Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George;[fn 1] born 14 November 1948) is the eldest child and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II. Known alternatively in Cornwall as Duke of Cornwall and in Scotland as Duke of Rothesay, he is the longest-serving heir apparent in British history, having held the position since 1952. He is also the oldest person to be next in line to the throne since Sophia of Hanover (the heir presumptive to Queen Anne), who died in 1714 at the age of 83.
Charles was born at Buckingham Palace as the first grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. He was educated at Cheam and Gordonstoun Schools, which his father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, had attended as a child, as well as the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, Australia. After earning a bachelor of arts degree from Trinity College, Cambridge, Charles served in the Royal Navy from 1971 to 1976.
In 1981, he married Lady Diana Spencer and they had two sons: Prince William (born 1982), later to become Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry (born 1984). In 1996, the couple divorced, following well-publicised extramarital affairs. Diana died in a car crash in Paris the following year. In 2005, Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles.
Charles's interests encompass a range of humanitarian and social issues: he founded The Prince's Trust in 1976, sponsors The Prince's Charities, and is patron of numerous other charitable and arts organisations. Charles has long championed organic farming for which he established the Duchy Home Farm, run by the Duchy of Cornwall, which produces ingredients for the Duchy Originals brand which he founded in 1990. Charles has sought to raise world awareness of the dangers facing the natural environment, such as climate change. As an environmentalist, he has received numerous awards and recognition from environmental groups around the world. His support for alternative medicine, including homeopathy, has been criticised by some in the medical community. He has been outspoken on the role of architecture in society and the conservation of historic buildings. Subsequently, Charles created Poundbury, an experimental new town based on his theories, in Dorset in 1993. He has authored a number of books, including A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture in 1989 and the children's book The Old Man of Lochnagar in 1980.
Prince Charles was born at Buckingham Palace on 14 November 1948, at 9:14 pm (GMT), the first child of Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and first grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. He was baptised in the palace's Music Room by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, on 15 December 1948.[fn 2]
The death of his grandfather and accession of his mother as Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 made Charles her heir apparent. As the monarch's eldest son, he automatically took the titles Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. Charles attended his mother's coronation at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. As was customary for upper-class children at the time, a governess, Catherine Peebles, was appointed and undertook his education between the ages of five and eight. Buckingham Palace announced in 1955 that Charles would attend school rather than have a private tutor, making him the first heir apparent ever to be educated in that manner.
Charles first attended Hill House School in west London, receiving non-preferential treatment from the school's founder and then head, Stuart Townend, who advised the Queen to have Charles train in football because the boys were never deferential to anyone on the football field. Charles then attended two of his father's former schools, Cheam Preparatory School in Berkshire, England, followed by Gordonstoun in the north-east of Scotland. He reportedly despised the latter school, which he described as "Colditz in kilts". He spent two terms in 1966 at the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, Australia, during which time he visited Papua New Guinea on a school trip with his history tutor, Michael Collins Persse. Upon his return to Gordonstoun, Charles emulated his father in becoming Head Boy. He left in 1967, with six GCE O-levels and two A-levels in history and French, at grades B and C, respectively.
Tradition was broken again when Charles proceeded straight from secondary school into university, as opposed to joining the British Armed Forces. In October 1967, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read anthropology, archaeology, and history. During his second year, Charles attended the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, studying Welsh history and language for a term. He graduated from Cambridge with a 2:2 Bachelor of Arts on 23 June 1970, the first heir apparent to earn a university degree. On 2 August 1975, he was subsequently awarded a Master of Arts degree from Cambridge, per the university's tradition.
Charles was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on 26 July 1958, though his investiture as such was not conducted until 1 July 1969, when he was crowned by his mother in a televised ceremony held at Caernarfon Castle. He took his seat in the House of Lords in 1970 and made his maiden speech in June 1974. Charles also began to take on more public duties, founding The Prince's Trust in 1976, and travelling to the United States in 1981.
In the mid-1970s, the prince expressed an interest in serving as Governor-General of Australia; Commander Michael Parker explained: "The idea behind the appointment was for him to put a foot on the ladder of monarchy, or being the future King and start learning the trade." However, because of a combination of nationalist feeling in Australia and the dismissal of the government by the Governor-General in 1975, nothing came of the proposal. Charles accepted the decision of the Australian ministers, if not without some regret; he reportedly stated: "What are you supposed to think when you are prepared to do something to help and you are told you are not wanted?"
Charles is the second-longest serving Prince of Wales, behind Edward VII, whose record he could surpass on 9 September 2017. He is the oldest and longest-serving British heir apparent, the longest-serving Duke of Cornwall, and the longest-serving Duke of Rothesay. If he became monarch at present he would be the oldest person to do so; the current record holder is William IV, who was 64 when he became king in 1830.
Following family tradition, Charles served in the navy and air force. After requesting and receiving Royal Air Force training during his second year at Cambridge, on 8 March 1971, he flew himself to the Royal Air Force College Cranwell to train as a jet pilot. Following the passing-out parade that September, he embarked on a naval career, enrolling in a six-week course at the Royal Naval College Dartmouth and then serving on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk (1971–1972) and the frigates HMS Minerva (1972–1973) and HMS Jupiter (1974). He also qualified as a helicopter pilot at RNAS Yeovilton in 1974, just prior to joining 845 Naval Air Squadron, operating from HMS Hermes.
On 9 February 1976, he took command of the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington for his last ten months serving actively in the navy. He learned to fly on a Chipmunk basic pilot trainer, a BAC Jet Provost jet trainer, and a Beagle Basset multi-engine trainer; he then regularly flew the Hawker Siddeley Andover, Westland Wessex and BAe 146 aircraft of The Queen's Flight until he gave up flying after crashing the BAe 146 in the Hebrides in 1994.
In his youth, Charles was linked to a number of women. His great-uncle Lord Mountbatten advised him: "In a case like yours, the man should sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can before settling down, but for a wife he should choose a suitable, attractive, and sweet-charactered girl before she has met anyone else she might fall for ... It is disturbing for women to have experiences if they have to remain on a pedestal after marriage."
Charles's girlfriends included Georgiana Russell, daughter of the British Ambassador to Spain; Lady Jane Wellesley, daughter of the 8th Duke of Wellington; Davina Sheffield; Lady Sarah Spencer; and Camilla Shand, who later became his second wife and Duchess of Cornwall.
Early in 1974, Mountbatten began corresponding with Charles about a potential marriage to Amanda Knatchbull, Mountbatten's granddaughter. Charles wrote to Amanda's mother, Lady Brabourne (who was also his godmother), expressing interest in her daughter, to which she replied approvingly, though suggesting that a courtship with the not yet 17-year-old girl was premature. Four years later Mountbatten arranged for himself and Amanda to accompany Charles on his 1980 tour of India. Both fathers, however, objected; Philip feared that Charles would be eclipsed by his famous uncle (who had served as the last British Viceroy and first Governor-General of India), while Lord Brabourne warned that a joint visit would concentrate media attention on the cousins before they could decide on becoming a couple. However, in August 1979, before Charles would depart alone for India, Mountbatten was killed by the IRA. When Charles returned, he proposed to Amanda, but in addition to her grandfather, she had lost her paternal grandmother and youngest brother Nicholas in the bomb attack and was now reluctant to join the Royal Family. In June 1980, Charles officially turned down Chevening House, placed at his disposal since 1974, as his future residence. Chevening, a stately home in Kent, was bequeathed, along with an endowment, to the Crown by the last Earl Stanhope, Amanda's childless great-uncle, in the hope that Charles would eventually occupy it. In 1977, a newspaper report mistakenly announced his engagement to Princess Marie-Astrid of Luxembourg.
Although Charles first met Lady Diana Spencer in 1977—while visiting her home, Althorp, as the companion of her elder sister, Sarah—he did not consider her romantically until mid-1980. While sitting together on a bale of hay at a friend's barbecue in July, he mentioned Mountbatten's death, to which Diana replied that Charles had looked forlorn and in need of care during his uncle's funeral. Soon, according to Charles's chosen biographer, Jonathan Dimbleby, "without any apparent surge in feeling, he began to think seriously of her as a potential bride", and she accompanied Charles on visits to Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House.
Charles's cousin, Norton Knatchbull (Amanda's eldest brother), and his wife told Charles that Diana appeared awestruck by his position and that he did not seem to be in love with her. Meanwhile, the couple's continued courtship attracted intense press and paparazzi attention. When Prince Philip told him that the media speculation would injure Diana's reputation if Charles did not come to a decision about marrying her soon, and realizing that she was a suitable royal bride (according to Mountbatten's criteria), Charles construed his father's advice as a warning to proceed without further delay.
Prince Charles proposed to Diana in February 1981 and they married in St Paul's Cathedral on 29 July. Upon his marriage, Charles reduced his voluntary tax contribution from the profits generated by the Duchy of Cornwall from 50% to 25%. The couple made their homes at Kensington Palace and at Highgrove House, near Tetbury, and had two children: Princes William (born 21 June 1982) and Henry (known as "Harry") (born 15 September 1984). Charles set precedent by being the first royal father to be present at his children's births. Persistent suggestions that Harry's father is not Charles but James Hewitt, with whom Diana had an affair, have been based on a physical similarity between Hewitt and Harry. However, Harry had already been born by the time the affair between Hewitt and Diana began.
Within five years, the couple's incompatibility and near thirteen-year age difference, as well as Diana's concern about Charles's previous girlfriend, Camilla Shand (later Camilla Parker Bowles), became visible and damaging to their marriage. Their evident discomfort in each other's company led to them being dubbed "The Glums" in the press. Diana exposed Charles's affair with Camilla in a book by Andrew Morton, Diana, Her True Story. Tapes of her own extramarital flirtations also surfaced.
In December 1992, the British Prime Minister, John Major, announced their formal separation in Parliament. That same year, the British press published bugged recordings of a passionate private 1989 telephone conversation between Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. Charles and Diana divorced on 28 August 1996. When Diana died in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997, Charles flew there, with Diana's sisters, to accompany her body back to Britain.
The engagement of Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles was announced on 10 February 2005; he presented her with an engagement ring which had belonged to his grandmother. The Queen's consent to the marriage (as required by the Royal Marriages Act 1772) was recorded in a Privy Council meeting on 2 March. In Canada, the Department of Justice announced its decision that the Queen's Privy Council for Canada was not required to meet to give its consent to the marriage, as the union would not result in offspring and would have no impact on the succession to the Canadian throne.
Charles is the first member of the Royal Family to have a civil, rather than religious, wedding in England. Government documents from the 1950s and 1960s, published by the BBC, stated that such a marriage was illegal, though these were dismissed by Charles's spokesman, and explained to be obsolete by the sitting government.
The marriage was to take place in a civil ceremony at Windsor Castle, with a subsequent religious blessing at St George's Chapel. However, because a civil marriage at Windsor Castle would oblige the venue to be available to anyone wishing to be married there, the location was changed to Windsor Guildhall. On 4 April the originally scheduled date of 8 April was postponed by one day, to allow Charles and some of the invited dignitaries to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
Charles's parents did not attend the civil marriage ceremony; the Queen's reluctance to attend perhaps arising from her position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh did attend the service of blessing, and held a reception for the newlyweds at Windsor Castle afterwards. The blessing, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, was televised.
Since founding The Prince's Trust in 1976, Charles has established sixteen more charitable organisations, and now serves as president of all of those. Together, these form a loose alliance called The Prince's Charities, which describes itself as "the largest multi-cause charitable enterprise in the United Kingdom, raising over £100 million annually ... [and is] active across a broad range of areas including education and young people, environmental sustainability, the built environment, responsible business and enterprise and international."
In 2010, The Prince's Charities Canada was established in a similar fashion to its namesake in the UK. Charles is also patron of over 350 other charities and organisations, and carries out duties related to these throughout the Commonwealth realms; for example, he uses his tours of Canada as a way to help draw attention to youth, the disabled, the environment, the arts, medicine, the elderly, heritage conservation, and education. In Canada, Charles has supported humanitarian projects, for example taking part, along with his two sons, in the ceremonies marking the 1998 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Charles has also set up The Prince's Charities Australia, which is based in Melbourne, Victoria. The Prince's Charities Australia is to provide a coordinating presence for the Prince of Wales’s Australian and international charitable endeavors.
Charles was one of the first world leaders to express strong concerns about the human rights record of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, initiating objections in the international arena, and subsequently supported the FARA Foundation, a charity for Romanian orphans and abandoned children.
In 2013, Charles donated an unspecified sum of money to the British Red Cross Syria Crisis appeal and DEC Syria appeal, which is run by 14 British charities to help victims of the Syrian civil war. According to The Guardian, It is believed that after turning 65 years old in 2013, Charles donated his state pension to an unnamed charity which supports elderly people. In March 2014, Charles arranged for five million measles-rubella vaccinations for children in the Philippines on the outbreak of measles in South-East Asia. According to Clarence House, Charles was affected by news of the damage caused by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. International Health Partners, of which he has been Patron since 2004, sent the vaccines, which are believed to protect five million children below the age of five from measles.
The Prince of Wales has openly expressed his views on architecture and urban planning, fostering the advancement of New Classical Architecture, and asserting that he "care[s] deeply about issues such as the environment, architecture, inner-city renewal, and the quality of life." In a speech given for the 150th anniversary of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on 30 May 1984, he memorably described a proposed extension to the National Gallery in London as a "monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved friend" and deplored the "glass stumps and concrete towers" of modern architecture. He asserted that "it is possible, and important in human terms, to respect old buildings, street plans and traditional scales and at the same time not to feel guilty about a preference for facades, ornaments and soft materials," called for local community involvement in architectural choices, and asked:
Why can't we have those curves and arches that express feeling in design? What is wrong with them? Why has everything got to be vertical, straight, unbending, only at right angles – and functional?
His book and BBC documentary A Vision of Britain (1987) was also critical of modern architecture, and he has continued to campaign for traditional urbanism, human scale, restoration of historic buildings, and sustainable design, despite criticism in the press. Two of his charities (The Prince's Regeneration Trust and The Prince's Foundation for Building Community) promote his views, and the village of Poundbury was built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall to a master plan by Léon Krier under the guidance of Prince Charles and in line with his philosophy.
Charles helped establish a national trust for the built environment in Canada after lamenting, in 1996, the unbridled destruction of many of the country's historic urban cores. He offered his assistance to the Department of Canadian Heritage in creating a trust modelled on Britain's National Trust, a plan that was implemented with the passage of the 2007 Canadian federal budget. In 1999, the Prince agreed to the use of his title for the Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership, awarded by the Heritage Canada Foundation to municipal governments that have shown sustained commitment to the conservation of historic places. While visiting the United States and surveying the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, Charles received the National Building Museum's Vincent Scully Prize in 2005, for his efforts in regard to architecture; he donated $25,000 of the prize money towards restoring storm-damaged communities.
From 1997, the Prince of Wales has visited Romania to view and highlight the destruction of Orthodox monasteries and Transylvanian Saxon villages during the Communist rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu. Charles is patron of the Mihai Eminescu Trust, a Romanian conservation and regeneration organisation, and has purchased a house in Romania. Historian Tom Gallagher wrote in the Romanian newspaper România Liberă in 2006 that Charles had been offered the Romanian throne by monarchists in that country; an offer that was reportedly turned down, but Buckingham Palace denied the reports. Charles also has "a deep understanding of Islamic art and architecture", and has been involved in the construction of a building and garden at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies that combine Islamic and Oxford architectural styles.
Charles has occasionally intervened in projects that employ architectural styles such as modernism and functionalism. In 2009, Charles wrote to the Qatari royal family, the developers of the Chelsea Barracks site, labelling Lord Rogers's design for the site "unsuitable". Subsequently, Rogers was removed from the project and The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment was appointed to propose an alternative. Rogers claimed the Prince had also intervened to block his designs for the Royal Opera House and Paternoster Square, and condemned Charles's actions as "an abuse of power" and "unconstitutional". Lord Foster, Zaha Hadid, Jacques Herzog, Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano, and Frank Gehry, among others, wrote a letter to The Sunday Times complaining that the Prince's "private comments" and "behind-the-scenes lobbying" subverted the "open and democratic planning process". Piers Gough and other architects condemned Charles's views as "elitist" in a letter encouraging colleagues to boycott a speech given by Charles to RIBA in 2009.
In 2010, The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment decided to help reconstruct and redesign buildings in Port-au-Prince, Haiti after the capital was destroyed by the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The foundation is known for refurbishing historic buildings in Kabul, Afghanistan and in Kingston, Jamaica. The project has been called the "biggest challenge yet" for the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment.
The Worshipful Company of Carpenters installed Charles as an Honorary Liveryman "in recognition of his interest in London's architecture." The Prince of Wales is also Permanent Master of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Drapers, an Honorary Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, an Honorary Member of the Court of Assistants of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, and a Royal Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners.
Since the early 1980s, Charles has promoted environmental awareness. Upon moving into Highgrove House, he developed an interest in organic farming, which culminated in the 1990 launch of his own organic brand, Duchy Originals, which now sells more than 200 different sustainably produced products, from food to garden furniture; the profits (over £6 million by 2010) are donated to The Prince's Charities. Documenting work on his estate, Charles co-authored (with Charles Clover, environment editor of The Daily Telegraph) Highgrove: An Experiment in Organic Gardening and Farming, published in 1993, and offers his patronage to Garden Organic. Along similar lines, the Prince of Wales became involved with farming and various industries within it, regularly meeting with farmers to discuss their trade. Although the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic in England prevented Charles from visiting organic farms in Saskatchewan, he met the farmers at Assiniboia town hall. In 2004, he founded the Mutton Renaissance Campaign, which aims to support British sheep farmers and make mutton more attractive to Britons. His organic farming has attracted media criticism: According to The Independent in October 2006, "the story of Duchy Originals has involved compromises and ethical blips, wedded to a determined merchandising programme."
In 2007, he received the 10th annual Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment, the director of which, Eric Chivian, stated: "For decades the Prince of Wales has been a champion of the natural world ... He has been a world leader in efforts to improve energy efficiency and in reducing the discharge of toxic substances on land, and into the air and the oceans". Charles's travels by private jet drew criticism from Plane Stupid's Joss Garman.
In 2007, Charles launched The Prince's May Day Network, which encourages businesses to take action on climate change. Speaking to the European Parliament on 14 February 2008, he called for European Union leadership in the war against climate change. During the standing ovation that followed, Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), remained seated and went on to describe Charles's advisers as "naive and foolish at best." In a speech to the Low Carbon Prosperity Summit in a European Parliament chamber on 9 February 2011, Charles said that climate change sceptics are playing "a reckless game of roulette" with the planet's future and are having a "corrosive effect" on public opinion. He also articulated the need to protect fisheries and the Amazon rain forest, and to make low-carbon emissions affordable and competitive.
On 27 August 2012, the Prince of Wales addressed the International Union for Conservation of Nature – World Conservation Congress, supporting the view that grazing animals are needed to keep soils and grassland productive:
I have been particularly fascinated, for example, by the work of a remarkable man called Allan Savory, in Zimbabwe and other semi arid areas, who has argued for years against the prevailing expert view that is the simple numbers of cattle that drive overgrazing and cause fertile land to become desert. On the contrary, as he has since shown so graphically, the land needs the presence of feeding animals and their droppings for the cycle to be complete, so that soils and grassland areas stay productive. Such that, if you take grazers off the land and lock them away in vast feedlots, the land dies.
In February 2014, Charles visited Somerset levels to meet residents affected by winter flooding. During his visit, Charles remarked that, "There's nothing like a jolly good disaster to get people to start doing something. The tragedy is that nothing happened for so long." He pledged a £50,000 donation, provided by the Prince's Countryside Fund, to help families and their businesses.
Charles has controversially championed alternative medicine. The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health attracted opposition from the scientific and medical community over its campaign encouraging general practitioners to offer herbal and other alternative treatments to National Health Service patients, and in May 2006, Charles made a speech at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, urging the integration of conventional and alternative medicine and arguing for homeopathy.
In April 2008, The Times published a letter from Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, which asked the Prince's Foundation to recall two guides promoting alternative medicine, saying "the majority of alternative therapies appear to be clinically ineffective, and many are downright dangerous." A speaker for the foundation countered the criticism by stating: "We entirely reject the accusation that our online publication Complementary Healthcare: A Guide contains any misleading or inaccurate claims about the benefits of complementary therapies. On the contrary, it treats people as adults and takes a responsible approach by encouraging people to look at reliable sources of information ... so that they can make informed decisions. The foundation does not promote complementary therapies." That year, Ernst published a book with Simon Singh, mockingly dedicated to "HRH the Prince of Wales" called Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial. The last chapter is highly critical of Charles's advocacy of complementary and alternative treatments.
The Prince's Duchy Originals produce a variety of complementary medicinal products including a "Detox Tincture" that Edzard Ernst has denounced as "financially exploiting the vulnerable" and "outright quackery". In 2009, the Advertising Standards Authority criticised an email that Duchy Originals had sent out to advertise its Echina-Relief, Hyperi-Lift and Detox Tinctures products saying that it was misleading. The Prince personally wrote at least seven letters to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) shortly before they relaxed the rules governing labelling of such herbal products, a move that has been widely condemned by scientists and medical bodies. In October 2009, it was reported that Charles had personally lobbied the Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, regarding greater provision of alternative treatments in the NHS. In 2016 Charles said in a speech that he used homeopathic veterinary medicines to reduce antibiotic use at his farm.
In April 2010, following accounting irregularities, a former official at the foundation and his wife were arrested for fraud believed to total £300,000. Four days later, the foundation announced its closure, claiming that it "has achieved its key objective of promoting the use of integrated health." The charity's finance director, accountant George Gray, was convicted of theft totalling £253,000 and sentenced to three years in prison. The Prince's Foundation was re-branded and re-launched later in 2010 as The College of Medicine.
Prince Charles was confirmed at age 16 by Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey at Easter 1965, in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. He attends services at various Anglican churches close to Highgrove, and attends the Church of Scotland's Crathie Kirk with the rest of the royal family when staying at Balmoral Castle. In 2000, he was appointed as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Charles has visited (amid some secrecy) Orthodox monasteries several times on Mount Athos as well as in Romania. Charles is also patron of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford, and in the 2000s, he inaugurated of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, which is dedicated to Islamic studies in a plural multicultural context.
Sir Laurens van der Post became a friend of Charles in 1977; he was dubbed his "spiritual guru" and was godfather to Charles's son, Prince William. From Van der Post, Prince Charles developed a focus on philosophy, especially that of Asian and Middle Eastern nations. He has praised Kabbalistic artworks, and wrote a memorial for Kathleen Raine, the Neoplatonist poet who died in 2003.
Charles expressed his philosophical views in his 2010 book, Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, which won the Nautilus Book Award. Although it had been rumoured that Charles would vow to be "Defender of the Faiths" or "Defender of Faith" as king, he stated in 2015 that he will retain the monarch's traditional title of "Defender of the Faith", whilst "ensuring that other people's faiths can also be practised", which he sees as a duty of the Church of England.
As Prince of Wales, Charles undertakes official duties on behalf of the Queen and the Commonwealth realms. He officiates at investitures and attends the funerals of foreign dignitaries. At the funeral of Pope John Paul II, Charles unintentionally caused controversy when he shook hands with Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, who had been seated next to him. Charles's office subsequently released a statement saying: "The Prince of Wales was caught by surprise and not in a position to avoid shaking Mr Mugabe's hand. The Prince finds the current Zimbabwean regime abhorrent. He has supported the Zimbabwe Defence and Aid Fund which works with those being oppressed by the regime. The Prince also recently met Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, an outspoken critic of the government."
Prince Charles makes regular tours of Wales, fulfilling a week of engagements in the principality each summer, and attending important national occasions, such as opening the Senedd. The six trustees of the Royal Collection Trust meet three times a year under his chairmanship.
Prince Charles travels abroad on behalf of the United Kingdom. Charles has been regarded as an effective advocate of the country, with his visit to the Republic of Ireland in 1995, he delivered a personally researched and written speech on Anglo-Irish affairs that was warmly received by Irish politicians and the media, being cited as an example.
In 2000, Charles revived the tradition of the Prince of Wales having an official harpist, in order to foster Welsh talent at playing the harp, the national instrument of Wales. He and the Duchess of Cornwall also spend one week each year in Scotland, where he is patron of several Scottish organisations. His service to the Canadian Armed Forces permits him to be informed of troop activities, and allows him to visit these troops while in Canada or overseas, taking part in ceremonial occasions. For instance, in 2001, he placed a specially commissioned wreath, made from vegetation taken from French battlefields, at the Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and in 1981 he became the patron of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.
In 2010, Charles represented the Queen at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. He attends official events in the United Kingdom in support of Commonwealth countries, such as the Christchurch earthquake memorial service at Westminster Abbey in 2011. From 15 to 17 November 2013, he represented the Queen for the first time at a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Letters sent by Prince Charles to government ministers—the so-called black spider memos—during 2004 and 2005 have presented potential embarrassment following a challenge by The Guardian newspaper to release the letters under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In March 2015, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom decided that the Prince's letters must be released. The letters were published by the Cabinet Office on 13 May 2015.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall made their first joint trip to the Republic of Ireland in May 2015. The trip was called an important step in "promoting peace and reconciliation" by the British Embassy. During the trip, Charles shook hands with Sinn Féin and supposed IRA leader Gerry Adams in Galway which was described by the media as a "historic handshake" and a "significant moment for Anglo-Irish relations".
In 2015, it was revealed that Prince Charles had access to confidential UK cabinet papers.
Charles has made frequent visits to Saudi Arabia in order to promote arms exports for companies such as BAE Systems. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, he met with the commander of Saudi Arabia's National Guard Mutaib bin Abdullah. In February 2014, he took part in a traditional sword dance with members of the Saudi royal family at the Janariyah festival in Riyadh. At the same festival, British arms company BAE Systems was honoured by Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Charles was criticized by Scottish MP Margaret Ferrier in 2016 over his role in the sale of Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia. According to Charles's biographer Catherine Mayer, a Time magazine journalist who claims to have interviewed several sources from Prince Charles's inner circle, he "doesn't like being used to market weaponry" in deals with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. According to Mayer, Charles has only raised his objections to being used to sell weapons abroad in private.
From his youth Prince Charles was an avid player of competitive polo until 1992. He continued to play informally, including for charity, until 2005. Charles also frequently took part in fox hunting, before the sport was banned in the United Kingdom in 2005. By the late 1990s, as opposition to the activity was growing, Charles's participation was viewed as a "political statement" by those opposed to it, such as the League Against Cruel Sports, which launched an attack against Charles after he took his sons on the Beaufort Hunt in 1999, when the government was trying to ban hunting with hounds.
Charles has been a keen salmon angler since youth, and supports Orri Vigfússon's efforts to protect the North Atlantic salmon. He frequently fishes the River Dee in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, while he claims his most special angling memories are from his time in Vopnafjörður, Iceland. Charles is a supporter of Burnley Football Club.
Prince Charles is president or patron of more than twenty performing arts organisations, including the Royal College of Music, the Royal Opera, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, and the Purcell School. In 2000, he revived the tradition of appointing harpists to the Royal Court, by appointing an Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales. As an undergraduate at Cambridge he played cello, and has sung with the Bach Choir twice.
Charles founded The Prince's Foundation for Children and The Arts in 2002, to help more children experience the arts first-hand. He is president of the Royal Shakespeare Company and attends performances in Stratford-Upon-Avon, supports fundraising events and attends the company's annual general meeting. He enjoys comedy, and is interested in illusionism, becoming a member of The Magic Circle after passing his audition in 1975 by performing the "cups and balls" effect.
A keen and accomplished watercolourist, Charles has exhibited and sold a number of his works, and published books on the subject. In 2001, 20 lithographs of his watercolour paintings illustrating his country estates were exhibited at the Florence International Biennale of Contemporary Art. Charles was awarded the 2011 Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award by the Montblanc Cultural Foundation for his support and commitment to the arts, particularly in regard to young people.
On 23 April 2016, Charles appeared in a comedy sketch for the Royal Shakespeare Company's Shakespeare Live! at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death in 1616. Charles attended the gala with the Duchess of Cornwall and the event was televised live by the BBC. Charles made a surprise entrance to settle the disputed delivery of Hamlet's celebrated line, "To be or not to be, that is the question".
Prince Charles is an author of several books reflecting his own interests. He has also contributed a foreword or preface to books by other writers and has also written, presented and has been featured in documentary films.
Since his birth, Prince Charles has undergone close media attention, which increased as he matured. It has been an ambivalent relationship, largely impacted by his marriages to Diana and Camilla and its aftermath, but also centred on his future conduct as king, such as the 2014 play King Charles III.
Described as the "world's most eligible bachelor" in the late 1970s, Prince Charles was subsequently overshadowed by Diana. After her death, the media regularly breached Charles's privacy and printed exposés.
In 2006, the prince filed a court case against the Mail on Sunday, after excerpts of his personal journals were published, revealing his opinions on matters such as the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to China in 1997, in which Charles described the Chinese government officials as "appalling old waxworks". Mark Bolland, his ex-private secretary, declared in a statement to the High Court that Charles "would readily embrace the political aspects of any contentious issue he was interested in ... He carried it out in a very considered, thoughtful and researched way. He often referred to himself as a 'dissident' working against the prevailing political consensus." Jonathan Dimbleby reported that the prince "has accumulated a number of certainties about the state of the world and does not relish contradiction."
Others formerly connected with the prince have betrayed his confidence. An ex-member of his household handed the press an internal memo in which Charles commented on ambition and opportunity, and which was widely interpreted as blaming meritocracy for creating a combative atmosphere in society. Charles responded: "In my view, it is just as great an achievement to be a plumber or a bricklayer as it is to be a lawyer or a doctor".
Charles's anguish was recorded in his private comments to Prince William, caught on a microphone during a press photo-call in 2005 and published in the national press. After a question from the BBC's royal correspondent, Nicholas Witchell, Charles muttered: "These bloody people. I can't bear that man. I mean, he's so awful, he really is."
In 2002, Charles, "so often a target of the press, got his chance to return fire" when addressing "scores of editors, publishers and other media executives" gathered at St Bride's Fleet Street to celebrate 300 years of journalism. Defending public servants from "the corrosive drip of constant criticism", he noted that the press had been "awkward, cantankerous, cynical, bloody-minded, at times intrusive, at times inaccurate and at times deeply unfair and harmful to individuals and to institutions." But, he concluded, regarding his own relations with the press, "from time to time we are probably both a bit hard on each other, exaggerating the downsides and ignoring the good points in each."
The Prince of Wales has occasionally appeared on television. In 1984, he read his children's book The Old Man of Lochnagar for the BBC's Jackanory series. The UK soap opera Coronation Street featured an appearance by Charles during the show's 40th anniversary in 2000, as did the New Zealand young adult cartoon series bro'Town (2005), after he attended a performance by the show's creators during a tour of the country.
Charles was interviewed with Princes William and Harry by Ant & Dec to mark the 30th anniversary of The Prince's Trust in 2006 and in 2016 was interviewed by them again along with his sons and the Duchess of Cornwall to mark the 40th anniversary.
His saving of the Scottish stately home Dumfries House was the subject of Alan Titchmarsh's documentary Royal Restoration, which aired on TV in May 2012. Also in May 2012, Charles tried his hand at being a weather presenter for the BBC, reporting the forecast for Scotland as part of their annual week at Holyrood Palace alongside Christopher Blanchett. He injected humour in his report, asking, "Who the hell wrote this script?" as references were made to royal residences.
In December 2015 Channel 4 News revealed that interviews with Charles were subject to a contract that restricts questions to those previously approved, and gives his staff oversight of editing and the right to "remove the contribution in its entirety from the programme". Channel 4 News decided not to proceed with an interview on this basis, which some journalists believed would put them at risk of breaching the Ofcom Broadcasting Code on editorial independence and transparency.
Clarence House in London is the Prince of Wales's current official residence. Previously, he had an apartment at St James's Palace. Charles also has two private homes: Highgrove House in Gloucestershire and Birkhall near Balmoral Castle. Both Clarence House and Birkhall were previously the residences of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. His primary source of income is generated from the Duchy of Cornwall, which owns 133,658 acres of land (around 54,090 hectares), including farming, residential, and commercial properties, as well as an investment portfolio. Highgrove is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, having been purchased for his use in 1980, and which Prince Charles rents for £336,000 per annum. The Public Accounts Committee published its 25th report into the Duchy of Cornwall accounts in November 2013 noting that the duchy performed well in 2012–13, increasing its total income and producing an overall surplus of £19.1 million.
In 2007 the prince purchased a 192-acre property (150 acres of grazing and parkland, and 40 acres of woodland) in Carmarthenshire, and applied for permission to convert the farm into a Welsh home for him and the Duchess of Cornwall, to be rented out as holiday flats when the couple is not in residence. A neighbouring family said the proposals flouted local planning regulations, and the application was put on hold temporarily while a report was drafted on how the alterations would affect the local bat population. Charles and Camilla first stayed at the new property, called Llwynywermod, in June 2008.
In 2016 it was reported that his estates receive £100,000 a year in European Union agricultural subsidies.
Starting in 1993, the Prince of Wales has paid tax voluntarily under the Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation, updated 2013. In December 2012, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs were asked to investigate alleged tax avoidance by the Duchy of Cornwall.
Charles has held titles throughout his life, as the grandson of the monarch, the son of the monarch and in his own right. He has been a British prince since birth and was created Prince of Wales in 1958.[fn 3] There has been speculation as to what regnal name the prince will choose upon his succession to the throne. If he keeps his current first name, he will be known as Charles III. However, it was reported in 2005 that Charles has suggested he may choose to reign as George VII in honour of his maternal grandfather, and to avoid association with the Stuart kings Charles I (who was beheaded) and Charles II (who was known for his promiscuous lifestyle), as well as to be sensitive to the memory of Bonnie Prince Charlie, who was called "Charles III" by his supporters. Charles's office responded that "no decision has been made".
Charles has held substantive ranks in the armed forces of a number of countries since he was made a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force in 1972. Charles's first honorary appointment in the armed forces was as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Wales in 1969; since then, the prince has also been installed as Colonel-in-Chief, Colonel, Honorary Air Commodore, Air Commodore-in-Chief, Deputy Colonel-in-Chief, Royal Honorary Colonel, Royal Colonel, and Honorary Commodore of at least 32 military formations throughout the Commonwealth, including the Royal Gurkha Rifles, which is the only foreign regiment in the British army. Since 2009, Charles holds the second-highest ranks in all three branches of the Canadian Forces and, on 16 June 2012, the Queen awarded the Prince of Wales honorary five-star rank in all three branches of the British Armed Forces, "to acknowledge his support in her role as Commander-in-Chief", installing him as Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.
He has been inducted into seven orders and received eight decorations from the Commonwealth realms, and has been the recipient of 20 different honours from foreign states, as well as nine honorary degrees from universities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
The banners used by the prince vary depending upon location. His Personal Standard is the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom differenced as in his arms with a label of three points Argent, and the escutcheon of the arms of the Principality of Wales in the centre. It is used outside Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, and Canada, and throughout the entire United Kingdom when the prince is acting in an official capacity associated with the UK Armed Forces.
The personal flag for use in Wales is based upon the Royal Badge of Wales, (the historic arms of the Kingdom of Gwynedd), which consist of four quadrants, the first and fourth with a red lion on a gold field, and the second and third with a gold lion on a red field. Superimposed is an escutcheon Vert bearing the single-arched coronet of the Prince of Wales.
In Scotland the personal banner used since 1974 is based upon three ancient Scottish titles: Duke of Rothesay (heir apparent to the King of Scots), High Steward of Scotland and Lord of the Isles. The flag is divided into four quadrants like the arms of the Chief of Clan Stewart of Appin; the first and fourth quadrants comprise a gold field with a blue and silver checkered band in the centre; the second and third quadrants display a black galley on a silver field. The arms are differenced from those of Appin by the addition of an inescutcheon bearing the tressured lion rampant of Scotland; defaced by a plain label of three points Azure to indicate the heir apparent.
In 2011, the Canadian Heraldic Authority introduced a personal heraldic banner for the Prince of Wales for use in Canada, consisting of the shield of the Arms of Canada defaced with both a blue roundel of the Prince of Wales's feathers surrounded by a wreath of gold maple leaves, and a white label of three points.
|Prince William, Duke of Cambridge||21 June 1982||29 April 2011||Catherine Middleton||Prince George of Cambridge
Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
|Prince Harry||15 September 1984|
|Ancestors of Charles, Prince of Wales|
Charles, Prince of WalesBorn: 14 November 1948
|Lines of succession|
||Line of succession to the British throne||Followed by
The Duke of Cambridge
Title last held byThe Prince Edward
later became King Edward VIII
|Prince of Wales
26 July 1958 – present
Presumed next holder:
The Duke of Cambridge
|Duke of Cornwall
Duke of Rothesay
6 February 1952 – present
The Earl Mountbatten of Burma
|President of the United World Colleges
The Queen of Jordan
The Duke of Gloucester
|Great Master of the Order of the Bath
10 June 1974 – present
|Order of precedence|
The Duke of Edinburgh
|Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
The Duke of York
|in current practice||Succeeded by
The Duke of Cambridge
David Lloyd Johnston
as Governor General
|Canadian order of precedence||Succeeded by
as prime minister,
or members of the Royal Family if in Canada
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