"It's a rather forlorn birthday I think for Charles who is not in great shape spiritually," says royal biographer Anthony Holden. "As the millennium turns people are suddenly saying, 'What is the monarchy for?' That is a question Charles has to answer."
When Diana was at his side, that question hardly came up. Now with Camilla Parker Bowles in the picture, the question is, "What's he up to?"
"The Prince loves Camilla, needs Camilla. She's a very important part of his life, she lights him up. He's a new man when she is around," says royal biographer Penny Junor.
Charles is a new man with an old problem. His mother does not approve of Camilla.
According to Holden, "She [the Queen] takes a very dim view of his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles. She is against remarriage. She calls Camilla quote 'the adulteress who led my son astray'."
On Friday, the Queen held a gala at Buckingham place for 850 guests but Camilla was not invited. On Saturday, the day of Charles's birthday, Camilla hosted a party in the country at Highgrove, Charles' home in Gloucestershire, England. The Queen was busy elsewhere.
Camilla Parker Bowles arriving at Highgrove
Parker Bowles wore the jewel-studded necklace she inherited from her great grandmother, another royal mistress, at the party, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
The Express on Sunday said the turquoise, diamond and sapphire necklace was left to Camilla by Alice Keppel, who had a 12-year affair with King Edward the Seventh. The newspaper said Parker Bowles had spent "a fortune" having the magnificent necklace cleaned so that it looked its best for the party.
The only senior members of the royal family spotted by dozens of cameramen outside the gates of Highgrove were Prince Charles's aunt Princess Margaret and his sons, Princes William and Harry.
At 72, the Queen is strong and healthy. Insiders say talk of her abdication is nonsense.
It's no turning point Charles is mrking this week. It's more like another take on a familiar tune.
The good news is that a new opinion poll says three-fourths of the British public think he'd be either a "very good" or "fairly good"king.
But only 40 percent thought he should marry Parker Bowles, while 46 percent were against it.
Meanwhile, Charles at 50 is still doing the job he was born to do. He's waiting.
Reported By Richard Roth