- For other people known as Charles, Prince of Wales, see Charles, Prince of Wales (disambiguation); for other people known as Prince Charles, see Prince Charles (disambiguation).
His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor) (born 14 November 1948), the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is heir
apparent to the thrones of the United Kingdom and over a dozen Commonwealth Realms. He is styled HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay in Scotland and HRH The Prince of Wales elsewhere.
HRH The Prince of Wales
Birth and titles
He was born on 14 November, 1948 at Buckingham Palace to HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh, the elder daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. From birth, he was known as His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Edinburgh. 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 prince's surname is officially Windsor, according to legal documentation, but he has regularly utilized the surname Mountbatten-Windsor on official documents that have required a surname to be used, i.e. marriage licenses and marriage banns. If he ascends to the throne, the Prince of Wales could change the royal house to "Mountbatten" in honour of his father and his great-uncle, Earl Mountbatten of Burma.
The Prince of Wales is normally referred to as His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, except in Scotland wheren he is styled His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay. His full titles are rarely used; these are: 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 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, Member of the Queen's Service Order, Lord of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty.
The Prince of Wales is a Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy, a Lieutenant-General in the British Army and an Air Marshal in the Royal Air Force. He is also Colonel-in-Chief of several regiments:
- The Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot; Colonel-in-Chief since 1 July 1969);
- Welsh Guards (Colonel, since 1 March 1975);
- Air Reserve of Canada (Colonel-in-Chief, since 11 June 1977);
- The 22nd Cheshire Regiment (Colonel-in-Chief, since 11 June 1977);
- Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians; Colonel-in-Chief, since 11 June 1977);
- The Parachute Regiment (Colonel-in-Chief, since 11 June 1977);
- Royal Australian Armoured Corps (Colonel-in-Chief, since 11 June 1977);
- The Royal Gurkha Rifles (Colonel-in-Chief, since 11 June 1977);
- Royal New Zealand Air Force (Air Commodore-in-Chief, since 11 June 1977);
- The Royal Regiment of Canada (Colonel-in-Chief, since 11 June 1977);
- The Royal Winnipeg Rifles (Colonel-in-Chief, since 11 June 1977).
- The Royal Pacific Islands Regiment (Colonel-in-Chief, since 8 August 1984);
- The Royal Canadian Dragoons (Colonel-in-Chief, since 17 September 1985);
- Army Air Corps (Colonel-in-Chief, since 1 March 1992);
- The Royal Dragoon Guards (Colonel-in-Chief, since 1 July 1992);
- Royal Air Force Valley (Honorary Air Commodore, since 1 April 1993);
- The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons) (Deputy Colonel-in-Chief, since 1 September 1994);
- The Black Watch (Colonel-in Chief, since 1 July 2003);
- 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (Colonel-in Chief, since 1 July 2003);
- The King's Regiment (Colonel-in Chief, since 1 July 2003)
Though the term is commonly used, he ceased to be styled Prince Charles (and technically should not be described as such) following the accession of his mother to the throne in 1952, when he became Duke of Cornwall.
The Prince of Wales studied at Gordonstoun School in Scotland, at Trinity College, Cambridge, a term in Australia at Geelong Grammar School's outdoor education campus "Timbertop" [], and also at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, where he went specifically in order to learn Welsh – the first English-born prince ever to make a serious attempt to do so.
Created Prince of Wales
The Duke of Cornwall 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 thirteenth 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. 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 lover 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.
On July 29, 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.
Diana, Princess of Wales
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 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, amongst many others. 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
The Prince of Wales's relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles eventually became openly acknowledged, with her becoming his unofficial consort. 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 have divorced their spouses, but as her former husband is 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.
- See also: the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles.
On 10 February 2005, it was announced by Clarence House  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 after the discovery that Windsor Castle might have to become available for other people's marriages, should the prince's marriage go ahead there. On Monday April 4, it was announced that the wedding would be delayed for one day to April 9 due to the funeral of Pope John Paul II, which the Prince of Wales and some of the dignitaries who were invited to the wedding attended.
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 Soul's 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 has rejected this advice. Lord Falconer of Thoroton told the House of Lords  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 .
It was announced that, after the marriage, Mrs Parker Bowles would take the title Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and that once the Prince accedes 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 the Prince Consort. The best wishes from Queen Elizabeth  suggest that consent has been granted under the Royal Marriages Act 1772.
The Prince of Wales is an avid horseman and huntsman. He served in the Royal Navy, commanding HMS Bronington, a minehunter, from February 1976 until December 1976. He is also a talented artist and a published writer. 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 support from mainstream lending institutions. The Prince's Trust is believed to have helped thousands of people in poor inner-city areas get jobs and training. In this role, the Prince has become surprisingly popular with many left-wing politicians, who see his charity as helping those who were receiving aid from nowhere else. Fundraising concerts are regularly held for the Prince's Trust, with leading pop, rock and classical musicians taking part.
The Prince of Wales is a complex character: he has admitted to occasional depression, and is a passionate man who cares deeply about issues such as the environment, architecture, inner-city renewal and the quality of life. To put his ideas on architecture and town planning into practice, the Prince of Wales is developing the village of Poundbury in Dorset. He 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.
Some people appreciate him as an accomplished painter, mostly in watercolours, while others don't like his paintings. He has exhibited and sold a number of paintings - though his position usually means he does so for charitable purposes. He has also published books of his paintings.
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 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 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:
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.
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
From his birth until his mother's accession in 1952, he was known as:
- His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Edinburgh
As a child of a daughter of the King he did not inherit style and title His Royal Highness Prince. These were granted to all the children of Princess Elizabeth by letters patent. 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.
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)
See also: List of Titles and Honours of Charles, Prince of Wales; British Royal Family