The Prince of Wales is already the longest-serving heir apparent

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated September 19, 2013 08:00 PM
Credit: Barcroft Media/Startraks

Prince Charles was just 3 years old when he became first in line to the British throne.

And on Thursday, the Prince of Wales earned a potentially dubious distinction: He would be the oldest British monarch ever crowned.

According to The Telegraph, the new grandfather just surpassed the previous record holder, William IV, who became king in 1830 at the age of 64 years, 10 months and five days. (The oldest-ever heir to the throne, Sophia of Hanover, died in 1714 at age 83 before ever becoming monarch.)

The prince is already the longest-serving heir apparent (he surpassed Edward VII, who was 59 when he succeeded Queen Victoria) and has been standing by ever since his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, became Britain’s reigning monarch in 1952.

He could have a lot more waiting to do. Now 87, the queen still appears in good health, and longevity runs in the family – the Queen Mother died at the age of 101.

But there are signs the queen is ceding some power to her long-in-waiting firstborn son.

Earlier this year, Charles attended the state opening of Parliament with his mother for the first time in 17 years, and in November (the same month he turns 65), he will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka on behalf of the queen, who is scaling back her overseas travel.

Whether Charles is anxious to be crowned king has long been a subject of speculation, and the Prince of Wales himself addressed it last year at his birthday party – although possibly in jest.

“Impatient? Me? What a thing to suggest! Yes, of course I am,” he seemingly joked. “I’ll run out of time soon. I shall have snuffed it if I’m not careful.”