Prince Charles paid tribute to the Queen Mother on Monday (04.08.08).

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The prince received the Freedom of Caithness – which was also granted to the Queen Mother in 1990 – at the Assembly Rooms in Wick, Scotland, and chose to reminisce about the time he spent in the area with his grandmother as a child.

He said: “I can’t tell you how touched I have been by the news you wished to do this. There was something tucked away in my heart for a very long time in this part of the world.

“As many of you will know, I adored my grandmother, and one of the most frustrating things about today is that I cannot ring her up and tell her about it.”

The Freedom of Caithness was bestowed upon the prince – who celebrates his 60th birthday in November – by the Highland Council, and he announced it was the best early birthday present he could hope to receive.

He said: “I could not be more flattered, and indeed grateful to Highland Council for what has turned out to be probably one of the best early 60th birthday presents I could receive.”

Prince Charles has maintained strong links with Scotland since his grandmother’s death in 2002.

He spends each summer at the Queen Mother’s former home, the Castle of Mey, and promotes Caithness at a national level through his North Highland Initiative.