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Happy birthday, Prince Charles - here’s the perfect gift

PUBLISHED: 15:09 12 November 2018

Early morning at Thurne on the Norfolk Broads. Picture: Picasa

Early morning at Thurne on the Norfolk Broads. Picture: Picasa

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Prince Charles is celebrating his 70th birthday... but what to give him? Lynne Mortimer thinks East Anglia has the answer.

Samphire and sea purslane growing on Havergate island. Picture: S GrantSamphire and sea purslane growing on Havergate island. Picture: S Grant

What do you give a man who has everything?

A crown? Moving swiftly on.

Today, His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, and heir apparent to the British throne (November 14) celebrates his 70th birthday and it must be a head-scratcher for those trying to buy him the perfect gift. If you’ve visited his Highgrove gardens, you’ll know he’s not really short of garden ornaments (other nations have gifted him sculptures etc) or plants. His hostas cover an area bigger than my whole garden.

Peering through his windows (as you do) it looks as if he’s okay for furniture and, judging by his public appearances, he’s not short of a suit and tie.

A place to change for a swim - a beach hut at Wells-Next-The-Sea. Picture: Colin FinchA place to change for a swim - a beach hut at Wells-Next-The-Sea. Picture: Colin Finch

East Anglia - this is the place to find the sort of birthday present fit for a future king. And so, here are my top 10 choices of gifts for Prince Charles.

1. A samphire bed: samphire, once a neglected river plant, is now de rigueur to eat with seafood. It can be bought from supermarkets but can sometimes be a bit woody. Much of it grows along the river shores of East Anglia and what could be better than creating a patch so that the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, can enjoy fresh samphire with their crab (see 4 below)

2. A car boot sale experience. I don’t know for sure that the Prince has never attended a car boot sale but there are some great ones in the region although not all of them keep going through the dark winter months.

3. A bag of old pennies to spend on Southwold pier. The amusement arcade on Southwold pier has a number of machines the prince might have encountered in his youth... if he ever had the opportunity to enjoy seaside fun like the working classes when he was a boy. If he didn’t then this pier is a great start; if he did, it will be a blast of nostalgia.

For a man of refined tastes, a Cromer crab (no other will do). Picture: Anthony KellyFor a man of refined tastes, a Cromer crab (no other will do). Picture: Anthony Kelly

4. A year’s supply of Cromer crabs: Two a week (dressed, of course) for a calendar year - what could be nicer served with samphire from the Suffolk coast and a spoonful of saffron mayonnaise (using Essex-grown saffron). East Anglia on a plate.

5. A week on the Broads: It must be difficult for a busy royal to take time to “potter” but with the speed limit on the Broads, there is little option but to process in a leisurely fashion around some of Britain’s most glorious waterways with their abundant wildlife and welcoming hostelries. From a little ol’ boat (boot if you’re on the Norfolk Broads) to a stylish cruiser, the pace of life is no more than three, four, five or six miles per hour. Perfect for a 21st century prince.

6. A summer’s lease on a beach hut at Wells-Next-The-Sea or Felixstowe. Just 35 minutes from Sandringham House what could be better than a beach hut overlooking the perfect sands of the north Norfolk coast. A cup of Highgrove Prince of Wales blend tea and a Suffolk bacon sandwich, then slip on the royal trunks and head for the gently-lapping waves for a paddle.

7. An afternoon painting at Flatford. Prince Charles is known to love painting watercolours and where better to set up an easel than Flatford... perhaps taking up the exact same spot as John Constable when the Suffolk landscape artist painted The Hay Wain − albeit in oils. The county has the big skies the Prince likes and, although it may lack undulating hills, it does have spectacular horizons.

A charity fund raising car boot sale in Melton in 2015. Picture: Simon ParkerA charity fund raising car boot sale in Melton in 2015. Picture: Simon Parker

8. Adopt an animal at Colchester Zoo. There are a number of zoos in East Anglia but Colchester, perhaps, houses the biggest range of creatures. Maybe Astrid the rhino or Igor the Amur tiger might like to sport the Prince of Wales’ feathers on their enclosures.

9. Oysters from north Essex. A gift of a dozen native oysters from Mersea Island and champagne is a snip priced from £45.50. Being born in November means the Prince can eat oysters on his birthday (as there is an “r” in the month). They are also believed to have an aphrodisiac effect...

10. A day-long experience as a king taking Orford Castle from rebellious barons. What better for a king-in-waiting than to revisit royal history by leading his armies. This is the sort of experience modern kings will never have. The last king to do so was George II, in 1743, when he personally led his troops at the Battle of Dettingen, in Germany, during the War of the Austrian Succession. Orford last saw action when the French-led Barons took on King John in the 13th century. Naturally, this would be a re-creation, no one would be hurt.

• Prince Charles is 70 on November 14

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