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Saturday, 19 February, 2000, 15:43 GMT
Wheel treat for duke's birthday

Yorks The Yorks in their capsule above Westminster


The Duke of York has taken his family for a spin on the Millennium Wheel to celebrate his 40th birthday.

More than 200 people were waiting beside the Thames as the duke arrived with his former wife, the Duchess of York, and their daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

Princess Beatrice was heard to say "wow" as the family stepped into their capsule for the half-hour ride.

They emerged smiling at the end of the trip to tell reporters they had enjoyed themselves immensely.

Duchess and Princess The Duchess of York and Princess Beatrice enjoy the ride
"It was excellent," said the duchess. "Very good. Yes we had a lovely time."

The family left the Millennium Wheel for a birthday lunch, which will be followed by a party at Buckingham Palace.

To further commemorate his birthday, the duke has published an internet interview in which he reveals his firm belief in the philosophy that life begins at 40.

His optimistic declaration, made after surviving the trauma of divorce, sees the duke looking forward to maintaining his public image while pursuing a busy career and family life.


I am becoming increasingly convinced that life does indeed, begin at 40
The Duke of York
"Life is a series of successes and failures," he said.

"One must learn from the the failures and build on the success.

"I am becoming increasingly convinced that life does indeed, begin at 40."

The duke currently juggles the demands of a career in the Royal Navy - he is a Commander based at the Ministry of Defence in London - with official engagements as a member of the Royal Family.

He has become the chairman of the NSPCC's Full Stop campaign against cruelty and abuse towards children as well as taking over from his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, as chairman of Outward Bound.

Swamped

The duke's choice of the wheel as the venue for his birthday outing is a popular one, according to figures released on Saturday by British Airways, which owns the attraction.

More than three-quarters of a million advance tickets have been sold, and booking operators have been so swamped with calls that the number of lines has been doubled to 60. About 3,000 calls an hour are being taken.

"We knew it would be a success but it has been fantastic," said a spokeswoman for British Airways.

The wheel is due to open to the public in March.

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See also:
02 Jan 00 |  UK
Royals join millennium prayers
15 Oct 99 |  UK
Fergie's birthday sadness
02 Jan 00 |  Northern Ireland
Andrew joins millennium service

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