Letters to the Editor

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bio's on HRH Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George; born November 14 1948) is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay. He is the longest-serving heir apparent in British history, having held this status since 1952. 

Charles was educated at Cheam and Gordonstoun Schools, which his father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, had attended as a child, as well as the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Australia. After earning a bachelor of arts degree from Trinity College, Cambridge, Charles served a tour of duty with the Royal Navy from 1971 to 1976. 

Charles married Lady Diana Spencer before an enormous worldwide television audience in 1981. They had two sons, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge in 1982 and Prince Harry of Wales in 1984. The couple separated in 1992 following tabloid allegations concerning their relationship. They divorced in 1996 after Diana publicly accused Charles of having an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, and Charles admitted adultery on television. Diana died in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997. In 2005, after a lengthy continued association, the Prince married Camilla, who uses the title Duchess of Cornwall.

The prince is well known for his humanitarian and social concerns, and sponsors The Prince's Trust, The Prince's Regeneration Trust, and the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment, and is patron of many other charities. For many years, the Prince has championed organic farming and sought to raise world awareness of the dangers facing the natural environment, such as climate change. He has been outspoken concerning the role of architecture in society and the conservation of historic buildings, and produced a book on the subject called A Vision of Britain (1989). He has also promoted herbal and other alternative medical treatment

Charles was born at Buckingham Palace on 14 November 1948 at 9.14 pm , the first child of then Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and first grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Baptised in the palace's Music Room on December 15, 1948, using water from the River Jordan, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher.

By letters patent of Charles' great-grandfather, King George V, the titles of a British prince or princess, and the style Royal Highness, were only to be conferred on male-line children and grandchildren of the sovereign, as well as the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. However, on October 22, 1948, George VI issued new letters patent granting these honours to any children of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip; otherwise, Charles would have merely taken his father's title, and been titled by courtesy as Earl of Merioneth. In this way the children of the heiress presumptive had a royal and princely status.

When Charles was aged three his mother's accession as Queen Elizabeth II made him heir apparent to the then seven realms of which she was queen. As the sovereign's eldest son, he automatically took the titles Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, in addition to being a prince of the United Kingdom. Charles attended his mother's coronation at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, seated alongside his grandmother and aunt. As is customary for royal offspring, a governess, Catherine Peebles, was appointed and undertook his education between the ages of five and eight. Buckingham Palace announced in 1955 that Charles would attend school rather than have a private tutor, making him the first heir apparent ever to be educated in that manner.
Charles first attended Hill House School in West London, receiving non-preferential treatment from the school's founder and then head, Stuart Townend, who advised the Queen to have Charles train in football, as the boys at Hill House were never deferential to anyone on the football field. The Prince then attended his father's former school, the Cheam Preparatory School in Berkshire, England; and was finally moved to Gordonstoun, in the north-east of Scotland. Reportedly the Prince despised his time at the latter school – "Colditz in kilts", as Charles put it – though he did spend two of his terms at the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Geelong, Australia, during which time he visited Papua New Guinea on a history trip with his tutor, Michael Collins Persse. Upon his return to Gordonstoun, Charles emulated his father in becoming Head Boy, and left in 1967 with two A Levels in History and French.

Tradition was broken again when Charles proceeded straight from secondary school into university, as opposed to joining the Armed Forces. On the recommendation of Robin Woods, Dean of Windsor, and despite only gaining grades of B and C in his A Levels, the Prince was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge University, where he read anthropology, archaeology, and history, tutored by Canadian-born Professor John Coles. He graduated with a 2:2 Bachelor of Arts on June 23, 1970, the third Royal Family member to earn a university degree. On  August 2, 1975 he was subsequently awarded a Master of Arts Degree from Cambridge, per the university's tradition. During his tertiary, Charles also attended the Old College (part of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth), studying the Welsh language and Welsh history. He is the first Prince of Wales born outside of Wales ever to attempt to learn the language of the principality.
Charles was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on July 26, 1958, though his investiture as such was not conducted until July 1, 1969, wherein he was crowned by his mother in a televised ceremony held at Caernarfon Castle, and gave his replies and speech in both Welsh and English. A Welsh nationalist campaign opposed to the investiture tried unsuccessfully to disrupt the ceremony. The following year he took his seat in the House of Lords, and later in the decade became the first member of the Royal Family since King George I to attend a British Cabinet meeting, having been invited by Prime Minister James Callaghan so that the Prince might see the workings of the British government and Cabinet at first hand. Charles also began to take on more public duties, founding his The Prince's Trust in 1976, and travelling to the United States in 1981.

Around the same time the Prince expressed an interest in serving as Governor-General of Australia; Commander Michael Parker explained: "The idea behind the appointment was for him to put a foot on the ladder of monarchy, or being the future King and start learning the trade." However, because of a combination of nationalist feeling in Australia and the dismissal of the government by the Governor-General in 1975, nothing came of the proposal. Charles accepted the decision of the Australian ministers, if not without some regret; he reportedly stated: "What are you supposed to think when you are prepared to do something to help and you are told you are not wanted?" Conversely, Tom Gallagher wrote that Charles had been offered the Romanian throne by monarchists in that country; an offer that was reportedly turned down. The Romanian press again picked up this story in autumn 2011, but Buckingham Palace denied the reports.

The Prince is at present the oldest man to hold the title of Prince of Wales since it became the title granted to the heir apparent. He is also the oldest and longest-serving heir apparent in Commonwealth realms' history and the third longest serving Prince of Wales in British history behind George IV and Edward VII, whom he will pass on October 10, 2017 if he is still Prince of Wales on that date. If he ascends to the throne after  September 18, 2013, Charles would be the oldest monarch of the United Kingdom to do so; only William IV was older when he became monarch than Charles is now.

Following in the tradition of Princes of Wales before him, Charles spent time in the navy and air force. After Royal Air Force training that he requested and received during his second year at Cambridge, on March 8, 1971 the Prince flew himself to the Royal Air Force College Cranwell to train as a jet pilot. After the passing out parade in September of that year, he then embarked on a naval career, enrolling in a six–week course at the Royal Naval College Dartmouth and then serving on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk (1971–1972) and the frigates HMS Minerva (1972–1973) and HMS Jupiter (1974). Charles also qualified as a helicopter pilot at RNAS Yeovilton in 1974, just prior to joining 845 Naval Air Squadron, operating from HMS Hermes, and on February 9, 1976 the Prince took command of the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington for his last nine months in the navy. Prince Charles learned to fly on a Chipmunk basic pilot trainer, a BAC Jet Provost jet trainer, and a Beagle Basset multi-engined trainer, he then regularly flew the Hawker Siddeley Andover, Westland Wessex and BAe 146 aircraft of The Queen's Flight.

Prince Charles' love life was always the subject of speculation and press fodder. In his youth, he was linked to a number of women, including Georgiana Russell, daughter of the British Ambassador to Spain; Lady Jane Wellesley; Davina Sheffield; Fiona Watson, a model; Susan George; Lady Sarah Spencer; Princess Marie-Astrid of Luxembourg; Dale, Baroness Tryon; Janet Jenkins, Jane Ward and Camilla Shand, who later became his second wife.

Charles was given written advice on dating and the selection of a future consort from his father's "Uncle Dickie", Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma: "In a case like yours, the man should sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can before settling down, but for a wife he should choose a suitable, attractive, and sweet-charactered girl before she has met anyone else she might fall for... It is disturbing for women to have experiences if they have to remain on a pedestal after marriage." Mountbatten, with George VI's consort Queen Elizabeth, had arranged the first documented meeting of Charles' parents at Dartmouth Royal Naval College on July 22, 1939. In early 1974, Mountbatten began corresponding with Charles about a potential marriage to Mountbatten's granddaughter, Hon. Amanda Knatchbull, and recommended that the 25-year-old prince get done with his bachelor's experimentation. Charles dutifully wrote to Amanda's mother, Lady Brabourne (who was also his godmother), about his interest in her daughter, to which she replied approvingly, though suggesting that a courtship was premature.

This did not daunt Mountbatten, who, four years later, obtained an invitation for himself and Amanda to accompany Charles on his 1980 tour of India. Both fathers, however, objected; Philip complaining that the Prince of Wales would be eclipsed by his famous uncle (who had served as the last British Viceroy and first Governor-General of India), while Lord Brabourne warned that a joint visit would rivet media attention on the cousins before they could decide on becoming a couple, thereby potentially dashing the very prospect for which Mountbatten hoped. However, before Charles was to depart alone for India, Mountbatten was killed by the IRA in August 1979. When Charles returned, he proposed to Amanda. However, in addition to her grandfather, she had lost her paternal grandmother and youngest brother Nicholas in the attack and now recoiled from the prospect of becoming a core member of the Royal Family. In June 1980 Charles officially turned down Chevening House, placed at his disposal since 1974, as his future residence. Chevening, a stately home in Kent, was bequeathed, along with an endowment, to the Crown by the last Earl Stanhope, Amanda's childless great-uncle, in the hope that Charles would eventually occupy it.

Although Charles first met Lady Diana Spencer in 1977—while visiting Diana's home, Althorp, as the companion of her elder sister, Sarah—he did not consider her romantically until the summer of 1980. While sitting together on a bale of hay at a friend's barbecue in July he mentioned Mountbatten's death, to which Diana replied that Charles had looked forlorn and in need of care during his uncle's funeral. Soon, according to Charles' chosen biographer, Jonathan Dimbleby, "without any apparent surge in feeling, he began to think seriously of her as a potential bride." She accompanied the Prince on visits to Balmoral and Sandringham, eliciting enthusiastic responses from most of the Royal Family.

Although the Queen offered Charles no direct counsel, his cousin Norton Knatchbull (Amanda's eldest brother) and his wife, Penny, did. But Charles was angered by their objections that he did not seem in love with Diana and that she seemed too awestruck by his position. Meanwhile, the couple continued dating, amidst constant press speculation and paparazzi coverage. When Prince Philip told him that the intrusive media attention would injure her reputation if he did not come to a decision about marrying her soon, and realising that Diana met the Mountbatten criteria (and, apparently, the public's) for a proper royal bride, Charles construed his father's advice as a warning to proceed without further delay.

Prince Charles proposed to Diana in February 1981, she accepted, and when he asked her father for her hand, he consented. The Queen, and the British and Canadian privy councils gave the required legal approval, and, July 29, Charles and Diana were married at St Paul's Cathedral, before 3,500 invited guests and an estimated worldwide television audience of 750 million people. The couple made their homes at Kensington Palace and at Highgrove House, near Tetbury. 

Almost immediately, the new Princess of Wales became a star attraction; she was chased by paparazzi, and her every move was followed by millions through the mass media. The couple had two children: Princes William (born June 21, 1982) and Henry (known as "Harry") (born September 15, 1984). Charles set precedent by being the first royal father to be present at his children's births. Persistent suggestions have been made that the father of Harry is not Charles but James Hewitt with whom Diana had an affair. These suggestions have been based on a physical similarity between Hewitt and Harry. However Hewitt stated to the press in 2002 that Harry had already been born by the time the affair between him and Diana began.

The union between the Prince and Princess of Wales soon became troubled; within five years, the "fairytale" marriage was on the brink of collapse. The couple's incompatibility, 13 years' age difference and Diana's obsession with Charles' previous girlfriend, Camilla Shand, became visible and damaging to their marriage. In response to the succour sought by the Prince, Diana responded in kind. Charles, however, was also blamed for the marital troubles, as he began an adulterous affair with Camilla. 

Though they remained a couple in public, Charles and Diana had effectively separated by the late 1980s, the Prince living in Highgrove and the Princess at Kensington Palace. Their increased periods apart and obvious discomfort in each other's presence began to be noticed by the media, and this, plus evidence and recriminations of infidelity, were published in tabloid newspapers and broadcast on the news. 

By 1992, the marriage was over in all but name; in December of that year, British Prime Minister John Major announced in the British parliament their formal separation, after which the media began to take sides, starting what came to be known as the War of the Waleses. In October 1993, Diana wrote to a friend that she believed her husband was now in love with Tiggy Legge-Bourke, his sons' nanny, and wanted to marry her. Charles and Diana formally divorced on August 28, 1996.

A year later, on August 31, 1997, Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris, along with her companion Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul. The Prince of Wales flew to Paris, with Diana's sisters, to accompany his ex-wife's body back to Britain.

In 1993 the British tabloids came into the possession of recordings of a 1989 telephone conversation between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles, in which Charles expressed regret for the indignities she had endured because of her relationship with him, and which revealed graphic expressions of physical intimacy between the two.

After years of suffering the public wrath for being Diana's misery, a public image makeover was undertaken by Charles's staff in the early 2000's, culminating in Clarence House announcing February 10, 2005 that Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles were engaged. The Prince presented her with an engagement ring that had belonged to his grandmother. In a Privy Council meeting on March 2nd, the Queen's consent to the marriage (as required by the Royal Marriages Act 1772) was recorded. In Canada, however, the Department of Justice announced its decision that the Queen's Privy Council for Canada was not required to meet to give its consent to the marriage, as the union would not result in offspring and thus would have no impact on the succession to the Canadian throne. 

The marriage was to have been on April 8 of that year, and was to take place in a civil ceremony at Windsor Castle, with a subsequent religious blessing at St George's Chapel. But, because the conduct of a civil marriage at Windsor Castle would oblige the venue thereafter to be available to anyone wishing to be married there, the location was changed to the Windsor Guildhall. On April 4 it was announced that the marriage would be delayed by one day to allow for the Prince of Wales and some of the invited dignitaries to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Charles' parents did not attend the marriage ceremony; the Queen's reluctance to attend arising from her position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh did, however, attend the service of blessing, and held a reception for the newlyweds at Windsor Castle, afterwards.

A unique feature during the Blessing of Charles and Camilla's marriage by the Archbishop of Canterbury was the inclusion of the strongest act of penitence from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The royal couple led the congregation in declaring:
We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we, from time to time, have committed by word, thought and deed, against thy Divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us.
The wedding made Charles the first member of the Royal Family to have a civil, rather than religious, wedding in England. Official documents from the 1950s and 1960s had been published by the BBC that stated such a marriage was illegal, though these were dismissed by Clarence House, and explained to be obsolete by the sitting government.

In his years as heir apparent, the Prince of Wales has taken on a wide array of interests and activities, and devoted his time and effort to charity work and collaborating with local communities. Since founding The Prince's Trust, he established fifteen more charitable organizations, and now serves as president of all of those, plus two others; together, these form a loose alliance called The Prince's Charities, which claim to raise over £110 million annually. Charles is also patron of over 350 other charities and organizations, and carries out duties related to these throughout the Commonwealth realms; for example, he uses his tours of Canada as a way to help draw attention to youth, the disabled, the environment, the arts, medicine, the elderly, heritage conservation, and education.

The Prince of Wales has frequently shared his views on architecture and urban planning in public forums, claiming to "care deeply about issues such as the environment, architecture, inner-city renewal, and quality of life." He is known to be an advocate of neo-traditional ideas, such as those of Christopher Alexander and Leon Krier, which were illustrated in his 1984 attack on the British architectural community in a speech given to the Royal Institute of British Architects, describing a proposed extension to the National Gallery in London as a "monstrous carbuncle". Charles also published a book and created a documentary entitled A Vision of Britain, which critiqued some aspects of modern architecture. Despite criticism from the professional architectural press, the Prince has continued to put forward his views, stressing traditional urbanism, the need for human scale, and the restoration of historic buildings as an integrated element of new development and sustainable design. Two of the Charles' charities in particular forward his theories on design: The Prince's Regeneration Trust (formed by a merger of Regeneration Through Heritage and the Phoenix Trust in 2006) and The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment (which absorbed The Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture in 2001). Further, the village of Poundbury was created at the instigation of Prince Charles, with a master plan by Leon Krier.

Charles assisted with the establishment of a national trust for the built environment in Canada after lamenting, in 1996, the unbridled destruction of many of the country's historic urban cores. He offered his assistance to the Department of Canadian Heritage in the creation of a trust modelled on Britain's National Trust, a plan that was implemented with the passage of the 2007 Canadian federal budget. In 1999, the Prince also agreed to offer the use of his title to the Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership, awarded by the Heritage Canada Foundation to municipal governments that have shown sustained commitment to the conservation of historic places. Charles has also been the recipient of awards for his efforts in regard to architecture, such as the National Building Museum's Vincent Scully Prize he received in 2005, while visiting the United States and touring southern Mississippi and New Orleans to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina; he donated $25,000 of the prize money to help restore communities damaged by the storm.

Starting in 1997 the Prince of Wales also visited Romania to view and draw attention to some of the destruction caused during the Communist rule of Nicolae Ceauşescu, particularly Orthodox monasteries and Saxon villages of Transylvania, where he purchased a house. Charles also became patron of two Romanian built environment organisations: the Mihai Eminescu Trust and the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture, and Urbanism, an advocate of architecture that respects cultural tradition and identity. Charles also has  deep understanding of Islamic art and architecture, and has been involved in the construction of a building and garden at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies which combine Islamic and Oxford architectural styles.

Charles' involvement in architecture has also attracted controversy, especially his personal intervention to redesign projects whose architectural style or approach he has disagreed with. He has been especially opposed to styles such as modernism and functionalism. Richard Rogers, recipient of the Pritzker Prize and Stirling Prize, has described the Prince's personal intervention in projects as "an abuse of power" and "unconstitutional". In 2009 Charles wrote a letter to the Qatari royal family, the developers of the Chelsea Barracks site to be designed by Rogers, that suggested his design was "unsuitable". Subsequently, Rogers was removed from the project and The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment was appointed to propose an alternative. Rogers has also claimed the Prince intervened to stop his designs for the Royal Opera House and Paternoster Square.

Charles' personal interventions have attracted critique from prominent members of the architectural community. Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid, Jacques Herzog, Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano, and Frank Gehry among others wrote a letter to The Sunday Times to this effect; each is a recipient of the Pritzker Prize. They wrote that "private comments" and "behind-the-scenes lobbying" by the Prince counteracted the "open and democratic planning process" in the case of the Chelsea Barracks project. Similarly, Piers Gough CBE and other architects wrote a letter encouraging colleagues to boycott Charles' address to the Royal Institute of British Architects, with Gough calling Charles' views on architecture "elitist".

Since the early 1980s, Charles has taken a keen interest in environmental issues, taking a leadership role in promoting environmentally sensitive thinking. Upon his moving into his Highgrove estate, he became increasingly focused on organic farming, an attention that culminated in the 1990 launch of his own organic brand: Duchy Originals, which now sells more than 200 different sustainably produced products, from food to garden furniture, the profits from which (£6 million, as of 2008) are donated to The Prince's Charities. 

Documenting this work on his estate, Charles co-authored (with Charles Clover, environment editor of the Daily Telegraph) Highgrove: An Experiment in Organic Gardening and Farming, published in 1993, and offers his patronage to Garden Organic. Along similar lines, the Prince of Wales became involved with farming and various industries within it, regularly meeting with farmers to discuss their trade; though the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic in England prevented Charles from visiting farmers in Saskatchewan, organic farmers there came to meet him at the Assiniboia town hall. In 2004, he also founded the Mutton Renaissance Campaign, which aims to support British sheep farmers and make mutton more attractive to Britons. His organic farming efforts, however, attracted media criticism: According to The Independent in October 2006 "...the story of Duchy Originals has involved compromises and ethical blips, wedded to a etermined merchandising programme." and, in February 2007, Duchy products themselves came under attack, with the tabloid Daily Mail claiming that the food was "unhealthier than Big Macs." In 2007, Charles also launched The Prince's May Day Network, which encourages businesses to take action on climate change.

An announcement was made by Clarence House in December 2006 that the Prince of Wales would make his household's travel arrangements more eco-friendly and, in 2007, Charles published in his annual accounts the details of his own carbon footprint, as well as targets for reducing his household's carbon emissions. That same year, he received the 10th annual Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment, the director of which, Eric Chivian, stated: "For decades the Prince of Wales has been a champion of the natural world... He has been a world leader in efforts to improve energy efficiency and in reducing the discharge of toxic substances on land, and into the air and the oceans". However, Charles' travel by commercial airliner to the United States to attend the award ceremony drew criticism from some environmental activists, such as the Plane climate change action group's campaigner Joss Garman, and in April 2009 he faced similar criticisms for chartering a private jet for a five day tour of Europe to promote environmental issues. 

The prince gave a speech to the European Parliament on February 14, 2008, in which he called for European Union leadership in the war against climate change. During the standing ovation that followed, Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), was the only MEP to remain seated and went on to describe Charles's advisers as "naive and foolish at best." Farage continued: "How can somebody like Prince Charles be allowed to come to the European Parliament at this time to announce he thinks it should have more powers? It would have been better for the country he wants to rule one day if he had stayed home and tried to persuade Gordon Brown to give the people the promised referendum [on the Treaty of Lisbon]."

The Prince gave a speech to the Low Carbon Prosperity Summit in a European Parliament chamber on February 9, 2011, in which he lashed out at climate change skeptics. He said they are playing "a reckless game of roulette" with the planet's future and are having a "corrosive effect" on public opinion. He also spoke about the need to protect fisheries, the Amazon rain forest and about making low-carbon emissions affordable and competitive.

The Prince is a member and regular communicant of the Church of England, having been christened at the age of one month, as noted above. He was confirmed at age 16 by the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, at Easter 1965 in St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

The Prince is known to attend services at several different Anglican churches near his home at Highgrove, Gloucestershire. With the Queen and the rest of the royal family, he also regularly worships at Crathie Kirk when staying at Balmoral Castle. In 2000, he was appointed as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The Prince of Wales also travels (amidst some secrecy) each year to Mount Athos to spend time in the Orthodox monasteries there, as well as in Romania,demonstrating his interest in Orthodox Christianity. Along with his father, who was born and raised as Greek Orthodox, Charles is patron of The Friends of Mount Athos, as well as the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies. It is also believed that Prince Charles has an Orthodox icon corner in his house where he keeps the majority of his Orthodox icons. None of this is surprising, as Prince Charles' father was raised Greek Orthodox, but converted before marrying the future Queen Elizabeth II. It is reported that in more recent years, even his father, Prince Philip, has joined him in occasional retreats to the peninsula. 

Charles is also patron of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford. Sir Laurens van der Post became a friend of Charles in 1977, a relationship which led him to be dubbed the "guru to Prince Charles" and made godfather of Charles' son, Prince William. From him, the Prince of Wales developed a focus on philosophy, especially that of Asian and Middle Eastern nations, praising Kabbalistic artworks, and penning a memorial for Kathleen Raine, the Neoplatonist poet who died in 2003

Charles has demonstrated an interest in alternative medicine, and his promotion of it has caused controversy. In 2004, Charles' Foundation for Integrated Health divided the scientific and medical community over its campaign encouraging general practitioners to offer herbal and other alternative treatments to National Health Service patients, and in May 2006, Charles made a speech to an audience of health ministers from various countries at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, urging them to develop a plan for integrating conventional and alternative medicine and argued for homeopathy.

In April 2008, The Times published a letter from Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, which asked the Prince's Foundation to recall two guides promoting "alternative medicine", saying: "the majority of alternative therapies appear to be clinically ineffective, and many are downright dangerous." A speaker for the foundation countered the criticism by stating: "We entirely reject the accusation that our online publication Complementary Healthcare: A Guide contains any misleading or inaccurate claims about the benefits of complementary therapies. On the contrary, it treats people as adults and takes a responsible approach by encouraging people to look at reliable sources of information... so that they can make informed decisions. The foundation does not promote complementary therapies." That year, Ernst published a book with science writer Simon Singh condemning alternative medicine called Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial. The book is ironically dedicated to "HRH the Prince of Wales" and the last chapter is very critical of his advocacy of "complementary" and "alternative" treatments.

The Prince's Duchy Originals produce a variety of CAM products including a “Detox Tincture” that Edzard Ernst has denounced as "financially exploiting the vulnerable" and "outright quackery". In May 2009, the Advertising Standards Authority criticised an email that Duchy Originals had sent out to advertise its Echina-Relief, Hyperi-Lift and Detox Tinctures products saying that it was misleading. The Prince personally wrote at least seven letters to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) shortly before they relaxed the rules governing labelling of such herbal products, a move that has been widely condemned by scientists and medical bodies. On October 31, 2009 it was reported that Prince Charles had personally lobbied the Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, regarding greater provision of alternative treatments in the NHS.

In 2010, following accounting irregularities noted by the auditor, two former officials at the Prince's Foundation were arrested for fraud believed to total £300,000. Four days after the arrests, the Foundation announced that it would close, claiming that it "has achieved its key objective of promoting the use of integrated health." The charity's finance director, accountant George Gray, was convicted of theft totalling £253,000 and sentenced to three years in prison. The Prince's Foundation was re-branded and re-launched in late 2010 as The College of Medicine. It continues to act as an alternative medicine lobby group
The plight of various peoples has been a target of Charles' efforts, predominantly the long-term unemployed, people who have been in trouble with the law, people who are in difficulty at school, and people who have been in care. The Prince's Trust is the main outlet through which Charles works with young people, offering loans to groups, business people, and others who have had difficulty receiving outside support. Fundraising concerts are regularly held in benefit of the trust, with leading pop, rock, and classical musicians taking part.

In Canada, Charles has also supported humanitarian projects, taking part, along with his two sons, in the ceremonies marking the 1998 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and helping to launch the Canadian Youth Business Foundation in Saskatchewan in 2001, when he also visited Scott Collegiate, an inner-city school in Regina.

After spending time in the Northwest Territories in 1975, Charles formed a special interest in the Canadian north, as well as Canada's Aboriginal Peoples, the leaders of which he met and sometimes took time to walk and meditate with. Reflecting this association, the Prince of Wales has been conferred with special titles from First Nations communities: in 1996 Cree and Ojibway students in Winnipeg named the Prince Leading Star, and in 2001 he was dubbed Pisimwa Kamiwohkitahpamikohk, or "the sun looks at him in a good way", during his first visit to the province of Saskatchewan. He was also one of the first world leaders to express strong concerns about the human rights record of Nicolae Ceauşescu, initiating objections in the international arena, and subsequently supported the FARA Foundation,which runs Romanian orphanages. Charles attended the Bilderberg Group conference in 1986 specifically to attend a debate on the South African economic crisis. An example of his concern for humanitarian issues has been his recent (2011) launch of his Pakistan Recovery Fund which aims to raise a minimum of £2million towards health, education, reconstruction and livelihood projects.
Since his youth the Prince was an avid player of polo, as a part of competitive teams until 1992, and strictly for charity from then until 2005, after which he ceased to participate because of two notable injuries he suffered during play: in 1990 he broke his arm, and in 2001 was briefly unconscious after a fall. Charles also frequently took part in fox hunting, before the sport was banned in the United Kingdom in 2005. By the late 1990s, as opposition to the activity was growing, the Prince of Wales' participation in this activity was viewed as a "political statement" by those opposed to it, such as the League Against Cruel Sports, which launched the attack against Charles after he took his sons on the Beaufort Hunt in 1999, at a time when the government was trying to ban the hunting of foxes with hounds. The Prince has also been a keen salmon angler since youth, and a supporter of Orri Vigfússon's efforts to protect the North Atlantic Salmon. Charles has frequently fished the River Dee in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, while he claims his most special angling memories are from his time in Vopnafjörður, Iceland.

Charles has also pursued the visual arts, focusing on watercolour, and exhibiting and selling a number of his paintings, as well as publishing books on the subject. In university he dabbled in acting, appearing in amateur productions of a comedic nature, an enjoyment of which continued later into the Prince's life, as evidenced by his organising of a comedy gala to celebrate his 60th birthday. He also has an interest in illusionism, becoming a member of The Magic Circle after passing his audition by performing the cups and balls effect.The Prince acts today as patron of a number of theatres, acting troupes, and orchestral ensembles, including the Regina Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and is reportedly a fan of Canadian singer and song writer Leonard Cohen. He is also a collector of automobiles, particularly the British marque Aston Martin, having acquired numerous models and such tight connections with the brand–being a frequent visitor to the factory and its service department, and a guest of honour at most of the company's special launch events– that special Prince of Wales edition Aston Martins have been created on occasion.

As Prince of Wales, Prince Charles undertakes a number of official duties on behalf of his mother, in her role as sovereign of any of the Commonwealth realms. He will frequently stand in for the Queen at the funerals of foreign dignitaries (which the Queen customarily does not attend), and at investitures into British orders. It was when he attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II that Charles caused controversy: when shaking hands with other guests, Charles was surprised to find himself shaking that of Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, who had been seated next to the Prince. Charles' office subsequently released a statement saying: "The Prince of Wales was caught by surprise and not in a position to avoid shaking Mr. Mugabe's hand. The Prince finds the current Zimbabwean regime abhorrent. He has supported the Zimbabwe Defence and Aid Fund which works with those being oppressed by the regime. The Prince also recently met Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, an outspoken critic of the government."

Both Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall travel abroad on behalf of the United Kingdom. The Prince has been regarded as an effective advocate of the country, with his visit to the Republic of Ireland, where he delivered a personally researched and written speech on Anglo-Irish affairs that was warmly received by Irish politicians and the media, being cited as an example. His service to the Canadian Armed Forces permits him to be informed of troop activities, and allows him to visit these troops while in Canada or overseas, taking part in ceremonial occasions. For instance, in 2001, the Prince placed a specially commissioned wreath, made from vegetation taken from French battlefields, at the Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and in 1981 he became the patron of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.
Prince Charles makes regular tours of Wales, going there for a week of engagements each summer, attending important national occasions, such as opening the Senedd. In 2000, Charles revived the tradition of the Prince of Wales having an official harpist, in order to foster Welsh talent at playing the harp, the national instrument of Wales. He and the Duchess of Cornwall also spend one week each year in Scotland, where the Prince is patron of a number of Scottish organisations. Prince Charles is a Director of "The Royal Collection Trust" and an Assistant of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights.

On March 27, 2011, Prince Charles attended in the Christchurch memorial service at Westminster Abbey for acknowledging the generosity, sympathy and support New Zealand has received from the United Kingdom since the earthquake hit. On 16 November, Prince Charles attended a special service at Westminster Abbey as the Patron of the King James Bible Trust celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible in the presence of The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, clerics and thousands of worshippers.

In 2008, the Daily Telegraph declared Charles the "hardest-working member of the royal family." He carried out 560 official engagements in 2008, 585 in 2010, and over 600 in 2011.

Sometimes parodied, such as on Spitting Image, and by Craig Ferguson—in a segment known as The Rather Late Programme with Prince Charles—on The Late Late Show, Prince Charles has been a focus of the world media since his birth, attention that increased as he matured. Prior to his first marriage, he was presented as the world's most eligible bachelor on the cover of Time, and his various affairs and exploits were followed and reported. With his marriage to Diana the attention increased, though predominantly towards a Princess of Wales, who became a star attraction, chased by the paparazzi, and her every move (including every change in hairstyle) closely followed by millions. As their relationship began to deteriorate, Diana began to use the media to her advantage, and became closely involved in placing stories about the royal marriage in the press, thenceforth splitting the media's support, with Charles having The Mirror and the Telegraph on his side.

In their quest to gain ever more stories on a Prince of Wales, the media breached Charles' privacy on a number of occasions. In 2006, the Prince filed a court case against the Mail on Sunday, after excerpts of his personal journals were published, revealing his opinions on matters, such as the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to China in 1997, in which Charles described the Chinese government officials as "appalling old waxworks." Mark Bolland, his ex-private secretary, declared in a statement to the High Court that Charles "would readily embrace the political aspects of any contentious issue he was interested in.... He carried it out in a very considered, thoughtful and researched way. He often referred to himself as a 'dissident' working against the prevailing political consensus." Jonathan Dimbleby has reported that the Prince "has accumulated a number of certainties about the state of the world and does not relish contradiction."

Others have used their past connections with the Prince to profit from the media, such as when an ex-member of Charles' household took to the press an internal memo in which Charles commented on ambition and opportunity, and which was widely interpreted as blaming meritocracy for creating a combative atmosphere in society. In retort, Charles stated: "In my view, it is just as great an achievement to be a plumber or a bricklayer as it is to be a lawyer or a doctor,"and the memo was cited in Lynne Truss' critique of British manners, Talk to the Hand, as a valid observation on how the positive motivational impact of meritocracy might be balanced against the negative impact of a competitive society.

Overall, Charles developed a dislike for the popular press, which was accidentally revealed when his comments to his son, William, during a press photo-call in 2005 was caught on a nearby microphone: "I hate doing this... These bloody people," and about the BBC's royal reporter, Nicholas Witchell, in particular: "I can't bear that man. I mean, he's so awful, he really is."

The Prince of Wales though has appeared as himself on a number of occasions in continuing series. In 1984 he read his children's book, The Old Man of Lochnagar, on the BBC's Jackanory programme. The UK soap opera Coronation Street featured an appearance by Charles during the show's 40th anniversary in 2000, as did the New Zealand adult cartoon series bro'Town (2005), after he attended a performance by the show's creators during a tour of the country. He reportedly turned down an invitation to appear in a cameo role in an episode of Doctor Who. Charles also continues to give interviews, such as that which was conducted by Ant & Dec for the 30th anniversary of The Prince's Trust in 2006.

On May 10, 2012, Charles appeared on BBC to try his hand at being a weather presenter, reporting the forecast for Scotland as part of Holyrood Week. He injected humour in his report, asking, "Who the hell wrote this script?" as several references were made to royal residence locations.

Charles has held a number of titles throughout his life, as the grandson of the monarch, the son of the monarch and, later, honoured in his own right with princely and noble titles. When in conversation with the Prince of Wales, the practice is to initially address him as Your Royal Highness and thereafter as Sir.

There has been speculation as to what regal name the Prince will choose upon his succession to the throne. If he keeps his current first name, he will be known as Charles III. However, it was reported in 2005 that Charles has suggested he may choose to reign as George VII in honour of his maternal grandfather, and to avoid association with the Stuart kings Charles I (who was beheaded) and Charles II (who was known for his playboy lifestyle), as well as to be sensitive to the memory of Bonnie Prince Charlie, who was called "Charles III" by his supporters. Charles' office immediately denied this report.

Charles' first honorary appointment was as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Wales in 1969; since that time, the Prince has also been installed as Colonel-in-Chief, Colonel, Honorary Air Commodore, Air Commodore-in-Chief, Deputy Colonel-in-Chief, Royal Honorary Colonel, Royal Colonel, and Honorary Commodore of at least 36 military formations throughout the Commonwealth. He is also the commander of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, which is the only foreign regiment in the British army.

Charles has also been the recipient of a number of honours and awards from various countries. He has been inducted into eight orders and received five decorations from amongst the Commonwealth realms, and has been the recipient of 17 different appointments and decorations by foreign states, as well as nine honorary degrees from universities in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla Rosemary; née Shand, previously Parker Bowles; born July 17, 1947) is the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, and thus, by her second marriage, shares her husband's titles as Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Chester and Baroness Renfrew. Although Camilla is also entitled to be called the Princess of Wales because of her marriage to the Prince of Wales, she prefers to be known by the secondary titles of Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Rothesay out of respect for her husband's first wife, the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Camilla could, if royal protocol is kept, assume the title of Queen consort of the United Kingdom and sixteen Commonwealth realms in the event of the Prince of Wales succeeding to the throne. Camilla is known as the Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, and as the Duchess of Cornwall elsewhere.

As the future Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the prospect of Charles marrying a divorcée was seen as controversial, but with the consent of the Church of England, the Parliament, and Elizabeth II, the couple were able to wed in 2005.

Born at King's College Hospital, London on 17 July 1947, Shand was raised opposite the Plumpton Racecourse, East Sussex by her parents, Major Bruce Shand (1917–2006) (a British Army officer, turned wine merchant, as well as prisoner of war in World War II who received the Military Cross with Bar) and The Honourable Rosalind Cubitt (1921–1994, eldest child of Roland Calvert Cubitt, 3rd Baron Ashcombe): Her siblings are Mark Shand and Annabel Shand Elliot.

Shand's maternal great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, formerly Alice Frederica Edmonstone, was the royal mistress of King Edward VII from 1898 to 1910. Shand was christened November 1, 1947 at Firle Church, Sussex. 

Shand attended Dumbrells School, a co-educational school in Sussex at the age of 5. At the age of 10, she attended fashionable Queen's Gate School in South Kensington, which aimed to “provide wives for the Foreign Office and most of the nobility”. There they were taught such essential skills for upper class girls as, flower arranging, cookery and how to write cheques. The young Miss Shand left school with one O-level. At the age of 16, she attended the Mon Fertile finishing school in Switzerland and studied at the Institut Britannique in Paris. Following her education, she made her London debut as a debutante in 1965.

She joined the workforce as a part-time secretary and later took a job at the tony decorating firm of Sybil Colefax and John Fowler. She also became an avid equestrienne and participated in fox hunting until its ban in 2004. Her interests include horse-riding, gardening and horticulture.

Shand lived in a two-bedroom ground-floor flat, at Cundy Street, at the back end of Belgravia, sharing with Moyra Campbell, the daughter of James Edward Hamilton,4th Duke of Abercorn, who had been a maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation and whose mother was a close friend to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Lady Moyra moved out when she married. 

On July 4, 1973, 26-year old Camilla married 34-year old Andrew Parker Bowles at the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, London. Their wedding was attended by almost 800 guests including Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. The couple made their home in Wiltshire. They had two children: Tom, born in the year after their marriage, who is a godson of Prince Charles, and Laura, born in 1978; both Parker Bowles children were raised in their father's Roman Catholic faith, although both were married in the Church of England. Andrew and Camilla divorced in 1995 after her relationship with the Prince of Wales became public. The couple's divorce was finalized on March 3, 1995. They were married for 22 years. In 2010, Camilla attended the memorial service of Rosemary Pitman, Andrew's second wife, who died of cancer that year.

The relationship between Camilla and Prince Charles began when they met at a polo match in 1970. They were formally introduced to one another by Lucia Santa Cruz, an old girlfriend of the Prince of Wales. 

Though she became one of the numerous girlfriends of Charles, and he was said to have wanted to marry her, Camilla was seen by royal courtiers as an unsuitable match for the future king. Robert Lacey wrote in his 2002 book, Royal: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, that Charles had met Camilla too early, and that he had not asked her to wait for him when he went overseas for military duties in 1972. 

It has also been suggested his father's uncle, the late "Uncle Dickie," Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, arranged for Charles to be posted overseas to end the relationship with Camilla, and to pave a way for a possible engagement to his granddaughter, Amanda Knatchbull. He was heartbroken when he heard of the engagement of Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973, writing to Lord Mountbatten: "I suppose the feeling of emptiness will pass eventually." Nevertheless they remained friends, and renewed their romantic relationship in the late 1970s and late 1980s. Aware of the renewal, Parker Bowles reportedly gave full consent to the relationship during their marriage. The press later derided him as the "man who laid down his wife for his country." 

The affair became public knowledge a decade later, with the publication of Diana: Her True Story, followed by the Camillagate scandal, wherein an intimate telephone conversation between Camilla and Charles was secretly recorded and the transcripts published in the tabloids. With the relationship in the open, Diana gave an interview on the BBC programme Panorama, in which she blamed the relationship between Camilla and the Prince of Wales as one of the reasons for the breakup of their marriage. Though Camilla kept a low profile at this time, she became unpopular by these revelations. It was confirmed by Charles in a televised interview with Jonathan Dimbleby that the relationship between him and Camilla resumed during their crumbling marriages. Following this, the Parker Bowleses announced their own divorce in 1995; they had been living apart for some time, and a year later Andrew Parker Bowles married his long-time mistress and companion Rosemary Pitman.

Discreetly, she occasionally became Charles' unofficial companion at events. This temporarily ceased at the time of Diana's death, but Camilla and Charles were photographed together in public in 1999 at Ritz Hotel in London where they attended a birthday party. Though she maintained her residence in Wiltshire, Camilla then moved into Clarence House, Charles' household in 2003, resulting in decorative changes to both homes, though Buckingham Palace was explicit in pointing out that public funds had not been used for the renovations. In 2005, the media reported that Charles was spending on Camilla with public funds, this received a lot of negative publicity and as a result, an investigation by the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons began probing in Charles' finances about the report

Following the couple's divorces, Charles stated his relationship with Camilla was and is non-negotiable. At the time of Charles and Diana's divorce through to Diana's death, Camilla was a hated figure in the press and to the public. Charles was aware that their relationship was receiving a lot of public attention, and appointed Mark Bolland, recruited by Charles in 1995 to refurbish his own image, and to enhance Camilla's image. As part of this effort to "soften" her hunting image and burnish her reputation, Camilla became President of the National Osteoporosis Society. In 2000, she met the Queen, for the first time since the relationship came out, at a barbecue party of King Constantine II of Greece. This meeting was seen as an apparent seal of approval by the Queen on Camilla's relationship with Charles.

An orchestrated series of appearances at public and private venues eventually led to her sitting in the royal box behind the Queen for one of the Golden Jubilee concerts at Buckingham Palace in 2002. The same year, she received an invitation by the Queen to attend the Queen Mother's funeral.

Camilla was fully refurbished in Paddy Campbell dresses, a Mayfair stylist, and adorned in jewels. She still rode with the Beaufort Hunt- and commuted between Highgrove House and her own home on a regular basis. In London, she stayed at St James's Palace, where staff curtseyed to her and addressed her as 'Ma'am', as any member of the royal family and at almost all private occasions, she was by now accompanying the Prince. She attended the Holyrood House garden party and the Sandringham House flower show with Prince Charles. With significant stage management, marriage became a viable option for the pair

On 10 February 2005, it was announced by Clarence House that Camilla and the Prince of Wales were engaged; Camilla had been presented with an engagement ring that had belonged to the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Charles proposed on bended knee. The marriage was to have been on 8 April of that year, and was to take place in a civil ceremony at Windsor Castle, with a subsequent religious blessing at St George's Chapel. To conduct a civil marriage at Windsor Castle would oblige the venue to obtain a licence for civil marriages, which it did not have. A condition of such a licence is that the licensed venue must be available for a period of one year to anyone wishing to be married there. As the Royal Family did not wish to make Windsor Castle available to the public for civil marriages, even just for one year, the location was changed to the Windsor Guildhall.

On 4 April it was announced that the marriage would be delayed by one day to allow for the Prince of Wales and some of the invited dignitaries to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II. As Charles' parents did not attend the marriage ceremony (the Queen's reluctance to attend arising from her position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England), neither did Camilla's father; instead her son Tom and Prince William acted as witnesses of the union. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh did, however, attend the service of blessing, and held a reception for the newlyweds at Windsor Castle afterwards. Following the wedding, the couple travelled to the Prince's country home in Scotland, Birkhall, and carried out their first public duties as a couple during their honeymoon.

After becoming Duchess of Cornwall, the duchess automatically acquired rank as the second highest female in the United Kingdom Order of Precedence (after the Queen), and as typically fifth or sixth in the orders of precedence of her other realms, following the Queen, the relevant viceroy, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales. It was revealed, though, that the royal order of precedence for private occasions had Camilla placed fourth, after the Queen, the Princess Royal, and Princess Alexandra. Within two years of the marriage, the Queen extended Camilla visible tokens of membership in the Royal Family; use of a tiara of the late Queen Mother, and the badge of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.

Though no details were publicly released, it was confirmed in March 2007 that Camilla had undergone a hysterectomy. According to an announcement by Clarence House, it was the Duchess' intent to attend the anniversary memorial service for Diana, Princess of Wales on 31 August 2007, along with The Prince of Wales, and Princes William and Harry of Wales. The Duchess withdrew from attending, stating that she wished not to "divert attention from the purpose of the occasion which is to focus on the life and service of Diana." On 8 April 2010, Camilla broke her left leg while hill walking in Scotland. In November, Camilla and her husband were indirectly involved in the 2010 British student protests when their car was attacked by protesters. She was also physically attacked when a rioter managed to push a stick into the royal limousine and jab her in the ribs.

The Duchess of Cornwall's royal duties involves accompanying the Prince of Wales on his official obligations. She is the Patron of The Royal School, Hampstead, an independent girls' school, Patron of Animal Care Trust (Under the umbrella of the Royal Veterinary College), Patron of The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, Patron of Unicorn Theatre for Children, Patron of Cornwall Community Foundation, Patron of Wiltshire Bobby van Trust, Patron of Youth Action Wiltshire, Patron of New Queen's Hall Orchestra, Patron of St John's Smith Square, Patron of London Chamber Orchestra, Patron of Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond (A Joint Patron with the Prince of Wales), President of Scotland's Gardens Scheme, President of National Osteoporosis Society (First Charity to be given the role), Patron of The Cornish Air Ambulance Service, Patron of Girl's Friendly Society, Patron of The National Literacy Trust, Patron of Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Patron of Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Patron of Plumpton College Charitable Foundation, as well as President or Patron of a number of other charities, as detailed below. She is the honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Navy Medical Service. In her role as Commodore-in-Chief, the Duchess visited the training-ship HMS Excellent in January 2012, to award medals to naval medical teams returning from service in Afghanistan.

In March 2012, the Duchess became the Patron of The Big Jubilee Lunch (BJL), in which communities across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth will hold lunches including street parties, garden gatherings and picnics on 3 June, as part of the main programme for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.