IN a series of remarkably candid comments, Prince Charles has hinted he fears his legacy as king will be cut short.
During a visit to Dumfries House, a stately home in Ayrshire, Scotland, which the Prince helped save, he joked about his reputation for pursuing projects with notorious vigour, but made a poignant reference to his mortality.
He said: "Impatient? Me? What a thing to suggest! Yes, of course I am." He added: "I'll run out of time soon. I shall have snuffed it if I'm not careful."
The comments, which were recorded for a film on the Clarence House website about the prince's involvement with Dumfries House, will fuel ongoing speculation that Prince Charles (64) is more eager than ever to take the throne.
In 2008, he became the longest-waiting heir to the throne in British history.
With a history of longevity in his family – the queen is 86 and in good health, while Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother lived to the age of 101 – Prince Charles may yet have a while to wait until he succeeds his mother.
Prince Charles may also feel sidelined by the surge of affection displayed for his mother during her Diamond Jubilee and the soaring popularity of younger members of the Royal family.
In an Ipsos Mori poll conducted earlier this month, the Duke of Cambridge ( Prince William) was named as the most popular member of the royal family with an approval rating of 62pc – the highest since Ipsos Mori began its royal poll in 1984. Prince Charles's approval rating was 21pc, behind the Queen, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge.
The duke also experienced a major boost in popularity following his engagement in 2010, when two polls by ICM and YouGov found that most people believe he would make a better king than his father and think Prince Charles should stand aside for his son.
However, aides close to the duke have said that there is "no question in his mind" that Prince Charles will be the next monarch.
Professor Robert Hazell, the director of University College London's constitution unit, said: "He is at an age when most people are starting to contemplate retirement, yet he's not actually started the job he has spent his adult life preparing for. That is burdensome." (© Daily Telegraph, London)