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Britain's royal family on Friday rushed to deny a report that Prince Charles believed becoming king when Queen Elizabeth II dies would be like “prison”.
Time magazine carried a lengthy cover profile with the heir to the throne, who turns 65 next month, in which an aide was quoted as saying that he worried that he would not achieve some of his aims before the “prison shades” close.
The row erupted just two days after the christening of Prince George - the three-month-old baby of Prince Charles's eldest son Prince William - which brought the queen and three future monarchs together for the first time in over a century.
A spokesman for Charles's office Clarence House said: “This is not the Prince of Wales's view and should not be attributed to him as he did not say these words.
“The Prince has dutifully supported the Queen all his life and his official duties and charitable work have always run in parallel.”
Time magazine journalist Catherine Mayer said she had access to Charles himself as well as more than 50 interviews with friends, associates and current and former aides.
“I found a man not, as caricatured, itching to ascend the throne, but impatient to get as much done as possible before, in the words of one member of his household, 'the prison shades' close,” Mayer wrote in the article.
Charles and other senior royals including William have been taking up more of the queen's duties as the 87-year-old monarch scales back on her work.
British newspapers quickly picked up on the “prison” quotes, with the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail all featuring the story on their front page.
Mayer later said that the quote did not come from the prince and was not meant to portray Charles as being unwilling to be king.
“It is certainly not the prince, he didn't say that and would not say that,” Mayer told Sky News on Friday.
“It's not his position. What the quote was talking about is the restriction on time, the person in question is not in any way suggesting that he views being monarch as a prison, that would be completely inaccurate.”
Queen Elizabeth, who in 2012 celebrated her diamond jubilee marking 60 years on the throne, has shown no sign of abdicating as some other European royals have done to let the younger generations have their turn.
Some opinion polls have shown a majority of the British public want the popular William, 31, to leapfrog his father in the order of succession.
Charles's popularity suffered after the death of his ex-wife Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris in 1997, but has recovered somewhat in recent years. - Sapa-AFP