After 70 years, Prince Charles became King Charles III

King Charles III, 73, is the oldest monarch to ever ascend the British or English throne. Neither of his predecessors served as heir to the throne for so long. For the new king, it was 70 years.

Karol Filip Artur Jerzy was born on November 14, 1948, a year after the wedding of his parents, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Due to the premature death of his grandfather, George VI, his mother became queen in 1952, and Charles – at the age of three – heir to the throne.

Unlike previous heirs, who were tutored by private tutors, the Queen and Prince Philip decided that their eldest son should go to school. He was sent to the Gordonstoun boarding school in Moray, Scotland, where he had no relief because of his origins and which he described as “absolute hell”.

Contrary to the royal tradition, Karol after graduation he did not join the armed forces, but went straight to university. At Cambridge, he initially studied archeology and anthropology, but then moved on to history.

In 1969 he was formally awarded the title of Prince of Wales, under which he was known for most of his life. On this occasion, he transferred to the University of Aberystwyth for a semester, where he learned to speak Welsh. In 1970 became the first heir to the throne to earn a university degree.

Only later did he join the army – first trained in the RAF, then followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the navy, serving on the destroyer HMS Norfolk and two frigates. For the last nine months in the navy, the Duke took command of the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington.

In his youth, Charles was associated with many women and was once called “the most coveted bachelor in the world”. His great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, reportedly advised him that he should have as many romances as he can before settling down.

The Prince was 21 years old when he first met Camilla Parker Bowles (then known as Camilla Shand) at a Windsor polo game. However, his decision to join the Royal Navy the following year thwarted their growing relationship, and in 1973 Camilla married Major Andrew Parker Bowles, a friend of Charles.

Charles first met his first wife, Lady Diana Spencer, in 1977, when she was 16. During this time, the 29-year-old prince was reportedly dating her older sister Sarah. They did not start dating Diana until three years later, but this romance quickly developed and in early 1981, they announced their engagement.

When asked during a TV interview after the news of their engagement, if they were “in love”, Diana replied, “Of course,” and Charles replied, “Whatever means being in love.” Diana later said she was “absolutely traumatized” by his response.

The couple were married at a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey on July 29, 1981, which was watched by approximately 750 million people worldwide. Their first son William was born in June 1982, the second – Harry, was born in September 1984. Charles was the first member of the royal family to attend the birth of his children.

However, trouble in the couple’s marriage quickly became apparent. Diana knew Charles and Camilla were having an affair, which she later said in a high-profile interview with the BBC in 1995: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” She also admitted that until 1986 she had been “deeply in love” with someone else, and later began a five-year affair with Major James Hewitt, who was her riding instructor, and rumored that Hewitt was Harry’s father, a fact that he denied.

In December 1992, then Prime Minister John Major announced in parliament that Charles and Diana were parting. Charles later said that he was faithful to Diana until the marriage “fell irretrievably”. The couple divorced in August 1996. A year after her divorce from Charles, Diana died in a car accident in Paris along with her partner Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul.

Charles and Camilla – who divorced Andrew Parker Bowles in 1995 – were photographed as a couple for the first time at the London Ritz Hotel in January 1999, on the occasion of Sister Camilla’s 50th birthday, signaling that their long-lasting romance had become become “official”. They got engaged in February 2005, and Charles presented Camilla with an engagement ring that belonged to his mother.

The Queen and Prince Philip did not attend their civil marriage in Windsor, but they were under a religious blessing in the chapel of St. George in Windsor. After her marriage, Camilla assumed the title of Duchess of Cornwall.

Unlike his mother, Charles caused some controversy. In 2005, Charles was heard, when asked by a BBC reporter about his upcoming wedding with Camilla, he said under his breath: “Those goddamn people. I can’t stand this man. I mean, he’s so horrible, really.” In 2014, Karol caused a diplomatic scuffle when he compared the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, to Adolf Hitler. During his trip to Canada, the prince told a Jewish woman who fled Poland during World War II that she was in Ukraine “Putin does exactly what Hitler does.”

A larger-caliber controversy surfaced in 2021 when it was reported that his foundation accepted a donation from a Saudi businessman in exchange for an Order of the British Empire, though most likely all this was dealt with without Karol’s knowledge – by his private secretary.

Another type of controversy aroused his commitment to environmental issues – he became the subject of mockery when he admitted in 1986 that he talked with plants and trees. “I just come and talk to the plants, really – very important to talk to them. They respond,” he said. Although, in fact, it was the first time he had spoken publicly about his concerns about pollution and plastics and their impact on nature back in the 1970s. Prior to Prince George’s birth in 2013, Charles said the prospect of becoming a grandfather reinforced his ecological convictions because he refused to “convey an increasingly dysfunctional world.”

In recent years, as the queen entered an increasingly advanced age, and as she gradually limited her activities for this reason, Charles took over her next duties, becoming an informal regent to some extent, although it is believed that the queen made decisions about the royal family to the end. Including the one concerning the place of Karol’s younger brother, Andrzej, who became involved in a sexual scandal damaging the monarchy’s reputation, and the younger son of Charles Harry, who, together with his American wife Meghan, decided to withdraw from the family.

Charles’s deteriorating relationship with Harry has been in the spotlight in recent years. Last year, in a high-profile interview Harry and Meghan gave Ophah Winphrey, Harry said that he feels that his father has let him down and that he has stopped receiving phone calls from him.

In turn, in recent years, British public opinion has clearly embraced the initially disliked Camilla. A few months before her death, Elizabeth II also gave her final blessing, who decided that after Charles took the throne, his wife, who had previously held the title of Duchess of Cornwall, would be the queen-consort.

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