King Charles III: the story of the longest heir apparent in British history
On Saturday 10th September, Charles (formally the Prince of Wales), was proclaimed King at the Accession Council. It happened two days after his mother, Queen Elizabeth, passed away.
Garter Principle King of Arms, David Vines White, was the man with the great responsibility to herald 'God save the King', after reading the proclamation of Britain's new King. The message was read on the Friary Court balcony of St James's Palace in London. A message Charles had waited a long time to hear.
The scenes in London were full of pomp and grandeur. A 96 round gun salute was fired at the Tower of London by the Royal Artillery as King Charles III was proclaimed King.
Prince William and Camilla, now Queen Consort, watched as Britain's King Charles III signed an oath to uphold the security of the Church in Scotland. Charles becomes head of the Church of Scotland and must promise to uphold the protestant faith. The King will later sign another oath in Parliament regarding the Church of England.
For a brief moment, flags in Britain flew at full mast that morning. Shortly after the ceremony, the flags returned to half-mast again out of respect for Her Majesty's passing. Charles vowed in his first speech to mourning subjects that he would emulate his "darling mama."
King Charles III was known for (a very long) time as Prince Charles. He could be defined as the eternal contender for the British throne. Well past 70, the son of Elizabeth II has finally been handed the responsibility he has been waiting his whole life for.
The first son of the British Queen, Charles was born on November 14, 1948 in London.
Charles was "The Rebel Prince" according to journalist Tom Bower and his unauthorized biography with the same title. Bower describes Charles as "manic, envious and addicted to luxury."
Raised and educated from an early age to become a British king, Charles studied at Gordonstoun School (Scotland) and later at Trinity College, Cambridge. Interestingly, Elizabeth II's eldest son is the first Welsh-speaking prince born in England.
Eldest of the four children parented by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh (Philip Mountbatten), Charles will go down in history as the longest serving heir in the history of the British monarchy. Before him, this honor was held by his great-great-grandfather Edward VII, who came to the throne at the age of 59.
All the royal chroniclers say that he is a highly educated man. He is rebellious, yes, but he has a very clear idea of what the British monarchy should be. His preparation never made him one of the most popular members of the British Royal Family, however.
Tom Bower says Charles is crazy about the press. "He is obsessed with what the public says or thinks about him. If he reads something that's not good for him, he goes ballistic."
Charles's popularity rating is, in fact, so low that some have even suggested his withdrawal from the future British throne in favour of his eldest son, William. However Charles is having none of it, because he has made it clear on several occasions that he will be king at all costs.
To understand both the private and public lives of Charles, we must talk about two women: Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker Bowles. To the first, he was married from 1981 to 1996, and to the second since 2005. They are the two loves in Charles's life that have been talked about most.
Charles met Camilla Rosemary Shand before he met Diana. The two fell madly in love with each other. However, their relationship could not continue, because Queen Elizabeth II opposed it. After several years of discussions and disagreements, Charles married Diana and Camilla married the former British naval officer Andrew Parker Bowles.
After a brief engagement, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married in St. Paul's Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981. The wedding of the prince to the 20-year-old was a worldwide event. Diana, daughter of Count Spencer, became the people's princess.
From the moment of her arrival in the British court, Diana of Wales took all attention away from Charles. Her freshness and innocence quickly connected with the British people, making the prince's wife enormously popular.
This massive popularity of Diana, added to the reputation of Charles as a womaniser and a party-goer, put the prince behind Diana in the people's eyes. Soon enough, the press began to air the alleged problems in their marriage.
From the union of Charles and Diana two children were born. The first, William, is the now Duke of Cornwall and the second in line for the British throne.
William was always very close to his mother: from his earliest childhood to the end of her life.
The second of Charles and Diana's sons is Harry. William's younger brother is currently married to former actress Meghan Markle. The couple very publicly distanced themselves from the royal family.
Charles does not seem to have a good relationship with his two sons. Tom Bower says that his bond with William deteriorated when Kate Middleton arrived. "Charles believed that the public would ignore him and Camilla in favour of the new couple."
The differences between Charles and William are related to to the relationship between them and Diana, the Crown Prince himself has said.
"William and Harry had to deal with something of a continuous avalanche of public revelations about their parents' adulterous relationships," Tom Bower says, trying to explain the strained bond between the father and his sons.
On 31 August 1997, Princess Diana of Wales died in a car accident in Paris. Her marriage to Charles had broken down in 1996. As she was immensely popular, her passing led to a further drop in Charles's acceptance by the British people.
"Everyone's going to blame me for Diana's death, aren't they? Everyone's gone completely crazy," Charles allegedly stated, according to Tom Bower's biography.
After a few difficult years, Charles of England smiled again in public. He worked hard to rebuild his image and made an increasing public presence.
Whether it was with the members of the band 'Spice Girls' or at a film premiere in London, Buckingham Palace had one clear ambition: the image of Charles had to improve.
After the death of Diana, Charles resumed his romantic relationship with Camilla. Divorced and with two children, the future Duchess of Cornwall did not initially count on any applause from the British people.
Neither did she expect approval from the British Royal Family. "At first, Elizabeth II herself flatly refused," Tom Bower says. But in the end, Camilla and Charles got permission to marry.
Queen Elizabeth II finally accepted her son's relationship with Camilla and the couple got married at Windsor City Hall on April 9, 2005.
In recent years, and following the arrival of newcomers to the British Royal Family, Charles has continued his role as the perennial aspirant to the British throne. To become a successful monarch, he has filled his schedule with public events.
After turning 90, Queen Elizabeth II reduced her presence at public events. Charles took over her work and is now by far the most visible member of the British Royal House.
His public visibility, together with a greater role in the decision-making process of the Royal House, pointed to him ascending the throne and becoming Charles III. The magazine HELLO! reports, for example, that it was Charles who convinced his mother of to strip Andrew of all royal duties.
In addition, it was Charles who mediated the departure of his son Harry and Meghan Markle from the British Royal House in early 2020.
Charles has moved ever closer to the centre of attention. He now has his wish, but many will be reluctant to embrace him as they did his mother and he has a tough example to follow. The world lost Queen Elizabeth II. They are not shoes anyone would like to try and fill.