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It is high time that Prince Charles was given a real job, according to Britain's royal watchers.

Royal commentators seem to be sympathizing more and more with the Prince of Wales' feeling that being a man of action, an occasionally reclusive philosopher and a father of two boys is not enough for a future king with a conscience.The Daily Telegraph warned recently that Charles's politially sensitive work with the unemployed and help in regenerating Britain's run-down inner cities could be curbed by the Conservative government if he went too far.

"It is the unwelcome scent of socialism, of `something must be done,' about some of his speeches that breeds in Downing Street the suspicion that the prince is not, regrettably, `one of us,' " the staunchly pro-royal Telegraph said.

Rather than playing "the licensed royal gadfly, hopping from platform to platform and issue to issue," Charles should be given a real job like chairing a major environmental body, it said.

Charles' problem as he approaches 40 in November is not that time is passing too fast but that he is running out of ways to kill it until he ascends a throne for which he has been groomed since birth.

He could be at least 60 before he becomes king. His 61-year-old mother Queen Elizabeth II is in good health and showing no signs of wanting to abdicate.

A brush with death in Switzerland in March when he was narrowly missed by an avalanche that killed one of his close friends has narrowed his options and stoked his known capacity for self-criticism and guilt.

Charles, who accepted responsibility for taking the skiing party onto a dangerous slope at Klosters appears publicly chastened by Maj. Hugh Lindsay's death.

While he struggled privately to handle his grief, the solemn-natured prince also had to cope with endless amateur philosophizing from some royal watchers who said he blamed himself for the accident and was heading for a breakdown.

Most said Charles, who took up flying and parachuting to compensate for his closeted royal lifestyle, had to realize such sports were too dangerous for the future head of a monarchy that was still the focus of national unity and pride.

"The Prince of Wales does not seek danger for its own sake. He seeks it as a means of testing himself. By any standard he has now passed that test. His courage is legendary. There is now a further test for him to take and pass: that of accepting the necessity to renounce danger in the line of duty," Peregrine Worsthorne, the Sunday Telegraph editor, wrote after Lindsay's death.