The Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948) is the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, making him heir apparent, equally and separately, to the thrones of 16 independent states, though he is resident in and most directly involved with the United Kingdom, the oldest realm. He is also heir to the positions of Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Duke of Normandy, Lord of Mann, and Paramount Chief of Fiji, though he will not necessarily become Head of the Commonwealth. Since 1958, Charles has held the title Prince of Wales in all parts of the United Kingdom save for Scotland, where he is titled as Duke of Rothesay; he may also be referred to as the Duke of Cornwall.
Though the Prince has been well known for his charity work throughout the Commonwealth, his personal life and relationships were always a point of tabloid focus, ramping up with his marriage to Lady Diana Spencer, and dissipating with his marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles, with some of the publicly revealed indiscretions leading to calls for Charles to be overstepped in the line of succession in favour of his eldest son, William, as well as causing the relationship between Charles and the media to sour. Regardless, Charles continues to carry out a full schedule of royal duties, and is increasingly taking on more charges from his parents as official representative of the Queen and deputy for his father.
By the time Charles was four years old, his mother assumed the throne as Queen Elizabeth II, thereby immediately making him the heir apparent to the then seven countries over which the new queen reigned, and elevating him to the position of Duke of Cornwall (by a charter of King Edward III that gave said title to the sovereign's eldest son), and, in the Scottish peerage, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. Though he moved to first in line to the thrones, in the United Kingdom order of precedence he is third, after his parents, and is typically fourth or fifth in other realms' precedence orders, following his mother, the relevant vice-regal representative(s), and his father. He attended his mother's coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1953, sitting with his grandmother and aunt. As with royal children before him, a governess, Catherine Peebles, was appointed to look after the Prince and was responsible for educating him between the ages of 5 and 8. In a break with tradition, though, Buckingham Palace announced in 1955 that Charles would attend school, rather than have a private tutor, making him the first heir apparent to ever be educated in that manner.
Tradition was broken again when Charles went straight from secondary school into university, as opposed to joining the military. On the recommendation of Robin Woods, Dean of Windsor, and despite only gaining grades of B and C in his A Levels, the Prince was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read anthropology, archaeology, and history, earning a lower second class Bachelor of Arts on 23 June 1970, making him the third member of the Royal Family 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. During his time at post-secondary school, Charles also attended the Old College (part of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth), where he studied the Welsh language and Welsh history, also making him the first Prince of Wales born outside of Wales to ever attempt to learn the language of the principality.
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, wherein he was crowned by his mother in a televised ceremony held at Caernafon Castle, and gave his replies and speech in both Welsh and English. The following year he took his seat in the House of Lords, and later in the decade became the first member of the Royal Family since King George I to attend a British Cabinet meeting, having been invited by Prime Minister James Callaghan so that the Prince might see the workings of the British government and Cabinet first hand. Charles also began to take on more public duties, founding his The Prince's Trust in 1976, and travelling to the United States in 1981. Around that same time, 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 his mother's 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? Conversely, Tom Gallagher wrote that Charles had been offered the Romanian throne by monarchists in that country; an offer that was reportedly turned down.
The Prince is presently the oldest man to hold the title of Prince of Wales since it became one that is granted to the heir apparent, as well as the oldest heir apparent in Commonwealth realms' history, the third longest serving heir apparent, and the third longest serving Prince of Wales in British history, in each of the latter cases behind Edward VII and George IV. If he ascends to the throne after 18 September 2013, Charles would be the eldest successor to do so; only William IV was older when he became monarch of the United Kingdom than Charles is now, having asceeded at 64 years and 299 days of age in 1830.
Charles was given written advice on dating and the selection of a future consort from his father's Uncle Dickie, Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma: "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. Mountbatten had a unique qualification for offering advice to this particular heir to the throne: he had invited George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and their daughters to visit Dartmouth Royal Naval College on 22 July 1939, having also detailed Cadet Prince Philip to keep the young Princesses company, creating the first documented meeting of Charles' future parents.
In early 1974, Mountbatten began corresponding with Elizabeth and Philip's eldest son about a potential marriage to Mountbatten's granddaughter, The Honourable Amanda Knatchbull, and recommended that the 25 year old prince get done with his bachelor's experimentation. Charles duitifully wrote to Knatchbull's mother (who was one of his godparents), about his interest in her daughter, to which the Countess replied approvingly, though suggesting that a courtship was premature. This did not daunt Mountbatten, who, four years later, obtained an invitation for himself and Knatchbull to accompany Charles on his 1980 tour of India, despite the objection of both fathers, Philip complaining that the Prince of Wales would be eclipsed by his famous uncle (who had served as the last British Viceroy and first Governor-General of India), while John Knatchbull, Baron Brabourne, warned that a joint visit would rivet media attention on the cousins before they could decide on becoming a couple, thereby potentially dashing the very prospect for which Mountbatten hoped. However, before Charles was to depart for India, Mountbatten was assassinated in August 1979. When Charles returned, he proposed to Knatchbull (who had been with her grandfather when he, her paternal grandmother, and her youngest brother, were killed), but she recoiled from the prospect of becoming a core member of the Royal Family.
Prince Charles proposed to Diana in February 1981, she accepted, and when he asked her father for her hand, he consented. After the British and Canadian privy councils gave their approval for the union (which was required as the couple was expected to produce an heir to those countries' thrones), the Queen-in-Council gave the legally required assent, and, 29 July, Charles and Diana were married at St. Paul's Cathedral, before 3,500 invited guests and an estimated woldwide television audience of 750 million people. All of the Queen's Governors-General, as well as Europe's crowned heads, attended (save for King Juan Carlos I of Spain, who was advised not to attend because the newlyweds' honeymoon would involve a stop over in the disputed territory of Gibraltar. Most of Europe's elected heads of state were also amongst the guests, with the exceptions of the President of Greece, Constantine Karamanlis (who declined because Greece's exiled king and personal friend of Charles, Constantine II, had been described on the invitations as King of the Hellenes), and the President of Ireland, Patrick Hillery (who was advised by taoiseach Charles Haughey not to attend because of the dispute over the status of Northern Ireland).
The couple made their homes at Highgrove, near Tetbury, and Kensington Palace. Almost immediately, the new Princess of Wales became a star attraction, chased by the paparazzi, and her every move followed by millions through the mass media. This only increased when Charles and Diana had their first child, Prince William, in 1982, and then Prince Henry in 1984.
Though they remained a couple in public, Charles and Diana had effectively separated by the late 1980s, the Prince living in Highgrove and the Princess at Kensington Palace. Their increased periods apart and obvious discomfort in each other's presence began to be noticed by the media, and this, plus evidence and recriminations of infidelity, were broadcast in tabloids and the news. By 1992 the marriage was over in all but name; in December of that year, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, John Major, announced in the British parliament the Prince and Princess' formal separation, after which the media began to take sides, starting what came to be known as the War of the Waleses. In October 1993, Diana wrote to a friend that she believed her husband was now in love with Tiggy Legge-Bourke and wanted to marry her. The marriage of Charles and Diana was formally ended in divorce on 28 August 1996.
Diana was later killed in a car crash in Paris, along with her companion Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul, on 31 August 1997. The Prince of Wales over-ruled the palace protocol experts who argued that as Diana was no longer a member of the Royal Family, the responsibility for her funeral arrangements belonged to her blood relatives, the Spencers and flew to Paris, with Diana's sisters, to accompany his ex-wife's body home. He also insisted that she be given a formal royal funeral; a new category of formal funeral was especially created for her.
In 1993, the British tabloids came into the possession of recordings of a 1989 mobile telephone conversation allegedly between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles, in which Charles expressed regret for the indignities she had endured because of her relationship with him, and which revealed graphic expressions of a physical intimacy between the two. In a television interview the following year, Charles admitted that he had committed adultery "once it was clear the marriage had broken down," and said in the same interview that his father had approved of the taking of a mistress. This assertion, however, was vehemently denied by the Duke of Edinburgh, and the implication of condoned adultery caused a significant rift between father and son. When it was later confirmed that it had been Camilla Parker-Bowles with whom Charles was having an affair, her husband, Andrew, imediately demanded a divorce from his wife and thereafter remained silent on the subject of his wife's ongoing affair with the Prince.
Charles attempted to make his relationship with Parker-Bowles more public and accepted, having her become his unofficial, occasional companion at events. This coming out temporarily ceased at the time of the Princess of Wales' death, but Charles and Parker-Bowles were photographed in public together in 1999, following a birthday party for Parker-Bowles' sister, Annabel Elliott; this was regarded as a sign that the relationship was now official, a feeling that was further enhanced when Parker-Bowles met the Queen in June 2000. Parker-Bowles moved into Charles' household in 2003, resulting in decorative changes to both homes, though Buckingham Palace was explicit in pointing out that public funds had not been used for the renovations. Marriage between the Prince of Wales and Parker-Bowles remained elusive, however: As the future Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the prospect of Charles marrying a divorceé, and one with whom he had conducted an illicit relationship, was seen as controversial. Opinion of both the public and the church shifted, though, to a point where civil marriage was seen as an agreeable solution.
Charles assisted with the establishment of a National Trust for the built environment in Canada, after lamenting, in 1996, the unbridled destruction of many of the counrty's historic urban cores. He offered his assistance to the Department of Canadian Heritage in the creation of a trust modelled on the British variant, and, with the passing of the 2007 federal budget by his mother's representative in Canada, a Canadian national trust was finally fully implelemented. In 1999, the Prince also agreed to offer the use of his title to 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. Charles has also been the recipient of awards for his efforts in regard to architecture, such as the National Building Museum's Vincent Scully Prize he received in 2005, while visiting the United States and touring southern Mississippi and New Orleans to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina; he donated $25,000 of the prize money to help restore communities damaged by the storm.
Starting in 1997, the Prince of Wales also visited Romania to view and draw attention to some of the destruction caused during the Communist rule of Nicolae Ceauşescu, particularly Orthodox monastaries and Saxon villages of Transylvania, where he purchased a house. Charles also became patron of two Romanian built environment organisations: the Mihai Eminescu Trust and the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture, and Urbanism), an advocate of architecture that respects cultural tradition and identity.
Since the early 1980s, Charles has taken a keen interest in environmental issues, taking a leadership role in promoting environmentally sensitive thinking. Upon his moving into his Highgrove estate, he became increasingly focused on organic farming, an attention that 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 from which (£6 million, as of 2008) are donated to The Prince's Charities. Documenting this 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; though the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic in the UK prevented Charles from visiting farmers in Saskatchewan, organic farmers there came to meet him at the Assiniboia town hall. In 2004, he also founded the Mutton Renaissance Campaign, which aims to support British sheep farmers and make mutton more attractive to Britons. His organic farming efforts, however, 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. and, in February 2007, Duchy products themselves came under attack, with the tabloid Daily Mail claiming that the food was "unhealthier than Big Macs.
An announcement was made by Clarence House in December 2006 that the Prince of Wales would make his household's travel arrangements more eco-friendly, and, in 2007, Charles published in his annual accounts the details of his own carbon footprint, as well as targets for reducing his household's carbon emissions. That same year, 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". However, Charles' travel by commercial airliner to the United States to attend the award ceremony drew criticism from some environmental activists, such as the Plane climate change action group's campaigner Joss Garman, who said: "It is frustrating and disappointing that someone who styles himself as a green leader and should be leading an example, behaves in such a manner when everyone else is doing their best to cut emissions."
Orthodox Christianity is also a subject with which the Prince of Wales has involved himself, travelling each year to Mount Athos to spend time in the Orthodox monasteries there, as well as in Romania. Along with his father, who was born and raised as Greek Orthodox, Charles is patron of The Friends of Mount Athos, as well as the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies.
After spending time in the Northwest Territories in 1975, Charles formed a special interest in the Canadian north, as well as Canada's Aboriginal Peoples, the leaders of which he met and sometimes took time to walk and meditate with. Reflecting this association, the Prince of Wales has been conferred with special titles from First Nations communities: in 1996, Cree and Ojibway students in Winnipeg named the Prince Leading Star, and in 2001 he was dubbed Pisimwa Kamiwohkitahpamikohk, or "the sun looks at him in a good way", during his first visit to the province of Saskatchewan. He was also one of the first world leaders to express strong concerns about the human rights record of Nicolae Ceauşescu, initiating objections in the international arena, and subsequently supported the FARA Foundation, which runs Romanian orphanages.
Charles has also pursued the visual arts, focusing on watercolour, and exhibiting and selling a number of his paintings, as well as publishing books on the subject. In university he dabbled in acting, appearing in amateur productions of a comedic nature, an enjoyment of which continued later into the Prince's life, as evidenced by his organising of a comedy gala to celebrate his 60th birthday. He also has an interest in illusionism, becoming a member of The Magic Circle after passing his audition by performing the cups and balls effect. The Prince acts today as partron of a number of theatres, acting troops, and ochestral ensembles, such as the Regina Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and is reportedly a fan of Canadian singer and song writer Leonard Cohen. He is also a collector of automobiles, particularly the British margue Aston Martin, having acquired numerous models and such tight connections with the brand being a frequent visitor to the factory and its service department, and a guest of honour at most of the company's special launch events that special Prince of Wales edition Aston Martins have been created on occasion.
As Prince of Wales, Prince Charles undertakes a number of official duties on behalf of his mother, in her role as sovereign of any of the Commonwealth realms. He will frequently stand in for the Queen at the funerals of foreign dignitaries (which the Queen customarily does not attend), and at investitures into British orders. It was when he attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II that Charles caused controversy: when shaking hands with other guests, Charles was surprised to find himself shaking that of Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, who had been seated next to the Prince. Charles' 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.
Both Charles amd the Duchess of Cornwall travel abroad on behalf of the United Kingdom. The Prince has been regarded as an effective advocate of the country, with his visit to the Republic of Ireland, where 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. 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, the Prince 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.
Prince Charles makes regular tours of Wales, going there for a week of engagements each summer, attending important national occasions, such as opening the Senedd. 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 the Prince is patron of a number of Scottish organisations.
In their quest to gain ever more stories on the Prince of Wales, the media breached Charles' privacy on a number of occasions. In 2006, the Prince filed a court case against the Mail on Sunday, after exerpts of his personal journals were published, revealing his opinions on matters, such as the takeover of Hong Kong by the People's Republic of China in 1997, in which Charles described the Chinese government officials as "appaling old waxworks." Others have used their past connections with the Prince to profit from the media, such as when an ex-member of Charles' household took to 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. In retort, Charles stated: "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, and the memo was cited in Lynne Truss' critique of British manners, Talk to the Hand, as a valid observation on how the positive motivational impact of meritocracy might be balanced against the negative impact of a competitive society.
Overall, Charles developed a dislike for the popular press, which was accidentally revealed when his comments to his son, William, during a press photo-call in 2005 was caught on a nearby microphone: "I hate doing this... These bloody people, and about the BBC's royal reporter, Nicholas Witchell, in particular: "I can't bear that man. I mean, he's so awful, he really is. The Prince of Wales, though, remained friendly with produced entertainment media, appearing as himself on the UK soap opera Coronation Street as part of the show's 40th anniversary in 2000, and on the New Zealand adult cartoon series bro'Town, after attending a performance from the show's creators during a tour of the country. Charles has also conintued to give interviews, such as that which was conducted by Ant and Dec for the 30th anniversary of The Prince's Trust in 2006, and he read his children's book, The Old Man of Lochnagar, on the BBC's Jackanory programme.
In 2007, the Prince purchased a 192 acre (150 acres of grazing and parkland, and 40 acres of woodland) property in Carmarthenshire, and applied for permission to convert the farm into a Welsh home for he and the Duchess of Cornwall, to be rented out as holiday flats when the royal couple is not in residence. Though neighbours said the proposed alterations flouted local planning regulations, the application is pending while a report is drafted on how the alterations would affect the local bat population.
The Prince's style and title in full: His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Great Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Australia, Companion of the Queen's Service Order, Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, Chief Grand Commander of the Order of Logohu, Member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty.
In Canada, the Inuit gave Prince Charles the distinctive title Attaniout Ikeneego, meaning "The Son of the Big Boss, serving as a reasonable equivalent to the term heir apparent in the Inuktitut language of Nunavut. The Cree and Ojibway in Winnipeg named Prince Charles Leading Star. From 2000 to 2001, Charles was entitled to be called His Grace The Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Charles has also been the recipient of a number of honours and awards from varous countries around the world, whether from his own or foreign. He has been inducted into eight orders and received five decorations from amongst the Commonwealth realms, and has been the recipient of 17 different appointments and decorations by foreign states, as well as nine honorary degrees from universities in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
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|Prince Henry of Wales||15 September 1984||N/A||N/A||NA|
Through his father's line, his patrilineal descent, Charles is descended from the House of Oldenburg/Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg. It should be noted, however, that absent any future decrees to the contrary Charles will reign as a member of the House of Windsor per Letters Patent issued by his mother.