Charles Philip Arthur George was born on 14 November 1948, the first child of Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.


A late-night news item broadcast the announcement that Princess Elizabeth "was safely delivered of a prince", with the newsreader offering "royal congratulations" on behalf of the listeners. Prince Philip reportedly declared that the new-born Charles resembled "a plum pudding".

In 1952, following the death of his grandfather, George VI and the accession of his mother as Queen Elizabeth II, 3-year-old Charles became heir apparent, a title he would hold for some 70 years.

After early education at Hill House School and Cheam, Prince Philip wished Charles to be sent to Gordonstoun school in Scotland, where students took cold showers, slept on hard beds and went on morning runs, whatever the weather.

From Gordonstoun, Charles went to Cambridge in 1967, where he read Archaeology and Anthropology at Trinity College, and also performed as a member of the university's famous amateur dramatics club, the Footlights. He changed to History for the second part of his degree, and in 1970 was awarded a 2:2.

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But during his time at Cambridge, Charles began another significant relationship in his life, with Wales. Though he had held the title of Prince of Wales since July 1958, when he was just nine years old, Prince Charles was not yet officially invested. It was decided that Charles would study in Aberystwyth for a nine-week course to learn about the Welsh language and culture. In 1969, at the age of 20, he was invested by the Queen as Prince of Wales at Caerfarnon Castle

Following his time at Cambridge, Charles flew himself to RAF Cranwell to train as a jet pilot, before undertaking training for a naval career, following in his father’s footsteps. He qualified as a pilot before moving to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, and later served on several vessels and qualified as a helicopter pilot. He left active service with the rank of lieutenant. Linked with a number of women in high society, in 1971, he met Camilla Shand, with whom he would form an enduring attachment.

His engagement to 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer was announced in Feb 1981, and just over five months later, their lavish wedding in St Paul's Cathedral on 29 July 1981 captured the imagination of the nation. The couple went on to have two children, Prince William and Prince Harry, but in December 1992, the royal couple separated, finalising their divorce in August 1996.

After Diana’s death in 1997, Charles was left to bring up his two sons (aged 15 and 12) whilst continuing his duties as Prince of Wales, a role that has seen him visit 48 Commonwealth countries, many of them on several occasions.

On 9 April 2005, he married the Queen Consort Camilla in a civil ceremony at the Guildhall, Windsor.


On 8 September 2022, King Charles III acceded to the throne of the United Kingdom after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and was proclaimed king two days later, on 10 September 2022, by the Accession Council in St James’s Palace in London. His coronation, on 6 May 2023, will see him become the 40th sovereign to be crowned at Westminster Abbey


Charlotte HodgmanStrategic Projects Editor, HistoryExtra

Charlotte Hodgman is Strategic Projects Editor for HistoryExtra. She currently looks after the HistoryExtra Academy and was previously editor of BBC History Revealed, and deputy editor of BBC History Magazine - although not at the same time. She also makes the occasional appearance on the HistoryExtra podcast