Charles III is the current king of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, after having succeeded his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. He was coronated in 2023 with his wife, Camilla, establishing new heads of state for the country. However, who is Charles III and who was he before the crown?
To answer that question, this article will look at four main aspects of his life: his ancestry, his royal titles, his military experiences, and his reign and legacy. Royal family trees are quite difficult to follow and understand, and the British Royal Family is not an exception, so to establish a grasp on the British monarchy, there will be a slight recap of his lineages. Continue scrolling down below to learn more who Charles III, his rise to power, and the positions he holds being the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom.
Ancestry of King Charles III
Prince Charles was born on November 14, 1948, to Princess Elizabeth II, Duchess of Edinburgh (who would then become Queen Elizabeth II), and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He was the first offspring of the couple, who would then have three more: Anne, Andrew, and Edward. When he was a month old, he was christened as Charles Philip Arthur George.
On February 6, 1952, Prince Charles’ grandfather, George VI, died, allowing his mother, Elizabeth II, ascended to the throne as the Queen. The ascension of Elizabeth II made Prince Charles the heir apparent, being the oldest living son of the now-Queen Elizabeth II. On September 8, 2022, Queen Elizabeth II died, making him the king, after being an heir apparent for 70 years, 7 months, and 2 days, the longest of any British heir apparent. He was coronated at the age of 74.
His kingly name, Charles III, was because there were two other “Charles” who became king in his ancestral tree before. Charles I reigned England from 1625 to 1649, only to fall to an executioner after his defeat in the English Civil War. Charles II, on the other hand, was king from 1660 to 1685.
The now-King Charles III has obtained and relinquished several titles throughout his life. The Duke of Cornwall is a title given by the Peerage of England to the eldest son of the incumbent British monarch, no matter if the son in question is the heir apparent. Upon his mother’s ascension to the throne, he received this title. Now, this title is bestowed to William, who is also the Prince of Wales. The Peerage of Scotland gave him five titles, all of which were obtainable upon being the heir apparent. These five titles were the Baron of Renfrew, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. Like the Duke of Cornwall title, these five are now held by William, the heir apparent.
The most important title he held was probably the Prince of Wales. It was a longstanding title that had its beginning in the 14th century, where it began as a tradition of making the next-in-line successor of a monarch as the Prince of Wales. The current Prince of Wales is William, as mentioned earlier, after his father, Charles III became king.
Prince Charles’ Military Involvement Before Becoming King
Charles served in the Royal Air Force from 1971 to 1976. During his service years, he served in several ships such as the HMS Norfolk, HMS Minerva, HMS Jupiter, HMS Hermes, and HMS Bronington. He also learned to fly a Chipmunk aircraft in 1971. Prince Charles also held some military ranks in the United Kingdom and a few Commonwealth countries alike. Interestingly, some of the titles are still held despite his kingship. He presently holds the rank of Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces (for being the reigning monarch). He also holds a few ranks in the New Zealand forces, in addition to the British ones.
Charles III and his wife, Camilla, were crowned on May 6, 2023, making them formally and ceremoniously the king and queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms. Being the head of the government usually only has ceremonial powers nowadays. However, they still exercise some parliamentary roles, including appointing a government and meeting with the prime minister to be updated about the affairs of the country.
King Charles III has a philanthropic legacy. In 1976, he established the Prince’s Trusts. A few established charities later, he founded the Prince’s Charities, “the largest multi-cause charitable enterprise in the United Kingdom.” Some of the beneficiaries of the Charities are out-of-school children, those suffering from mental health, and homelessness. These also opened a drawing school, a foundation for children and the arts, and business outreach programs.