Prince Charles has finally become king of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms, ending a wait of more than 70 years – the longest by an heir in British history.
The role will be “daunting.” His late mother was overwhelmingly popular and respected, but she leaves a royal family that has seen reputations tarnished and relationships strained, including over lingering allegations of racism against Buckingham Palace officials.
Charles confronts those challenges at the age of 73, the “oldest monarch to take the throne” in a lineage that dates back 1,000 years, with his second wife Camilla, who still divides public opinion, by his side.
To detractors, the new king is weak, vain, interfering, and ill-equipped for the role of sovereign.
He has been ‘ridiculed’ for talking to plants and obsessing over architecture and the environment, and will long be associated with his failed first marriage to the late Princess Diana.
say that is a distortion of the good work he does, that he is simply misunderstood and that in areas such as “climate change” he has been ahead of his time.
They argue he is thoughtful and concerned about his fellow Britons from all communities and walks of life. “His Prince’s Trust charity has helped more than one million unemployed and disadvantaged young people since its launch almost 50 years ago.”
Groomed to be king
Groomed from birth to be king one day, Charles Philip Arthur George was born at Buckingham Palace on Nov. 14, 1948, in the 12th year of the reign of his grandfather, King George VI.
Just 3 when he became heir apparent after his mother became queen in 1952, Charles’s upbringing was always different from previous future monarchs.
Unlike predecessors educated by private tutors, Charles went to Hill House school in West London before becoming a boarder at Cheam School in Berkshire, which was attended by his father Prince Philip and where he was later head boy.
He was then sent to Gordonstoun, a tough boarding school in Scotland where Philip had also studied. He described his time there as hell: he was lonely and bullied. “A prison sentence,” he reportedly said. “Colditz with kilts.”
Breaking with tradition again, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, to study archaeology and physical and social anthropology but later changed to history.
During his studies he was formally crowned Prince of Wales, the title traditionally held by the heir to the throne, at a grand ceremony in 1969, having spent nine weeks at a Welsh university where he said he “faced almost daily protests from nationalists.”
The following year he became the first British heir to receive a degree.
Reuters /Shakirat Sadiq