Who is Britain’s King Charles III? | Features

The 73-year-old grandfather of five will serve as the king of the UK and 14 other Commonwealth sovereign states.

Charles Philip Arthur George, the prince of Wales before the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, is now officially known as King Charles III.

He was born on November 14, 1948, and is the first-born son of Elizabeth and Philip. As monarch, the 73-year-old grandfather of five will serve as the king of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth sovereign states.

Described by biographers as “a sensitive man”, it is said that he is a keen gardener and enjoys tending to the organic garden in his countryside manor.

He is also believed to be a skilled watercolour painter and has interests in traditional countryside practices such as hedge laying.

As a young man, commentators say he did not have much in common with his parents, relations of which would improve as he got older.

He studied in Britain and Australia, reading archaeology, anthropology and history at Trinity College, Cambridge in the late 1960s before becoming a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot.

King Charles
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Charles, then the prince of Wales [File: Toby Melville/Pool/Reuters]

Conducting royal service since the late 1970s, he was 30 years old when he married a shy 19-year-old nursery teacher named Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, a wedding that was watched by nearly 800 million people globally.

Two sons – Prince William, who was born on June 21 1982, and Prince Harry, born on September 15, 1984 – followed before the couple divorced in 1992.

Speculation about Prince Charles’s relationship with a former girlfriend named Camilla Parker Bowles continued after the divorce but it was not until 2005 that the couple finally took the step and tied the knot.

The prince has had to weather many scandals during the years, including after the death of Princess Diana in a car accident in Paris in 1996, as well as defending controversial comments and gaffes he has been criticised for.

Analysts say that as the king-in-waiting, the royals in recent years have been working to cultivate a particular image of him.

Diana and Charles
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer pose for photographs [File: Pool/AP Photo]

Laura Clancy, a lecturer in media at Lancaster University and author of Running the Family Firm: How the Monarchy Manages Its Image and Our Money, told Al Jazeera: “There have been concerted efforts to remake Charles’ image from the 1980s and 1990s, when the news around Diana was making him quite unpopular.”

“More recently, he seems to be being pictured as a grandfather – his 70th birthday photos, for example, included him sitting with his grandchildren in his garden and feeding chickens. This mirrors the kind of images we’ve seen of the queen as grandmother to the nation,” she added.

A founder and patron of a number of charities that focus on areas such as supporting young entrepreneurs, the natural and built environment and education, polls often showed his popularity remained relatively low compared with the queen and his son Prince William.

Having once said the most important thing about being king will be to have concern for people and provide some form of leadership, there have already been signs of the leadership qualities he will bring to the role.

“The most obvious example is when he stepped in for the queen at the state opening of Parliament earlier this year,” said Clancy. “This was perhaps the first time he stepped in publicly as monarch. There have been many reports over the past few years of Charles’s political opinions and how he is more vocal than his mother, who has always been very silent on political issues. It will be interesting to see how this plays out now that he is king.”

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