London – With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, his first son Charles ascended the throne. Charles, 73, had been Prince of Wales – the title reserved for future British kings in waiting – for longer than anyone in the history of the UK monarchy.
Buckingham Palace confirmed on Thursday that the new monarch would be known as King Charles III.
In many ways, Charles was the first modern heir to the British throne: he was sent to school rather than privately educated in the palace, and after that he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Cambridge.
The young prince went on to serve in both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, being deployed on several warships during the 1970s.
But as CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports, Prince Charles’ role thus far has largely been an exercise in waiting and defining a meaningful role while doing it.
Charles’ difficult and essential love life
Charles’ life in the public eye was defined in many ways by the women he shared it with. From the beginning, the most essential duty of the boy-who-would-be-king was to find a wife and produce future heirs.
Lady Diana Spencer seemed like the perfect match, although there were hints of the trouble that would come early on. He was 32, she was 20, and their marriage was a global media spectacle.
Two sons, Princes William and then Harry, dutifully followed.
But it became apparent to the world that the royal couple were not happy together. As more photos showed them distant, the tabloids labeled them “The Glums.”
In their very public divorce drama, Prince Charles often unknowingly played the villain role for a voracious tabloid press.
Asked after the split whether she thought Charles’ confidante and longtime lover Camilla Parker Bowles had been a factor in the breakdown of his relationship, Diana said: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
When Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris in 1997, Charles’ public image was so tarnished that many wondered if he could ever become king. It took years to be seen as the devoted father of his two grieving sons for the prince to emerge from under the cloud.
But he emerged, and he even married Camilla in 2005 in the first non-religious civil ceremony ever held for a British royal in England.
In early 2022, Queen Elizabeth II herself, clearly wanting no doubt to dwell on her intentions, said that when Charles became king it was her “sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as the queen consort as she continues her own loyal service” to Britain.
Charles said in a statement that he and Camilla are “deeply aware of the honor of my mother’s wish.”
The “crazy” pursuits of a prince
Once his life partner and future heirs were determined, Prince Charles focused his efforts on the various charities and other causes he supported – not all hugely popular initiatives in their time.
“I guess I’ve spent most of my life trying to come up with and initiate things that very few people could see the point of or, frankly, thought were pure bonkers,” he said. said in 2016. “Perhaps some of them are now beginning to recognize a pioneering place in all this apparent madness?”
The joke from the man likely to become known as King Charles III was both a display of his trademark wry sense of humor and a humble brag no doubt permitted by a royal who was ahead of many. among themselves by embracing concepts such as organic farming, nature conservation and the urgency of addressing climate change.
He continued to be a passionate advocate through his charitable work for everything from environmental conservation to community empowerment. The Prince of Wales has been patron or chairman of over 400 charities.
“I find myself born into this particular position,” he once told an interviewer. “I’m determined to make the best of it and do whatever I can to help and hopefully leave things behind a little better than I found them.”
The Prince and the Presidents
Prince Charles is no stranger to the halls of power across the Atlantic. He has been to Washington at least 20 times and has met every US president since Jimmy Carter.
He met President Biden in November 2021, during the COP26 climate conference in Scotland. Mr Biden praised the prince for his leadership on environmental issues and reportedly told him: ‘We really need you…and I’m not just saying that’, thanking Charles for ‘putting everything into motion’.
During former President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK in 2019, Charles was supposed to sit with the US leader for about 15 minutes, but they ended up talking for an hour and a half.
Trump later said the prince “spoke the most”, but described the heir to the British throne as “a very good person” who was “really interested in climate change”.
“What moved me was his passion for future generations,” Trump said. “He wants to make sure that future generations will have a climate that is good, as opposed to disaster, and I agree.”
In 2015, Charles met then-President Barack Obama for the second time during a three-day visit to the United States. love them much more than they love their own politicians.”
“I don’t believe so,” the royal replied.