King George VI had granted letters patent under the Great Seal of the Realm on October 22, 1948, declaring that children of the marriage of HRH Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, should “have and at all times hold and enjoy the style, title or attribute of Royal Highness and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names in addition to any other appellations and titles and honour which may belong to them hereafter”. The announcement was made on November 9, five days before the Prince was born. Under rules proclaimed by King George V on July 17, 1917, the royal style and title had been restricted to the Sovereign's children and to the children of the Sovereign's sons, which would have excluded any children of the then Princess Elizabeth.
HRH Princess Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 25, when her father, King George VI, died, aged 56, on 6th February, 1952. On The Queen's accession to the throne, Prince Charles - as the Sovereign's eldest son - became at the age of three heir apparent to the British thronea and took on the traditional titles of Duke of Cornwall under a charter of King Edward III in 1337; and, in the Scottish peerage, of Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.
The Prince was four at his mother's Coronation, in Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. Many who watched the Coronation had vivid memories of him seated between his widowed grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and his aunt, Princess Margaret. The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret would both look after Prince Charles during the Queen’s long absences while on tours of the Commonwealth.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh decided that, rather than follow tradition and have a tutor at the Palace, their son should go to school to mix with children from non-royal backgrounds. Accordingly, on 7th November 1956, he started at Hill House school in west London. After ten months, the young Prince became a boarder at Cheam School, the preparatory school in Berkshire. It was while His Royal Highness was away at Cheam, in 26th July 1958, that the Queen created him Prince of Wales (a title created for the male heir to the throne to which there is no automatic succession), and at the same time Earl of Chester (earldom created by William the Conqueror, with the intention of the Earl keeping an eye on any war-like activities by the Welsh; since King Edward II the title has gone to every Prince of Wales), at the age of nine. In the same day Prince Charles became Knight of the Garter but was not installed until 1968.
In April 1962, the Prince of Wales began his first term at Gordonstoun, the school near Elgin in eastern Scotland which Prince Philip had attended. Prince Charles spent two terms in 1966 as an exchange student at Timbertop, a remote outpost of the Geelong Church of England Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia. When he returned to Gordonstoun for his final year, the Prince was appointed school guardian (head boy) and took his 'A' levels in July 1967, the first heir to the throne to take such examinations. He was awarded a grade B in history and a C in French, together with a distinction in an optional special history paper.
The Prince went to Cambridge University in 1967 to read archaeology and anthropology at Trinity College. He changed to history for the second part of his degree, and in 1970 was awarded a second class degree. While at Cambridge, The Prince took part in college drama society revues and a Joe Orton black comedy.
In March 1971, the Prince of Wales flew himself to Royal Air Force Cranwell in Lincolnshire, to train as a jet pilot. At his own request, he had received flying instruction from the RAF during his second year at Cambridge. In September 1971, after the passing out parade at Cranwell, Prince Charles embarked on a naval career, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and both his great-grandfathers. The six-week course at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, was followed by service on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk and two frigates.
The Prince qualified as a helicopter pilot in 1974 before joining 845 Naval Air Squadron, which operated from the Commando carrier HMS Hermes. On February 9, 1976, The Prince took command of the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington for his last nine months in the Navy.
Over these years, the Prince was developing a wide range of interests, including social and community issues, young people, the arts, the built and natural environment, national heritage, religion and medicine. These interests are reflected in the list of around 200 organisations of which he has since become patron or president. The Prince's concerns about developments in fields such as architecture, the inner cities, education, religion, health and farming have been elaborated over many years in a large number of speeches and articles.
The Prince of Wales's interest in young people and the under-privileged led to the foundation in 1976 of The Prince's Trust, which has helped over 200,000 disadvantaged young people to find jobs or fulfil ambitions for themselves and their communities. In 1985, the Prince became President of Business in the Community, which supports economic and social regeneration through increased involvement of companies and their employees in their local communities.
On the 29th July 1981, HRH the Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Frances Spencer, daughter of the Earl Spencer and his former wife. The magnificent ceremony, which drew more than one million people to the streets of London and a TV audience of more than 750 million, took place in St Paul's Cathedral. The new Princess of Wales had been born on 1st July 1961, at Park House on the Queen's estate at Sandringham, Norfolk, and lived there until the death of her grandfather, the seventh earl, in 1975, when the family moved to the Spencer family seat at Althorp House in Northamptonshire.
Princess Diana's father - then Viscount Althorp and later the eighth Earl Spencer - had been an equerry to both King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. The Princess’ maternal grandmother, Ruth, Lady Fermoy, was a close friend and lady in waiting to the Queen Mother. The Prince and Princess of Wales had two sons, Prince William who was born on 21st June 1982, and the Prince Harry was born on 15th September 1984. From the time of their marriage, TRH the Prince and Princess of Wales went on overseas tours and carried out many engagements within Britain together.
On 9th December 1992, the Prime Minister, Mr. John Major, announced to the House of Commons that the Prince and Princess of Wales had agreed to separate. The marriage was dissolved on 28th August 1996. The Princess, henceforth called Diana, Princess of Wales, was still regarded as a member of the Royal Family and she continued to live at Kensington Palace and to carry out her public work for a number of charities. When she was killed in a tragic car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997, the Prince of Wales flew to Paris with her two sisters to bring her body back to London. The Princess lay in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace until the night before the funeral.
On the day of the funeral, Prince Charles accompanied his two sons - aged 15 and 12 at the time - as they walked behind the coffin from The Mall to Westminster Abbey, where a moving service was held after the very long cortege watched by thousands in the streets. In recent years, the young Princes - who are second and third in line to the throne - accompanied the Prince of Wales on a limited number of official engagements.
The popularity of the Prince has increased in recent years and he is regarded all over the world as the best-prepared heir to the throne. His relation to Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles on a semi-official level has now the support of a majority of Britons, but it continues to be a highly criticized one. It is highly unlikely that the Queen will ever abdicate and thus it is probable that the Prince of Wales will have to wait up to 20 years before acceding the throne. He continues to serve his country and to help his mother on her never-fading to the Kingdom and the Commonwealth.