British Royalty: Prince Charles (1948- )

Figure 1.--Prince Charles was photographed here at about age 3. At that age he often wore dressy blouses, button-on shorts, ankle socks, and strap shoes.

Charles, Prince of Wales (1948- ), is the current heir to the British throne. Prince Charles, of course, has two of the most famous parents in the world. He will become King Charles III on either the abdication or death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. He had more trouble than his sister sister dealing with the frequent absences and somewhat aloof. Charles also had trouble making the transition to boarding schools. And for his public (private secndary) school, his father chose a totally unsuitable school-- Gordonstoun. Not to say there was anything wrong with the school, it was just not the right school for Charles. He was a bachleor for several years, but then was involved in atorybook romance with Diana Spencer. The royal couple had two children--William and Henry. The split and subsequehnt divorce came as a great shock to the British public and the two boys. No matter what one might think about the Charles and Diane personally, they were both wonderful parents. And the boys as they are now maturing show that.


Prince Charles, of course, has two of the most famous parents in the world. Queen Elizabeth rose to throne after the untimely death of her father, George Vi, who led Britain through World war II. Pribcess Elizabeth had awonderful childhood with two loving parents. She and her sister were with her parents during the darl days of World War II. Upon becoming queen she pledged to put her country first, which she did--sometimes to the detrimnt of her children. She is now one of the longest-serving British monarchs. Prince OPhilip had a much rockier childhood. He was Greek prince from a German family. As a boy he returned to Germany and could have become a Hitler Youth boy--but decided to go with his British relatives. His romance with Princess Elizabeth was a storybook romance. Prince Philip has many admirable characteristics, but had trouble as a father with Charles.

Queen Elizabeth

The Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Marie, born April 21, 1926, is the eldest daughter of George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She married Philip Mountbatten, a distant cousin, in 1947; the pair have four children: Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne, Andrew and Edward. In 2002 she achieved the milestone of being oin the throbe for 50 years. She appears capable of remaining on the throne for quite some time. Monarchy, as an institution in Europe, all but disappeared during the two World Wars: a scant ten monarchs remain today, seven of which have familial ties to England. Queen Elizabeth is, by far, the best known of these, and is the most widely traveled Head of State in the world. Her ascension was accompanied by constitutional innovation; each independent, self-governing country proclaimed Elizabeth, Queen of their individual state. She approves of the transformation from Empire to Commonwealth, describing the change as a "beneficial and civilized metamorphosis." The indivisibility of the crown was formally abandoned by statute in 1953, and "Head of the Commonwealth" was added to the long list of royal titles which she possesses.

Prince Phillip

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, was born Prince of Greece and Denmark in Corfu on 10 June 1921; the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece. His paternal family is of Danish descent. Prince Andrew was the grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark. His mother was Princess Alice of Battenberg, the eldest child of Prince Louis of Battenberg and sister of Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Prince Louis became a naturalised British subject in 1868, joined the Royal Navy and rose to become an Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord in 1914. During the First World War he changed the family name to Mountbatten and was created Marquess of Milford Haven. Prince Philip adopted the family name of Mountbatten when he became a naturalised British subject and renounced his Royal title in 1947. Prince Louis married one of Queen Victoria's granddaughters. Thus, The Queen and Prince Philip both have Queen Victoria as a Great-great-grandmother. They are also related through his father's side. His paternal grandfather, King George I of Greece, was Queen Alexandra's brother.


Prince Charles was born at Buckingham Palace on November 14, 1948. He was christened Charles Philip Arthur George. When, on the accession of Queen Elizabeth in 1952, he became heir apparent, Prince Charles automatically became Duke of Cornwall under a charter of King Edward III dating back to 1337, which gave that title to the Sovereign's eldest son. He also became, in the Scottish Peerage, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick and Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. Prince Charles shattered an ancient royal tradition at his birth. He was the first heir to the throne of modern times to not be born in the presence of the government's Home Secretary, a custom since abolished.

Figure 2.--Princess Anne and Prince Charles are pictured here about 1957. Charles was bout 9 years old and wears a neatly tailored short pants suit.


Charles and his sisters, like his predecessors, were largely raised by nannies. One nanny was fired for being to permissive. His mother made several long trips and they were separated for months at a time. She was not involved in their day to day care. Charles' most prominent feature are his extreemly large ears. Lord Mountbatten more than once begged his parents to have the large and prominent ears restricted by minor surgery. Nothing was done, and throughout the prince's childhood and youth he suffered agonies of embarrassment. He was relentlessly teased, especially at Gordonston.

Boyhood Clothes

Considerable information exists on Charles' boyhood clothes as every thing about the royal family was so closeky followed by the British press.


Charles as pre-schooler was often dressed in blouses and shorts. The blouses generally had relatively plain styling, inclusding small collars. Theyvwere short sleeves with only a touch of puff styling.

Short pants

Charles mostly wore short pants as a boy. As a younger boy he often was dressed in Mary Jane strap sandals and white socks--usually white ankle socks for dressy occasions.

Sailor suits

Charles did not commonly wear sailor suits like his father and grandfather. He did occasionally wear them as a younger boy, often long pants sailor suits. Biut Charles was the first royal prince not to commonly wear sailor suits.


Charles did often wear kilts. He most often wore them at family outings at Balmoral. Interestingly, his younger brothers, Andrew and Edward did not wear kilts nearly as much. Most of the available photographs of them in kilts are for ceremonial occassions. Charles continued to often appear in kilts as a boy and teenager. In fact he still wears them on occassion, unlike his sons who are virtually never pictured in kilts.

Figure 3.--Charles was the first member of the British royal family to attend a preparatory school along with commoners of his own age. Previously the princes and princesses had been tutored at home.


Charles in some respects had a pioneering royal childhood. While his mother like other royal children was educated within the confines of the Palace and Windsor Castle, Charles went to a private pre-preparatory school in London's Knightsbridge (Hill House). This was a precedent-making decission made to keep pace with changing times. His male predecesors had been schooled at home and then thrown into some rather tough military schools, where they encountered all sorts of difficulties adjusting. After Hill House he boarded at his preparatory school (Cheam). He was reportedly homesick there and constantly looked forward to visits home. He wore short pants school uniforms at both Hill House and Cheam. Prince Pillip was reportedly not please with his son's lack of progress with sports. In fact he considered his sister Anne to be more aggresive and courageous. (One of many examples of difficulties between British kings and their sons.) This was part of the reason that Prince Philip insisted on Charles going to his rigorous Scottish Public School--Gordenston. Charles went to Gordonstoun in the rugged north of Scotland during the 1960s. Gordonstoun is one of Britain's elite private secondary (Public) schools and is famed for its rugged character-building routine of work and physical discipline. The boys had to carry a note pad writing down daily notes on taking cold showers or the phsical exercizes completed. This was in sharp contrast to the permissive trends other boys were experiencing in the 1960s. He went to Gordonstoun mainly because of the wishes of his father. Charles was shy and had difficulty making friends. He was relentlessly teased about his ears. This and other problems were decribed by many commentators and news reports. The Gordonstoun uniform included shorts as an everyday school uniform. The boys also wore kilts for church and other formal events. After taking his end of school exams ("O"-levels) Prince Charles went to a prestigious Australian school called Timbertops. Remote from Gordonstoun in ever way, Charles was very happy there and flourished amongst his school friends.

Prince of Wales

The Prince was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester in 1958. In 1968, The Prince of Wales was installed as a Knight of the Garter. The Duke of Rothesay (as he is known in Scotland) was appointed a Knight of the Thistle in 1977.


Charles was born in 1948, after his Grandfather King George VI had fallen ill. As a result, he did not have a close relatioinship with him. He did, however, develop a close relationship with his grandmother. Of all the royal children, the Queen Mother was probably cloest to Prince Charles than the other royal cildren and he to her. Queen Elizabeth gave less attention to her son that her mother had given to her. In part this was due to her responsibilities as the ruling soveign, but perhaps her interest lay more with royal than maternal duties. Some say that Charles looked on his grandmother as the mother he never had and she looked on him as the son which she never had. She and Charles repotedly loved to gi fishing together while in Scotland.

Lord Mounbatten

Prince Charles was also very close to Lord Moubattn, with whom he found it easier to talk with than his father Prince Philip.

Military Service

After a brief spell in the Royal Air Force, Charles joined the Royal Navy and followed in the tradition of his father and the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Charles' great friend and confidant. Charles was able to speak with Earl Mountbatten as he was never able to speak with his own father. Charles started off as a junior officer, moving on to flying and then commanding his own ship. He greatly enjoyed his time in the navy and his life as an officer far away from the relentless newspaper cameramen and public life.

Public Service

Charles left the Navy in 1977 and took up his public duties in earnest (1977) This he has continued to this day. He has a very keen sense of duty, fulfilling his motto "Ich Dien", ("I Serve"). Charles first real public project, the Prince's Trust, brought him into close contact with Britain's poor and deprived and instilled in him a sensitivity for issues for which he is now well known, including environmental protection and the development of young people. Today he is best bknown for his outspoken support of action on climate change. He has loudly supported actions with out real concern about actual proven efficacy or economic impact. Rge Queen has cautiined him about stepping beyond the normal role of the monarcy into political advacy. Charles acknowlgdes this, but says that this is approriate while he is Pribce of Wales ans he would not continue this as king.

Lady Diana Spencer (1961-97)

Diana was born at Park House, Sandringham in Norfolk (1961). Her dather was Edward John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, later John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer. Her mother was Frances Spencer, Viscountess Althorp (formerly the Honourable Frances Burke Roche, and later Frances Shand Kydd). She was Spencer's first wife. Diana was their youngest daughter, but there were two more children in father's second marriage. Her siblings included: The Lady Sarah Spencer (1955- ), The Lady Jane Spencer (1957- ), The Honourable John Spencer (1960- ), and Charles Spencer (1964- ). Diana became very close to Charles. Their parents had an extremely acrimonious divorce (1969). Lady Althorp had an affair with wallpaper heir Peter Shand Kydd. Diana's mother after the separation took her and Charles (her youngest brother) to live in an apartment in Knightsbridge (a tony London district). Diana attended a nearby day school. All the Spencer children joined their father for Christmas. He did not allow Diana and Charles to return to their mother in London. She sued for custody. The resulting trial went bad for Lady Althorp, especally after her mother testified against her. The court awarded custody to Lord Spencer. He became romantically involved with Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, the single daughter of the prolific romantic novelist Barbara Cartland. After he was named as the "other party" in the Dartmouths' divorce, Lord Spencer married her. Diana and the other children did not get on with her new stepmother. As aresult, her childhood was somewhat unsettled. She bounced back and forth between her parents. She spent time with her father in Northamptonshire. And also with her mother. Lady Althorp moved from London to the Island of Seil (west coast of Scotland). Diana attended West Heath (a private secondary) School in Kent. This was followed by a finishing school in Switzerland. She did not excell academically. She was noted, however, for her determination and bubly personality. When she returned to London and rented an apartment with two close friends. She began working at a nursery school teacher at the Young England Kindergarten. By all acounts, she was very good at. It was at this time she entered the public lime light because she was seen with the Prince if Wales.

Marriage (1981)

Charles married Lady Diana Spencer on July 21, 1981, in St. Paul's Cathedral. It was one of the most widely reported weddings of the 20th century It was a story book romance, however, their mairrage was not. The sad decline of their marriage has been the subject of massive international press speculation, an intrusion which could not have helped the matter. The press generally side with Diana. And it is true that Charles behaved abominally. We have no desire to dredge up the details here. They are recounted on inumerable web sites for the curious. It does need to be said that Diana was very young. And she appears to have felt the right to change Charles into her image of the perfect husband rather than accept and supoort him. It was a rescipe for disaster.


Charles and Diana had two healthy sons and potential heirs. Less than a year after their wedding, Diana gave birth to William Arthur Philip Louis (1982). And 2 years later, Henry ("Harry") Charles Albert David arrived (1984). In sharp contrast to their own childhood experiences, Charles and Diana in their own ways and despite their personal problems proved to be exemplery parents--each in their own way. The boys were dressed in rather stylishly old fshioned clothes before William began school. They were often dressed identically. After that they tended to wear the standard outfits worn by well-to-do British children. William, second in line to the throne, and Henry had their own face their own problems in dealing with the press, both as children bd now as young adults. Both boys, especially Prince Harry, have had their misteps, but given theur age and intense scrutiny, have done rather well. This is in large measure a tribute to their parents. Given the circumstances, it could have been very different. William is a real heart throbe. Harry had aeal mistep with his NAZI getup at a party, but more than redeemed himself with his military service in Iraq.


The marriage of The Prince and Princess of Wales was dissolved onAugust 28, 1996. The divorse went badly for Dina. She was killed in an accident while with her boyfriend, Dodi Al Fayed). The chauffer was trying to evade the paparazzi. He crashed the car at high speed into a pillar of the tunnel under the Pont de l'Alma bridge in Paris. She was not wearing her seat belt and was very badly injured. Sge died in the hospital despite efforts to save her. She was only 36 years old. The tragedy shocked Britain and the the world.


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Created: February 26, 1999
Last updated: 4:41 PM 1/30/2020