|King of the United Kingdom|
and other Commonwealth realms[note 1]
|Reign||8 September 2022 – present|
|Coronation||6 May 2023|
|Heir apparent||William, Prince of Wales|
|Born||Prince Charles of Edinburgh|
14 November 1948
Buckingham Palace, London, England
|Father||Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh|
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Cambridge (MA)|
|Years of active service||1971–1976|
|Commands held||HMS Bronington|
|Royal family of|
the United Kingdom and the
other Commonwealth realms
Charles III (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948) is King of the United Kingdom and the 14 other Commonwealth realms.[note 1]
Charles was born in Buckingham Palace during the reign of his maternal grandfather, George VI, and was three years old when his mother, Elizabeth II, acceded to the throne in 1952, making him the heir apparent. He was created Prince of Wales in 1958 and his investiture was held in 1969. He was educated at Cheam School and Gordonstoun, and later spent six months at the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, Australia. After earning a history degree from the University of Cambridge, Charles served in the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy from 1971 to 1976. In 1981, he married Lady Diana Spencer, with whom he has two sons: William, Prince of Wales, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Charles and Diana divorced in 1996, after they had each engaged in well-publicised extramarital affairs. Diana died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash the following year. In 2005, Charles married his long-term partner, Camilla Parker Bowles.
As heir apparent, Charles undertook official duties and engagements on behalf of his mother. He founded the Prince's Trust in 1976, sponsored the Prince's Charities, and became patron or president of more than 800 other charities and organisations. He advocated for the conservation of historic buildings and the importance of architecture in society. In that vein, he generated the experimental new town of Poundbury. An environmentalist, Charles supported organic farming and action to prevent climate change during his time as the manager of the Duchy of Cornwall estates, earning him awards and recognition as well as both praise and criticism; he is also a prominent critic of the adoption of genetically modified food, while his support for alternative medicine has been criticised. He has authored or co-authored 17 books.
Charles became king upon his mother's death on 8 September 2022. At the age of 73, he became the oldest person to accede to the British throne, after having been the longest-serving heir apparent and Prince of Wales in British history. His coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on 6 May 2023.
Early life, family, and education
Charles was born at 21:14 (GMT) on 14 November 1948, during the reign of his maternal grandfather, King George VI. He was the first child of Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh (later Queen Elizabeth II), and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His parents had three more children, Anne (born 1950), Andrew (born 1960) and Edward (born 1964). On 15 December 1948, at four weeks old, he was christened in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher.[note 4] He was given the name Charles Philip Arthur George, and as a titled member of the royal family made no use of any surname during his childhood (and only rarely since).
George VI died on 6 February 1952 and Charles's mother acceded to the throne as Elizabeth II; Charles immediately became the heir apparent. Under a charter of Edward III in 1337, and as the monarch's eldest son, he automatically assumed the traditional titles of Duke of Cornwall and, in the Scottish peerage, the titles Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. On 2 June the following year, Charles attended his mother's coronation at Westminster Abbey.
When Charles turned five, a governess, Catherine Peebles, was appointed to oversee his education at Buckingham Palace. Charles then commenced classes at Hill House School in west London on 7 November 1956. He was the first heir apparent to attend school, rather than be educated by a private tutor. He did not receive preferential treatment from the school's founder and headmaster, 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 subsequently attended two of his father's former schools: Cheam School in Hampshire, from 1958, followed by Gordonstoun, in the north-east of Scotland, beginning classes there in April 1962.
In his 1994 authorised biography by Jonathan Dimbleby, Charles's parents were described as physically and emotionally distant and Philip was blamed for his disregard of Charles's sensitive nature, including forcing him to attend Gordonstoun, where he was bullied. Though Charles reportedly described Gordonstoun, noted for its especially rigorous curriculum, as "Colditz in kilts", he later praised the school, stating it had taught him "a great deal about myself and my own abilities and disabilities". He said in a 1975 interview he was "glad" he had attended Gordonstoun and that the "toughness of the place" was "much exaggerated". In 1966, Charles spent two terms 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. In 1973, Charles described his time at Timbertop as the most enjoyable part of his whole education. Upon his return to Gordonstoun, Charles emulated his father in becoming head boy and left in 1967, with six GCE O-levels and two A-levels in history and French, at grades B and C respectively. On his education, Charles later remarked, "I didn't enjoy school as much as I might have; but, that was only because I'm happier at home than anywhere else".
Charles broke royal tradition when he proceeded straight to university after his A-levels, rather than joining the British Armed Forces. In October 1967, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied archaeology and anthropology for the first part of the Tripos and then switched to history for the second part. During his second year, Charles attended the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, studying Welsh history and the Welsh language for one term. Charles became the first British heir apparent to earn a university degree, graduating on 23 June 1970 from the University of Cambridge with a 2:2 Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. Following standard practice, on 2 August 1975, his Bachelor of Arts was promoted to a Master of Arts (MA Cantab) degree.
Prince of Wales
Charles was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on 26 July 1958, though his investiture was not held until 1 July 1969, when he was crowned by his mother in a televised ceremony held at Caernarfon Castle; the investiture was controversial in Wales owing to growing Welsh nationalist sentiment. He took his seat in the House of Lords the following year and he delivered his maiden speech on 13 June 1974, the first royal to speak from the floor since the future Edward VII in 1884. He spoke again in 1975.
Charles 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, Charles expressed an interest in serving as governor-general of Australia, at the suggestion of Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser; however, because of a lack of public enthusiasm, nothing came of the proposal. In reaction, Charles commented, "so, what are you supposed to think when you are prepared to do something to help and you are just told you're not wanted?"
Military training and career
Charles served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy. During his second year at Cambridge, he received Royal Air Force training, learning to fly the Chipmunk aircraft with the Cambridge University Air Squadron, and was presented with his RAF wings in August 1971.
After the passing-out parade that September, Charles embarked on a naval career and enrolled in a six-week course at the Royal Naval College Dartmouth. He then served from 1971 to 1972 on the guided-missile destroyer HMS Norfolk and the frigates HMS Minerva, from 1972 to 1973, and HMS Jupiter in 1974. That same year, he also qualified as a helicopter pilot at RNAS Yeovilton and subsequently joined 845 Naval Air Squadron, operating from HMS Hermes. Charles spent his last 10 months of active service in the Navy commanding the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington, beginning on 9 February 1976. He took part in a parachute training course at RAF Brize Norton two years later, after being appointed colonel-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment in 1977. Charles gave up flying after, as a passenger who was invited to fly the aircraft, crash-landing a BAe 146 in Islay in 1994, for which the crew was found negligent by a board of inquiry.
Relationships and marriages
In his youth, Charles was amorously linked to a number of women. His girlfriends included Georgiana Russell, the daughter of Sir John Russell, who was the British ambassador to Spain; Lady Jane Wellesley, the daughter of the 8th Duke of Wellington; Davina Sheffield; Lady Sarah Spencer; and Camilla Shand, who later became his second wife.
Charles's great-uncle Lord Mountbatten advised him to "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". Early in 1974, Mountbatten began corresponding with 25-year-old 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. Lady Brabourne replied approvingly; though, she suggested that a courtship with a 16-year-old was premature. Four years later, Mountbatten arranged for Amanda and himself to accompany Charles on his 1980 visit to India. Both fathers, however, objected; Prince Philip feared that his famous uncle[note 5] would eclipse Charles, while Lord Brabourne warned that a joint visit would concentrate media attention on the cousins before they could decide on becoming a couple.
In August 1979, before Charles would depart alone for India, Mountbatten was assassinated by the Irish Republican Army. When Charles returned, he proposed to Amanda. But in addition to her grandfather, she had lost her paternal grandmother and youngest brother in the bomb attack and was now reluctant to join the royal family.
Lady Diana Spencer
Charles first met Lady Diana Spencer in 1977, while he was visiting her home, Althorp. He was then the companion of her elder sister Sarah and did not consider Diana romantically until mid-1980. While Charles and Diana were sitting together on a bale of hay at a friend's barbecue in July, she mentioned that he had looked forlorn and in need of care at the funeral of his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten. Soon, according to 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 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 continuing courtship attracted intense attention from the press and paparazzi. 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 realising 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.
Charles proposed to Diana in February 1981, with their engagement becoming official on 24 February; the wedding took place in St Paul's Cathedral on 29 July. Upon his marriage, Charles reduced his voluntary tax contribution from the profits of the Duchy of Cornwall from 50 per cent to 25 per cent. The couple lived at Kensington Palace and Highgrove House, near Tetbury, and had two children: Prince William, in 1982, and Prince Harry, in 1984.
Within five years, the marriage was in trouble due to the couple's incompatibility and near 13-year age difference. By November 1986, Charles had fully resumed his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. In a videotape recorded by Peter Settelen in 1992, Diana admitted that she had been "deeply in love with someone who worked in this environment." It was assumed that she was referring to Barry Mannakee, who had been transferred to the Diplomatic Protection Squad in 1986, after his managers determined his relationship with Diana had been inappropriate. Diana later commenced a relationship with Major James Hewitt, the family's former riding instructor.
Charles and Diana's evident discomfort in each other's company led to them being dubbed "The Glums" by the press. Diana exposed Charles's affair with Camilla in a book by Andrew Morton, Diana: Her True Story. Audio tapes of her own extramarital flirtations also surfaced, as did persistent suggestions that Hewitt is Prince Harry's father, based on a physical similarity between Hewitt and Harry. However, Harry had already been born by the time Diana's affair with Hewitt began.
In December 1992, John Major announced the couple's legal separation in the House of Commons. Early the following year, the British press published transcripts of a passionate, bugged telephone conversation between Charles and Camilla that had taken place in 1989, which was dubbed "Camillagate" and "Tampongate". Charles subsequently sought public understanding in a television film with Dimbleby, Charles: The Private Man, the Public Role, broadcast on 29 June 1994. In an interview in the film, Charles confirmed his own extramarital affair with Camilla, saying that he had rekindled their association in 1986, only after his marriage to Diana had "irretrievably broken down". This was followed by Diana's own admission of marital troubles in an interview on the BBC current affairs show Panorama, broadcast on 20 November 1995. Referring to Charles's relationship with Camilla, she said, "well, there were three of us in this marriage. So, it was a bit crowded." She also expressed doubt about her husband's suitability for kingship. Charles and Diana divorced on 28 August 1996, after being advised by the Queen in December 1995 to end the marriage. The couple shared custody of their children.
Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997. Charles flew to Paris with Diana's sisters to accompany her body back to Britain. In 2003, Diana's butler Paul Burrell published a note that he claimed had been written by Diana in 1995, in which there were allegations that Charles was "planning 'an accident' in [Diana's] car, brake failure and serious head injury", so that he could marry again. When questioned by the Metropolitan Police inquiry team as a part of Operation Paget, Charles told the authorities that he did not know about his former wife's note from 1995 and could not understand why she had those feelings.
Camilla Parker Bowles
The engagement of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles was announced on 10 February 2005. 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 determined the consent of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada was not required, as the union would not produce any heirs to the Canadian throne.
Charles was the only member of the royal family to have a civil, rather than a church, wedding in England. British government documents from the 1950s and 1960s, published by the BBC, stated that such a marriage was illegal; these claims were dismissed by Charles's spokesman and explained by the sitting government to have been repealed by the Registration Service Act 1953.
The union was scheduled to take place in a civil ceremony at Windsor Castle, with a subsequent religious blessing at the castle's St George's Chapel. The wedding venue was changed to Windsor Guildhall after it was realised a civil marriage at Windsor Castle would oblige the venue to be available to anyone who wished to be married there. Four days before the event, it was postponed from the originally scheduled date of 8 April until the following day in order 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 marriage ceremony; the Queen's reluctance to attend possibly arose 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. The blessing by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was televised.
In 1965, Charles undertook his first public engagement by attending a student garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. During his time as Prince of Wales, Charles undertook official duties on behalf of the Queen, completing 10,934 engagements between 2002 and 2022. He officiated at investitures and attended the funerals of foreign dignitaries. Charles made regular tours of Wales, fulfilling a week of engagements each summer, and attending important national occasions, such as opening the Senedd. The six trustees of the Royal Collection Trust met three times a year under his chairmanship. Charles also represented his mother at the independence celebrations in Fiji in 1970, the Bahamas in 1973, Papua New Guinea in 1975, Zimbabwe in 1980, and Brunei in 1984.
In 1983, Christopher John Lewis, who had fired a shot with a .22 rifle at the Queen in 1981, attempted to escape a psychiatric hospital in order to assassinate Charles, who was visiting New Zealand with his first wife, Diana, and son William. While Charles was visiting Australia on Australia Day in January 1994, David Kang fired two shots at him from a starting pistol in protest of the treatment of several hundred Cambodian asylum seekers held in detention camps. In 1995, Charles became the first member of the royal family to visit the Republic of Ireland in an official capacity. In 1997, Charles represented the Queen at the Hong Kong handover ceremony.
At the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005, Charles caused controversy when he shook hands with the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, who had been seated next to him. Charles's office subsequently released a statement saying that he could not avoid shaking Mugabe's hand and that he "finds the current Zimbabwean regime abhorrent".
Charles represented the Queen at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. In November 2010, he and Camilla were indirectly involved in student protests when their car was attacked by protesters. 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.
Charles and Camilla 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 in Galway with Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin and widely believed to be the leader of the IRA, the militant group that had assassinated Lord Mountbatten in 1979. The event was described by the media as a "historic handshake" and a "significant moment for Anglo-Irish relations".
Commonwealth heads of government decided at their 2018 meeting that Charles would be the next Head of the Commonwealth after the Queen. The head is chosen and therefore not hereditary. In March 2019, at the request of the British government, Charles and Camilla went on an official tour of Cuba, making them the first British royals to visit the country. The tour was seen as an effort to form a closer relationship between the United Kingdom and Cuba.
Charles contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic in March 2020. Several newspapers were critical that Charles and Camilla were tested promptly at a time when many NHS doctors, nurses and patients had been unable to be tested expeditiously. He tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time in February 2022. He and Camilla, who also tested positive, had received doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in February 2021.
Charles attended the November 2021 ceremonies to mark Barbados's transition into a parliamentary republic, abolishing the position of monarch of Barbados. He was invited by Prime Minister Mia Mottley as the future Head of the Commonwealth; it was the first time that a member of the royal family attended the transition of a realm to a republic. In May of the following year, Charles attended the State Opening of the British Parliament, delivering the Queen's Speech on behalf of his mother, as a counsellor of state.
Charles acceded to the British throne on his mother's death on 8 September 2022. He was the longest-serving British heir apparent, having surpassed Edward VII's record of 59 years on 20 April 2011. When he became monarch at the age of 73, Charles was the oldest person to do so, the previous record holder being William IV, who was 64 when he became king in 1830.
Charles gave his first speech to the nation on 9 September, at 18:00 BST, in which he paid tribute to his mother and announced the appointment of his elder son, William, as Prince of Wales. The following day, the Accession Council publicly proclaimed Charles as king, the ceremony being televised for the first time. Attendees included the new queen consort, Camilla; William, Prince of Wales; and Prime Minister Liz Truss and her six living prime ministerial predecessors. The proclamation was also read out by local authorities around the United Kingdom. Other realms signed and read their own proclamations, as did Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, British Overseas Territories, Crown Dependencies, Canadian provinces, and Australian states.
Charles's coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on 6 May 2023. Plans had been made for many years, under the code name Operation Golden Orb. Reports before his accession suggested that Charles's coronation would be simpler than his mother's in 1953, with the ceremony expected to be "shorter, smaller, less expensive, and more representative of different faiths and community groups – falling in line with the King's wish to reflect the ethnic diversity of modern Britain". Nonetheless, the coronation was a Church of England rite, including the coronation oath, the anointment, delivery of the orb, and enthronement.
Philanthropy and charity
Since founding the Prince's Trust in 1976, using his £7,500 of severance pay from the Navy, Charles has established 16 more charitable organisations and now serves as president of each. Together, they form a loose alliance, 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". As Prince of Wales, Charles became patron or president of over 800 other charities and organisations.
The Prince's Charities Canada was established in 2010, in a similar fashion to its namesake in Britain. Charles 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. Charles has also set up the Prince's Charities Australia, based in Melbourne, to provide a coordinating presence for his Australian and international charitable endeavours.
Charles has supported humanitarian projects; for example, he, along with his two sons, took part in ceremonies that marked the 1998 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Charles was one of the first public figures to express strong concerns about the human rights record of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, initiating objections in the international arena, and subsequently supported the FARA Foundation, a charity for Romanian orphans and abandoned children.
Investigations of donations
Two of Charles's charities, the Prince's Foundation and the Prince of Wales's Charitable Fund, came under scrutiny in 2021 and 2022 for accepting donations the media deemed inappropriate. In August 2021, it was announced that the Prince's Foundation was launching an investigation into the reports, with Charles's support. The Charity Commission also launched an investigation into allegations that the donations meant for the Prince's Foundation had been instead sent to the Mahfouz Foundation. In February 2022, the Metropolitan Police launched an investigation into the cash-for-honours allegations linked to the foundation, passing their evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service for deliberation on 31 October.
The Times reported in June 2022 that, between 2011 and 2015, Charles accepted €3 million in cash from Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. There was no evidence that the payments were illegal or that it was not intended for the money to go to the charity, although, the Charity Commission stated it would review the information and announced in July 2022 that there would be no further investigation. In the same month, The Times reported that the Prince of Wales's Charitable Fund received a donation of £1 million from Bakr bin Laden and Shafiq bin Laden – both half-brothers of Osama bin Laden – during a private meeting in 2013. The Charity Commission described the decision to accept donations as a "matter for trustees" and added that no investigation was required.
From young adulthood, Charles encouraged understanding of Indigenous voices, claiming they held crucial messages about preservation of the land, respecting community and shared values, resolving conflict, and recognising and making good on past iniquities. Charles dovetailed this view with his efforts against climate change, as well as reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and his charitable work in Canada. At CHOGM 2022, Charles, who was representing the Queen, raised that reconciliation process as an example for dealing with the history of slavery in the British Empire, for which he expressed his sorrow.
Letters sent by Charles to government ministers in 2004 and 2005 expressing his concerns over various policy issues – the so-called black spider memos – 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 Charles's letters must be released and the letters were published by the Cabinet Office on 13 May. The reaction was largely supportive of Charles, with little criticism of him; the press variously described the memos as "underwhelming" and "harmless", and concluded that their release had "backfired on those who seek to belittle him". It was revealed in the same year that Charles had access to confidential Cabinet papers.
In October 2020, a letter sent by Charles to Australian governor-general
The Times reported in June 2022 that Charles had privately described the British government's Rwanda asylum plan as "appalling" and he feared that it would overshadow the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda that same month. It was later claimed that Cabinet ministers had warned Charles to avoid making political comments, as they feared a constitutional crisis could arise if he continued to make such statements once he became king.
Charles has openly expressed his views on architecture and urban planning; he fostered the advancement of New Classical architecture and asserted 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 on 30 May 1984, he 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". Charles called for local community involvement in architectural choices and asked, "why has everything got to be vertical, straight, unbending, only at right angles – and functional?" 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, which combine Islamic and Oxford architectural styles.
In Charles's 1989 book A Vision of Britain, and in speeches and essays, he has been critical of modern architecture, arguing that traditional designs and methods should guide contemporary ones. 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, which were later merged into one charity – promote his views. 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 Charles and in line with his philosophy. Charles helped purchase Dumfries House and its complete collection of 18th century furnishings in 2007, taking a £20m loan from his charitable trust to contribute toward the £45m cost. The house and gardens remain property of the Prince's Foundation and serve as a museum and community and skills training centre. This led to the development of Knockroon, called the "Scottish Poundbury".
After lamenting in 1996 the unbridled destruction of many of Canada's historic urban cores, Charles 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 federal budget in 2007. In 1999, Charles agreed to the use of his title for the Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership, awarded by the National Trust for Canada to municipal governments that have committed to the conservation of historic places.
Whilst visiting the US 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. For his work as patron of New Classical architecture, Charles was awarded the 2012 Driehaus Architecture Prize from the University of Notre Dame. The Worshipful Company of Carpenters installed Charles as an Honorary Liveryman "in recognition of his interest in London's architecture."
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 financier of the redevelopment of the Chelsea Barracks site – labelling Lord Rogers's design for the site "unsuitable". Rogers claimed that Charles had also intervened to block his designs for the Royal Opera House and Paternoster Square. CPC Group, the project developer, took a case against Qatari Diar to the High Court. After the suit was settled, the CPC Group apologised to Charles "for any offence caused ... during the course of the proceedings".
Since the 1970s, Charles has promoted environmental awareness. At the age of 21, he delivered his first speech on environmental issues in his capacity as the chairman of the Welsh Countryside Committee. An avid gardener, Charles has also emphasised the importance of talking to plants, stating that "I happily talk to the plants and trees, and listen to them. I think it's absolutely crucial". His interest in gardening began in 1980 when he took over the Highgrove estate. His "healing garden", based on sacred geometry and ancient religious symbolism, went on display at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2002.
Upon moving into Highgrove House, Charles developed an interest in organic farming, which culminated in the 1990 launch of his own organic brand, Duchy Originals, which sells more than 200 different sustainably produced products; the profits (over £6 million by 2010) are donated to the Prince's Charities. Charles became involved with farming and various industries within it, regularly meeting with farmers to discuss their trade. A prominent critic of the practice, Charles has also spoken against the use of GM crops, and in a letter to Tony Blair in 1998, Charles criticised the development of genetically modified foods.
The Sustainable Markets Initiative – a project that encourages putting sustainability at the centre of all activities – was launched by Charles at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos in January 2020. In May of the same year, the initiative and the World Economic Forum initiated the Great Reset project, a five-point plan concerned with enhancing sustainable economic growth following the global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, Charles spoke to the BBC about the environment and revealed that, two days per week, he eats no meat nor fish and, one day per week, he eats no dairy products. In 2022, it was reported that Charles eats a breakfast of fruit salad, seeds, and tea. He does not eat lunch, but takes a break for tea at 5:00 p.m. and eats dinner at 8:30 p.m., returning to work until midnight or after. Ahead of Christmas dinner in 2022, Charles confirmed to animal rights group PETA that foie gras would not be served at any royal residences. As Prince of Wales, he had stopped the use of foie gras at his own properties for more than a decade before taking the throne. The holy chrism oil used at his coronation was vegan, made from oils of olive, sesame, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, neroli, and benzoin, along with amber and orange blossom. His mother's chrism oil contained animal-based oils.
Charles delivered a speech at the 2021 G20 Rome summit, describing COP26 as "the last chance saloon" for preventing climate change and asking for actions that would lead to a green-led, sustainable economy. In his speech at the opening ceremony for COP26, he repeated his sentiments from the previous year, stating that "a vast military-style campaign" was needed "to marshal the strength of the global private sector" for tackling climate change.
Charles, who is patron of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, introduced the Climate Action Scholarships for students from small island nations in partnership with University of Cambridge, University of Toronto, University of Melbourne, McMaster University, and University of Montreal in March 2022. In 2022, the media alleged that Truss had advised Charles against attending COP27, to which advice he agreed.
Charles has controversially championed alternative medicine. He first publicly expressed his interest in the topic in December 1982, in an address to the British Medical Association. This speech was seen as "combative" and "critical" of modern medicine and was met with anger by some medical professionals. Similarly, the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health (FIH) attracted opposition from the scientific and medical community over its campaign encouraging general practitioners to offer herbal and other alternative treatments to NHS patients.
In April 2008, The Times published a letter from Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, which asked the FIH to recall two guides promoting alternative medicine. That year, Ernst published a book with Simon Singh called Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial and mockingly dedicated to "HRH the Prince of Wales". The last chapter is highly critical of Charles's advocacy of complementary and alternative treatments.
Charles's Duchy Originals produced a variety of complementary medicinal products, including a "Detox Tincture" that Ernst denounced as "financially exploiting the vulnerable" and "outright quackery". Charles personally wrote at least seven letters to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency shortly before it relaxed the rules governing labelling of such herbal products, a move that was widely condemned by scientists and medical bodies. It was reported in October 2009 that Charles had lobbied the health secretary, Andy Burnham, regarding greater provision of alternative treatments in the NHS.
Following accounting irregularities, the FIH announced its closure in April 2010. The FIH was re-branded and re-launched later in the year as the College of Medicine, of which Charles became a patron in 2019.
From his youth until 2005, Charles was an avid player of competitive polo. Charles also frequently took part in fox hunting until the sport was banned in the United Kingdom in 2005. By the late 1990s, opposition to the activity was growing when Charles's participation was viewed as a "political statement" by those who were opposed to it.
Charles has been a keen salmon angler since youth and supported Orri Vigfússon's efforts to protect the North Atlantic salmon. He frequently fishes the River Dee in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and claims his most special angling memories are from his time spent in Vopnafjörður, Iceland. Charles is a supporter of Burnley F.C..
Apart from hunting, Charles has also participated in target rifle competitions, representing the House of Lords in the Vizianagram Match (Lords vs. Commons) at Bisley. He became President of the British National Rifle Association in 1977.
Visual, performing, and literary arts
Charles has been involved in performance since his youth, and appeared in sketches and revues while studying at Cambridge.
Charles is president or patron of more than 20 performing arts organisations, including the Royal College of Music, Royal Opera, English Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, Royal Shakespeare Company (attending performances in Stratford-Upon-Avon, supporting fundraising events, and attending the company's annual general meeting), British Film Institute, and Purcell School. In 2000, he revived the tradition of appointing an official harpist to the Prince of Wales, in order to foster Welsh talent at playing the national instrument of Wales.
Charles is a keen watercolourist, having published books on the subject and exhibited and sold a number of his works to raise money for charity; in 2016, it was estimated that he had sold lithographs of his watercolours for a total of £2 million from a shop at his Highgrove House residence. For his 50th birthday, 50 of his watercolours were exhibited at Hampton Court Palace and, for his 70th birthday, his works were exhibited at the National Gallery of Australia. In 2001, 20 lithographs of his watercolour paintings illustrating his country estates were exhibited at the Florence International Biennale of Contemporary Art and 79 of his paintings were put on display in London in 2022. To mark the 25th anniversary of his investiture as Prince of Wales in 1994, the Royal Mail issued a series of postage stamps that featured his paintings. Charles is Honorary President of the Royal Academy of Arts Development Trust and, in 2015, 2022, and 2023, commissioned paintings of 12 D-Day veterans, seven Holocaust survivors, and ten members of the Windrush generation, respectively, which went on display at the Queen's Gallery in Buckingham Palace.
Charles is the author of several books and has contributed a foreword or preface to numerous books by others. He has also written, presented, or been featured in a variety of documentary films.
Religion and philosophy
Shortly after his accession to the throne, Charles publicly described himself as "a committed Anglican Christian". The King is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and a member of the Church of Scotland; Charles swore an oath to uphold that church immediately after he was proclaimed king. At age 16, during Easter 1965, Charles was confirmed by Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey 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.
Laurens van der Post became a friend of Charles in 1977; he was dubbed the Prince's "spiritual guru" and was godfather to Charles's son, Prince William. From van der Post, Charles developed a focus on philosophy and an interest in other religions. Charles expressed his philosophical views in his 2010 book, Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, which won a Nautilus Book Award. He has also visited Eastern Orthodox monasteries on Mount Athos, in Romania, and in Serbia, and met with Eastern Church leaders in Jerusalem in 2020, during a visit that culminated in an ecumenical service in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and a walk through the city accompanied by Christian and Muslim dignitaries. Charles also attended the consecration of Britain's first Syriac Orthodox cathedral, St Thomas Cathedral, Acton. Charles is patron of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford and attended the inauguration of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, which is dedicated to Islamic studies in a multicultural context.
In his 1994 documentary with Dimbleby, Charles said that, when king, he wished to be seen as a "defender of faith", rather than the British monarch's traditional title of Defender of the Faith, in order to respect other people's religious traditions. This attracted controversy at the time, as well as speculation that the coronation oath may be altered. He stated in 2015 that he would retain the 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. Charles reaffirmed this theme shortly after his accession and declared that his duties as sovereign included "the duty to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for faith itself and its practice through the religions, cultures, traditions, and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals." His inclusive, multi-faith approach and his own Christian beliefs were expressed in his first Christmas message as king, broadcast in 2022.
Media image and public opinion
Since his birth, Charles has received close media attention, which increased as he matured. It has been an ambivalent relationship, largely impacted by his marriages to Diana and Camilla and their aftermath, but also centred on his future conduct as king.
Described as the "world's most eligible bachelor" in the late 1970s, Charles was subsequently overshadowed by Diana. After her death, the media regularly breached Charles's privacy and printed exposés. Known for expressing his opinions, when asked during an interview to mark his 70th birthday whether this would continue in the same way once he is king, he responded "No. It won't. I'm not that stupid. I do realise that it is a separate exercise being sovereign. So, of course, you know, I understand entirely how that should operate".
A 2018 BMG Research poll found that 46 per cent of Britons wanted Charles to abdicate immediately on his mother's death, in favour of William. However, a 2021 opinion poll reported that 60 per cent of the British public had a favourable opinion of him. On his accession to the throne, The Statesman reported an opinion poll that put Charles's popularity with the British people at 42 per cent. More recent polling suggested that his popularity increased sharply after he became king. According to YouGov, as of 16 April 2023, Charles had an approval rating of 55 per cent.
Reaction to press treatment
In 1994, German tabloid Bild published nude photos of Charles that were taken while he was vacationing in Le Barroux; they had reportedly been put up for sale for £30,000. Buckingham Palace reacted by stating that it was "unjustifiable for anybody to suffer this sort of intrusion".
Charles, "so often a target of the press, got his chance to return fire" in 2002, when addressing "scores of editors, publishers, and other media executives" gathered at St Bride's Fleet Street to celebrate 300 years of journalism.[note 6] 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."
In 2006, Charles 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". Charles and Camilla were named in 2011 as individuals whose confidential information was reportedly targeted or actually acquired in conjunction with the news media phone hacking scandal.
The Independent noted in 2015 that Charles would only speak to broadcasters "on the condition they have signed a 15-page contract, demanding that Clarence House attends both the 'rough cut' and 'fine cut' edits of films and, if it is unhappy with the final product, can 'remove the contribution in its entirety from the programme'." This contract stipulated that all questions directed at Charles must be pre-approved and vetted by his representatives.
Residences and finance
Clarence House, previously the residence of the Queen Mother, was Charles's official London residence from 2003, after being renovated at a cost of £4.5 million. He previously shared apartments eight and nine at Kensington Palace with Diana before moving to York House at St James's Palace, which remained his principal residence until 2003. Highgrove House in Gloucestershire is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, having been purchased for Charles's use in 1980, and which he rented for £336,000 per annum. Since William became the Duke of Cornwall, Charles is expected to pay £700,000 per annum for use of the property. Charles also owns a property near the village of Viscri in Romania.
As Prince of Wales, Charles's primary source of income was 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. Since 1993, Charles has paid tax voluntarily under the Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation, updated in 2013. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs were asked in December 2012 to investigate alleged tax avoidance by the Duchy of Cornwall. The Duchy is named in the Paradise Papers, a set of confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investment that were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Titles, styles, honours, and arms
Titles and styles
Charles has held many titles and honorary military positions throughout the Commonwealth, is sovereign of many orders in his own countries and has received honours and awards from around the world. In each of his realms, he has a distinct title that follows a similar formula: King of Saint Lucia and of His other Realms and Territories in Saint Lucia, King of Australia and His other Realms and Territories in Australia, etc. In the Isle of Man, which is a Crown Dependency rather than a separate realm, he is known as Lord of Mann. Charles is also styled Defender of the Faith.
There had been speculation throughout Elizabeth's reign as to what regnal name Charles would choose upon his accession; instead of Charles III, he could have chosen to reign as George VII or used one of his other given names. It was reported that he might use George in honour of his grandfather George VI and to avoid associations with previous royalty named Charles.[note 7] Charles's office asserted in 2005 that no decision had yet been made. Speculation continued for a few hours following his mother's death, until Liz Truss announced and Clarence House confirmed that Charles would use the regnal name Charles III.
As Prince of Wales, Charles used the arms of the United Kingdom differenced with a white label and an inescutcheon of the Principality of Wales, surmounted by the heir apparent's crown. When Charles became king, he inherited the royal coats of arms of the United Kingdom and of Canada.
The design of his royal cypher, featuring a depiction of the Tudor crown instead of St Edward's Crown, was revealed on 27 September 2022. According to the College of Arms, the Tudor crown will now be used in representations of the royal arms of the United Kingdom and on uniforms and crown badges.
Banners, flags, and standards
As heir apparent
The banners used by Charles as Prince of Wales varied depending upon location. His personal standard for the United Kingdom was 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 was used outside Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, and Canada, and throughout the entire United Kingdom when Charles was acting in an official capacity associated with the British Armed Forces.
The personal flag for use in Wales was based upon the Royal Badge of Wales. In Scotland, the personal banner used between 1974 and 2022 was 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. In Cornwall, the banner was the arms of the Duke of Cornwall.
In 2011, the Canadian Heraldic Authority introduced a personal heraldic banner for the Prince of Wales for Canada, consisting of the shield of the Royal Coat of 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.