Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

Charles celebrates 60th birthday

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Charles the birthday boy is serenaded by school children

The Prince of Wales marked his 60th birthday by launching a new campaign by his main charity.

A string of events have been planned to honour him, and an official portrait has been released to mark the occasion.

Princes William and Harry paid tribute to their father, who they said was "an inspiration to us and so many others".

Charles attended the launch of the Prince's Trust's Youth Week in east London and met young people taking part in a skills-building scheme.

The seven-day campaign aims to challenge stereotypes about youngsters and promote the work of the Trust in helping 14 to 30-year-olds who are not in work, education or training.

During the event at Beckton Community Centre, the Prince was given a birthday kiss on the cheek by a female passer-by. He also received a birthday card from members of the Prince's Trust course.

Later, he and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will attend a concert for young people by the Philharmonia Orchestra and organised by the Prince's Foundation for Children and the Arts.

Official portrait of the Prince of Wales
This portrait shows Charles in the uniform of the Welsh Guards

To mark Charles's birthday, the Queen allowed a 41-gun salute to be fired by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery at 1200 GMT in London's Hyde Park.

One hour later, a 62-gun salute was fired by the Honourable Artillery Company on Gun Wharf at the Tower of London.

The portrait of a relaxed-looking Charles wearing the ceremonial uniform of the Welsh Guards - minus the headdress - was taken by photographer Hugo Burnand.

On Wednesday evening, the Queen hosted a lavish dinner for her son at Buckingham Palace.

A comedy gala night was also staged on Wednesday for the Prince of Wales, with performances from Robin Williams, Rowan Atkinson and Bill Bailey.

Close friends of Charles paid tribute to a man who they said had found inner contentment after a difficult early life.

Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, who has been close to the Prince for many years, said recent media tributes to Charles had been a vindication of his achievements.

"I've been interested in the - by and large - very fair and very good press he has had in his 60th birthday year, looking back on a very full, very successful life," Mr Soames added.

Deborah Cavendish, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, said Charles was happier than ever.

"I've never seen him so content and so pleased with life," she said.

"For his friends, who have seen him through different times, it's wonderful to see him now."



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