About 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.
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.
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. In 2019, The Prince celebrated 50 years since the occasion alongside a range of Welsh charities, organisations and businesses he supports, at a Buckingham Palace reception hosted by Her Majesty The Queen.
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.
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.
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 sixth 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.
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 of Wales'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 Fund
Founded in 1979 and incorporated in 2008, The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation trading as The Prince of Wales's Charitable Fund (PWCF) supports the charitable work of HRH The Prince of Wales.
The work of the Charitable Fund is two-fold:
- 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.
- An incubator for initiatives and projects that fall within the Charitable Fund's primary areas of interest.
The Sustainable Markets Initiative
For over 50 years, The Prince of Wales has been a champion for the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. The Sustainable Markets Initiative was launched by His Royal Highness at The World Economic Forum 2020 Annual Meeting in Davos together with a 10-point action plan to kick-start bold and imaginative action across the next decade.
With the Sustainable Markets Initiative, His Royal Highness is gathering a global ‘coalition of the willing’ who share the vision around the need to accelerate global progress towards a sustainable future.
RE:TV went live in September 2020 at the 75th United Nations General Assembly to promote the Sustainable Markets Initiative globally via a content platform showcasing the most inspiring business innovations and ideas through a series of films.
In January 2021, The Prince announced the Terra Carta (Earth Charter) when speaking at the One Planet Summit in France - the basis of a recovery plan to 2030 that puts Nature, People and Planet at the heart of global value creation.
The Terra Carta will provide a roadmap to 2030 for businesses to move towards an ambitious and sustainable future; one that will harness the power of Nature combined with the transformative power, innovation and resources of the private sector.
The Prince is Patron or President of over 400 charitable organisations. You can view the full list on His Royal Highness's website: https://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/patronages
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 Fund.
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.
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
Inspired by HRH’s values of harmony and sustainability, The Prince of Wales's charities work to transform lives and build sustainable communities.
For over 40 years His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has been a leader in identifying charitable need and setting up and driving forward charities to meet it.
The Prince of Wales carries out dozens of engagements every year in support of his charities. Collectively The Prince of Wales's charities raise more than £100 million annually to support The Prince of Wales's charitable work in the UK and overseas.
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.
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.
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 of Wales'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 has been a proud supporter of the Commonwealth for more than four decades and helps to maintain the Royal Family's strong connection to member countries through official visits, military links and charitable activities.
His Royal Highness has visited 45 of 54 Commonwealth countries to date, many of them on several occasions. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall has accompanied The Prince on the majority of Commonwealth visits since their marriage in 2005.
During the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018, The Prince of Wales was unanimously voted to be the next Head of the Commonwealth.