The Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is Heir Apparent to the throne.


Early Life



The Prince of Wales, eldest son of The Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born at Buckingham Palace at 9.14pm on 14th November 1948. He lived at Buckingham Palace until he was 8 months old when his Mother Princess Elizabeth and Father Prince Phillip moved to Clarence House.


Princess Anne, now The Princess Royal, was born on 15 August 1950, and the children had two nannies, Helen Lightbody and Mabel Anderson.


The Prince’s mother was proclaimed Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 25, when her father, King George VI, died aged 56 on 6th 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.


The Prince’s new status made him The Duke of Cornwall. He was also automatically given the Scottish titles Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.


Shortly after Easter 1952, The Queen and her family moved back to Buckingham Palace. On 2 June 1953, The Prince attended his mother’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey. He sat between The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret and later joined The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.


The Queen appointed a governess, Catherine Peebles, shortly before The Prince’s fifth birthday.


On 10 May 1955, Buckingham Palace announced that The Prince would go to school, rather than have a private tutor as had previous Heirs to The Throne.


The Prince started at Hill House school in West London on 7th 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.


Prince Andrew, now The Duke of York, was born on 19 February 1960, and Prince Edward, now The Earl of Wessex, was born on 10 March 1964.


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.


Education in more detail


On 10 May 1955, Buckingham Palace announced that The Prince would go to school, rather than have a private tutor as had previous Heirs to The Throne.

The Prince, who had received private tuition in the Palace nursery for 18 months from his governess Catherine Peebles, attended Hill House School in West London full time from 28 January 1957.


On 14 August 1957, Buckingham Palace announced that The Prince would attend Cheam, the preparatory school at Headley, near Newbury, Berks, which had been attended by his father from 1930 to 1933. The Prince began his first term on 23 September 1957.


The school days began at 7.15am with the rising bell, prayers were at 7.45, breakfast was at 8 and lessons began at 9. After a 6pm high tea, bedtime for the younger boys was 6.45pm.


During five years at Cheam, The Prince played cricket for the First Eleven, joined in school games of football and rugby, and took part in amateur dramatics. He was appointed head boy in his final year. The Prince had started his time at Cheam as the eight-year-old Duke of Cornwall. He left on 1 April 1962 as the 13-year-old Prince of Wales.


Buckingham Palace announced on 23 January 1962, that The Prince of Wales would attend Gordonstoun, the public school on the shores of the Moray Firth in Scotland. The Prince’s father, The Duke of Edinburgh, had been among the first pupils when the school was opened in 1934 by Dr Kurt Hahn.


Dr Hahn had developed a regime founded on belief in an egalitarian society, with firm principles of human conduct: the strong must be courteous to the weak, and service to others is more important than self-service.


On 1 May 1962, The Prince was taken to Gordonstoun by The Duke of Edinburgh, who piloted a Heron of the Queen’s Flight from Heathrow to RAF Lossiemouth before the final drive to the school.


From February to July 1966, The Prince of Wales spent two terms at Timbertop, a remote annexe of Geelong Church of England Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia.


While attending Timbertop, The Prince joined in a school trip to Papua New Guinea, led by his history tutor Michael Persse. After seeing examples of the folk art of the Papuan people, The Prince expressed concern in an essay that traditions there were being allowed to wither, a theme he took up later in his life.


When The Prince returned to Gordonstoun for his final year, he was made school guardian, or Head Boy and, after years of communal living, was given his own study bedroom.


In March 1967 he played the Pirate King in a school production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance.


The Prince, the first Heir to The Throne to sit public examinations, took his GCE O Levels at the age of 16, passing English language, English literature, Latin, French and history – and later mathematics.


He took his A Levels in July 1967, getting a B in history and a C in French, also gaining a distinction in an optional special paper in history.


The Prince went on to university, rather than straight into the Armed Forces, and in Autumn 1967 he arrived at Trinity College, Cambridge.


The Prince’s grandfather, King George VI, had studied history, economics and civics for a year at the same college, from October 1919.

The Prince chose to take a first year course in archaeology and physical and social anthropology and arrived at Trinity College on 8 October 1967.


In March and April 1968, The Prince of Wales spent time studying archaeological sites in France and taking part in excavations in Jersey.


On 8 April 1968, it was announced that The Prince had decided to change from archaeology and anthropology to history from the next academic year starting in October.


In his first examination at Cambridge, the results of which were published on 14 June 1968, The Prince was awarded a 2:1 in the first part of the archaeology and anthropology exams.


In April 1969, The Prince of Wales left Cambridge to spend a term at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, where he studied Welsh and the history of the Principality.


The Prince left the University College of Wales in June 1969, a week before his Investiture as Prince of Wales by The Queen at Caernarfon on 1 July.


As part of the social side of university life The Prince joined Trinity’s drama group, the Dryden Society, in November 1968 and appeared in two of the society’s annual revues. In the 1970 revue, Quiet Flows the Don, The Prince played a sports commentator, an antiques expert and a weather forecaster and in another played the part of a church padre in the society’s production of Joe Orton’s black comedy Erpingham Camp.


On 10 March 1970, The Prince flew from Heathrow Airport to visit New Zealand, Australia and Japan, returning on 15 April in time for the start of his final term at Trinity. Other royal duties during The Prince’s final year at Cambridge included attending the State Opening of Parliament, being formally introduced into the House of Lords and attending his first Privy Council.


On 12 May 1970, The Prince of Wales raised in public some of his concerns about the environment and conservation which were to remain central to his thinking over the coming decades. In his debut at a Cambridge Union debate, he spoke to the motion that “This house believes that technological advance threatens the individuality of man and is becoming his master”.


The Prince made it clear that he was not formally for or against the motion. “I am in a slightly difficult position,” he said. He expressed concern at the extent to which people had become creatures of technology, and of the pollution which could be the result, and suggested there was sometimes a need for the purpose of new developments to be questioned.


On 23 June 1970 The Prince of Wales, the first Heir to The Throne ever to take a degree, was awarded a 2:2.


On 2 August 1975 His Royal Highness, piloting a Royal Air Force helicopter, returned to Cambridge to receive his MA.


Public Role


While there is no established constitutional role for The Heir to The Throne, The Prince seeks, with the support of his wife The Duchess of Cornwall, to do all he can to make a difference for the better in the United Kingdom and internationally. The way in which His Royal Highness does so can, in simple terms, be divided into three parts:
1) Undertaking royal duties in support of The Queen 

This involves The Prince supporting The Queen in her role as a focal point for national pride, unity and allegiance and in bringing people together across all sections of society, representing stability and continuity, highlighting achievement, and emphasising the importance of service and the voluntary sector by encouragement and example.



2) Working as a charitable entrepreneur 

For many years The Prince has worked to identify charitable need and to set up and drive forward charities to meet it. Today, The Prince’s Charitiesmake up the largest multi-cause charitable enterprise in the UK.


Each year His Royal Highness helps to raise, either directly or indirectly, more than £120 million to support the charities’ activities. Additionally, The Prince has created six social enterprises, the profits of which are donated to charity.


3) Promoting and protecting national traditions, virtues and excellence
This includes supporting Britain’s rural communities, promoting tolerance and greater understanding between faiths and communities, and highlighting achievements or issues that, without his support, might otherwise receive little exposure. In this regard, His Royal Highness often acts as a catalyst for facilitating debate and change through contacts with Government Ministers and other people of influence, and by giving speeches and writing articles.In doing so, he is always careful to remain separate from party political debate. He communicates with Ministers as a member of the Privy Council and to report matters raised by people during his visits around the country.

In fulfilling his role as Heir to The Throne, The Prince of Wales is supported in everything he does by his wife The Duchess of Cornwall. Rather than seek a substantial public profile in her own right, Her Royal Highness’s role is primarily to support her husband, accompanying him on many public engagements throughout the country and overseas. The Duchess also attends events on her own, and conducts charitable and other work.


Oversea Visits



The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are among the United Kingdom’s most important ambassadors.


Every year, Their Royal Highnesses travel abroad at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to further British diplomatic interests, raise the UK’s profile in the country visited and promote British excellence.


Overseas visits enable The Prince to familiarise himself with a wide range of international issues and to meet many Heads of State and senior officials.
His Royal Highness often represents The Queen at overseas events, such as the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome, Italy, in April 2005.


The Prince tries to find ways for his charities to work for the benefit of the international community and often visits projects set up by his own charities during overseas visits.
For example, The Prince’s Youth Business International (YBI) has helped disadvantaged young people around the world set up more than 90,000 businesses to become entrepreneurs. In turn, these businesses have provided employment to hundreds of thousands of others.


His Royal Highness launched The Prince of Wales’s Bhumi Vardaan Foundation during his visit to India in March 2006, an organisation which promotes responsible farming to ensure a sustainable future on the land for smaller farmers and their descendants.


Commonwealth countries account for a large part of The Prince of Wales’s overseas travel schedule. In 2009, The Prince and The Duchess visited Canada, a Commonwealth Realm for an extensive 12-day visit.


In 2006, Their Royal Highnesses visited India and Pakistan, and in March 2005, The Prince of Wales visited Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. During a visit to Uganda in November 2007, The Prince attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)

Click here to view a list of countries visited by The Prince of Wales on his official website.





The Prince of Wales’s full title is:

His Royal Highness Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, QSO, PC, ADC, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. Click here to read about The Prince of Wales’s titles, or read about His Royal Highness’s honours below.

Knight of the Garter (KG)

The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded by Edward III in 1348, is the senior British Order of Chivalry. The Prince of Wales automatically became a KG when he became Prince of Wales in 1958, but was not installed until 17 June 1968, at Windsor Castle.

Knight of the Thistle (KT)

The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is Scotland’s highest honour and is second in precedence to the Garter. Its origins are uncertain, but its legendary status was recognised when it was revived in 1687 by James II (James VII of Scotland). The Prince is among current royal Knights and Ladies of the Thistle – under his title as Duke of Rothesay; he was installed in 1977.

Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB)

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is the premier meritorious Order of the Crown, mainly given to officers of the armed services together with a small number of civil servants. It was founded by George I in 1725. The Prince was installed as Great Master on 28 May 1975.

Order of Merit (OM)

This is a relatively modern Order, and is one of the most coveted of British distinctions. The Order is restricted to 24 members (as well as additional foreign recipients). As with the Royal Victorian Order, the Order of Merit is in the sole gift of the Sovereign but carries no rank apart from the initials OM after the name. The Prince of Wales was awarded the Order of Merit on 26 June 2002.

Knight of the Order of Australia (AK)

The Order was instituted by The Queen in 1975 on the advice of her Australian ministers, and The Prince was installed in 1981.

Companion of the Queen’s Service Order (QSO)

The Order was instituted by The Queen in 1975 on the advice of her New Zealand ministers, and The Prince was installed in 1983.

Privy Counsellor (PC)

References to a Privy Council of senior advisers to the Sovereign date back to the 14th Century, though such advisers had been close to kings long before that. Today Privy Counsellors include all members of the Cabinet, other senior ministers, leaders of opposition parties, Lords Justice of Appeal, and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Some members are also drawn from the Commonwealth. The appointment is for life, but under modern convention only members of the Government are normally summoned to meetings, together with new Privy Counsellors who have to take part in a short ceremony involving swearing an oath of allegiance and kissing of The Queen’s hand. Should there be a need for The Privy Council to meet in The Queen’s absence, Her Majesty, by Letters Patent, creates senior members of the Royal Family Councillors of State, enabling them to represent her in summoning a Privy Council meeting.

Aide-de-Camp (ADC)

Queen Victoria instituted the appointment of a small group of personal Aide-de-Camp (ADC) positions, an honorary appointment with few duties. The Prince is one of The Queen’s personal ADCs. Principal ADC, an office held by some high-ranking officers in the armed services, carries duties including attendance on The Queen at the State Opening of Parliament. Other ADCs, rarely asked to perform any duties, are chosen from the Armed Services.

The Prince of Wales has a number of medals that he often wears on the left for ceremonial and military occasions. They are:

The Queen’s Service Order (New Zealand) awarded 1983 - Instituted on 13th March 1975, this order is to recognize valuable voluntary service to the community and meritorious and faithful public services, both in a civilian capacity.

Coronation Medal – This was awarded in 1953 to commemorate The Queen’s Coronation.

Silver Jubilee Medal – This was awarded in 1977 to commemorate The Queen’s 25 years on the Throne. This is known as a Silver Jubilee.

Golden Jubilee Medal – This was awarded in 2002 to commemorate The Queen’s 50 years on the Throne. This is known as a Golden Jubilee.

Canadian Forces Decoration – This was awarded in 2002. The Prince has a number of special relationships with Canadian regiments.

The New Zealand Commemorative Medal – These medals were only awarded in 1990 and marks The Prince’s special relationship with New Zealand


Military Career



The Prince of Wales currently holds the ranks of Admiral in the Royal Navy, Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Air Force and General in the Army.

The Prince is a strong supporter of Britain’s Armed Services and sees this as one of the most important parts of his role as Heir to the Throne.

His Royal Highness’s relationship with the Armed Services is based on four themes:

  • promoting the role of the Forces within national life, through operational visits and ceremonial duties such as medal presentations
  • focusing on the professionalism and excellence of training
  • supporting the welfare of service personnel and their families, especially those who are injured or bereaved
  • helping to maintain the history and heritage of the Services through regimental links and veterans groups. 

The Prince attends the Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph, and other commemorative events in this country and abroad, to pay tribute to those who have fallen during the course of battle.


The Prince is Patron of a number of charities and organisations which help to look after the welfare of soldiers and their families, including the Airborne Forces Security Fund, War Widows, British Forces Foundation, Royal Naval Benevolent Trust and the White Ensign Association.


The Prince has a special relationship with 12 regiments in this country and 10 in the Commonwealth.


The Prince is kept informed of the activities of his regiments and asks to be briefed on a regular basis. As Colonel-in-Chief, The Prince often visits his regiments on bases in this country and abroad, meeting soldiers and their families. He also meets injured soldiers on a regular basis at The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Headley Court and Selly Oak Hospital.



The Prince of Wales’s career in the Armed Services


His Royal Highness began his own career in the Armed Services in March 1971, when he started a four-month attachment with the Royal Air Force at Cranwell, Lincolnshire.


The Prince had already gained his private pilot’s licence, and flew himself to Cranwell on 8 March, in a twin-engined Basset of The Queen’s Flight, to start advanced training to qualify as a jet pilot.


Flight Lieutenant The Prince of Wales was awarded his RAF wings at Cranwell on 20 August 1971.


On 15 September, The Prince joined the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, under the graduate entry scheme, as Acting Sub-Lieutenant. The Duke of Edinburgh, and his great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, had both been at Dartmouth.


Nearly two months later The Prince flew in a troop-carrying RAF Britannia to join the destroyer HMS Norfolk at Gibraltar. While training for his bridge watch-keeping certificate, The Prince attended a one-day course in escaping from a submarine, at HMS Dolphin, Gosport.


This included an exercise during which he was released from a chamber 100ft below the surface of a water tank. In February 1972, The Prince attended a one-day course in the submarine HMS Churchill.


During the next two and a half years, The Prince attended a four-month course at Portsmouth and served on four more ships. A 1974 Pacific voyage on the frigate HMS Jupiter included calls at Singapore, New Zealand, Tonga, Western Samoa, Honolulu, San Francisco, Acapulco and Bermuda. On 1 May 1973, The Prince of Wales was promoted to Acting Lieutenant.


On 2 September 1974 The Prince joined the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton for helicopter flying training before being assigned to 845 Naval Air Squadron as a pilot on board the commando carrier HMS Hermes.


Following a lieutenant’s course at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, The Prince was given command of his own ship, the minehunter HMS Bronington, for the final ten months of his active service in the Royal Navy ending on 15 December 1976.


The following January he was promoted to the rank of Commander. He was promoted again on his 40th birthday in 1988, to Captain in the Royal Navy and Group Captain in the Royal Air Force.


On 14 November 1998, the Ministry of Defence announced that The Prince of Wales had been promoted to “2-star” Rank in all three Services of the Armed Forces to coincide with his 50th birthday.


His Royal Highness was again promoted in all three Services on his 54th birthday in 2002 becoming Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy, Air Marshal in the Royal Air Force and Lieutenant General in the Army.


In 2006, The Prince was promoted to Admiral in the Royal Navy, General in the Army and Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Air Force.


The Prince of Wales holds honorary rank and appointments in many branches and regiments of the Armed Services.


On being appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment, a few months before he was 30, The Prince asked to take part in the parachute training course.


The Prince felt he could not “look them in the eye” or wear the Parachute Regiment’s famous beret and wings badge unless he had done the course, he told his biographer, Jonathan Dimbleby, 15 years later.


“I felt I should lead from the front or at least be able to do some of the things that one expects others to do for the country,” said The Prince.


Marriage and Family



On 29 July 1981 The Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer in St Paul’s Cathedral.


They had two children, Prince William Arthur Philip Louis and Prince Henry Charles Albert David (always known as Prince Harry) who became second and third in line of succession to The Throne.


Prince William was born on 21 June 1982 at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, in London. He was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Buckingham Palace.


Prince Harry was born on 15 September 1984 at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington. He was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in December 1984 in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.


The marriage of The Prince and Princess of Wales was dissolved on 28 August 1996. The Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash on 31 August 1997 in Paris. Click here to read more about the life and work of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.


On 10 February 2005, Clarence House announced that The Prince of Wales was to marry Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles.


The wedding was a largely private occasion for family and friends and took place at the Guildhall in Windsor on 9 April 2005. It comprised a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall on Saturday 9 April, followed by a service of prayer and dedication conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Upon her marriage to The Prince of Wales, Mrs Parker Bowles became known as HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.


It is intended that The Duchess of Cornwall will use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to the Throne.


Charity and Patronages 


‘The Prince’s Charities’ is a group of not-for-profit organisations of which The Prince of Wales is President; 18 of the 20 Charities were founded personally by The Prince.


The group is the largest multi-cause charitable enterprise in the United Kingdom, raising more than £120 million annually. The organisations are active across a broad range of areas including opportunity and enterprise, education, health, the built environment, responsible business and the natural environment.


The charities reflect The Prince of Wales’s long-term and innovative perspective, and seek to address areas of previously unmet need.

If you would like to get involved with The Prince’s Charities, you can visitThe Prince’s Charities Community website.


The Prince is also Patron of more than 400 organisations. Click here to see the full list of patronages on The Prince’s official website.



The Prince’s Trust

The Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust




The Prince’s Youth Business International

The British Asian Trust


The Prince’s Drawing School

The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts

The Prince’s Teaching Institute

The Prince’s Foundation for Children & The Arts


The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment

The Prince’s Regeneration Trust

The Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust


The Turquoise Mountain Foundation


The Prince’s Countryside Fund

Business in the Community


Scottish Business in the Community

The Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership

Arts & Business

In Kind Direct





The Prince is a keen watercolourist and paints whenever his schedule allows. Lithographs of his paintings are sold and all proceeds go to The Prince’s Charities Foundation.


His Royal Highness enjoys gardening, especially in his organic garden at Highgrove.

The Prince enjoys hedgelaying and in October 2005, The Prince hosted the National Hedgelaying Championships at Home Farm, and joined others by trying his hand at the rural skill.


In pursuing some of his interests, The Prince is able to give support to organisations in the worlds of art, music and theatre – as he does in many other fields – through becoming Patron or President.


The Prince and The Duchess regularly attend theatre and opera performances and symphony concerts, sometimes as part of a fundraising event and sometimes in a private capacity.


For example, His Royal Highness is Patron or President of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the British Youth Opera, the Welsh National Opera, The Royal Shakespeare Company and The Royal Ballet, to name but a few.

Over the years His Royal Highness has taken part in many different sports including racing, scuba diving and sailing. Up until November 2005 The Prince raised money for charity by playing polo. He decided to retire from the game after playing it for over 40 years.


In total, The Prince of Wales is Patron or President of around 400 organisations.

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Posted by mousiekins
Dated: 13th December 2011
Filled Under: Royal Bio