Who Is King Charles III: Little-Known Facts About UK's New Monarch
Who Is King Charles III: Little-Known Facts About UK's New Monarch. Photo AP

King Charles III is the first child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Upon the death of his mother on Sept. 8, Charles succeeded her as king of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms.

King Charles III’s Early Life

Who Is King Charles III: Little-Known Facts About UK's New Monarch
In this Nov. 14, 1952 file photo, Prince Charles, right, sits with his sister, Princess Anne, as they pose for a photo, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.Photo AP

The eldest son of The Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born at Buckingham Palace at 9.14pm on 14 November 1948. A month later, on 15 December, Charles Philip Arthur George was christened in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher.

The Prince's mother was proclaimed Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 25, when her father, King George VI, died aged 56 on 6 February 1952. On The Queen's accession to the throne, Prince Charles - as the Sovereign's eldest son - became heir apparent at the age of three.

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King Charles III’s Education

Who Is King Charles III: Little-Known Facts About UK's New Monarch
Charles walks in Cambridge in 1967 when he began his term at Trinity College. Photo Getty

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh decided that The Prince should go to school rather than have a tutor at the Palace. The Prince started at Hill House school in West London on 7 November 1956.

After 10 months, the young Prince became a boarder at Cheam School, a preparatory school in Berkshire. In 1958, while The Prince was at Cheam, The Queen created him The Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. The Prince was nine-years-old.

In April 1962 The Prince began his first term at Gordonstoun, a school near Elgin in Eastern Scotland which The Duke of Edinburgh had attended.

The Prince of Wales spent two terms in 1966 as an exchange student at Timbertop, a remote outpost of the Geelong Church of England Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia.

When he returned to Gordonstoun for his final year, The Prince of Wales was appointed school guardian (head boy). The Prince, who had already passed six O Levels, also took A Levels and was awarded a grade B in history and a C in French, together with a distinction in an optional special history paper in July 1967.

King Charles III In The Navy

September 1971: The future king joins the Royal Navy, a path also taken by his father. Serves on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk and two frigates.

1974: Already a trained jet pilot, he qualifies as a helicopter pilot and joins an air squadron operating from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.

1976: Charles commands the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington before leaving the Royal Navy. He uses his navy severance pay of £7,400 to set up The Prince's Trust charity.

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King Charles III: Loss, Love and Children

Who Is King Charles III: Little-Known Facts About UK's New Monarch
Photo Royal UK

August 27, 1979: Charles's great-uncle and closest confidant Lord Louis Mountbatten is assassinated by the Irish Republican Army.

July 29, 1981: The prince marries Lady Diana Spencer at London's St. Paul's Cathedral in a fairy-tale wedding watched by an estimated 750 million people worldwide. She becomes Princess of Wales.

June 21, 1982: The couple's first son, Prince William, is born, ensuring the succession. Prince Harry follows on September 15, 1984.

March 10, 1988: Charles escapes uninjured in an avalanche while skiing in Klosters, Switzerland, but one of his friends is killed and another injured.

Who Is King Charles III: Little-Known Facts About UK's New Monarch
The Princess of Wales stands next to her husband, Charles the Prince of Wales, during a function held in their honor February 11, 1987 in Bonn, Germany. Photo CBS News

King Charles III: Divorce and tragedy

Who Is King Charles III: Little-Known Facts About UK's New Monarch
Charles and William, pictured with Prince Harry in 1997, came together personally and professionally when Harry stepped back from his royal duties in 2020. Photo Getty

December 9, 1992: Charles and Diana announce their separation. The royal family is rocked by revelations about the couple's marriage and infidelities. They formally divorce on August 28, 1996.

August 31, 1997: Diana, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul are killed in a high-speed car crash in Paris as they try to flee paparazzi photographers.

Charles repatriates her body and insists she be granted full royal honours in death.

September 6, 1997: Charles accompanies William, Harry and their uncle, Charles Spencer, on foot behind her coffin to the funeral.

April 9, 2005: Charles marries his longtime mistress Camilla Parker Bowles at Windsor Guildhall in a civil ceremony. She becomes the Duchess of Cornwall.

April 29, 2011: William marries Kate Middleton, a commoner, at Westminster Abbey.

July 22, 2013: Charles becomes a grandfather after the birth of William and Kate's son, Prince George. Princess Charlotte follows in 2015, then Prince Louis, in 2018.

May 19, 2018: Charles walks Meghan Markle down the aisle at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, as she marries his youngest son, Prince Harry.

May 6, 2019: Charles becomes a grandfather again, as Meghan gives birth to Archie. Lilibet Diana follows in 2021.

March 7, 2021: Harry hits out at his father in a television interview from the United States, where he moved after quitting royal life in 2020.

He accuses Charles of being suffocated by tradition and of cutting him off financially after the move, although royal officials later maintain he "allocated a substantial sum" to the couple to help them with the transition.

Charles' life in the public eye has been defined in many ways by the women with whom he has shared it. From early on, the boy-who-would-be-king's most essential duty was to find a wife and produce future heirs.

Lady Diana Spencer seemed to be the perfect partner, though there were hints of the troubles that would come from the very beginning. He was 32, she was 20, and their wedding was a worldwide media spectacle.

Two sons, Princes William and then Harry, dutifully followed.

But it became obvious to the world that the royal couple wasn't happy together. As more and more photos showed them looking distant, the tabloids labeled them "The Glums."

In their very public divorce drama, Prince Charles often unwittingly played the role of villain for a voracious tabloid press.

Asked post-split whether she thought Charles' long-time confidant and love interest Camilla Parker Bowles had been a factor in the breakdown of her relationship, Diana said: "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

What is Charles' legacy as Prince of Wales?

Who Is King Charles III: Little-Known Facts About UK's New Monarch
Photo Getty

Just as the queen was the longest-serving monarch in British history, Prince Charles has been the longest-serving Prince of Wales in history – but not just that, says Bedell Smith.

"His record as Prince of Wales, in its breadth and depth, will be his real legacy," Bedell Smith says. "He was the most innovative Prince of Wales ever – he was an activist in a way no other heir to throne ever has been."

Part of the impetus for doing all he did, including his philanthropy, his entrepreneurial initiatives, the institutions and traditions he helped to preserve, demonstrate "his wish to prove himself worthy of being king," Bedell Smith says.

"As Prince of Wales, he had the freedom to do all these things, and he sometimes crossed the line of constitutional propriety, but as Prince of Wales he was not bounded by it as the queen was."

Prince William and Catherine title change

Upon the Queen's death, the Duke of Cambridge - also known as Prince William - became the Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge. As Charles's eldest son, he has inherited the dukedom, and will now oversee the estate of the Duchy of Cornwall.

His wife Catherine will be known as the Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge.

They will at some stage be known as the Prince and Princess of Wales, but this is not automatic.

What are King Charles' plans?

Charles has made no secret of his desire to "slim down" the monarchy – reduce the number of working senior royals supported by taxpayers – and reduce the overall multi-million-pound annual cost of the royal show. There has been talk that he will perhaps open Buckingham Palace to paying tourists year-round (it's only open during the summer now) or by turning private royal residences, such as Balmoral Castle in Scotland, into museums.

His many causes (organic farming, architecture and urban planning, fighting climate change, to name a few) will not be abandoned but at least initially he will be too busy with routine matters, such as weekly meetings with the prime minister and going through the multiple red boxes of government documents he must read daily, Bedell Smith predicts.

Will Camilla be Queen?

Camilla's future title had been a contentious issue, and in the early years of her marriage to Charles it had been expected she would be Princess Consort once he took the throne.

But the Queen herself ended the debate in February 2022 when she said it was her "sincere wish" that Camilla be Queen Consort.

At the time of her marriage to Charles there had been debate about whether Camilla should get the title of Princess of Wales.

But it was decided it would be inappropriate to give her a title so closely associated with Charles's first wife, the late Princess Diana, so she became Duchess of Cornwall instead.

Can Charles toe the line as a 'constitutional' king?

Most of the speculation about the new king has focused on whether Charles would violate those prohibitions by being outspoken about political and other matters of public debate in a way his mother carefully avoided.

As Prince of Wales, Charles was not always as scrupulous as his mother was, says Clive Irving, a longtime British journalist (former managing editor of the Sunday Times in London) and author of "The Last Queen," a biography of Charles' mother that questions whether the monarchy can survive after her, cited YSA today.

"She has always been neutral and apolitical, no one has caught her out on her political views and that is the difference between her and Charles – he can't help himself," says Irving. "We know nothing about her views, we know an incredible amount about Charles' views. It's incredibly difficult to step into the shoes of (the queen's) kind of monarch."

Still, says British journalist and royals commentator Anna Pasternak, Charles has learned important values from his mother, including deep loyalty to the monarchy and an "unshakeable sense of duty." But she was no nonsense and unemotional; he's more passionate, Pasternak says.

The royal consort is the traditional position of the spouse of a ruling monarch, and most kings' wives have adopted the title Queen Consort, with a few exceptions.

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