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Charles, Prince of Wales

Related subjects Monarchs of Great Britain

Prince Charles
Prince of Wales
Duke of Rothesay
Spouse Diana, Princess of Wales (m. 1981, div. 1996)
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (m. 2005)
Prince William of Wales
Prince Henry of Wales
Full name
Charles Philip Arthur George
Titles and styles
HRH The Prince of Wales
HRH The Duke of Rothesay
HRH The Duke of Cornwall
HRH Prince Charles of Edinburgh
Royal house House of Windsor
Father Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Mother Elizabeth II
Born 14 November 1948 (1948-11-14)
Buckingham Palace, London
Baptised 15 December 1948
Buckingham Palace, London
British Royal Family

HM The Queen
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

  • HRH The Prince of Wales
    HRH The Duchess of Cornwall
  • HRH The Duke of York
    • HRH Princess Beatrice of York
    • HRH Princess Eugenie of York
  • HRH The Earl of Wessex
    HRH The Countess of Wessex
    • Viscount Severn
    • Lady Louise Windsor
  • HRH The Princess Royal

  • HRH The Duke of Gloucester
    HRH The Duchess of Gloucester
  • HRH The Duke of Kent
    HRH The Duchess of Kent
  • HRH Prince Michael of Kent
    HRH Princess Michael of Kent
  • HRH Princess Alexandra
Styles of
The Prince of Wales
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir

The Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948), is the eldest son of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He has held the title of Prince of Wales since 1958, and is styled "His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales", except in Scotland, where he is styled "His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay". The title " Duke of Cornwall" is often used for the Prince in relation to Cornwall.

Charles is Heir Apparent, equally and separately, to the thrones of sixteen sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms; he will most likely reside in and be directly involved with the United Kingdom. He will not, however, necessarily inherit the title Head of the Commonwealth. Though the Prince is 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.

The Prince of Wales is well known for his extensive charity work, particularly for The Prince's Trust, The Prince's Drawing School, The Prince's Regeneration Trust, and The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment. He also carries out a full schedule of royal duties and, increasingly, is taking on more duties from his elderly parents as official representative of the Queen and deputy for his father. The Prince is also well known for his marriages to the late Diana, Princess of Wales and, subsequently, to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.


Prince Charles was born on 14 November 1948 at Buckingham Palace, London, England, son of the then Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, now Queen Elizabeth II, and The Duke of Edinburgh.

Prince Charles was baptised in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace on 15 December 1948, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher. The Prince's godparents were: King George VI, Queen Mary, Princess Margaret, the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, David Bowes-Lyon, Lady Brabourne, King Haakon VII of Norway (for whom the Earl of Athlone stood proxy), and Prince George of Greece (for whom Prince Philip stood proxy).

Under letters patent issued by the Prince's great grandfather, King George V, the title of a British prince or princess and the style " Royal Highness" was only available to the children and grandchildren in the male-line of the sovereign, and children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. As Charles was a female-line grandchild of the sovereign, he would have taken his title from his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, and would have been styled by courtesy as Earl of Merioneth. However, the title of Prince and Princess, with the style Royal Highness, was granted to all the children of Princess Elizabeth and Philip by letters patent of George VI on 22 October 1948. In this way the children of the heiress presumptive had a royal and princely status not thought necessary for the children of King George VI's other daughter, Princess Margaret. Thus, from birth Charles was known as "His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Edinburgh".

Early life

In 1952, his mother assumed the throne, becoming Queen Elizabeth II, immediately making Prince Charles the Duke of Cornwall, under a charter of King Edward III, which gave that title to the sovereign's eldest son, and was then referred to as "His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall". He also became, in the Scottish Peerage, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick and Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.

He attended his mother’s coronation at Westminster Abbey, sitting with his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and his aunt, The Princess Margaret. The Duke of Cornwall was now the heir apparent to the thrones of sixteen countries.


As with royal children before him, a governess, Catherine Peebles, was appointed to look after the Prince; the governess was responsible for educating the Prince between the ages of 5 and 8. In a break with tradition, Buckingham Palace announced in 1955 that the Prince would attend school, rather than have a private tutor; making Charles the first heir apparent to do so. He first attended Hill House School in West London, and later the Cheam Preparatory School in Berkshire, which the Duke of Edinburgh had also attended.

The Prince finished his education at Gordonstoun, a private boarding school in the north east of Scotland. It is often reported that the Prince despised his time at the school, where he was a frequent target for bullies - " Colditz in kilts" he reportedly said. The Prince would later send his own children to Eton College, rather than Gordonstoun.

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 history trip with his tutor Michael Collins Persse. On his return to Gordonstoun he followed in his father's footsteps by becoming Head Boy. In 1967 he left Gordonstoun with two A levels, in History and French.


Traditionally, the heir to the throne would go straight into the military after finishing school. However, in another break with tradition, Charles attended university at Trinity College, Cambridge, on the recommendation of Robin Woods, Dean of Windsor, who himself was a former student of the college. He was admitted despite only gaining a B and a C in his A-levels. At Trinity, he read anthropology and archaeology, and later history, earning a 2:2 (lower second class) Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree on 23 June 1970, making Charles the third member of the Royal Family to earn a university degree. For one term he also attended the Old College, part of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, where he studied the Welsh language and Welsh history. The intention was specifically to learn the Welsh language, and as such he was the first English-born Prince (of Wales) ever to make a serious attempt to do so. He subsequently learnt enough to be able to deliver his investiture speech in Welsh.

On 2 August 1975, per Cambridge tradition, the Prince was awarded a Master's degree, entitling him to use the postnominal MA (Cantab).

Created Prince of Wales

Prince Charles was created The Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on 26 July 1958, though his actual investiture did not take place until 1 July 1969. This was a ceremony with symbolically political overtones, held at Caernarfon Castle in north Wales. The ceremony at Caernarfon has traditionally been associated with the subjugation of Welsh people since the 13th century, when Edward I deposed the last native Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. Previous investitures had taken place at various locations, including the Palace of Westminster, the seat of Parliament. The Welsh borough of Swansea was granted city status to mark the occasion.

The investiture also aroused considerable hostility among many Welsh people, and some were under constant police surveillance and were the subject of much intimidation from the secret services. Threats of violence ensued and a short bombing campaign, although these acts were generally more related to the greater nationalist campaign for Welsh independence. The nationalist campaign against the investiture culminated with an attempted bombing of the royal train by two members of the Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru as it passed through Abergele on the eve of the investiture, resulting in the two bombers' deaths.

In the late 1970s, the Prince of Wales established another first when he became the first member of the Royal Family since King George I to attend a British cabinet meeting, being invited to attend by Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan so as to see the workings of cabinet government at first hand.

Charles during a visit to the United States in 1981.
Charles during a visit to the United States in 1981.

In the early 1980s, Charles privately expressed an interest in becoming 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, nothing came of the proposal due to the intervention of Governor-General Sir John Kerr in the 1975 constitutional crisis. The Prince 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?"

The British expert in Romanian politics and history and Encyclopaedia Britannica editor Tom Gallagher, wrote that Charles was offered the Romanian throne, supposedly by Romanian monarchists; an offer that he reportedly turned down.

If he ascends to his mother's throne after 18 September 2013, the Prince, who turned 59 in November 2007, would become the oldest successor to do so. Only William IV was older than Charles is now when he became monarch of the United Kingdom. He is both the third-longest serving heir apparent and third-longest serving Prince of Wales in British history, in each case behind Edward VII and George IV. The Prince will be the first Commonwealth realms monarch to be descended from Queen Victoria through two lines: from his mother's side through Edward VII, George V and George VI; and through his paternal grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg who is the eldest daughter of Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, who as a daughter of Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine is a female line grandchild of Victoria.


The Prince of Wales's love life has always been the subject of speculation and press fodder. In his youth he was linked to a number of women including: Georgiana Russell (daughter of the British Ambassador to Spain); Lady Jane Wellesley (daughter of the 8th Duke of Wellington); Davina Sheffield; Penthouse model Fiona Watson; the actress Susan George; Lady Sarah Spencer; Princess Marie-Astrid of Luxembourg; Dale, Baroness Tryon (wife of Anthony Tryon, 3rd Baron Tryon); Janet Jenkins; and divorcée Jane Ward, among others. Irrespective of the truth of the romantic rumours, the hurdles of marriage made some of these matches manifestly implausible.

As heir apparent to the Commonwealth realms' thrones, the Prince of Wales would be expected to father future monarchs; also, like other members of the Royal Family, he was legally obliged to obtain his mother's approval under the Royal Marriages Act before marriage. Apart from her support, his choice of a future wife would also need to survive the immense popular interest it would immediately arouse.

Amanda Knatchbull

Charles was given written advice on dating and selection of a future consort from his father's "Uncle Dickie", Louis, 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 and Queen Elizabeth to visit Dartmouth Royal Naval College with their daughters on 22 July 1939, having also detailed Cadet Prince Philip of Greece to keep the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret company. This was the first recorded meeting of Charles's future parents. Mountbatten began corresponding with Charles about a potential marriage to his granddaughter, Hon. Amanda Knatchbull, early in 1974. It was at this time he also recommended that the 25 year-old prince get done with his bachelor's experimentation. Charles dutifully wrote to Amanda's mother (who was also his godmother), Patricia Brabourne, about his interest. She replied approvingly, while suggesting that a courtship was premature.

Undaunted, four years later Mountbatten obtained an invitation for himself and Amanda to accompany Charles on his planned 1980 tour of India, where Mountbatten had served as last British viceroy and first Indian governor general. This time both fathers objected: Philip complained that the Prince of Wales would be eclipsed by his famous uncle. Amanda's father, John Knatchbull, 7th Baron Brabourne, warned that a joint visit would rivet media attention on the cousins before they could decide on becoming a couple, potentially dashing the very prospect for which Mountbatten hoped.

But before Charles was to depart alone for India, Mountbatten was assassinated, in August 1979. When Charles returned and proposed marriage to Amanda (who had been with her grandfather when he, her paternal grandmother, and her youngest brother, Nicholas, were fatally wounded) she recoiled from the prospect of becoming a core member of the Royal Family. In June 1980, Charles officially turned down Chevening House, placed at his disposal since 1974, as his future residence. A stately home in Kent, Chevening 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.

First marriage

Although Charles first met Lady Diana Spencer in 1977, while visiting her family's home, Althorp, as the companion of her elder sister Lady Sarah, apparently he did not consider her romantically until the summer of 1980. While sitting together on a bale of hay at a friend's barbecue in July, he mentioned Mountbatten's death a year earlier. Diana replied that he 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." She accompanied him on visits to the royal estates of Balmoral and Sandringham, eliciting enthusiastic responses from most of his family members.

Although the Queen offered Charles no direct counsel, Amanda Knatchbull's oldest brother, Norton, Lord Romsey and his wife, Penny, did. But their objections that Charles did not seem in love with Diana and that she seemed too awestruck by his position, angered him. Meanwhile, the couple continued dating, amidst constant press speculation and paparazzi coverage. When Prince Philip told him that the frenzied media focus would injure her reputation if he did not come to a decision about marrying her soon, and realising that Diana met the Mountbatten criteria (and, apparently, the public's) for a proper royal bride, Charles construed his father's advice as a warning to proceed without further delay.

In February 1981, Charles proposed marriage to Diana, she accepted, and when he asked her father, John, the 8th Earl Spencer, for her hand, he consented. After the British and Canadian Privy Councils gave their approval for the union – as the coupling was expected to produce an heir to those countries' thrones – the Queen-in-Council gave the legally required assent. On 29 July 1981, the couple were married at St Paul's Cathedral before 3,500 invited guests and an estimated worldwide television audience of 750 million people. All of the Queen's Governors-General, as well as Europe's crowned heads attended (except for Juan Carlos I of Spain, who was advised not to attend because the couple's honeymoon would involve a stop-over in the disputed territory of Gibraltar). So, too, did most of Europe's elected heads of state, with the exceptions of the President of Greece, Constantine Karamanlis, who declined to go because Greece's exiled King, Constantine II, a personal friend of the Prince, had been described in his invitation 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.

By marriage to the heir apparent, Lady Diana received both the title of the Princess of Wales and the style of "Her Royal Highness". The couple made their home at Highgrove, near Tetbury in Gloucestershire and at Kensington Palace. Almost immediately, the Princess of Wales became a star attraction, chased by the paparazzi, her every move closely followed by millions.

Charles and Diana's wedding commemorated on a 1981 British twenty-five pence coin.
Charles and Diana's wedding commemorated on a 1981 British twenty-five pence coin.

However, the marriage soon became troubled. The continued presence of Camilla Parker-Bowles in the events and circumstances of the couple became intolerable to the Princess. Allies of the Prince who spoke publicly, if anonymously, against the Princess alleged that Her Royal Highness was unstable and temperamental; one by one she apparently sacked each of the Prince of Wales's longstanding staff members and fell out with numerous friends and members of her family – her father, her mother, her brother, and The Duchess of York. The Princess sought counsel outside of the generally acceptable sources of advice, to the chagrin of the palace, and in response to the succor sought by the Prince, responded in kind.

The Prince of Wales, too, was blamed for the marital troubles, as he resumed his adulterous affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. Within five years of the wedding, the "fairytale" marriage was already on the brink of collapse. Ironically, the Prince and Princess of Wales were similar in some respects: both had had troubled childhoods, both took their public roles seriously and devoted much of their time to charity work, becoming highly regarded for it; the Princess of Wales notably devoted much time to helping AIDS sufferers, while the Prince of Wales devoted much effort to marginalised groups in urban centres through The Prince's Trust charity and to victims of mines.

Though they remained publicly a couple, they had effectively separated by the late 1980s, he living in Highgrove, she in Kensington Palace. The media noted their increasing periods apart and their obvious discomfort at being in each other's presence and aired evidence and recriminations of infidelity in the news. By 1992, it was obvious that the marriage was over in all but name. In December 1992, John Major announced the couple's formal separation in parliament, and the news media began to take sides in what became 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 The Prince and Princess of Wales formally ended in divorce on 28 August 1996. It had produced two sons, Prince William of Wales, and Prince Henry of Wales, who is known as Harry.

Death of Diana, Princess of Wales

Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997. The Prince of Wales was praised by some for his handling of the events and their aftermath, in particular his over-ruling of palace protocol experts (and, indeed, the Queen) who argued that as Diana, Princess of Wales, was no longer a member of the Royal Family, the responsibility for her funeral arrangements belonged to her blood relatives, the Spencers. The Prince of Wales, against advice, flew to Paris along with Diana's sisters to accompany his ex-wife's body home and insisted that she be given a formal royal funeral; a new category of formal funeral was especially created for her.

Relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles

During a 1994 television interview, Charles admitted that he had committed adultery "once it was clear the marriage had broken down". The timing of the affair's resumption may or may not be accurate by the Prince's account; Prince Charles also held during the same interview that his own father The Duke of Edinburgh approved of the taking of a mistress. This assertion was vehemently denied by the Duke, and the implication of condoned adultery caused a significant rift between father and son. It was later confirmed that the third party was Camilla Parker-Bowles. This public confession by Charles resulted in Andrew Parker-Bowles' immediate demand for divorce from Camilla, although he had heretofore remained silent on the subject of his wife's ongoing affair with the Prince. In fact in 1993, the British tabloids got hold of tapes (still unexplained) of a 1989 mobile telephone conversation allegedly between Prince Charles and Camilla, in which Prince Charles expressed regret for all the indignities she endured because of their relationship. That same taped conversation also revealed rather graphic expressions of an undeniable physical relationship between the two.

After his divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales, The Prince of Wales's relationship with Camilla eventually became openly acknowledged, and she became his unofficial companion. With the death of Diana in 1997, Camilla's gradual emergence in the public eye came to a temporary halt. However, in 1999, after a party celebrating the 50th birthday of Camilla's sister, Annabel Elliott, Charles and Camilla were photographed in public together. Many saw this as a sign that their relationship was now regarded as "official". In a further effort to gain acceptance of the relationship, Camilla met the Queen in June 2000. Eventually in 2003, Camilla moved into Charles's homes at Highgrove and Clarence House, although Buckingham Palace points out that public funds were not used in the decoration of her suites.

Marriage remained elusive, with two main issues requiring resolution and acceptance. As future Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the prospect of his marrying Camilla, with whom he had had a relationship while both were married, was seen as controversial by some. Both the Prince and Camilla had divorced their spouses, but as her former husband was still alive (although re-married to his long-time mistress), her remarriage was likely to be problematic. Over time, opinion — both public and within the Church — shifted somewhat to a point where a civil marriage would be acceptable.

Second marriage

On 10 February 2005, it was announced by Clarence House that the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles would marry on 8 April of that year, in a civil ceremony at Windsor Castle, with a subsequent religious blessing at the castle's St George's Chapel. Subsequently, the location was changed to the Guildhall, Windsor, possibly because of the discovery that Windsor Castle might have to become available for other people's weddings, should theirs be performed there. On Monday 4 April, it was announced that the wedding would be delayed for one day to 9 April to allow the Prince of Wales and some of the invited dignitaries to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

It was announced by royal authorities that after the marriage, as the wife of the Prince of Wales, Camilla would be styled "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall", and that, upon the Prince's accession to the thrones, she would not be known as "Queen Camilla", but as "Her Royal Highness The Princess Consort". This form of address is believed to be based on that used by Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert, who was styled as Prince Consort. Some constitutional experts, however, believe that the wishes of Camilla and the Prince create a constitutional confusion. The British Department of Constitutional Affairs has stated that unless parliament passes legislation dictating her status, Camilla will become Queen Camilla in the United Kingdom upon her husband's succession; as the spouse of the monarch in other Commonwealth realms is accorded a courtesy title only, and this is usually that which is used in the United Kingdom, Camilla may not necessarily be styled as Queen in any of her husband's countries beyond the UK. A spokesman for the Prince concedes that the government may have to formalise Camilla's status at the time of the succession. It is also reported that the Prince hopes by the time he succeeds public attitudes will have changed, and Camilla can become Queen.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall spent their first wedding anniversary in Scotland, where they are styled the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.

Personal interests

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are greeted by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush on a November 2005 visit to the United States.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are greeted by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush on a November 2005 visit to the United States.

The Prince of Wales has a wide array of interests and activities, some of which have not been fully appreciated by the public. His popularity has fluctuated, but he is one of the most active Princes of Wales for centuries, and has devoted his time and effort to charity work and working with local communities.

The Prince is President of eighteen charities, sixteen of which he personally founded. Together these not-for-profit organisations form a loose alliance called the Prince's Charities, which claim to raise over £110 million annually.

The Prince is also Patron of over 350 other charities. The Prince has ties with at least one associated charity - and sometimes several, in each of his main areas of interest described below.

This activity is not confined to the United Kingdom. For example, as heir to the Canadian throne, he has aimed to use his tours of that country as a way to help draw attention to relevant issues, including youth, the disabled, the environment, the arts, medicine, the elderly, heritage conservation and education.

The Prince is regarded by some as an effective advocate for the United Kingdom. On a visit to the Republic of Ireland, for example, he delivered a personally researched and written speech on Anglo-Irish affairs that was warmly received by Irish politicians and the media.

Alternative medicine

The Prince has long been known to be interested in greater exploration of alternative medicine, drawing fire from the medical establishment and those who consider such " complementary therapies" to be pseudoscience at best and outright fraud at worst.

However, his charity The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health has been closely involved in a government drive to improve regulation and quality standards in the sector.


Charles has frequently shared his views about the built environment in public forums. In essence, these views might be thought of as being part of the intellectual tradition of English town planning that descends from Ebenezer Howard and Raymond Unwin. The Prince claims to "care deeply about issues such as the environment, architecture, inner-city renewal, and the quality of life" and is known for being an advocate of the neo-traditional ideas of architects such as Christopher Alexander and Leon Krier. In 1984, he delivered a blistering attack on the profession of architecture in a speech given to the Royal Institute of British Architects, describing the proposed extension to the National Gallery in London as a "monstrous carbuncle". Despite criticism from the professional architectural press, he has continued to put forward his views in numerous speeches and articles on traditional urbanism, the need for human scale, concern to restore historic buildings as an integrated element in new developments and green design. These ideas are furthered through two of the Prince's Charities in particular: The Prince's Regeneration Trust and The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment. His Regeneration Through Heritage and Phoenix Trust merged in 2006 to form The Prince's Regeneration Trust, which develops his ideas about historic buildings and heritage-led regeneration by supporting and carrying out exemplar projects.

To put his ideas on architecture and urban planning into practice, the Prince of Wales is developing the village of Poundbury, in Dorset, which is built from a master plan by Krier. Prior to commencing work on Poundbury, Prince Charles published a book and produced a documentary entitled A Vision for Britain, both being critiques of modern architecture. In 1992, he also established The Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture, and began the publication of a magazine dealing with architecture, but the latter has since ceased independent operation after being merged with another charity to create the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment in 2001.

Prince Charles assisted with the establishment of a National Trust for the built environment in Canada, after lamenting the unbridled destruction of many of Canada's historic urban cores when in the country in 1996. He offered to help the Department of Canadian Heritage create a trust modelled after the British National Trust. With the passing of the 2007 federal budget by his mother's representative in Canada, a National Trust was finally fully implemented. Since 1999, Heritage Canada has awarded The Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership, given annually to a municipal government that has shown sustained commitment to the conservation of its historic places.

The Prince also has had a particular interest in the Romanian countryside since the 1980s, when, under the rule of the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, Romanian villages were destroyed to move farmers to apartment buildings in cities. Since 1997 he has been visiting Romania regularly and has shown a great personal interest in Romania's Orthodox monasteries as well as in the fate of the Saxon villages of Transylvania where he purchased a house. He is patron to two built environment organisations that are active in Romania: the Mihai Eminescu Trust, which manages the restoration of Romanian architecture and INTBAU (the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture, and Urbanism), an advocate of architecture that respects cultural tradition and identity.

In November 2005, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, visited the United States. Besides visiting Washington D.C. and President George W. Bush, the Prince and Duchess toured southern Mississippi and New Orleans to highlight the need for financial assistance in rebuilding these areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Prior to their visit to New Orleans, the Prince received National Building Museum’s Vincent Scully Prize in Washington D.C. The Prince donated $25,000 (£14,000) of the Scully Prize to help restore communities damaged by Hurricane Katrina.


The Prince of Wales attending a production by the RSC in December 2007.
The Prince of Wales attending a production by the RSC in December 2007.

Prince Charles is a watercolour artist, having exhibited and sold a number of paintings, and a published writer. He is also reportedly a fan of Canadian singer and song writer Leonard Cohen.

Prince Charles is also currently President of the Royal Shakespeare Company and chairs the Company's Annual General Meetings.


The Prince is known to have a keen interest in cars, particularly the British marque Aston Martin. He has collected numerous Aston models over the years and has tight connections with the brand, so much so that special "Prince of Wales" Edition Aston Martins have been created over the years, sporting his favourite colour and trim combinations. He is a frequent visitor to the factory and its service department, and has been a guest of honour at most of the company's special launch events.

Canadian First Nations

As Prince of Wales, Prince Charles has paid seventeen visits to Canada, beginning in 1970. Five years later, while serving aboard HMS Hermes in Canadian waters, the prince spent a week in the Northwest Territories; the Canadian North remains an area that holds a special attraction for him. Reflecting the Prince's interest in aboriginal peoples, members of the First Nations community have conferred on him special titles: In Winnipeg, Cree and Ojibway students named the Prince "Leading Star" in 1996, and in 2001 he was named Pisimwa Kamiwohkitahpamikohk, or "the sun looks at him in a good way", during his first visit to the province of Saskatchewan in 2001. Charles also meets with aboriginal leaders; sometimes taking time to walk and meditate with tribal elders.


The Prince has taken a keen interest in environmental issues, and has taken a leadership role in promoting environmentally sensitive thinking, within business practice as well as urban planning and design. The latter ties in with his Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment.

In December 2006, Charles announced plans to make his household's travel plans more eco-friendly. Later, in 2007, he also 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, Charles received the 10th annual Global Environmental Citizen Award from Harvard Medical School's Centre for Health and the Global Environment, presented by former US Vice President Al Gore and actress Meryl Streep. Eric Chivian, director of the Centre, 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". The Prince's travel to the United States via commercial airliner caused some controversy amongst environmental activists – with the Plane Stupid climate change action group's campaigner Joss Garman saying: "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".

The Prince continues to be involved in numerous public events pertaining to the environment.

Organic and sustainable agriculture

The Prince grows and promotes organic food, although he drew some ridicule when he joked about sometimes talking to his house plants.

In the early 1980s, the Prince moved to the Highgrove country estate in Gloucestershire, and became increasingly interested in organic farming – particularly in how to make it more economically viable. This culminated in 1992 with the launch of his own organic brand, Duchy Originals, the name of which reflects his title as the Duke of Cornwall. The company sells a range of more than 200 organic and sustainably produced products, from garden furniture to food. All the profits go to The Prince's Charities Foundation, raising £6 million so far. He is also patron of Garden Organic (formerly the Henry Doubleday Research Association), a campaigning UK charity dedicated to promoting organic growing and living.

The Prince regularly meets with farmers to discuss their trade. In Saskatchewan in 2001 the foot-and-mouth epidemic in the UK prevented Charles from visiting farms, however organic farmers came specifically to meet him at the Assiniboia town hall.

He is co-author, with Charles Clover, environment editor of the Daily Telegraph (London), of Highgrove: An Experiment in Organic Gardening and Farming, published by Simon & Schuster in 1993. In 2004, the Prince founded the Mutton Renaissance Campaign, which aims to make mutton more attractive to Britons and hence support British sheep farmers. He also called mutton his favorite dish.

The Orthodox Church

Prince Charles is also interested in Orthodox Christianity. Each year he spends time in the Orthodox monasteries of Mount Athos in Greece, and has also visited monasteries in Romania. With his father, Prince Philip, who was born and raised Greek Orthodox, he is a patron of the "The Friends of Mount Athos" organisation. Prince Charles was also the patron of the "21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies," a forum dedicated to the study of the history and art of the former Orthodox Roman Empire, also known as the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire.


Another of the Prince's greatest areas of interest continues to be philosophy, especially the philosophy of Asian and Middle Eastern nations, as well as so-called New Age theology. He had a friendship with author Sir Laurens van der Post, whom outsiders called the "guru to Prince Charles", starting in 1977 until van der Post's death in 1996; such was his friendship with van der Post that the author was named godfather to Prince William. In 2006, the Prince praised "that wonderful Kabbalistic diagram of the Tree of Life", as expounded by Warren Kenton, a teacher at the Temenos Academy. In 2008 he wrote, in Lighting a Candle: Kathleen Raine and Temenos, a short memorial for Kathleen Raine, the Neoplatonist poet, who died in 2003.


The Prince's Trust, which he founded, is a charity that works mainly with young people, offering loans to groups, businesses and people (often in deprived areas) who had difficulty receiving outside support. Fundraising concerts are regularly held for the Prince's Trust, with leading pop, rock, and classical musicians taking part. Charles also supports the FARA Foundation, which runs Romanian orphanages.

During Charles's tour of Canada in 1998, with his two sons, he participated in the ceremonies marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Later, in 2001, he drew attention to youth and education while touring Saskatchewan, where he helped launch the Canadian Youth Business Foundation in Saskatchewan, and he visited Scott Collegiate, an inner-city school in Regina.

Military career

On 8 March 1971, the Prince flew himself to Royal Air Force (RAF) Cranwell in Lincolnshire, to train as a jet pilot. At his own request, The Prince had received flying instruction from the RAF during his second year at Cambridge.

In September 1971, after the passing out parade at Cranwell, the Prince embarked on a naval career, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and both his great-grandfathers.

The six-week course at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, was followed by service on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk and two frigates.

The Prince qualified as a helicopter pilot, in 1974, before joining 845 Naval Air Squadron, which operated from the Commando carrier HMS Hermes. On 9 February 1976, the Prince took command of the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington for his last nine months in the Navy.

With both qualification as a helicopter and fighter pilot, the Prince served in both the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. He came to fly the following aircraft:

  • Chipmunk basic pilot trainer
  • Harrier T Mk.4 V/STOL fighter
  • BAC Jet Provost jet pilot trainer
  • Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft
  • F-4 Phantom II fighter jet
  • Avro Vulcan jet bomber
  • Spitfire classic WWII fighter

Prince Charles served in the Royal Navy for five years:

  • 1971–72: HMS Norfolk
  • 1972–73: HMS Minerva
  • 1974: HMS Jupiter
  • 1974–75: Helicopter flying training at RNAS Yeovilton
  • 1975: Pilot with 845 NAS on HMS Hermes
  • 1976: Captain, HMS Bronington

The Prince's involvement as Colonel-in-Chief of Canadian Forces regiments permits him to be informed of their activities, and allows him opportunity to pay visits while in Canada or overseas. In 2001, Charles placed a specially-commissioned wreath, made from vegetation taken from French battlefields, at the Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Prince also became patron of Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in 1981. The Prince serves as Colonel-in-Chief, Air-Commodore-in-Chief, or Honorary Air Commodore of various regiments throughout the Commonwealth Realms.

In the United Kingdom, Prince Charles also holds the ranks of General ( British Army), Admiral (Royal Navy) and Air Chief Marshal (Royal Air Force), having been promoted to these ranks on his 58th birthday.

Official residence

The Prince of Wales's official London residence is Clarence House, former London residence of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (the nineteenth century building has undergone major restoration and renovation to equip it for use by him, his wife, and their personal and office staffs). His previous official residence was an apartment in St. James's Palace. He also has a private estate, Highgrove in Gloucestershire and in Scotland he has use of the Birkhall estate near Balmoral Castle which was previously owned by Queen Elizabeth.

Some previous Princes of Wales resided in Marlborough House. It is no longer a royal residence. After its last royal resident, George V's widow Queen Mary, died in 1953, Queen Elizabeth II gave it to the Commonwealth Secretariat, which has used the building as its headquarters since 1965.

In 2007, Charles bought a property in Carmarthenshire. Charles applied for permission to convert his newly-purchased farm, although according to their neighbours the application clearly flouted local planning regulations. The application is pending while a report is drafted on how the changes would affect the local bat population.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 14 November 1948 6 February 1952: His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Edinburgh
  • 6 February 1952 26 July 1958: His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall
  • 26 July 1958: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
    • in Scotland: 6 February 1952: His Royal Highness The Duke of Rothesay
    • in Scotland: May 2000: His Grace The Lord High Commissioner

The Prince's style in full (rarely used): 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.


If Prince Charles succeeds his mother as monarch and uses his first given name as his regnal name, he would become known as Charles III. However, Prince Charles has considered rejecting that style when he accedes to the throne, because of its associations with Britain's bloody past. The move away from Charles stems from its associations with Charles I, who was beheaded in 1649 following the English Civil War, at the start of Oliver Cromwell's short-lived republic. The executed monarch's son, Charles II, spent 18 years in exile and returned to England in 1660 but was nicknamed "The Merry Monarch" because of his string of mistresses. Charles III is partially associated with the Catholic Jacobite pretender, Charles Edward Stuart (called Bonnie Prince Charlie), an enduring Scottish romantic figure, who claimed the throne as that style in the 18th century. The move would not be a first - three of the past six British monarchs, Victoria, Edward VII, and George VI, chose a regnal name different from their first given name. The most discussed alternative style has been "George VII", in honour of Charles's grandfather.



Coat of arms of Prince Charles
Coat of arms of Prince Charles

The Prince's own coat of arms are those of the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom with a label for difference. The version used everywhere but Scotland is blazoned Quarterly (by quarters):

1st and 4th, Gules three Lions passant guardant in pale Or (England). (The first and fourth quarters display the three lions, representing England.)
2nd quarter is of a lion rampant within a Double Tressure floury counterflory Gules (Scotland). (The second quarter, displays a red lion in a yellow field with a double border coloured red, this represents Scotland.)
3rd, Azure a Harp Or stringed Argent (Ireland). (The third quarter shows a harp against a blue background, this represents Ireland.)

The whole differenced by a plain Label of three points Argent, as the eldest child of the sovereign, and an inescutcheon of the ancient Coat of Arms of the Principality of Wales.


The prince has been involved in a number of controversial incidents through the years.

In 1999, the League Against Cruel Sports accused him of making a 'Political statement' after Charles took Princes William and Harry with him on the Beaufort Hunt at a time when the government were trying to ban fox hunting with hounds.

In 2004, doctors were widely reported speaking out against the Prince’s backing of coffee enemas as a treatment for cancer. His defence of controversial therapies, London’s The Guardian reported more recently on 23 May 2007, had prompted Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Exeter’s Peninsula Medical School to say: "It has been wholly inappropriate because it is not his role as Prince of Wales to mingle in health politics."

An open microphone on 31 March 2005 caught him muttering to his sons about the media during an officially-arranged press photo-call: "I hate doing this...These bloody people". About the BBC's royal reporter Nicholas Witchell in particular, he confided: "I can't bear that man. I mean, he's so awful, he really is".

Even the Prince's organic farming efforts have attracted media criticism. According to London's The Independent daily in October, 2006 '... the story of Duchy Originals has involved compromises and ethical blips, wedded to a determined merchandising programme'.

February 2007 saw Duchy products themselves under attack, with the tabloid Daily Mail claiming that Prince Charles' own brand food was "unhealthier than Big Macs".



Popular culture

Charles wrote a children's book, The Old Man of Lochnagar, and even read it on the BBC's Jackanory programme.

Charles has a keen interest in illusionism, and is a member of The Magic Circle. He passed his audition by performing the cups and balls effect.

In 1977, Charles was interviewed on the Australian Broadcasting Commission rock and roll music program, Countdown by Ian (Molly) Meldrum.

In 2000, he made an appearance in the UK soap, Coronation Street, to celebrate the show's 40th anniversary on ITV1.

In 2005, Prince Charles appeared as himself in the New Zealand adult cartoon series Bro'Town. The episode aired on TV3 on Wednesday 26 October and was the final episode in the second series of the popular show. Prince Charles agreed to record some impromptu audio for Series Two while attending a performance from the show's creators during a visit to New Zealand. After some enthusiastic encouragement from Prime Minister Helen Clark (who also appears in the episode), the Prince gave a royal rendition of the Bro'Town catch-cry "Morningside 4 Life!"

In 2006, a court case was filed by Prince Charles against the Mail on Sunday after publication of extracts from his personal journals. Lawyers for the Prince argued that he was as entitled to keep private documents as any other person. Various revelations were made, including his opinions on the takeover of Hong Kong by the People's Republic of China in 1997, in which he described Chinese government officials as "appalling old waxworks". His ex-private secretary also alleged that the Prince considers himself a dissident, working against majority political opinions.

On Saturday 20 May 2006, ITV presented the 30th birthday of The Prince's Trust. It included songs from Embrace and their song 'World at our Feet' and Annie Lennox and also an interview with Prince Charles, Prince Harry and Prince William by Ant and Dec.

Prince Charles is sometimes referred to in the popular press as "Chazza" (along the lines of " Gazza", " Hezza" and similar coinages).

Prince Charles has been criticised for publishing a memo on ambition and opportunity. This memo was widely understood to criticise meritocracy for creating a competitive society. In humorist Lynne Truss's critique of British manners entitled Talk to the Hand, Charles's memo is evaluated with respect to the putative impact of meritocracy on British boorishness. Truss came to the conclusion that the prince might have a point, that the positive motivational impact of meritocracy might be balanced against the negative impact of a competitive society.

The Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong was named in his honour in 1984.

Charles is often parodied by Scottish-American comedian Craig Ferguson on The Late Late Show.

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