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The crown passes: Charles III takes centrestage



LONDON: Prince Charles has been preparing for the crown his entire life. Now, at age 73, that moment has finally arrived. Charles, the oldest person to ever ascend the British throne, became King Charles III on Thursday following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. No date has been set for his coronation.
After an apprenticeship that began as a child, Charles embodies the modernisation of the British monarchy. He was the first heir not educated at home, the first to earn a university degree and the first to grow up in the ever-intensifying glare of the media as deference to royalty faded. He also alienated many with his messy divorce from the much-loved Princess Diana, and by straining the rules that prohibit royals from intervening in public affairs, wading into debates on issues such as environmental protection and architectural preservation, “He now finds himself in, if you like, the autumn of his life, having to think carefully about how he projects his image as a public figure,” said historian Ed Owens. “He’s nowhere near as popular as his mother. ” Charles must figure out how to generate the “public support, a sense of endearment” that characterised the relationship Elizabeth had with the British public, Owens said.
Prince Charles Philip Arthur George was born November 14, 1948, in Buckingham Palace. When his mother acceded to the throne in 1952, the 3-yearold prince became the Duke of Cornwall. He became Prince of Wales at 20. His school years were unhappy, with the future king being bullied by classmates at Gordonstoun, a Scottish boarding school that prides itself on building character through vigorous outdoor activitiesand educated his father, Philip.
Charles studied history at Cambridge University’s Trinity College, where in 1970 he became the first British royal to earn a university degree. He then spent seven years in uniform, training as a Royal Air Force pilot before joining the Royal Navy, where he learned to fly helicopters. He ended his military career as commander of the HMS Bronington, a minesweeper, in 1976.
Ashy boy with a domineering father, Charles grew into a sometimes-awkward, understated man who is nevertheless confident in his own opinions. Unlike his mother, who refused to publicly discuss her views, Charles has delivered speeches and written articles on issues close to his heart, such as climate change, green energy and alternative medicine. His accession to the throne is likely to fuel debate about the future of Britain’s largely ceremonial monarchy, seen by some as a symbol of national unity and others as an obsolete vestige of feudal history. Charles, who will be the head of state for the UK and 14 other countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, has said he intends to reduce the number of working royals, cut expenses and better represent modern Britain. But tradition matters, too, for a man whose office previously described the monarchy as “the focal point for national pride, unity and allegiance”.
It took years for many to forgive Charles for his admitted infidelity to Diana before “the people’s princess” died in a Paris car crash in 1997. Although wife Camilla played a significant role in the breakup of Charles and Diana, her self-deprecating style and salt-of-theearth sense of humour eventually won over many Britons.
Charles increasingly stood in for the queen in her twilight years. In 2018, he was named the queen’s designated successor as head of the Commonwealth, an association of 54 nations with links to the British Empire. The process accelerated after the death of her husband, Prince Philip, on April 9, 2021. As the queen’s health declined, he sometimes stepped in at the last moment. Camilla said in a 2018 documentary that Charles was comfortable with the prospect of being king. “He’s always known it’s going to come, and Idon’t think it does weigh heavily on his shoulders at all. ”


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Date: September 9, 2022