Charles, Prince of Wales

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Prince Charles redirects here. For other people known as Prince Charles, see Prince Charles (disambiguation).
For other people known as Charles, Prince of Wales, see Charles, Prince of Wales (disambiguation).
The Prince of Wales
The Prince of Wales

The Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor) (born 14 November 1948), is the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He is heir apparent to the thrones of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth Realms. He has held the title of Prince of Wales since 1958 and is styled HRH The Prince of Wales, and in Scotland, HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay. Constitutionally he is the second most senior member of the British Royal Family after the Queen.

The Prince of Wales is well known for his extensive charity work, particularly for the Prince's Trust. He also carries out a full schedule of royal duties, and increasingly is taking on more royal roles from his ageing parents. The Prince is also well known for his high profile marriages to the late Diana, Princess of Wales and subsequently to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.



Styles of
HRH The Prince of Wales
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir

The Prince of Wales was born on November 14, 1948 at Buckingham Palace, London. His father is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, eldest son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. At the time of his birth, his mother was The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, the elder daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. His mother was first in the line of succession to the British throne at the time of the Prince's birth.

Under letters patent issued by the Prince's great grandfather, King George V, the title of a British prince and the style His Royal Highness was only available to the children and grandchildren in the male-line of the sovereign, and 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 the Earl of Merioneth. However the title of Prince and Princess, with the style HRH was granted to all the children of Princess Elizabeth by new letters patent issued by King George VI. 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. Prince Charles immediately became 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 HRH 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.

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


British Royal Family


Like 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, 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 also attended.

The Prince finished his education at Gordonstoun, a private boarding school in the north east of Scotland. His father, the Duke of Edinburgh, had previously attended Gordonstoun, becoming head boy. It is often reported that the Prince despised his time at the school, where he was a frequent target for bullies. The Prince would later send his own children to Eton College rather than Gordonstoun.

In 1966 Prince Charles spent two terms at 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 2 A levels in history and French.


Traditionally, the heir to the throne would go straight into the military after finishing school. However, in a break with tradition, Charles attended university at Trinity College, Cambridge where he studied Anthropology and Archaeology, and later History, earning a 2:2 (lower second class degree). Charles was the first member of the British Royal Family to be awarded a degree. He also attended the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, where he went specifically in order to learn the Welsh language – the first English-born prince ever to make a serious attempt to do so.

Created Prince of Wales

Queen Elizabeth formally invests the Prince of Wales with the Prince of Wales crown
Queen Elizabeth formally invests the Prince of Wales with the Prince of Wales crown

He was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester in 1958, though his actual investiture did not take place until 1 July 1969. This was a major ceremony, held at Caernarfon Castle in north Wales, a place traditionally associated with the creation of the title in the 13th century. 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 some Welsh nationalists, and there were threats of violence. 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.


The Prince of Wales's love life has always been the subject of speculation and press fodder. He has been linked to a number of women including Georgiana Russell (daughter of the British Ambassador to Spain), the Lady Jane Wellesley (daughter of the 8th Duke of Wellington), Davina Sheffield, Penthouse model Fiona Watson, the Lady Sarah Spencer, the Lady Tryon (wife of the 3rd Baron Tryon), and divorcee Jane Ward, among others. Yet, none of them were ever considered marriage material.

Prince Charles, on the cover of Time in 1978
Prince Charles, on the cover of Time in 1978
The Prince and Princess of Wales return to Buckingham Palace following their wedding in St Paul's Cathedral
The Prince and Princess of Wales return to Buckingham Palace following their wedding in St Paul's Cathedral

As heir-apparent to the Throne, the Prince of Wales had to choose a bride who was of impeccable background, a virgin, and a Protestant. Reportedly, it was his once partner and current wife Camilla Shand who helped him select nineteen-year-old kindergarten teacher Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of the 8th Earl Spencer and younger sister of the Lady Sarah Spencer. Buckingham Palace announced their engagement on 24 February 1981.

First marriage

On 29 July 1981, the Prince of Wales and the Lady Diana were married at St Paul's Cathedral before 3,500 invited guests and an estimated 750 million people around the world. All of Europe's crowned heads attended (except for Juan Carlos 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 notable exceptions of Karamanlis of Greece, 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 Greece" (the technically correct description of an exiled monarch who hadn't abdicated), which infuriated Greek republicans, and Ireland's Patrick Hillery, who was advised by Irish Prime Minister Charles J. Haughey not to attend because of Britain's role in Northern Ireland.

By marriage to the heir-apparent, the Lady Diana received both a title (Princess of Wales) and the style of "Her Royal Highness"; though she was commonly called "Princess Diana", this form of address is incorrect. They made their homes at Highgrove in Gloucestershire and at Kensington Palace. Almost immediately, the Princess of Wales became a star attraction, chased by the paparazzi, her every move (including changes in hair-style) followed by millions.

However, the marriage soon hit the proverbial rocks. Critics of the Princess of Wales alleged that she was unstable and temperamental; one by one she sacked each of the Prince of Wales's longstanding staff members and fell out with numerous friends (her father, mother, brother, the Duchess of York, Elton John, her own staff—who quit after rows). The Prince of Wales, too, was blamed for the marital troubles. Within five years of the wedding the fairytale Wales 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 his Prince's Trust charity).

Both partners subsequently admitted to extra-marital affairs, he with Mrs Parker Bowles, she with an army officer. Though they remained publicly a couple, they effectively had 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. Evidence and recriminations of infidelity aired in the news media. By 1992, it was obvious that the marriage was over in all but name. The couple formally separated, with media sources taking different sides in what became known as the "War of the Waleses".

The marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales formally ended in divorce on 28 August 1996. It had produced two sons, HRH Prince William of Wales, and HRH Prince Henry of Wales who is known by the name 'Harry'.

Death of the Princess of Wales

Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car accident in 1997. The Prince of Wales earned considerable praise 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 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 specially created for her. His role as a single father earned much sympathy, in particular in how he handled a crisis when it was revealed that his younger son, Prince Harry, had dabbled in soft drugs. From unpopularity in the early 1990s, the Prince of Wales became one of the more popular members of the Royal Family.

Relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles

During a 1994 television interview Charles admitted that he had committed adultery 'once it had become clear my marriage was over'. It was later confirmed that the third party was Camilla, ending years of speculation. After his divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales, the Prince of Wales's relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles eventually became openly acknowledged, with her becoming his unofficial consort. However, with the death of Diana in 1997, Camilla's gradual emergence in the public eye came to a temporary halt. In 1998 Camilla's formal introduction was gathering momentum and a meeting with Prince William helped break the ice and pave the way for more frequent social events involving Charles' sons. In 1999, after a party celebrating the 50th birthday of Camilla's sister Annabel Elliott, they 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, in June 2000 Camilla met the Queen. In 2001 Charles and Camilla shared their first public kiss; he was her guest at a charity function she hosted and upon his arrival he kissed her affectionately on both cheeks. Eventually in 2003, Camilla moved into Charles' 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 Mrs Parker Bowles, with whom he had had a relationship while both were married, was seen as controversial by some. Both the Prince and Mrs Parker Bowles 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 more problematic, and controversial. Over time, opinion — both public and within the Church — shifted somewhat to a point where a second marriage would be accepted.

Second marriage

See also: The wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles.
The Prince of Wales with HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, leaving the Guildhall in Windsor, following their marriage
The Prince of Wales with HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, leaving the Guildhall in Windsor, following their marriage

On 10 February 2005, it was announced by Clarence House [1] that the Prince of Wales and Mrs 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 in 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.

The Prince was the first member of the royal family to marry in a civil ceremony in England. Dr Stephen Chetney, a Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford questioned whether Charles and Camilla could marry in a civil ceremony, as the Royal Family was specifically excluded from the law which instituted civil marriages in England (the Marriage Act 1836). The BBC's Panorama published official documents which establish prior legal opinion that royals cannot be married in civil ceremonies in England, but Clarence House rejected this advice. Lord Falconer of Thoroton told the House of Lords [2] that the 1836 Act had been repealed by the Marriage Act 1949 which had different wording, and that the British Government were satisfied that it was lawful for the couple to marry by a civil ceremony in accordance with Part III of the 1949 Act. Eleven objections were received by the Cirencester and Chippenham registry offices but were all rejected by the Registrar General (and National Statistician) Len Cook [3].

It was announced that, after the marriage, as the wife of the Prince of Wales, Mrs Parker Bowles would be styled Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and that upon the Prince's accession to the throne, 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. The best wishes from Queen Elizabeth [4] indicated that consent has been granted under the Royal Marriages Act 1772.

Personal interests

The Prince of Wales and The Dutchess 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 Dutchess 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 is a horseman and huntsman. He served in the Royal Navy, commanding HMS Bronington, a minehunter, from February 1976 until December 1976. He is also a watercolor artist and a published writer. He has exhibited and sold a number of paintings. 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.

He claims to "care deeply about issues such as the environment, architecture, inner-city renewal and the quality of life." He was shot at by gunman David Kang at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia in 1994.

To put his ideas on architecture and town planning into practice, the Prince of Wales is developing the village of Poundbury in Dorset. Prior to commencing work on Poundbury he had published a book and produced a documentary entitled A Vision for Britain, both being a conservative critique of modern architecture. In 1992 he also established the Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture and began the publication of a magazine deal with architecture, but the latter has since ceased operation. The Prince is also keen on growing and promoting organic food, although he drew some ridicule when he admitted to sometimes talking to his houseplants.

The Prince of Wales is also highly regarded by some on the international stage as an effective advocate for the United Kingdom. On a visit to the Republic of Ireland, for example, instead of simply using a standard foreign office speech, he delivered a personally researched and written speech on Anglo-Irish affairs which was warmly received by Irish politicians and the media.

One of the Prince's biggest 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. Laurens van der Post was one of Prince William's godparents.

While his popularity has fluctuated, he remains the most active Prince of Wales in centuries, and has devoted his time and effort to charity work and working with local communities.

The Prince, who turns 57 in November 2005, is poised to become one of the oldest men to ascend to the British throne. Only George IV, William IV and Edward VII were older than Charles is now when they became king.

Television Appearances

In 2005, Prince Charles appeared as himself in 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 shows 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!"

Military career

The military training of The Prince of Wales, taking place in the early 1970s, included helicopter pilot flying as well as being qualified as a fighter pilot. During The Prince's years in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, he came to fly the following fighter aircraft (the WWII vintage Spitfire arguably having more of a historical/symbolic value than practical importance):

Prince Charles served in the Royal Navy for five years:

Official residence

The Prince of Wales's current official London residence is Clarence House, former London residence of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (the eighteenth century building has undergone major restoration and renovation to equip it for use by him, his present wife, and their extensive 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, the Queen Mother.

Some previous Princes of Wales resided in Marlborough House. It however is no longer used as a royal residence. Following the death in 1953 of Queen Mary, widow of King George V, its last royal resident, it was given by Queen Elizabeth II for use by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Principal title in use

See also: List of Titles and Honours of Charles, Prince of Wales

Banner of HRH The Prince of Wales (used in England)
Banner of HRH The Prince of Wales (used in England)
Personal arms of Prince Charles
Personal arms of Prince Charles

From his birth until his mother's accession in 1952, he was known as:

  • His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Edinburgh

From his mother's accession until 1958, he was known as:

  • His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall (outside Scotland)
  • His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay (in Scotland)

Since 1958, he has been known as:

  • His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (outside Scotland)
  • His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay (in Scotland)

In recent years there has been newspaper speculation that if and when he succeeds to the throne, Prince Charles will choose the name King George VII rather than King Charles III. Supposed reasons for this are:


See also

External links

Preceded by:
Line of Succession to the British throne
Succeeded by:
HRH Prince William of Wales
Preceded by:
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
United Kingdom Order of Precedence

Succeeded by:
HRH The Duke of York
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