Sir, we salute you
Philanthropist, eco-warrior, author, artist, gardener, father –and heir to the throne of Great Britain. In his many, many roles, the Prince of Wales has touched the lives of our whole nation. Here, those who know him best pay tribute
From Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to Theresa May, Alan Titchmarsh to Colonel John Blashford-snell – famous names pay tribute
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
He’s incredibly kind. I don’t think people see his incredible kindness and the things he does behind the scenes. People who worked for him years ago will write to him and if they’ve fallen on hard times he’ll do everything he can to help them. Put them on to the right doctors. I don’t think people see that and it’s not something he shouts about.
The other thing, which probably doesn’t come over as well as it should, is that he has got a very good sense of humour. He’s very funny. He’s also a very good mimic. He rather likes acting. He rather enjoys speeches, unlike some of us. He can mimic most people. He’s very good at any accent. When he’s doing speeches anywhere around the world, somebody will give him three lines [of the local language] and he comes out with the accent.
And, of course, he’s wonderful with children. He doesn’t mind crawling about on the floor for hours with them. We had a picture the other day with Louis pulling on his hair, and he’s not one of those people who says ‘take your hand away’. He loves it. He’s exceptionally good with very small children and babies. He loves to really make them laugh. Getting them out in the garden and showing them things. My grandchildren adore him and they can’t wait to see him. He knows exactly what they’re into.
He never gives up. He will just go on and on until he achieves what he wants. I wish he wouldn’t sometimes! It’s very hard to get him to relax and drag him away from his letters and boxes. He gets completely blinkered, rather like the children watching a favourite television programme. You can’t drag him away.
I don’t think he thinks he’s 70, I think it’s just a number to him. There’s no way that he will slow down. You must be joking. I keep saying 70 is getting on a bit. It’s not very old but it is old. You have to slow down a bit.
The 70th birthday of the Prince of Wales gives us a chance to reflect on the exemplary service that he has given to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for his whole adult life.
As heir to the throne, he has been a tremendous support to Her Majesty the Queen. The Prince’s Trust has helped hundreds of thousands of young people to achieve their dreams. Prince Charles’s commitment to our environment was ahead of his time. His contribution to so many aspects of our national life – from architecture and the built environment, to the arts, culture and the countryside – has been outstanding.
The ancient motto of the Princes of Wales is ‘Ich Dien’ – I serve. We are fortunate indeed to have had the benefit of Prince Charles’s tireless service over five decades. I wish His Royal Highness a wonderful 70th birthday and many happy returns of the day.
Justin Welby The Archbishop of Canterbury
Over the course of his life so far, the Prince of Wales has worked with extraordinary dedication and passion to further many causes – from the environment and global sustainability to education and opportunities for young people.
I am hugely grateful to His Royal Highness for his commitment to highlighting the plight of persecuted Christians around the world; his deep personal faith allows him to be generous, hospitable and courageous in defending the rights of all people to peacefully practise their religion without fear.
On the occasions I have had the privilege of meeting Prince Charles, I am always struck by his warmth, his humour, his integrity and his humility. His great passion for life, his service to us all and his obvious love for his family make him a truly remarkable person.
Former Prime Minister
One of the privileges of my time as Prime Minister was working with His Royal Highness. During all the engagements, events and meetings we shared, I saw up close his sheer dedication to public service. In any spare moment, the Prince is rarely without a pen in his hand and his paperwork in front of him. His work ethic is remarkable.
I saw as well his passion – and his prescience. Tackling climate change. Protecting wildlife. Creating a built environment that helps communities thrive. Giving young people the opportunities they deserve. These are some of the biggest challenges of our times, and they’re the things Prince Charles has been championing for decades.
I also saw what a fun, kind and family-focused couple the Prince and
the Duchess of Cornwall are. Samantha and I enjoyed spending time with them immensely.
Everything Prince Charles does demonstrates his enduring commitment to our country, Commonwealth and planet. I will be joining people from across those realms on 14 November to wish him a very happy 70th birthday.
Former Prime Minister
Prince Charles has been and remains a remarkable figure in British public life. The innovative and impactful work of The Prince’s Trust, his long-standing interest and foresight on the impact of climate change on our environment and his obvious warmth and respect for the people of the Commonwealth reflect a man of incredible energy and passion.
I had many discussions and quite regular correspondence with the Prince when I was prime minister. I always found these exchanges immensely helpful and his contributions both thoughtful and constructive. I mention this only as a microcosm of the vast contribution he makes to our country – in many cases, behind the scenes. I therefore join with the countless people today who will be congratulating Prince Charles on his 70th birthday this week.
Prince Charles’ s goddaughter
Every birthday, every Christmas, a card and present would arrive from my godfather. To begin with they were signed from ‘your loving Godfather Charles’, then they became ‘your old Godfather Charles’ and then ‘your ancient Godfather Charles’.
His Royal Highness might be celebrating a 70th birthday this year but, goodness, he is far from ancient. It takes a very fit mind, body and spirit to be engaged in so many charities and military organisations and to be an active patron to hundreds of foundations where his passion and dedication effects such change.
I had the opportunity to meet with a young woman who had been a victim of the most intolerable sex abuse, which led to mental health issues and subsequently unemployment. The Prince’s Trust has become expert in supporting those in particularly challenging situations. This girl has now been given the skills she needs to live and learn and earn.
She is one of hundreds of thousands whose lives have been turned around because of the Prince’s Trust and the Prince’s personal vision when he founded the charity. I am lucky to have such a godfather, but we all are lucky to have such a prince among us.
Edward Enninful Editor-in-chief, British Vogue
HRH the Prince of Wales throughout his life has shown immense dedication to his country and the many charities he supports – a dedication that has seen him stand at the forefront of causes including sustainability, craftsmanship and education in the fashion industry.
I have been honoured to meet with HRH the Prince of Wales and discuss the positive ways in which the fashion industry can play a key role in creating communities to support these areas. His tireless support across British manufacturing is an inspiration and shines a light on the immense talent we have here in the UK. Cheryl Cole
It has been my honour to meet HRH Prince Charles on several occasions over the years. I have particularly warm memories of one of our earliest meetings for tea at Clarence House in July 2012, when I officially launched my charity in aid of his Trust. I totally forgot to address him officially, just called him Charles. Someone started coughing loudly behind me, which he just found very funny. He told me about Harry’s love for hip-hop at the time, which would apparently bang through the ceiling at home. I also seem to recall him mentioning my tattoos.
Recently, we have met several times, both in the run-up to and since opening the Prince’s Trust Centre that I helped fund in Newcastle. He is always so charming, funny and just a little bit cheeky. His work through The Prince’s Trust is so inspiring – thousands of young people have had their lives turned around by their amazing projects. Without that charity I don’t know where those young people would be today. Happy birthday, Charles! Dylan Jones
Editor-in-chief , GQ
Not only has Prince Charles been a great supporter of British menswear, he helped launch London Fashion Week Men’s in 2012. We didn’t expect him to invite 100 of the most important people in our industry into his home, but that’s precisely what he did, asking the likes of Tom Ford, Paul Smith, Richard James and Tommy Hilfiger to Clarence House. More importantly, he has kept up his support in the six years since, inviting menswear bigwigs up to Dumfries House in Scotland, supporting Wool Week and even getting involved this year in our GQ Men of the Year Awards, where we gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award for his philanthropic endeavours. When HRH starts something, he sees it though, and in the course of my work with him I have met dozens, actually hundreds, of people whose lives have been enriched by his help and support. I’ve also seen the effect he has on his staff, which has convinced me that our future King is a very good thing indeed. Gregory Doran Artistic director,
Royal Shakespeare Company
Prince Charles has been a great president of the RSC for 27 years. Every time he visits Stratford I am struck by how the company becomes charged with a particular energy. Hosting him was rather nerve-racking at first, until I realised that he was coming not just out of a sense of duty, but a genuine passion for theatre, and especially Shakespeare.
On one occasion I actually managed to get him onstage. It was a special gala in 2016 for Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary. Paapa Essiedu as Hamlet delivered the most famous line in the canon: ‘To be or not to be, that is the question’, and was then challenged as to how to stress the line by a distinguished list of Hamlets – David Tennant, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Kinnear and Ian Mckellen. Ultimately, the question is settled by the arrival of Prince Charles, upstaging everyone, and delivering a definitive stress on the last word. The Prince’s sense of fun and game determination to participate was quickly trending on Twitter. Sir Barry Gibb
Happy birthday, Your Royal Highness, this is a big one! From here on, things will appear a little different. The sense of formality will begin to collide with having fun. But then, I assume fun is always something you have inclined to. I feel this whenever we meet. From your love of The Goons and, of course, the fact that you’re always smiling. I have a deep and abiding admiration for you and I hope you have the happiest day.
I am 72, but I always pretend to be a year older than I am. This gives me an extra year to embrace it (psychologically, of course) – just a tip. As you’re probably not aware of how many times we’ve actually met, I suggest the kitchen at The Savoy in search of food, the polo match at Windsor, The Prince’s Trust, of course, and the visit to Buckingham Palace with my brother Robin. These various moments I will remember all my life. You have always been very kind to me. I thank you for that. Once again, happy birthday, Sir, and may you always smile and always search for fun.
Dame Martina Milburn Chief executive , The Prince’s Trust
When you see the Prince of Wales sitting, listening, empathising and engaging with young people from some of the most challenging backgrounds, you get a real sense of his true compassion, drive and strength of character. I’ve seen this first hand, in prisons, on housing estates, in rural and coastal communities and now in communities around the world.
It was his vision and passion that created The Prince’s Trust in 1976. Now, 42 years later, his charity is still making a difference to the life chances of vulnerable young people on a massive scale – 70,000 this year alone. His personal commitment drives us forward and compels us to make a greater difference.
Alan Titchmarsh Gardening presenter and writer
It has been rewarding to watch the Prince of Wales’s interest in gardening blossom. He has always been environmentally aware through channels such as The Prince’s Countryside Fund and without his personal intervention many locally important initiatives would have failed to survive and livelihoods would have been lost. His own garden at Highgrove, and the garden he has created with the help of the local community at Dumfries House in Ayrshire, have demonstrated his belief in the importance of gardening as food for the soul and as a catalyst for bringing communities together.
I’ve shared those joys with him, and we’ve also shared a frustration with slugs and snails on hostas, and can both bore for Britain when it comes to bemoaning the effects of box blight. But the Prince’s active involvement in monitoring plant health and preventing the importation of even more pests and diseases have helped to galvanise the horticultural industry into doing something about it. At the root of it all is a genuine passion for things that grow and a love of being outdoors. I wish more people understood just how devoted he is to ‘the green and pleasant land’ we call home. His input is not always visible, but it has made a real and valuable difference.
Gardening writer and author
I’ve met a lot of gardeners during my career, and the true gardener is always eager to get down and get dirty! This is definitely the case with HRH. He’s no shirker when it comes to hard work, often returning to the front door of Highgrove in a suit and whizzing straight out of the back door in wellies. Younger (and professional) gardeners say they often have to wipe the sweat off their brows as they struggle to keep up with the Prince while doing a challenging job, such as clearing undergrowth.
While writing the latest book on Highgrove with HRH, I quickly realised that he is a hands-on gardener and gets just as frustrated as the rest of us when plants are out of sorts, or is equally elated when everything looks magical. Prince Charles really cares about gardening, plants and horticulture generally, not just in creating Highgrove and his other gardens, but in opening them to the public and using his profile to help raise money for his charities. And he makes a big noise about the importance of treating the planet with respect; he started banging the drum loudly way before many. Long may he continue!
Julian and Isabel Bannerman Garden designers
At the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla, we gardeners sat with the gillies and the farmhands and found plenty of time to chat about our employer. We all acknowledged that the man we know is the pastoral prince, who befriended us in gardens, moorlands, woodlands. When he is with these people he might say, as Duke Senior does in As You Like It, that in such company there ‘is no flattery: these are counsellors that feelingly persuade me what I am’. No wonder Charles chose lines from this play for the inscription on the temple we built for him in 1996 at Highgrove. His human failings and demands are put in the shade by his kindness, curiosity, empathy, loyalty, diligence and devotion to duty. He could have been a playboy, but his self-education saved his sanity, and led him to champion the young, the dispossessed and our planet against privilege.
Adam Frost Garden designer and presenter of Gardeners’ World
For me, first and foremost, Prince Charles is a gardener with a huge passion for Mother Nature and is deeply concerned about how we treat her. And when you realise how much of what he’s said has actually come to pass, it’s both sad and scary.
Earlier this year I was invited to Highgrove for a meeting to discuss plant health and biosecurity. The room was full of lords, ladies, ministers and the great and the good from the horticultural world, and discussions were mainly about what we are failing to do about these issues as a country. Only one speaker’s words stayed with me. HRH came to the lectern without a note in his hand and in just 10 minutes demonstrated an incredible understanding of the subject, while also giving an insight into his passion, humour and sincerity.
After the speeches, I cheekily asked if he could help me get this worrying subject some airtime. He replied, ‘I
would be there like a shot,’ and within six weeks we had recorded an interview for Gardeners’ World. Prince Charles is evidently a man of his word who cares deeply about the countryside and understands that if we continue to mistreat it, we’ll end up depriving not only ourselves but, more worryingly, our children, our grandchildren and generations to come. Nicky Haslam
Interior designer and socialite
It is quite possible that today nobody knows what Prince Charles is really like, not even Prince Charles himself. For 70 years he has needed to devote his time and energy into not being himself, for much of it in a position in which nothing private should show. It is hardly his fault that his lifetime has seen the erosion of such privacy; the quid pro quo is that, understandably, he shows his feelings publicly.
He was born having great sensitivity and a quick mind, both of which are still his characteristics, and to which have been added an instinctive kindness, an insouciant sense of humour and, above all, being historically minded, a passionate, if sometimes over-traditional, knowledge and respect for every field of the arts. In some cases his opinions, often initially pooh-poohed, have been shown to be spot on; others deemed faintly cranky, but his is not a conventional mind and his outspokenness adds elan to national debate.
Prince Charles has two parents who are supremely good at their job. There is almost nowhere in the world they haven’t been, nothing on almost every level they haven’t experienced or enhanced, and are globally loved and respected. Hence there are far fewer opportunities for the great statement, the grand gesture, nonetheless the Prince of Wales has crafted his own unique persona. The last prince to bear that title had, if fleetingly, a new 20th-century world at his feet. Prince Charles has with subtlety, originality and tenacity kept the 21st century at his elbow. He knows and comments on what he likes and admires, and equally what upsets or irritates him. In this, he is most surely his own man, and a man of his time.
Colonel John Blashford-snell
Co-founder of Operation Drake and Operation Raleigh In 1975 HRH heard that two young Jersey men had won places on the Scientific Exploration Society expedition to the Zaire (Congo) River. ‘If you can do this for two, why not for 200,’ he suggested to the Society. Seeking to encourage the young with the challenges of war in peace, the Prince hoped to create young leaders who could be a positive influence in the world. It was his foresight and enthusiasm that launched Operation Drake, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation.
As patron, he raised considerable funds and inspired 400 young of many nations to take part in beneficial tasks overseas. Following its success, he encouraged a much larger repetition and Operation Raleigh (now Raleigh International) started in 1984. The 40,000 who have taken part include the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, a nurse who inspired Bob Geldof to create Band Aid, another who became Britain’s ambassador in Beijing, Tim Peake, the astronaut, and many who have aided developing communities and protected the environment and wildlife.
The task of being heir to the throne has never been an easy one in any age. Yet the Prince of Wales has managed to make the job his own, far exceeding the contributions made by all the other successful Princes of Wales in British history. His championing of initially unpopular or seemingly recondite causes has been undertaken with great passion and has been remarkable for its foresight, in that most of the causes he has chosen are now in the mainstream, and he is widely and correctly seen as having been far ahead of his time. Similarly, the breadth of his interests qualifies him as a genuine renaissance man, one of a dwindling breed. The work that he has done is one of the reasons that we revere the monarchy as an institution, and makes us proud to be British.
Lady Bamford Founder of Daylesford Organic
Prince Charles is a visionary. He began campaigning for organic farming and the need for sustainable practices at a time when being ‘green’ was still thought of as a bit alternative, controversial even. He foresaw the dangers of industrial farming and the need for change, and he spoke out. I have enormous respect for his determination; for his ability to stand firm and to drive forward his vision in the face of public criticism. He was one of the leaders of the organic movement in this country, galvanising and paving the way for change in the way it has been perceived, and amplifying the understanding of why it is so important for the future. He pursues his endeavours with an energy and a vigour that I admire hugely. And while there is a serious nature to the issues he fights for, behind his formal exterior there is a humour, a light-heartedness and a degree of self-deprecation. Anyone who has visited Highgrove may recall the sign that says, ‘Beware! You are now entering an old-fashioned establishment.’
Ben Pentreath Architect and interior designer
I first met the Prince of Wales when I was a young student at his extraordinary, radical and wonderful architectural school. For the hundreds of students who passed through its doors, it was an education like no other.
Years later, after working in New York, I returned to London and joined The Prince’s Foundation – the charity established by the Prince to promote his views on the built environment: that we must build sensitively, in harmony with the environment, and with a human scale.
Over the years we have worked on a number of projects for the Duchy of Cornwall. At Poundbury, the Prince’s experimental town on the edge of Dorchester, we have now designed the better part of 1,000 houses. The Prince remains extraordinarily engaged in the development and has a great interest in the detail of how things are designed.
His architectural leanings are complex and eclectic. To label him a ‘classicist’ is to misunderstand both the breadth of his interest and the depth of his knowledge of the living traditions of the building crafts. When the Prince first posited his views on how Poundbury should be built, he was labelled as irrelevant and reactionary. Twenty-five years on, his tremendous achievement is widely recognised and applauded.
Charlie Mayhew MBE
CEO and co-founder, Tusk
I first remember being presented to the Prince of Wales when I was the DJ at a charity ball back in the ’80s. Even then, his deep concern for the environment and climate change was evident, albeit often in the face of considerable scepticism. Thirty years on, he has been proved right and his original alarm calls are now regarded as mainstream thinking.
As CEO of Tusk, I am acutely aware that our own royal patron, Prince William, developed his passion for Africa and the wider natural world due to his father’s influence. As a result, Tusk and the entire conservation sector have benefitted from their collective involvement in highlighting the issues on the world stage.
In 2014, the Prince of Wales, along with his sons and the UK government, co-hosted the first international conference on tackling the illegal wildlife trade – an initiative that Tusk was proud to play a hand in instigating. Not long after, the Prince urged us to trial a pilot project to train wildlife rangers in anti-poaching interception and information-gathering techniques. The programme simply would not have happened without the Prince’s determination and the vital funding he provided via his charitable foundation. Tusk has now rolled this highly successful training out to 200 rangers across Africa.
Like father, like son, Prince William takes an equally proactive interest in everything we do. Their commitment to the natural world clearly runs deep.
Author and broadcaster
Over the last 25 years or more, I have got to know the heir to the throne pretty well. He is a remarkable individual, blessed with rare imagination and vision. Long driven by the need to ‘make a difference’, he has used his unique role entirely in the public interest. No one else has created so diverse a range of innovative, effective and flourishing charitable enterprises.
Over the last half century, he has pioneered ideas that were unfashionable at the time and for which he was mocked and vilified. A feebler spirit might have retreated but again and again he chose – with a grimace – to put his head above the parapet. Today, whether it is urban and rural communities, biodiversity or climate change, his passion for ‘harmony’ is now widely treated with respect by those who care about the parlous state of relations between humankind and the natural world. The nation owes this sensitive and courageous man for all seasons a huge debt of gratitude.
With Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arriving at Ascot, June 2018
With Theresa May at St James’s Palace, July 2018
Marking 100 years since the start of World War I, with David Cameron, August 2014 Handing over Hong Kong to China, alongside thenprime Minister Tony Blair, July 1997
Joining the RSC for agalato celebrate 400 years of the Bard, April 2016
Knighting Bee Gee Barry Gibb, June 2018
Hosting Cheryl Cole at a Clarence House charity event, July 2012
The temple in The Stumpery at Highgrove, June 2008
With Prince Harry in the grounds of Highgrove, July 1986
Overseeing the building of Poundbury, April 1999