Nightly News   |  May 08, 2013

Queen prepares Prince Charles for the throne

Now that Queen Elizabeth II is 87 she’s planning to pass the baton to her son Charles, who has waited longer than any other heir for his time on the British throne. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.

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>>> finally tonight if you are living in great britain and you have reached the age of 61 you have never known life under any other british monarch . in this era the reign of queen elizabeth ii must some day come to an end. for the first time now there are signs of a kind of royal transition. nbc's kier simmons has our report from london.

>> reporter: for decades as mother and monarch she's been the very picture of stability and tradition. but change is coming, even to this family. prince charles today accompanying the queen at the state's opening of parliament, camilla with him -- a sign of things to come.

>> what we are seeing is the queen preparing to pass on the baton if you like to prince charles to take on far more responsibility, to be seen, to give him a chance to be seen on the world stage and perform in public as a statesman role.

>> reporter: the queen is 87 now. prince philip , 92 next month. time to slow down. in november, charles will represent his mother at a commonwealth meeting in sri lanka . she's attended for years, but not this time. it's too far for her to fly. no heir to the british throne has waited longer than charles .

>> i charles , prince of wales, do become your liege man.

>> reporter: there is one behind him and another as kate is expecting in july. will and kate touring america and australia. prince harry arrives in the u.s. tomorrow for another visit while 64-year-old charles waits as he reluctantly discussed with brian not long ago.

>> this is something that if it comes to it, regrettably it comes --

>> as a result of the death of your mother.

>> the death of a parent which is not so nice to say the least.

>> reporter: slowly, a transition is under way as the queen, doubt bound, thinks about the future. charles talked about the abdication of the dutch queen to her son, age 46. queen elizabeth vowed never to abdicate. time waits for no one, not even a queen. kier simmons, nbc news, london.