Ian Lloyd marks Prince Charles’s mile­stone birth­day

As the Prince of Wales ap­proaches a land­mark birth­day, Ian Lloyd takes a look at his life.

The People's Friend - - Contents -

UN­BE­LIEV­ABLY, the Prince of Wales turns seventy this month. Even more amaz­ingly, his mother is still our monarch, and work­ing as hard as ever at ninety-two, so that Charles re­mains – in the words of his friend, Spike Mil­li­gan – “trainee king”.

The prince was born at Buck­ing­ham Palace on Novem­ber 14, 1948, the first baby to be born there since Queen Vic­to­ria’s day.

A sen­si­tive child, he wasn’t as close to his par­ents as his sis­ter Anne, or broth­ers An­drew and Ed­ward. In­stead, he sought com­fort and se­cu­rity from his beloved granny, the Queen Mother, and his nanny, Ma­bel An­der­son, who lives on the Wind­sor es­tate, and whom he sees as of­ten as he can.

Af­ter school at Gor­don­stoun and three years at the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge, he en­tered the armed forces, spend­ing a to­tal of five years with the RAF and the Royal Navy.

He mar­ried Lady Di­ana Spencer when he was thir­tytwo, and the cou­ple had two sons, Wil­liam and Harry, be­fore the mar­riage broke down in the mid1980s. Twenty years later, he mar­ried his long-time part­ner, Camilla Parker Bowles.

A lot has hap­pened to the prince since he cel­e­brated his last mile­stone birth­day 10 years ago. He is still the hard­est-work­ing mem­ber of the royal fam­ily, av­er­ag­ing be­tween 500 and 600 en­gage­ments a year.

Over the years he has founded 18 char­i­ties, which now op­er­ate un­der the one um­brella of “The Prince’s Char­i­ties”. They re­flect his wide range of in­ter­ests, from aid­ing dis­ad­van­taged young peo­ple to ed­u­ca­tion and the en­vi­ron­ment.

In ad­di­tion, he is pa­tron of an­other 350 or­gan­i­sa­tions.

He has also launched in­di­vid­ual ef­forts such as the Cam­brian Moun­tain Ini­tia­tive, which helps the econ­omy in the Welsh up­lands, and the Pak­istan Re­cov­ery Fund, de­signed to give aid af­ter that coun­try’s dis­as­trous floods in 2010.

Four years later, his char­i­ties spent £5 mil­lion on vac­cines to com­bat a measles epi­demic in the Philip­pines.

When he cel­e­brated his sixty-fifth birth­day, he is said to have do­nated his state pen­sion to an un­named char­ity that sup­ports el­derly peo­ple in the UK.

Over the past decade, he has been as­sist­ing the Queen more and more. With the re­tire­ment of his fa­ther in 2017, Charles is now his mother’s es­cort at many high-level events.

The Queen no longer un­der­takes long-haul jour­neys, mean­ing it is Charles and Camilla who rep­re­sent the British monar­chy abroad.

For in­stance, in April he opened the Com­mon­wealth Games in Aus­tralia. The Com­mon­wealth is very close to the Queen’s heart, and last sum­mer she told a meet­ing of its 53 lead­ers than she very much hoped her el­dest son would suc­ceed her as its head.

The mem­bers fol­lowed her ad­vice and voted him to the post, though in the­ory any of the many lead­ers could have been of­fered the job.

Over the past decade, Charles has grown in con­fi­dence thanks to the love and sup­port of Camilla. The two have a great rap­port, and a ter­rific sense of hu­mour – you only have to think of them sti­fling gig­gles on a visit to the Arc­tic Cir­cle in Canada, where they were given a demon­stra­tion of tra­di­tional Inuit throat singing.

The Duchess never seeks to over­shadow the prince, and she has cer­tainly given him some much-needed self be­lief.

Those ag­o­nis­ing pauses in his speeches and in­ter­views seem to have dis­ap­peared, and she has en­cour­aged him to loosen up.

She hap­pily praised her hus­band to Ant and Dec when the tele­vi­sion duo in­ter­viewed her, Wil­liam and Harry to mark the 40th an­niver­sary of the Prince’s Trust in 2016.

In­evitably the legacy and life story of Princess Di­ana still fas­ci­nates peo­ple, and Camilla’s sev­en­ti­eth

birth­day was over­shad­owed by the twen­ti­eth an­niver­sary com­mem­o­ra­tions of Di­ana’s death.

But Charles and Di­ana’s last­ing legacy is, of course, their two sons.

Over the past decade, we have wit­nessed two hugely pop­u­lar wed­dings.

In 2011 Wil­liam mar­ried long-term love Kate Mid­dle­ton in West­min­ster Abbey. The cou­ple have gone on to have three chil­dren: Ge­orge, Char­lotte and Louis.

News­pa­pers of­ten spec­u­late that the Cam­bridges are closer to Kate’s fam­ily than Wil­liam’s. The truth is, how­ever, that it is much eas­ier for the Mid­dle­tons to slot into Wil­liam and Kate’s sched­ule of en­gage­ments than it is for Charles to do so, with his own packed di­ary al­ways a prob­lem.

A sign that he is close to his sons and grand­chil­dren came last sum­mer, when the prince chose a se­ries of im­ages mark­ing his birth­day for the an­nual sum­mer ex­hi­bi­tion at Buck­ing­ham Palace.

In pride of place were two stud­ies of Wil­liam and Harry in their Army uni­forms by artist Nicky Philipps. These were later used as the ba­sis for a joint paint­ing of the broth­ers.

Also on dis­play was a photo of three gen­er­a­tions of the fam­ily, with Charles hold­ing Ge­orge, watched by a proud Wil­liam. Be­fore this sum­mer, no-one had ever seen it.

This year we had the wed­ding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and the cou­ple are now ex­pect­ing their first child.

Half a cen­tury ago, the very fact Meghan was an ac­tress would have stunned the British es­tab­lish­ment. It is a sure sign of how royal life is slowly chang­ing.

Charles and Camilla have been on hand to give sup­port to Meghan, who has moved to a new coun­try.

When Meghan’s fa­ther was un­able to travel to Wind­sor for the wed­ding, it was Charles who of­fered to walk his soon-to-be daugh­ter-in-law down the last part of the aisle.

Harry’s grate­ful “Thanks, Pa!” was one of the most in­ti­mate ges­tures on that spe­cial day.

The Prince of Wales has had more than his share of crit­i­cism over the years, es­pe­cially in the pa­pers, but through his char­i­ta­ble works he has brought a lot to this coun­try.

He once said he would only re­ally be ap­pre­ci­ated when he’s no longer around, and many would agree.

Per­haps his sev­en­ti­eth birth­day is a time to give him a re­gal pat on the back. ■

Charles as a baby with his mother.

Prince Charles with new­born Wil­liam.

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Corn­wall.

Charles and Harry en­joy­ing a joke.

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