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King Charles III: Everything you need to know about his past, present and future

King Charles III is the oldest royal to ascend to the throne after Queen Elizabeth’s historic reign which has given him time to prepare for what lies ahead.

What to know about King Charles III, the UK’s new monarch

The man formally known as the Prince Charles of Wales ascended to the throne upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II and assumed the name of King Charles III. He is the oldest British royal to become monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth Realms.

His Royal Highness became the heir presumptive at the age of three when his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, ascended to the throne in February 1952 at the spritely age of 25. Her reign lasted for seven decades, the longest ruling British monarch ever, during which time he has been preparing for the responsibility that he now takes on.

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King Charles III had been the heir for 70 years

The first of four children, Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor was born on 14 November 1948 at Buckingham Palace in London to Queen Elizabeth II, then still Princess Elizabeth, and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away in 2021. As a child, unlike other future British monarchs, he attended school instead of being tutored at the palace.

As a teenager he attended Gordonstoun, a boarding school in eastern Scotland which his father had also attended. He later attended Cambridge University in 1967 and graduated in 1970 with a 2:2 degree in History. In 1971 he entered military service, first training as a pilot with the Royal Air Force and then with the Royal Navy where he finished his service in 1976.

Britain's King Charles III, Britain's Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Britain's Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex mount a vigil around the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II
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Britain's King Charles III, Britain's Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Britain's Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex mount a vigil around the coffin of Queen Elizabeth IIPOOLvia REUTERS

Marriage to Princess Diana

Charles, then 32, married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, she was 20 at the time. Upon taking their nuptials she became Princess Diana, the Princess of Wales, and one of the most beloved by the public of the royal family. The royal couple had two children, Prince William and Prince Harry, born in 1982 and 1984 respectively.

Although the marriage seemed like a fairytale their relationship was troubled. It would be learned later that Charles had met Camilla Parker Bowles in 1970, the person he had always been in love with. The relationship between Charles and Diana spiraled downward, with affairs on both sides, ending in their separation in 1992 and divorce in 1996. Princess Diana died in a tragic car accident in Paris the following year.

Second marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles

Although the relationship between Charles and Camilla was known, it was thought that they would never get married. She was considered to be the reason behind the breakup of the royal marriage and for that, the most despised woman in Britain.

Furthermore, she was divorced herself and Charles would one day potentially be the titular head of the Church of England which frowned upon remarrying while a former spouse was still alive. However, in 2005 they tied the knot in a ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Camilla became the Duchess of Cornwall but didn’t take the title of the Princess of Wales to avoid further backlash from the public. Now that Charles is King, she will be known as Queen Consort, something that had been unexpected until Queen Elizabeth II expressed her desire that Camilla take the title shortly before she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne.

Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London
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Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in LondonPOOLREUTERS

Who is King Charles III now?

Throughout his time as the Prince of Wales, Charles has championed social and charitable causes relating to the environment, architecture, the arts, education, healthcare, the military and rural communities. During the past forty years he has been instrumental in establishing over 20 charities. Some of these include The Prince’s Trust, The Prince’s Foundation, Prince’s Rainforest Project and The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund (PWCF).

Queen Elizabeth II was known for her discretion about speaking up on issues of the day as part of the British monarchy’s traditional position of not meddling in political affairs of the nation. However, Charles during his time as heir has been criticized for being more vocal, something that will be closely watched as he moves forward in his reign.

Where will King Charles III take the monarch going forward?

Queen Elizabeth II was seen as a stabilizing force for the British monarchy at home and abroad in the Commonwealth, but rumblings began almost as soon as she had died. King Charles III is not considered the most popular member of the Royal Family and with his ascension to the throne he will face challenges confronting the place of the monarchy nowadays.

It has been reported that King Charles III plans to trim down the royal family limiting the number of senior royals. The number grew under the reign of his mother as those on the outer edges were kept close out of “sentimental reasons” according to Angela Levin, a royal biographer. Charles wants to make the royal family worth the money taxpayers spend to maintain the monarchy.

Queen Elizabeth II was the head of state in around 32 countries when she ascended to throne. But over the seventy years that ensued that number was whittled down to 14 left in the Commonwealth. As King Charles III assumes the throne five already have plans to change their status and another six are considering it.


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