandfather.
The Prince was involved with William's childcare duties when he was a baby, changing his nappies, and he could name his son's favourite bath toy - a rubber duck.
Charles mentioned the toy in response to a question asked on an Australian radio phone-in programme during a royal tour in 1983.
When members of the public questioned the heir to the throne and his wife Diana about William's bath-time amusement, it was the Prince who came up with the answer first.
During Diana's pregnancy he read books about childbirth and how to bring up a child, and he joined his wife at an antenatal class.
So Charles could expect William to bring over the grandchild and leave the infant in his capable hands.
The Prince's wife Camilla already has five grandchildren and so has plenty of experience of entertaining little ones.
Nicholas Davies, in his biography William, King For The 21st Century, highlighted the heir to the throne's "new dad" role when his first son was born.
"Charles and Diana wandered in and out of the nursery at will, the Prince taking great delight in changing nappies and bathing his tiny son; Diana spent hours talking and playing with her little boy, as well as bottle-feeding him when she had finished breastfeeding him."
The importance of the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild is something the heir to the throne knows well as he was very close to his grandmother, the Queen Mother, and "adored" her as a child.
When the Queen was away on her long tour of the Commonwealth during 1953/54 Charles, then just four, and his sister Anne, aged two, spent Christmas at Sandringham with "Granny".
After bonding with her grandson during this period, the Queen Mother kept in constant touch with Charles, especially through letters, and the Prince will want to develop a similar relationship with his grandchild.
In one of her letters the Queen Mother revealed the extent of her affection after the heir to the throne sent her flowers after her appendix operation in 1964: "My darling Charles, I can't tell you how touched and delighted I was."
She remained a constant for the Prince, who could turn to her whenever he needed support.
When she died in 2002, Charles was devastated and movingly spoke about his loss: "She meant everything and I had dreaded, dreaded this moment. Somehow I never thought it would come. She seemed gloriously unstoppable."
Charles's involvement with the life of William and Kate's baby is likely to be different from the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's relationship with William and Harry when they were boys.
The Queen and Philip are from a generation where much of the upbringing of children was left to nannies and staff from the nursery.
But when William and his brother Harry were studying at Eton, very close to the Queen's Windsor Castle home, they were presumably able to see their grandparents more often.
Harry has described Britain's head of state as simply his grandmother behind closed doors.
Becoming a grandfather is a role Charles is likely to take seriously.
In his working life the baby will be an added impetus in his efforts to change the world for the better.
Charles has been a strong advocate of taking action to protect the environment for many years and said recently: "I don't want to be confronted by my future grandchild and (have) them say 'Why didn't you do something?'."