About The Prince of Wales

Click here to visit the official website of The Prince of Wales.

While there is no formal constitutional role for the Heir to the Throne, The Prince of Wales seeks, with the support of his wife, The Duchess of Cornwall, to do all he can to make a difference for the better in the UK and internationally.

The way His Royal Highness does so can be divided into three parts: undertaking official Royal duties in support of Her Majesty The Queen and on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, working as a charitable entrepreneur, by supporting charitable and civil causes which promote positive social and environmental outcomes and promoting and protecting national traditions, virtues and excellence.

Early life

The Prince of Wales, eldest son of The Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born at Buckingham Palace at 9.14pm on 14 November 1948. A month later, on 15 December, Charles Philip Arthur George was christened in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher.

The Prince's mother was proclaimed Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 25, when her father, King George VI, died aged 56 on 6 February 1952. On The Queen's accession to the throne, Prince Charles - as the Sovereign's eldest son - became heir apparent at the age of three.

The Prince, as Heir to the Throne, took on the traditional titles of The Duke of Cornwall under a charter of King Edward III in 1337; and, in the Scottish peerage, of Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.

The Prince was four at his mother's Coronation, in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. Many who watched the Coronation have vivid memories of him seated between his widowed grandmother, now to be known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and his aunt, Princess Margaret.

Education

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh decided that The Prince should go to school rather than have a tutor at the Palace. The Prince started at Hill House school in West London on 7 November 1956.

After 10 months, the young Prince became a boarder at Cheam School, a preparatory school in Berkshire. In 1958, while The Prince was at Cheam, The Queen created him The Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. The Prince was nine-years-old.

In April 1962 The Prince began his first term at Gordonstoun, a school near Elgin in Eastern Scotland which The Duke of Edinburgh had attended.

The Prince of Wales spent two terms in 1966 as an exchange student at Timbertop, a remote outpost of the Geelong Church of England Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia.

When he returned to Gordonstoun for his final year, The Prince of Wales was appointed school guardian (head boy). The Prince, who had already passed six O Levels, also took A Levels and was awarded a grade B in history and a C in French, together with a distinction in an optional special history paper in July 1967.

The Prince went to Cambridge University in 1967 to read archaeology and anthropology at Trinity College. He changed to history for the second part of his degree, and in 1970 was awarded a 2:2 degree.

Investiture and military career

His Royal Highness was invested as Prince of Wales by The Queen on 1 July 1969 in a colourful ceremony at Caernarfon Castle. Before the investiture The Prince had spent a term at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth, learning to speak Welsh.

On 11 February 1970, His Royal Highness took his seat in the House of Lords.

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.

Click here to find out more about The Prince of Wales's military career.

Family and married life

On 29 July 1981, The Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer in St Paul's Cathedral, who became HRH The Princess of Wales.

Lady Diana's father, then Viscount Althorp and later the eighth Earl Spencer, had been an equerry to both George VI and The Queen. Her maternal grandmother, Ruth, Lady Fermoy, was a close friend and Lady-in-Waiting to The Queen Mother.

The Prince and Princess of Wales had two sons: Prince William, born on 21 June 1982; and Prince Harry, born on 15 September 1984.

Christening of Princess Charlotte

From the time of their marriage, The Prince and Princess of Wales went on overseas tours and carried out many engagements together in the UK.

On 9 December 1992, The Prime Minister, John Major, announced to the House of Commons that The Prince and Princess of Wales had agreed to separate. The marriage was dissolved on 28 August 1996. The Princess was still regarded as a member of the Royal Family. She continued to live at Kensington Palace and to carry out her public work for a number of charities.

When The Princess was killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997, The Prince of Wales flew to Paris with her two sisters to bring her body back to London. The Princess lay in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace until the night before the funeral.

On the day of the funeral, The Prince of Wales accompanied his two sons, aged 15 and 12 at the time, as they walked behind the coffin from The Mall to Westminster Abbey. With them were The Duke of Edinburgh and The Princess's brother, Earl Spencer. 

The Prince of Wales asked the media to respect his sons' privacy, to allow them to lead a normal school life. In the following years, Princes William and Harry, who are now second and fifth in line to the throne, accompanied their father on a limited number of official engagements in the UK and abroad.

On 9 April 2005, The Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker Bowles were married in a civil ceremony at the Guildhall, Windsor. After the wedding, Mrs Parker Bowles became known as HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were joined by around 800 guests at a Service of Prayer and Dedication at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

The Service was followed by a reception at Windsor Castle hosted by Her Majesty The Queen.

To find out more about The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, visit their official website here.

Charitable work and interests

For more than 40 years The Prince of Wales has been a leader in identifying charitable need and setting up and driving forward charities to meet it. Through the years, His Royal Highness has developed a wide range of interests which are today reflected in The Prince's Charities, a group of not-for-profit organisations of which The Prince of Wales is Patron or President.

The organisations are active across a broad range of areas including education and young people, environmental sustainability, the built environment, responsible business and enterprise. The charities reflect The Prince of Wales's long-term and innovative perspective, and seek to address areas of previously unmet need.

The Prince of Wales's Charitable Foundation

As well as The Prince's Charities, The Prince also founded The Prince of Wales's Charitable Foundation in 1979. 

The work of the Charitable Foundation is two-fold:

1. a grant making body that supports a wide range of causes, the primary areas of interest being the built environment, responsible business and enterprise, young people and education, and global sustainability.

2. An incubator for initiatives and projects that fall within the Charitable Foundation’s primary areas of interest, mentioned above, such as Accounting for Sustainability. 

To find out more about the Charitable Foundation and The Prince’s charitable work, visit http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/the-prince-of-wales/the-princes-charities 

Patronages

The Prince is Patron or President of over 400 charitable organisations. You can view the full list on His Royal Highness's website: http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/the-prince-of-wales/patronages 

Interests:

The private pursuits and interests of The Prince of Wales are as varied as his concerns - like the welfare of young people and the disadvantaged, music and the arts, the quality of our built environment and sustainability - to which he devotes his public life.

The Prince is a keen watercolourist and paints whenever his schedule allows. Lithographs of his paintings are sold and all proceeds go to The Prince of Wales's Charitable Foundation.

His Royal Highness enjoys gardening, especially in his organic garden at Highgrove. A keen advocate of traditional rural skills, The Prince enjoys hedgelaying and has hosted the National Hedgelaying Championships at Home Farm. He has also laid many of the hedges on Home Farm himself.

In pursuing some of his interests, The Prince is able to give support to organisations in the worlds of art, music and theatre - as he does in many other fields - through becoming Patron or President. 

The Prince and The Duchess regularly attend theatre and opera performances and symphony concerts, sometimes as part of a fundraising event and sometimes in a private capacity. 

Over the years His Royal Highness has taken part in many different sports including horse racing, scuba diving and sailing. Up until November 2005 The Prince raised money for charity by playing polo. He decided to retire from the game after playing it for over 40 years.

To find out more about The Prince of Wales, visit his official website here.

Supporting The Queen

While there is no established constitutional role for The Heir to the Throne, The Prince seeks, with the support of his wife The Duchess of Cornwall, to do all he can to make a difference for the better in the United Kingdom and internationally.

The way in which His Royal Highness does so can, in simple terms, be divided into three parts:

1) Undertaking royal duties in support of The Queen 

This involves Their Royal Highnesses supporting The Queen in her role as a focal point for national pride, unity and allegiance and in bringing people together across all sections of society, representing stability and continuity, highlighting achievement, and emphasising the importance of service and the voluntary sector by encouragement and example.

2) Working as a charitable entrepreneur 

For more than 40 years The Prince of Wales has been a leader in identifying charitable need and setting up and driving forward charities to meet it.

From the early days of The Prince’s Trust in the mid-1970s, The Prince has added to his charitable interests and now has 13 core charities. 

The 13 Prince’s Charities are:

  • The Prince’s Trust
  • The Prince’s Teaching Institute 
  • Business in the Community 
  • PRIME Cymru
  • In Kind Direct 
  • Dumfries House
  • The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community
  • The Royal Drawing School
  • The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts
  • The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • The British Asian Trust
  • The Prince's Regeneration Trust

Employing more than 1,800  people between them, The Prince's Charities are active in a broad range of areas, including the built environment, responsible business, the arts, helping disadvantaged young people and international sustainability. 

3) Promoting and protecting national traditions, virtues and excellence

The Prince of Wales, together with his wife The Duchess of Cornwall, seeks to promote and protect, through their work, the country’s enduring traditions, virtues and excellence.

Among other things, His Royal Highness’s work involves highlighting achievements or issues that, without his support, might otherwise receive little exposure, supporting Britain’s rural communities, encouraging sustainable farming, and promoting tolerance and greater understanding between different faiths and communities.

Overseas visits:

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are among the United Kingdom's most important ambassadors. Every year, Their Royal Highnesses travel abroad at the request of the British Government to further British diplomatic interests, raise the UK’s profile in the country visited and promote British excellence. Together The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have visited over 40 countries on behalf of the British Government. The Prince of Wales alone has visited around 80 countries on behalf of the British Government.

These overseas visits enable The Prince to familiarise himself with a wide range of international issues and to meet many Heads of State and senior officials. His Royal Highness often represents The Queen at overseas events, such as state funerals.

The Prince tries to find ways for The Prince’s Charities, most of which His Royal Highness has established himself, to work for the benefit of the international community and often visits projects set up by his own charities during overseas visits. For example, The Prince has recently set up Prince’s Trust International.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall also regularly visit Commonwealth countries. Since 1969, The Prince has visited many Commonwealth countries, many of them on several occasions. The Duchess also joins The Prince on visits to Commonwealth countries since marrying The Prince in 2005. In November 2013, Their Royal Highnesses visited India and Sri Lanka, where The Prince represented Her Majesty The Queen at the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). In November 2015 Their Royal Highnesses visited New Zealand and Australia. Later that month, they accompanied The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta.

Their Royal Highnesses returned from a visit to the Western Balkans in March 2016, where they visited Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government.

To find out more about The Prince of Wales, visit his official website here.

Charities and Patronages

  • 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards

    Cavalry regiment of the British Army.

    Region: UK (Wales)
    Members of the Royal Family:
    The Prince of Wales, Colonel In Chief
  • 51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

    Unit of the Territorial Army based in northern Scotland.

    Region: UK (Scotland)
    Members of the Royal Family:
    The Prince of Wales, Royal Colonel
  • Abbeyfield

    Volunteer-led charity providing housing with support or care for older people.

    Region: UK-wide
    Members of the Royal Family:
    The Prince of Wales, Patron
  • ActionAid

    International development organisation fighting global poverty.

    Region: International
    Members of the Royal Family:
    The Prince of Wales, Patron
  • Africa's Highest Challenge

    Charity expedition to climb the highest mountains in each of the 53 countries of Africa.

    Region: UK-wide
    Members of the Royal Family:
    The Prince of Wales, Patron
  • Age Cymru

    Exists to provide support and advice for elderly people in Wales. Created following the merger of Age Concern and Help the Aged

    Region: UK (Wales)
    Members of the Royal Family:
    The Prince of Wales, Patron
  • Age UK

    Exists to provide support and advice for elderly people. Created following the merger of Age Concern and Help the Aged

    Region: UK (England)
    Members of the Royal Family:
    The Prince of Wales, Patron
  • Amref Health Africa

    Website: www.amref.org

    International development charity seeking to improve the health of the disadvantaged in Africa.

    Region: International
    Members of the Royal Family:
    The Prince of Wales, Patron
  • Army

    Terrestrial service of the British Armed Forces.

    Region: UK-wide
    Members of the Royal Family:
    The Duke of Edinburgh, Field Marshal
    The Duke of Kent, Field Marshal
    The Prince of Wales, Field Marshal
    The Duchess of Kent, Honorary Major General
  • Australian Football League Europe

    promoting the game of Australian Rules Football in Europe

    Region: Europe
    Members of the Royal Family:
    The Prince of Wales, Patron

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